5 Companies That Had A Rough Week


The Week Ending March 8

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is Google, which scrambled to fix a serious bug in its Chrome browser and implored users to quickly upgrade.

Also making the list this week are Splunk, which suddenly found itself competing head-to-head with Google parent company Alphabet in security technology; Palo Alto Networks, which has lost a pair of key sales executives; IBM and Red Hat for a request from regulators for more information relating to their planned $34 billion acquisition; and the latest twist in the saga of the Pentagon's massive JEDI cloud services contract.

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.

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Google Issues Fix For Zero-Day Exploit In Chrome Browser

Google disclosed this week that its Chrome browser has a high-severity security issue. The company issued an update to fix the problem and throughout the week urged users to upgrade to the new release.

Google said in a blog post that it was aware of a zero-day exploit "in the wild" that was considered a high-severity security issue and encouraged users to update their Chrome browsers on all devices.

Chrome version 72.0.3626.121 fixes the security flaw for Windows, Mac and Linux. Updated versions of Chrome have also been released for Android and Chrome OS.

Splunk Stock Drops When Alphabet's Cybersecurity Division Launches Competing Product

Nothing hurts more than when an industry behemoth suddenly unveils a product that competes with your own. Splunk found itself in that position this week when Alphabet's Chronicle cybersecurity division announced its first commercial product – a security data system called Backstory.

Backstory uses Google's cloud infrastructure and analytics capabilities to help security analysts evaluate security alerts and focus on the most important threats, according to a CNBC report.

The new product is widely seen as competing with vendors of SIEM (security information and event management) products, including Splunk and its Splunk Enterprise Security analytics-driven SIEM software.

On Monday morning, the day of the Alphabet announcement, Splunk's shares lost more than 7 percent of their value, falling from the Friday $134.65 close to below $125 per share. The stock's value continued to drift downward during the week, hitting a low of $121.98 Wednesday before beginning a slow rebound.

Palo Alto Networks Loses Two Top Sales Executives

Two of Palo Alto Networks' highest-ranking Americas sales leaders have both left the company in recent weeks, CRN reported this week.

The departure of Patrick Blair, a senior vice president and general manager, and Rich Wenning, enterprise accounts vice president, is seen as a significant loss for Palo Alto Networks given the amount of time it takes to build a sales culture and execute sales strategy.

Blair, who led Palo Alto Network's $1.56 billion Americas sales operations since August 2017, left the company March 1, CRN reported.

Wenning, VP of sales, Americas enterprise accounts at Palo Alto Networks, left the company on Feb. 22 to take a job as head of Americas sales for another cybersecurity vendor, CRN reported. Wenning's LinkedIn page says he is now vice president of American sales at CyberArk.

FBI Reportedly Investigating JEDI Cloud Procurement Process

It was yet another rough week for everyone with a stake in the potentially $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract. The FBI has reportedly become involved in a probe of the process by which the military crafted the criteria for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure procurement contract.

It was reported this week that at least one person involved in the matter has met with the FBI's Public Corruption Squad and the Department of Defense's inspector general to answer questions about JEDI.

The FBI's involvement suggests investigators are looking into potential criminal conduct around the contract, which has generated controversy throughout the tech industry during the last year, protests to the Government Accountability Office and a lawsuit by Oracle. The protests and legal challenges have delayed the awarding of the massive contract.

IBM, Red Hat Reportedly Receive Justice Department Request For More Info On Acquisition

IBM and Red Hat have received a second request from the U.S. Department of Justice for information relating to IBM's planned $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat, according to a report on the Dealreporter website and repeated by Bloomberg, Seeking Alpha and other media.

The Justice Department is among several regulatory agencies reviewing the proposed acquisition for possible antitrust issues. A request for additional information doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem or even a potential delay.

IBM said it still expects to complete the acquisition in the second half of 2019.