Symantec CEO Michael Brown is stepping down once a successor is found and will also immediately relinquish his role as president of the security software company, the security vendor announced yesterday.
Ajei Gopal, a partner at private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, was named interim president heading a newly created, temporary Office of the President at Symantec which is charged with finding a permanent CEO to replace Brown.
Brown has served as Symantec's chief executive for about a year and a half. His ouster came as a surprise to many industry watchers. Symantec also reduced its earnings and sales forecasts for its fiscal fourth quarter. Company shares fell steeply during the day following the news of Brown's departure and the revised earnings forecast.
"We thank Mike for guiding Symantec through a critical period of transition as president and CEO," Symantec chairman Daniel Schulman said in a statement.
"Under his leadership, Symantec has successfully executed against the five priorities of its transformation, including divesting Veritas, developing a new product roadmap in enterprise security, improving our cost structure, strengthening our executive team, and continuing to return significant cash to shareholders.
"Given our solid financial foundation and clear path forward as the leader in cybersecurity, this is the right time to transition leadership for Symantec's next chapter of growth. We appreciate Mike's continued support as the Board conducts a thoughtful and comprehensive search for Symantec's next CEO."
Gopal previously served as an executive vice president and chief technology at Symantec and more recently had upper management roles at CA Technologies and Hewlett Packard. He is also assuming the role of chief operating officer at Symantec and is joined in the new Office of the President by Thomas Seifert, Symantec EVP and chief financial officer, and Scott Taylor, Symantec EVP, general counsel, and secretary.
"The formation of the Office of the President will allow Symantec's management team to focus on product development and operational excellence while the CEO search is underway," Schulman said, adding that Symantec's goal of reducing costs by $400 million over the next two years remained in place.
"I am extremely proud of what our team has accomplished. I look forward to supporting this transition as we continue executing on our unified security strategy, building our enterprise security sales pipeline, improving our cost structure and efficiently allocating capital," Brown said in a statement.
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