Symantec's New CEO Is Committed to Growing with the Channel

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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In less than a month, Enrique Salem will take the helm of the world's fourth largest software company. No longer just a security company, the new chief executive tells Channel Insider that he plans to increase the company's marketplace relevancy with the support of solution provider partners.

Competitors have crowed about stealing accounts and robbing market share away from Symantec. They say they're slowly chipping away at Big Yellow’s dominance in the security industry because Symantec has become distracted by its adventures in storage and systems management. And many solution providers say they are switching away from Symantec because of poor products and support. 

Enrique Salem, Symantec’s chief operating officer, is unfazed by the charges, and glibly says that many of his rivals’ combined revenue couldn’t equal Symantec’s security software sales, which last year topped more than $1.7 billion.

"It’s frustrating to me when I hear, 'Hey, there’s that Enrique, the guy from the anti-virus company,’" he says. "We’re a company with $6 billion in revenue; there’s a lot more that we do than just anti-virus."

While rivals and critics are quick to agree with Salem’s statement about Symantec being more than just a security company, they typically mean it in a derogatory sense. Under CEO John Thompson’s leadership this past decade, Symantec has grown from an anti-virus company to a multibillion-dollar software powerhouse with more than one-half of its revenues coming from storage management software acquired by Veritas.

Under Thompson’s watch, Symantec has acquired nearly three dozen companies, each time adding new technologies, products and capabilities to its mix. Integrating these technologies has been a logistical nightmare and has caused numerous missteps. But Thompson achieved his goal of creating a company that is first and foremost about information management.

Salem, who will succeed Thompson next month as chief executive, has no plans to respond to his critics or alter the course Thompson set Symantec on. Rather, he plans to hone Symantec even tighter on the three pillars of the company: security, storage and systems management.

"You have to focus on what matters, and it’s not the disks and it’s not the PCs. It’s information," Salem says in an interview with Channel Insider. "Our company needs to be focused on security and the management of information. Don’t expect us to get into the firewall business; it’s not what we do."

Salem is an executive who has spent much of his career at Symantec in various positions. The most significant job he’s held outside Symantec was CEO of Brightmail, an anti-spam service provider that Symantec acquired in 2004 for $370 million. Thompson last fall chose Salem to succeed him as CEO; Thompson is retiring but will remain on the board of directors. Thompson declined requests for interviews.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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