Symantec Loses Another Top Channel Executive; Is The Channel Group's Future In Jeopardy?

Symantec has lost its second top channel executive in less than a month, with a source close to the organization telling CRN that the security vendor has let go Tom LaRocca, vice president of global channel programs and sales.

Symantec confirmed the departure of LaRocca in an email statement, as well as that of Sean Maxwell, vice president, global sales strategy and field enablement. Their responsibilities will be taken on by John Thompson, vice president of worldwide partner sales, and Todd Jones, vice president of global sales operations, Symantec said in an email. LaRocca did not respond to requests for comment from CRN.

The source said LaRocca's departure is one of many to come, with the revelation expected as early as Wednesday that the company plans to reorganize its worldwide channel group, moving some executives to new positions and potentially laying off others. The source did not know how many layoffs could be expected at the vendor, but did say that LaRocca would not be replaced.

[Related:CRN Exclusive: CEO Michael Brown On What Partners Can Expect From The 'New' Symantec]

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The changes come at a crucial time for the vendor, which is only months away from the expected Jan. 1 closing date of the sale of its Veritas storage business to private equity firm the Carlyle Group for $8 billion.

"I think Symantec is in a very difficult position," the source said. "They aren't really going to have any real leadership in their channel organization. Their efforts are now trying to figure out how they can take more business direct because they can save a point or two in margin doing that. Those are the exercises they are going through. They are at a crossroads and I'm not sure which direction they will go," the source said.

The news also comes less than a month after the departure of Adrian Jones, executive vice president and general manager of global sales and operations, who is widely recognized as a channel champion and who was the driving force behind Symantec's reinvigorated push into the channel. Jones was instrumental in bringing in a channel "A-team," which included former Oracle colleague LaRocca in August.

Sam Haffar, CEO of Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, No. 130 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500, said the departure of LaRocca, combined with the exit of Jones, is yet another big blow to the Symantec channel organization.

"They had two top channel executives, a channel A-team, and they let them get away," said Haffar. "It looks to me like they are not serious about the channel."

John Thompson, currently senior vice president, global partner sales, is relatively new to the security vendor, joining in June 2014. Thompson did not respond to calls from CRN.

The channel leadership team was part of a concerted push that began more than a year ago by CEO Michael Brown and leadership to win back the support of the channel, where Brown admitted the company had been "absent" and had created "uncertainty" in the past. That push into the channel was reiterated at the company's Partner Engage event in October, where Symantec executives took the stage to proclaim the company's commitment to the channel. That push is what ultimately led to the downfall of Jones and other top channel executives, the source said.

"Adrian was 'change management.' He felt that they needed to change direction and make quicker decisions and have better strategies, and that's what did him in. There is just too many executives that just were rubbed the wrong way and don't want to go down that path, the path of change," the source said.

Haffar said LaRocca is a channel veteran with "strong and deep" relationships in the solution provider community. "I have known Tom for 20 years," said Haffar. "He would be a great channel asset to any organization."

Steven Burke contributed to this report