5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Dec. 5

This week's five companies that had a rough week include Sony's ever-worsening security breach, Samsung's reported firing of top mobile executives, further cost-cutting at a leading Virginia solution provider, an Nvidia partner caught in a nasty patent battle, and the latest blow to Microsoft's efforts to expand Windows Phone sales.

Sony Hit With Extensive Security Breach, Celebrity Data Exposed

The news for Sony Pictures Entertainment just got worse and worse through the week. The company struggled to recover from a massive hacking incident where hackers gained control of the company's database servers, stealing and leaking data that included unreleased films, company executive salaries, employee Social Security numbers and even personal data from celebrities, reportedly including Sylvester Stallone and director Judd Apatow.

The attacks purportedly began Nov. 24 and continued until last week when the company shut down its corporate network. While the number of people affected won't likely exceed other security breaches, such as at retailers Target and Home Depot, the Sony incident was notable for the scope of the break-in and how easily the hackers were able to probe the company's database servers with impunity.

Samsung Fires Several High-Ranking Mobile Execs

It also wasn't a good week to be a mobile executive at Samsung. The company fired several of its high-ranking mobile executives, include senior and executive vice presidents, after a year of disappointing smartphone sales, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The report said it was unclear which of the dozens of executives who lost their jobs were dismissed from the company and how many were reassigned. While Samsung remains the smartphone market leader, in the last year the vendor's market share has dropped from 32.5 percent to 23.8 percent--– despite market growth. And company profits generated by smartphone sales have declined significantly.

Leidos Hints At Layoffs, Business Divestitures

Samsung wasn't the only company where employees were faced with possible pink slips. Leidos, a Reston, Va.-based federal solution provider, hinted this week at layoffs and business divestitures as it tries to streamline its operations and cut costs.

Leidos' third-quarter earnings report included a 10 percent decline in revenue and a 10 percent drop in sales at the company's national security solutions division -- the latter driven by reductions in government spending. CEO Roger Krone said the company was on track with previously announced cost-cutting measures and was "extending the scale and scope of those reductions into the next fiscal year."

Velocity Micro Caught In Patent Crossfire Between Nvidia and Samsung

Nvidia channel partner Velocity Micro has found itself caught in the middle of a nasty legal battle between Nvidia and Samsung over alleged patent infringements.

Samsung named Nvidia and Richmond, Va.-based Velocity Micro in a patent suit last month, part of an ongoing legal battle between Samsung and Nvidia that began earlier this year. Nvidia initially charged Samsung with violating seven Nvidia GPU (graphic processor unit) patents. In early November Samsung sued Nvidia claiming violation of eight patents.

Velocity Micro's desktop and tablet products use Nvidia GPUs. But CEO Randy Copeland said the real reason his company has been sucked into the fray is purely for court jurisdiction purposes: Samsung sees an advantage to having the case heard in the Federal District Court for Virginia's Eastern District -- including Richmond where Velocity Micro is based.

Huawei Said To Drop Windows Phone Plans

Microsoft's efforts to become a significant player in the smartphone arena took a hit this week with reports that Chinese tech giant Huawei has dropped its plans to develop new Windows Phone devices.

A number of news sites, including BGR, GSMarena and Gizbot, quoted a Huawei spokesperson as saying the company would stop producing Windows Phone smartphones because of poor sales and because nobody has made money selling the Windows-based devices.

Windows Phone smartphones accounted for only 2.9 percent of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2014, according to IDC, compared with 84.4 percent for Android-based phones and 11.7 percent for Apple iPhones.