5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending April 12, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.


The Week Ending April 12

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week are all the leading PC manufacturers, including HP Inc., Dell and Lenovo, whose first quarter PC shipments took a hit due to CPU chip shortages.

Also making the list this week is Conduent, whose board members are entangled in a dispute over company management and a possible takeover attempt by Carl Icahn. GE Digital workers faced layoffs this week while Yahoo made the list for its latest effort to settle class-action litigation over earlier, massive data breaches. And WordPress and two plugin developers scrambled to respond to serious security flaws in two plugin products.

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Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

PC Makers Hammered By CPU Shortages In Q1

It's been a tough first quarter for PC manufacturers whose U.S. PC shipments fell in the first three months of 2019 amid Intel's processor shortage, according to market research numbers released this week.

U.S. PC shipments dropped 6.3 percent in the quarter, according to research firm Gartner, with all five of the top vendors: HP Inc., Dell, Lenovo, Apple and Microsoft, reporting declines. Lenovo's shipments dropped by the largest amount – 7.5 percent.

The shortage of CPU semiconductors from Intel, especially for low-end PCs, have made it difficult for manufacturers to meet demand going back to 2018.

Conduent Accuses Carl Icahn Of Takeover Attempt, Board Member Pens Angry Resignation Letter

The board of directors at solution provider Conduent was in turmoil this week after board member and Carl Icahn appointee Michael Nevin resigned and wrote a scorching letter criticizing the company's management and blasting chairman Bill Parrett for being "asleep at the switch."

Conduent said what it described as a "noisy resignation" letter was part of a takeover attempt by Icahn that aims to replace chairman Parrett.

As part of his resignation Nevin also filed a list of grievances with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"My most important grievance with [Parrett], which I consider to be a major problem for the board and all shareholders, is that he seems uninvolved and appears to be willing to recommend that the board rubber stamp whatever management proposes – even though management has made a number of very disturbing and costly decisions over the last year," Nevin wrote in his resignation letter.

GE Digital Workers Face Layoffs

It was a tough week for some 170 employees at GE Digital, General Electric's industrial Internet of Things business, who received pink slips this week in a round of layoffs.

GE said it is laying off approximately 172 workers in two offices in San Ramon, Calif., where GE Digital is based, according to documents sent to California's Employment Development Division. It's not clear if layoffs occurred in other GE Digital locations.

The layoffs were "driven by commercial demands for GE Digital" and were not related to GE's plans to spin the GE Digital operation off into a standalone company.

Yahoo Offers $117.5M To Settle Data Breach Case

Yahoo may have been acquired by Verizon, but that didn't let it off the liability hook for the series of data breaches between 2013 and 2016 that exposed personal information, including email addresses and passwords, of some 3 billion users.

This week Yahoo offered a class-action settlement of $117.5 million to resolve data breach claims by customers, according to reports by CNN Business, Bloomberg and other media. The offer must be approved by Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In January Koh rejected an earlier proposed settlement because she said it did not provide enough benefit to consumers and did not provide a specific settlement amount.

Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2016 for $4.48 billion and combined it with its AOL properties to create Oath, now called Verizon Media.

WordPress Scrambles To Handle Plugins' Security Flaws

Developers at content management software vendor WordPress and two plugin developer partners were on red alert this week when hackers began exploiting security flaws in two popular plugin software products, according to reports on the Threatpost website.

On Thursday WordPress urged users to uninstall the Yuzo plugin after a cross-site scripting flaw was discovered being exploited by hackers, Threatpost said. The flaw could be used to deface websites, redirect visitors to unsafe websites or compromise administrator accounts. The popular Yuzo plugin is used by 60,000 websites to display related posts.

On Friday hackers were discovered to be exploiting two flaws in another WordPress plugin, the Yellow Pencil Visual Theme Customizer, which is used by 30,000 websites, Threatpost said. Yellow Pencil urged users to update to the software's latest release, 7.2.0.