Symantec CEO Greg Clark Resigns, Ex-Novellus CEO Tapped As Interim Leader

Symantec President, CEO and board member Greg Clark has stepped down from all roles effective immediately following an internal accounting probe, activist investor unrest and enterprise sales struggles.


Symantec president, CEO and board member Greg Clark has stepped down from all roles effective immediately following an internal accounting probe, activist investor unrest and enterprise sales struggles.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based platform security vendor said former Novellus Systems Chairman and CEO Richard Hill will take over immediately as interim president and CEO. Symantec said it plans to begin the search process to find a permanent CEO.

"Symantec has a significant opportunity to further enhance shareholder value by continuing to build on the leadership and momentum of both our Enterprise and Consumer Cyber Safety segments," Symantec Board of Directors Chairman Daniel Schulman said in a statement. "As we enter a new financial year, Greg and the Board agreed that now is the right time to transition leadership."

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[Related: Symantec President, COO Michael Fey Out As Part Of Leadership Shuffle]

Clark started as CEO of Blue Coat Systems in 2011, and assumed the same role at Symantec in August 2016 when the company's acquisition of Blue Coat closed. The company's stock is down $2.31, or 10.42 percent, to $19.86 in after-hours trading, which is the lowest Symantec's stock has traded since January.

"As Symantec enters its next phase of growth and value creation, it is the right time for the Board to identify the next generation of leadership," Clark said in a statement.

Clark's final year at Symantec has been very turbulent, with the company reaching an agreement with activity investor Starboard Value in September to name three new independent members to the company's board of directors.

Starboard said in an August 2018 regulatory filing that it believed shares of Symantec were undervalued at the time of purchase, and that it hopes to change the makeup of Symantec's board to unlock more value. Symantec's board has decreased in size from 13 to 12 following Clark's resignation as a member of the board of directors. Eleven of those 12 board members are now independent, Symantec said.

Symantec also announced in September that it had finished its internal probe into concerns raised by a former employee and deferred $12 million of revenue that had been recognized in the quarter ended March 2018. The probe identified certain behavior inconsistent with the company's code of conduct, and referred the matter to Symantec for appropriate action.

Clark's departure continues the executive brain drain atop Symantec, with President and COO Michael Fey leaving in December to take the CEO position at Mesosphere and EVP and CFO Nicholas Noviello announcing plans to depart Symantec in January. Symantec announced Thursday that Vincent Pilette - former Logitech CFO and VP of finance for HPE's server, storage and networking business - will become CFO on May 21.

Bloomberg reported late last year that CMO Michael Williams and Brandon Rogers, senior vice president of the go-to-market team, had also left the company. Symantec declined to comment on that report.

"Symantec is known for its R&D strengths, its iconic brands, and the breadth of its portfolio, and I am eager to work with the management team to drive growth across our Enterprise and Consumer segments and deliver value to our customers, partners and shareholders," Pilette said in a statement.

Fey's footsteps, meanwhile, have been largely filled by former Skyport Systems president and CEO Art Gilliland, who had previously led Symantec's 1,3000-person enterprise information security business in the early 2010s. Gilliland led Skyport from pre-product startup to being acquired by Cisco Systems in early 2018.

"During the CEO search process and beyond, we will benefit from our deep bench of leaders, including Art Gilliland and Samir Kapuria, to help maintain continuity and leadership across our Enterprise and Consumer organizations," Hill said in a statement.

Clark credited Gilliland in January for delivering Enterprise Security sales for the quarter that were $31 million above the top end of Symantec's guidance range due to a higher mix of sales yielding upfront revenue than the company had anticipated. That was in contrast to Clark's comments in October 2018, where he expressed concerns about "momentum loss" in the segment due to implied billings declines.

Three months earlier, Clark announced plans for Symantec to cut its 11,000-person staff by up to 8 percent as part of a $50 million restructuring plan.