Symantec Appoints Interim Chief Brown as Permanent CEODenni Hu and Jordan Robertson
Symantec Corp. appointed Michael Brown as chief executive officer, capping a six-month search that followed the firing of Steve Bennett in March.
The Mountain View, California-based company said in a statement yesterday that the board chose Brown, who has been interim CEO since March, after he “distinguished himself” among the candidates. Brown, 55, will share a strategic plan for the security-software maker in the next 30 days, the company said.
Symantec has undergone a series of leadership changes as it struggles with a personal-computer slump that has crimped sales of its core antivirus software. Bennett was ousted in March after less than two years on the job, as the company grappled with slowing sales growth.
While Symantec helped pioneer anti-hacking technologies, it has increasingly found itself out of step with the security industry. Recent data breaches at Target Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have showcased the rapidly escalating threat from professional hackers that even advanced detection systems are unable to stop.
Symantec has been under pressure to lift revenues and break apart its security and data-storage businesses. Bloomberg News reported in April that Symantec hired JPMorgan to explore strategic options and defend against activist shareholders.
The company narrowed its list of CEO candidates to three, with Brown as the leading contender, Bloomberg News reported in August. The search didn’t yield a long list of applicants, people familiar with the process said at the time. Brown has said he put himself into contention after initially saying he didn’t want the job.
Since Brown became interim chief, Symantec’s stock has risen 14 percent. The stock, which was little changed in extended trading, declined 1.7 percent to $23.73 at the close in New York yesterday.
“This company has had enough change,” said Patrick Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities. “I think continuity is a good thing.”
Kristen Batch, a spokeswoman at Symantec, said in an e-mail that Brown is “the right leader to take Symantec into the future.” The board selected him “because of his deep technology knowledge, experience growing a large public company and his track record for building strong leadership teams,” she said.
Brown, a Stanford University MBA, served as CEO of Quantum Corp. for seven years until 2002. He later joined the board of Veritas Software Corp., which Symantec bought for $10.2 billion in 2005. Brown has served on Symantec’s board since then.
“We are focusing our investments in businesses where demand is greatest and improving operational efficiencies to grow revenue and operating margin,” Brown said in the statement yesterday.