McAfee Channel Chief Leaves After Three Months

McAfee confirmed that Loe had left the company but declined to comment further on the details of her departure.

Roger King, senior vice president of worldwide channel operations, will be handling North America channel operations until McAfee can find a replacement. McAfee said it would look at both internal and external candidates to fill the position vacated by Loe.

Loe replaced former channel chief Dave Dickison in September, joining McAfee after serving nine years as senior director for strategic partner sales at Symantec. Loe left Symantec in April as the result of a companywide layoff, she said.

Now the hole left by Loe's exit leaves some partners questioning the strength of McAfee's internal channel operations. One partner says that Loe's rapid and unexplained flight from the company is indicative of structural issues he has witnessed at McAfee within the last year.

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Lou Rubbo, principal of Centennial, Colo.-based Dirsec, a security VAR, said his company has seen a hiring freeze and significant downsizing within McAfee's channel organization during the past 90 days, which resulted in the dismissal of numerous regional channel reps, sales and support staff. In particular, Rubbo said that he had continually failed to receive timely and accurate information from the company and has struggled with various engineering and support issues. The recent void created by Loe's absence will likely leave his company further in the lurch, he added.

"McAfee has been notorious for their bureaucracy and operational issues," said Rubbo. "They've always had their challenges with turning out information and support. We're basically on our own in the Rocky Mountain area."

Rubbo said that McAfee indicated that the recent upheaval was due to restructuring following the recent merger with network security vendor Secure Computing, which the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company acquired in September. McAfee finalized the $465 million purchase of Secure Computing at the end of November.

"We were told [McAfee] was just trying to figure it all out. That was about a month ago," said Rubbo. Despite numerous operational issues, Rubbo said he will likely continue to partner with McAfee but was working with alternative vendors in some of his primary product lines.

"We've always been pleased with [McAfee's] product," he said. "We have some legacy accounts and we think it's a good product set."

Another partner, however, said that Loe's departure does not necessarily indicate larger operational issues, and would likely not have a huge impact on his businesses, in part because her three-month stint didn't leave much time to significantly affect channel operations.

"In my opinion I think it is not a big deal at all. I think it's par for the course," said John Menezes, president and CEO of Cyberklix, based in Mississauga, Ontario.

"I think it has to do more with the acquisition of Secure Computing and the deal closing," he said."Maybe she wasn't able to fulfill the mandate she was brought in for."

Until McAfee disseminates more information regarding Loe's departure, many partners will continue to wonder how their businesses will be affected in 2009, especially in light of a credit crisis and worsening economic recession.

"[McAfee is] definitely in a state of limbo," said Rubbo. "It concerns me that the head of channels has stayed about 90 days."