5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Jan. 8

It's a new year and that means more opportunities for companies to make bad decisions, execute bad strategies – or just plain get hit with bad luck. Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is EMC – or more specifically, EMC employees – who found themselves in the midst of a round of layoffs this week.

Also making the list were Silent Circle's Blackphone 1, which was revealed to have a vulnerability; stolen customer data from Time Warner Cable; another top executive defection at NetApp; and Barracuda Networks, whose stock price lost a third of its value after a lackluster earnings report.

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 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

EMC Begins Layoffs, Marketing Unit Hit Especially Hard

Not a good week to be an EMC employee. This week the company began laying off workers as part of an $850-million-a-year cost-cutting effort. Sources said the cuts included a significant number of marketing positions, although employees in manufacturing and operations were also being let go.

These are uncertain days at EMC, which is in the process of being acquired by Dell in a $67 billion deal. EMC disclosed plans for the cutbacks in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While the layoffs are certainly bad news for the affected workers, it could also mean difficulties for EMC. Partners told CRN that the cuts could prompt some partners to scale back their EMC relationship because of the uncertainty.

Blackphone 1 Vulnerability Highlights Mobile Security Challenges

The Blackphone was billed as one of the most secure personal smartphones ever to hit the market, featuring encrypted phone calls and other benefits through its PrivateOS adapted version of the Android operating system.

But research out this week reveals that the Blackphone 1, developed by Switzerland-based Silent Circle, has a vulnerability that an attacker could exploit to send commands to the phone's modem through an open socket path. With such access an attacker could send and receive text messages, dial or connect calls, check the state of phone calls, reset settings, force conference calls, change caller ID settings and silently register a call forwarding number.

The vulnerability was discovered by security researchers at SentinelOne, who said the problem highlighted the fact that no manufacturer is exempt from security flaws.

Time Warner Cable Says Up To 320,000 Customers May Have Had Data Stolen

Time Warner Cable said this week that as many as 320,000 of its customers may have had their email passwords stolen, according to a Reuters story.

The company said it was recently notified by the FBI that some customers' email addresses and passwords may have been compromised.

Time Warner Cable said it had not determined how the information was obtained, but said there were no indications that the company's systems had been breached. The company said the addresses and passwords may have been gathered either through malware downloaded through phishing attacks or through data breaches at other companies that store Time Warner Cable's customer information.

NetApp CFO Departs, Executive Reshuffling Continues

NetApp, whose executive ranks have undergone significant changes in the past year, said this week that CFO Nick Noviello has left to pursue an opportunity with another company. Noviello was an eight-year veteran at NetApp and had served as CFO for the past four years.

The NetApp board fired longtime CEO Tom Georgens in June, naming George Kurian, then executive vice president of product operations, as the new CEO.

Other top executives who have left the company in the past year include CTO Jay Kidd, chief marketing officer Julie Parrish, North American channel sales vice president Regina Kunkle, and president of go-to-market operations Rob Salmon.

Barracuda Networks' Stock Hammered After Weak Billings Report, Slower Growth Projections

Barracuda Networks' stock lost about a third of its value Friday after the company reported its third-quarter results Thursday, including declining billings and reduced guidance for the fourth quarter.

While the company's third-quarter revenue (up more than 14 percent to $80.1 million) and earnings (a $1.6 million loss) were roughly in line with expectations, gross billings declined by 2.7 percent. The company also reduced its fourth-quarter revenue forecast to between $80 million and $82 million, below the $84.7 million analysts had been expecting, according to The Motley Fool.

The result: After closing at $16.43 Thursday, Barracuda Network's stock was pounded in trading Friday, losing more than a third of its value to $10.73 at the closing bell.