Symantec Channel Stalwart Jones Leaves Company, Partners Call Channel Commitment Into Question
Symantec Executive Vice President and General Manager of Global Sales and Operations Adrian Jones, a highly regarded channel champion that has been leading the reinvigoration of the Symantec channel, has left the enterprise security company.
Solution providers said they see Jones' departure as a big loss that raises issues of channel commitment just as the program was getting off the ground.
"This is a big loss to Symantec," said Sam Haffar, CEO of Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, No. 130 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500. "It was a big coup for them to get someone on board of Adrian's caliber to run sales. Now this happens. It doesn't make sense."
Jones was the driving force behind the formation of a new channel team brought on board to breathe life into the company's partner approach as it marches towards its Jan. 1 split date from storage business Veritas.
[Related: Symantec: Ready To Win Back The Channel's Support As A Security-Only Company]
A Symantec spokesperson confirmed the departure, declining to specify the cause. The spokesperson said that Jones will be replaced in the interim by John Sorensen, currently senior vice president of Americas sales, who will "continue to lead his team and ensure that our security-focused partners will have the opportunity to capitalize on all the benefits included in the new program." John Thompson, global vice president of partner and channel sales, will "continue to lead his team and ensure that our security-focused partners will have the opportunity to capitalize on all the benefits included in the new program."
Jones could not be reached for comment.
Jones joined the company as senior vice president of Asia in June 2014 and took the worldwide sales job eight months ago. Partners said that the buy-in from a longtime channel executive such as Jones led them to give Symantec a second look as part of their security portfolio.
The CEO for an SP500 company, who did not want to be identified, said he had committed to building out a Symantec practice because Jones had reached out to him and will now reconsider that move.
"I am disappointed and shocked," the executive said. "We entered into a big commitment based on Adrian's channel sales leadership. He recruited us to bring on the line and it was a big investment we made because we felt Adrian would do the right thing with the channel. Now I have to rethink my strategy."
Computex's Haffar said he was looking at bringing Symantec into Computex's portfolio based on Jones' personal commitment to the channel. "I'm an Adrian fan from his HP days," said Haffar. "He knows the channel better than anybody. He has a big channel network."
Jones is best known for driving a channel renaissance at Hewlett-Packard during the three years he headed up the partner organization there starting in 2007.
Jones took the stage just last week at Symantec's partner conference in Orlando, Fla., to express the company's commitment to the channel and its plans to invest big in its partners.
"Symantec as a company has obviously changed in the last year. We want to be the most focused cybersecurity company on the planet. ... We believe that focus has to be around growth and it has to be around growth with you," Jones told more than 240 partner executives at the conference.
Jones departure comes in the midst of a revolving door of sorts in high-level executive positions at Symantec in recent years, including three CEOs since July 2012 with the departures of Enrique Salem and Steve Bennett. Current CEO Michael Brown took over 18 months ago.
John Convery, CEO of John Convery Consulting, a Seattle-based channel sales firm, said Jones' departure will take its toll on the company's channel charge.
"It takes you six months to recover from a shock like this," said Convery, who helped drive HP sales for an SP500 company when Jones was at the helm of the HP channel. "This is a major loss for Symantec. The man has built a fantastic channel reputation built on integrity, trust and support. He always stepped up to solve any potential issues and to present opportunities. This business is about relationships. When Jones joins a company it opens up tremendous unique opportunities for that company to go in and sell its value proposition to the channel. Solution providers listen because they have tremendous respect for Jones."
SARAH KURANDA contributed to this story.
PUBLISHED OCT. 21, 2015
[Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misidentified John Thompson as the interim replacement for Adrian Jones. The error has been corrected]