5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending May 6

Topping this week's roundup of companies (and their employees) that had a rough week is Cipher, which is going into serious retrenchment mode after a poor first-quarter showing.

Also making the list were Teradata's CEO, who was shown the door this week; Juniper Networks, which was the subject of a downgrade report from a major Wall Street firm; Asus PC owners, who found their systems frozen because of a bad Microsoft patch; and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who triggered questions when he didn't show up at this week's EMC World.

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.

Ciber Cutting Staff, Could Divest Some Operations

Solution provider Ciber is undergoing some serious retrenching after the company reported this week that sales in the first quarter, ended March 31, fell 11 percent year over year, resulting in a $97 million loss.

The news pushed Ciber's stock down nearly 26 percent Thursday, to $1.60 a share -- a 22-year low.

Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Cipher has already begun a round of employee cuts with the goal of cutting $5 million in sales, general and administrative costs. The company is also expected to soon unveil a plan to divest itself of "non-strategic" operations.

Teradata CEO Steps Down Amid Losses

Teradata showed its CEO of nine years the door Thursday after the business intelligence software and data warehouse system developer reported a 6 percent revenue decline (including a 20 percent drop in product sales) and a $46 million loss.

The company named board member Victor Lund its new president and CEO, effective immediately, replacing Mike Koehler, who had been leading the company since 2007.

Teradata, once a pioneering company in the data warehouse and business analytics space, has struggled to maintain its footing in the fast-changing big data arena.

In addition to failing to turn the company around, Koehler led Teradata's failed expansion into marketing applications. In April, Teradata announced a deal to sell its marketing applications business to a private equity group as part of its corporate transformation efforts "to focus all of its attention and resources on its core data and analytics business."

Juniper Network's Stock Downgraded

Publicly traded companies hate it when Wall Street analysts downgrade their stock. And that's what financial firm UBS has done with Juniper Networks, citing what Juniper's CEO called "disappointing" first-quarter earnings and the lack of any potential upside this year.

The UBS report cited Juniper Networks' enterprise revenue decline, lack of a strong channel operation, soft demand for older SRX products, lack of big product refreshes in the pipeline, and increased competition in the security and router markets.

Microsoft Update Causes Disruptions For Asus PC Users

People with Asus PCs and PCs incorporating Asus motherboards found their systems freezing up this week after a patch Microsoft issued in March apparently triggered a "Secure Boot" violation.

Reports at InfoWorld and other publications said a BitLocker patch issued by Microsoft, initially optional and then recommended in April, created a compatibility conflict with Secure Boot settings on Asus PCs running Windows 7.

Windows 7 doesn't support the Secure Boot feature. So there has been a growing number of reports of Asus PC owners whose systems failed to boot up or simply froze with a "Secure Boot Violation" warning screen. Asus has been issuing instructions on how to disable the Secure Boot feature.

Gelsinger's Absence Raises Eyebrows

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger has been a visible presence at EMC World conferences in the past. So when he was nowhere to be seen at this week's EMC World, attendees began to ask why. It didn't help when VMware and EMC spokespeople declined to discuss Gelsinger's presence or absence.

EMC owns 81 percent of VMware and Dell is on the verge of acquiring EMC for $60 billion. VMware had a big presence at EMC World this week, as the spokespersons noted, with executives such as Chief Technology Officer Ray O'Farrell and Kit Colbert, who leads VMware's Cloud-Native Apps group among those attending.

Still, the VMware CEO's absence came as a surprise to solution providers who are wondering if there is more than meets the eye to Geslinger's absence from the main stage. "At a time like this, he should be front and center at EMC World, talking about the open strategy that [Dell CEO] Michael Dell is always talking about," said a longtime EMC-VMware partner.