5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

T he Week Ending Nov. 20

Topping this week's roundup of companies -- and people -- that had a rough week is Symantec, whose channel direction is in question after the departure of several key executives.

Also making the list was Microsoft for its loss of a key CRM executive to rival Salesforce.com, manufacturers of Windows-based smartphones who saw their market share plunge in the third quarter, a major hotel chain that was the latest cyberattack victim, and a number of marketing and communications employees at Cisco who recently lost their jobs.

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.

Symantec Channel Plans In Question After Executive Departures

Symantec this week lost its second top channel executive in less than a month, with a source telling CRN that Tom LaRocca (pictured), vice president of global channel programs and sales, was let go. The source also said LaRocca's departure is the first of many as the company reportedly plans to reorganize its worldwide channel group.

The news comes less than a month after the departure of Adrian Jones, executive vice president and general manager of global sales and operations. The departures have some solution providers questioning Symantec's commitment to the channel as the vendor readies to sell off its Veritas storage business to a private equity firm.

Even that plan hit a speed bump this week when, according to a Bloomberg report, two banks backed away from a deal to provide $5.5 billion in loans and bonds to underwrite the $8 billion sale to private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

Microsoft Dynamics Exec Reportedly Defects To Salesforce.com

The executive in charge of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM applications has left to take a position with archrival Salesforce.com, according to several reports this week. If confirmed, the defection would be a major blow to Microsoft.

The departure of Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Dynamics CRM, was first reported by MSDynamicsworld. Re/code reported that Stutz is moving to Salesforce.com, where he will serve as chief analytics officer.

Salesforce has been making a major push into the business analytics space with its Cloud Analytics service, based on its Wave technology.

Major Hotel Chain Hit With Security Breach

On the eve of one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide began notifying customers Friday of a data security breach affecting some of its locations.

Starwood, which owns Sheraton, Weston, W and other hotel chains, said it recently discovered malware on its point-of-sale systems at some restaurants, gift shops and other retail locations in 54 of its hotels. It does not appear that guest registration systems were affected by the breach.

The incident compromised payment card information from an unspecified number of people, including cardholder names, card numbers, security codes and expiration dates. The timeframe of the breach varies with location, with some going back as far as November 2014 and others as recently as last month.

The news comes one week after Starwood announced a deal to be acquired by rival Marriott International for $12.2 billion.

Cisco Marketing And Communications Teams Hit With Layoffs

Word got out this week that Cisco Systems' Global Marketing and Corporate Communications organization was hard hit by a round of job cuts earlier this month. About 120 people, including some senior-level staffers who had been with the company for more than a decade, were among those laid off, sources told CRN.

Cisco has been undergoing significant changes this year, including executive departures and some layoffs in July, some because of restructuring and executive shuffles associated with Chuck Robbins' ascension to the CEO office.

While Cisco is actually expected to grow its employee roster this year, that's probably small consolation to the people who are out the door.

Bad Market Share News For Windows Smartphone Manufacturers

Gartner released its third-quarter smartphone and mobile phone sales analysis this week. And the numbers weren't pretty for Microsoft and other vendors that sell Windows-based smartphones.

Fewer than 5.9 million Windows-based smartphones were sold in the quarter, accounting for just 1.7 percent of the worldwide market. That's down from just over 9 million units in last year's third quarter, which accounted for 3 percent of the market.

That's in jarring contrast to the nearly 299 million Android-based smartphones sold in the quarter (84.7 percent of the market) and 46 million Apple iOS smartphones sold (13.1 percent) -- both representing small gains in market share and big gains in units sold.