5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Feb. 3

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is security technology developer FireEye, whose executive chairman is stepping down as the vendor's struggles continue.

Also making the list this week were Lenovo for losing its chief operating officer, the latest in a line of executive departures; Delta Airlines for an IT system failure that disrupted several hundred flights over two days; Facebook's Oculus virtual reality business for losing a $500 million lawsuit; and a wide range of IT industry executives who found themselves responding to the travel ban and other orders streaming out of the White House.

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.

FireEye Executive Chairman DeWalt Resigns

Security technology developer FireEye, which has struggled for some time to regain its competitive momentum, took another blow this week when executive chairman and former CEO Dave DeWalt (pictured) resigned from the company.

CFO Mike Berry has also left FireEye, the company said. Word of the departures came as the vendor reported Q4 financial results that fell short of analysts' revenue expectations. In after-hours trading on Thursday FireEye's once high-flying stock plunged more than 18 percent.

A FireEye spokesman said DeWalt's departure was part of a "natural progression" of leadership at the company. DeWalt has joined digital identity management startup ForgeRock as executive chairman.

DeWalt joined the company in 2012 and led it through a period of rapid growth. But in recent years the company has struggled as it faced increased competition and DeWalt relinquished the CEO post in June 2016.

Lenovo Loses COO and PC Business Executive To Office Depot

Lenovo's executive ranks have been something of a revolving door in recent years. This week it was disclosed that Gerry Smith (pictured), chief operating officer and head of the company's PC and mobile device business, has left to become CEO of retailer Office Depot.

Smith's departure comes just three months after he was named to the COO post. He replaced Brad Smith who was COO for less than two years.

Lenovo once again has to contend with a vacancy at the top of its flagship PC business at a time when aggressive competitors like HP Inc. and Dell are challenging its market dominance.

Last year Chris Frey, the company's high-profile commercial sales chief, left the company just 18 months after taking the job.

Delta IT Failure Grounds Flights, Disrupts Operations

IT failures seem to be a regular occurrence lately, and this week it was Delta Airlines – and its customers – that suffered through flight delays and cancellations when critical IT systems went down Sunday.

Delta said "essential IT systems" crashed about 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, according to a USA Today story. The glitch was corrected within a few hours and all systems were back online shortly after midnight. Details about the cause of the IT problem have not been disclosed.

But the outage resulted in the cancellation of about 170 domestic flights Sunday and another 110 Monday.

The outage is the latest in a string of IT failures to hit major airlines in the last year. United halted some flights last week because of an IT problem. Last year a fire caused an IT failure at Delta's Atlanta command center, while in July Southwest Airlines had a massive IT system failure.

Jury Awards $500 Million In Virtual Reality Lawsuit Against Facebook-Owned Oculus

Facebook and its Oculus virtual reality business found themselves on the losing end of a jury verdict this week in which Oculus and some of its principals were ordered to pay $500 million in damages to game developer ZeniMax, according to CNN Tech and CNBC.

ZeniMax sued virtual reality technology developer Oculus just months after Facebook acquired it in 2014, charging that Oculus stole trade secrets and violated copyrights and non-disclosure agreements.

On Wednesday, a Dallas jury found that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had violated a non-disclosure agreement with ZeniMax and Oculus had engaged in copyright infringement. But the jury concluded that Oculus did not steal trade secrets as the suit had charged. The jury awarded ZeniMax $500 million in damages.

Oculus (and, hence, Facebook) is on the hook for some of the damages. But Oculus and Luckey are both responsible for $50 million for misrepresenting the origin of a product and former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe – who now leads a PC VR division within Facebook – must pay $150 million of the damages, according to CNN Tech.

IT Execs Scramble To Respond To Trump Administration's Moves

As the Trump Administration issued a stream of executive orders dealing with immigration, security and other matters, IT executives this week found themselves in reaction mode.

Most prominent was the presidential order banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, in a memo to employees, said the order was "not a policy we can support." He joined other executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in criticizing the order.

In a highly publicized move, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit Trump's economic advisory council this week to protest the travel ban.

In some cases, company employees were affected by the order. Dell CEO Michael Dell, also in an internal memo, pledged legal and human resource management support to employees and their families who affected by the travel ban.

Some executives, however, saw opportunity in the stream of orders emanating from the White House. CACI President and CEO Ken Asbury, speaking on an earnings call, said President Donald Trump's push for more border protection, national security spending and regulatory and tax relief would bolster some of CACI's leading practices.