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10 Things To Watch For From Symantec's Interim CEO Richard Hill

Here's a deep dive into why Symantec CEO Greg Clark left abruptly and how interim CEO Richard Hill plans to address challenges around channel performance, closing deals, and the company's enterprise security pipeline.

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10. Clark's Final Year At Symantec Was Turbulent

Clark's last year with Symantec was a rocky one, punctuated by an internal accounting probe, activist investor unrest, staff cuts, and a 32 percent drop in the company's stock price.

The troubles began in May 2018, when Symantec announced an internal probe into concerns raised by a former employee. The investigation found certain behavior inconsistent with the company's code of conduct, and resulted in the deferral of $12 million of revenue that had been recognized in the quarter ended March 2018.

In August 2018, Symantec announced plans to cut its 11,000-person staff by up to 8 percent as part of a $50 million restructuring effort.

Also in August, activity investor Starboard Value said in a regulatory filing that it believed shares of Symantec were undervalued at the time of purchase, and that it hoped to change the makeup of the Symantec board to unlock more value. The following month, Symantec and Starboard reached an agreement to name three new independent members to the company's board of directors.

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9. Financial Struggles, Family Health Issues Took Toll On Clark

Clark approached Hill in late April and indicated that he had personal issues he needed to address and wanted to spend more time with his ill and aging father, according to Hill.

Being a CEO is extremely stressful and difficult, Hill said, and the pressure is quite high to deliver strong financial results as well as top-line growth for shareholders. And somebody with the pride of Clark wouldn't like to see Symantec's result in the most recent quarter, Hill said, which included a 1.7 percent drop in sales punctuated by a 24 percent billings decline in the struggling enterprise security business.

"The next phase of executing this strategy requires both a clear, laser operational focus as well as the ability to be able to extend this strategy beyond where it is today," Hill said. "And so mutually, both Greg and the board agreed that now is the right time [for Clark to leave]."

 
 
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