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Symantec sacks CEO in middle of company transition

Michael Brown appointed interim CEO, replacing Steve Bennett

Bennett is the second CEO to lose his job at Symantec in the past two years.
Bennett is the second CEO to lose his job at Symantec in the past two years.

IT security vendor Symantec Corp has fired CEO Steve Bennett, who was in the second year of a complete overhaul of the company's product and go-to-market strategy.

Symantec's move comes as a complete shock, said industry insiders and signals continued turmoil at the company. Bennett is the second CEO to lose his job after the Enrique Salem stepped down in mid 2012.

The Symantec board of directors appointed Michael Brown as interim president and chief executive officer, effective immediately, the company said in a statement.

The company also said a special committee of the board will immediately begin the search for a permanent CEO with the assistance of a leading executive search firm.

"We recognise Steve's contributions to Symantec, including developing and leading a series of successful initiatives focused on organisational realignment, cost reduction and process effectiveness," said Daniel Schulman, chairman of Symantec's Board of Directors, in a statement. "Our priority is now to identify a leader who can leverage our company's assets and leadership team to drive the next stage of Symantec's product innovation and growth. This considered decision was the result of an ongoing deliberative process, and not precipitated by any event or impropriety."

Brown joined Symantec's Board of Directors following the company's merger with storage giant Veritas Software in July 2005, and previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of Quantum.

Bennett was appointed CEO in July 2012, replacing Enrique Salem, who served in the position for three years but oversaw mediocre financial results. Bennett unveiled Symantec 4.0 in January 2013, which prompted a year of internal transition, including the layoff of hundreds of employees. He focused on overhauling the go-to-market strategy, impacting roughly 90%  of the sales force.

Earlier this year, Bennett said the company was preparing to unveil a product road map that included integrated parts of the security portfolio, but admitted that 2014 would be another year of transition. Symantec's third-quarter revenue, released in January, fell to $1.71bn from $1.79bn, a year earlier.