Partners Fret About McAfee's Channel Following DeWalt's Departure

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Partners say that Dave DeWalt’s departure from McAfee and the appointment of co-presidents has created a sense of instability, and they wonder if the move foreshadows an Intel-imposed channel restructuring down the road.

The company said Tuesday that DeWalt resigned after a four-year stint as McAfee president , but would remain as a non-employee member of the company’s board of directors.

McAfee said it planned to fill the leadership void with Mike DeCesare, executive vice president for global operations, and Todd Gebhart, executive vice president and general manager of consumer, mobile and small business. DeCesare and Gebhart will serve in a co-president capacity by the third quarter.

The move sparked an outpouring of criticism from channel partners, who said that they will feel keenly the loss of DeWalt’s leadership.

“Dave is, or was, a visionary and a driving force for McAfee. Really sorry to see him go,” said Jim Hindy, branch manager for Entre BTG, a TIG company, a McAfee partner and security solution provider based in Norcross, Ga.

hannel partners expressed strong concerns about the executive shift, contending that DeWalt’s resignation does not bode well for the future of the McAfee channel.

“This is hardly unexpected, but isn’t the best news for the channel,” said Andrew Plato, CEO of Anitian Enterprise Security, a Beaverton, Ore.-based solution provider. “DeWalt was good for the channel. And his handling of the DAT update disaster is the stuff of MBA case studies for years to come.”

Partners point out that the news seems to contradict company promises that everything would remain the same following Intel’s $7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee, announced last August and finalized in February of this year.

In the wake of the merger, executives flooded partners with reassurances that the company would retain its channel focus while operating autonomously as the company’s separate security division. Alex Thurber, McAfee senior vice president of worldwide channel operations, told CRN at the time that it would be “business as usual” following the acquisition.

Partners now say they wonder if DeWalt’s resignation indicates a further executive shakeup or foreshadows an Intel-imposed restructuring and possibly the first stages of channel erosion.

“Intel has almost no comprehension of the channel,” Plato said. “I think all VARs are a little nervous about McAfee’s future. I am not ready to write the McAfee channel obituary quite yet. Although I hope Intel won’t do anything stupid and ruin DeWalt’s accomplishments.”

“There hasn’t been a lot of change thus far,” said Stephen Nacci, regional account manager at Everything Maintenance, a division of TLIC Worldwide, based in Exeter, R.I. “But that might be changing. It could be a sign of more things to come. Intel paid a lot of money for McAfee, and they may want to see a return on their investment.”

Next: "McAfee Will Not Change"

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