5 Companies That Had A Rough Week11:30 AM EST Fri. Oct. 04, 2013
This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week includes the departure of Juniper Networks' worldwide channel chief, a move by Microsoft investors to get Bill Gates to relinquish his chairmanship as the company searches for a replacement for the retiring Steve Ballmer, analyst warnings against committing to the BlackBerry mobile platform, and a major security breach at a leading software company. Also making the list is the government shutdown, which certainly is giving solution providers more than a rough week.
Just as Palo Alto Networks gains a new channel chief, Juniper Networks is losing its worldwide channel executive.
Thursday the company disclosed that Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president of worldwide partners, would leave the company within the next few months. He had held that position since late 2010. The company only said Umeoka's decision to step down was a personal one.
Juniper has been hit by a number of executive departures in recent months, including the departure of CEO Kevin Johnson, who unexpectedly announced his retirement in July.
When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed last month that he would retire next year, Microsoft observers saw the coming changing-of-the-guard as a chance to accelerate the company's reinvention. But Ballmer's pending departure reportedly isn't enough change for some Microsoft investors.
Three of the company's 20 biggest investors, who collectively hold about 5 percent of the company's stock, are pushing for Gates to relinquish his chairmanship because they see him as a roadblock to needed strategic changes, a Reuters story said. Gates sits on the special committee that's searching for Ballmer's replacement and investors worry Gates will push for someone who maintains Microsoft's current course.
Gates still owns a 4.5 percent stake in Microsoft and some investors apparently believe he wields too much influence over the company at a time when new thinking is required.
This week's government shutdown brought about by the budget stalemate caused all sorts of headaches for solution providers. The political shenanigans are even leading some to rethink doing business with the government. This week's shutdown, for example, brought to a halt the $10 billion cloud computing project at the Department of the Interior.
The shutdown, combined with the sequestration budget cutbacks, have solution providers asking themselves why they pursue what, for many, has become an uncertain business.
"It certainly makes the non-federal markets attractive," said Bill Gleich, president of Jeskell Systems, a Laurel, Md.-based solution provider that does more than half of its business with the government. "There's more consistency and visibility about the future. There's more clarity in doing business with commercial entities because of the dysfunction that is going on with the government right now, or more specifically that is going on with Congress."
The news just gets worse for BlackBerry. This week Gartner warned businesses that use BlackBerry mobile devices to "decide on a new course of action" -- or at least devise a backup plan -- should the company fail.
BlackBerry recently reported $995 million in losses for its second quarter and is laying off some 4,500 workers.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said there is a significant risk of BlackBerry being broken up and customers should develop a plan to migrate to another vendor should the worst happen. Dulaney said 24 percent of surveyed IT and business leaders said their employees are currently on the BlackBerry platform.
There is a silver lining for solution providers, however. BlackBerry's struggles could create a wave of new business for the channel as BlackBerry customers seek to migrate to other mobile platforms.
Adobe Systems disclosed this week that hackers hit the company's IT systems, stealing personal data on about 2.9 million customers and the source code that's the foundation of the vendor's Adobe Acrobat, ColdFusion and other applications.
The exposed customer data included names, encrypted credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates and other information from customer orders. Adobe said it is resetting customer passwords and notifying customers and their banks and credit card processors about the breach.
As for the source code leak, Adobe said it was not aware of any increased risk to customers. Hackers can use stolen source code to discover vulnerabilities that can be exploited.