Symantec Admits to One Enormous Mistake with Veritas Buy

 
 
By Tom Steinert-Threlkeld  |  Posted 2005-06-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Symantec CEO John Thompson says his company's focus on "what" instead of "why" was the biggest drag on its merger with Veritas.

Symantec made "one enormous mistake" in its pursuit of storage software supplier Veritas, according to statements Symantec CEO John Thompson made on Monday, in his first public comments since the merger of the two market leaders was completed Friday. "We didnt say why," Thompson said in an interactive discussion Monday morning with about 80 CIOs and business executives from U.S. companies, at the Ziff Davis CIO Summit in Pebble Beach, Calif. "The synergy wasnt obvious" to investors and shareholders of the two companies, he said. Veritas was perceived as a supplier of software to corporations, while Symantec was seen as a supplier to individuals—even though half of its business before the merger was with corporate customers.
Instead of explaining to its business customers why the deal was important and logically complementary, the company spent too much time on numerics, Thompson said. Among the most important figures were that the merger would double Symantecs size and create the fourth-largest software company in existence. Symantec had revenues last year of $1.9 billion, while Veritas saw revenues of $2.0 billion.
With little public explanation of the underlying reasoning, investors confidence in the deal sank along with its value, which dropped from $13.5 billion to as little as $9 billion before finally closing at about $11 billion on June 24. That made it, by a hair, the largest software merger to date, barely eclipsing the $10.6 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft completed at the end of last year by Oracle. The preoccupation with size instead of strategy led to confusion, Thompson said. The first large investor that he encountered "said this is a purple elephant, he recalled.
Thompson had to ask what that meant. The response: "Thats the point: No one has seen a purple elephant before, and no one knows what to do with it. The "why" behind the birth of the elephant, Thompson said, was to create a company that enables corporations to build information systems that can withstand attacks from hackers and to constantly back up data, replicate data and recover both information and operations consistently. Helping companies to develop "resilient" information systems is particularly important, he noted, given the harm that can come from a single worm, such as Slammer, if a company is not prepared. That 2003 attack on computers cost companies more than $1 billion, according to London-based researcher Mi2g Ltd. Read the full story on Baselinemag.com: Symantec Admits to One Enormous Mistake with Veritas Buy
 
 
 
 
Editor-in-Chief
tst@ziffdavisenterprise.com
Tom was editor-in-chief of Interactive Week, from 1995 to 2000, leading a team that created the Internet industry's first newspaper and won numerous awards for the publication. He also has been an award-winning technology journalist for the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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