Former Symantec CEO and current board Chairman John Thompson, widely considered by industry watchers to be one of the true “class acts” in Silicon Valley, on May 6 was named CEO of Virtual Instruments.
Thompson replaces Mark Urdahl, who was VI’s founding CEO in 2008. Urdahl, a major stockholder, is staying on as a member of the company’s board of directors.
VI, a spinoff of Finisar, makes SAN (storage area network) and virtual infrastructure optimization software called SANInsight and VirtualWisdom. According to VI, the products provide deep monitoring and analysis of how the virtualized IT infrastructure and the SAN affect business-critical application performance.
VI’s middleware is designed to reduce application response time, increase availability and improve resource utilization.
Thompson joined Virtual Instruments as an investor and board member in 2009. During his 10-year tenure as CEO of Symantec, revenues grew from $600 million to more than $6 billion per year.
Thompson played a major role in helping “transform Symantec into a leader in security, storage and systems management solutions,” said his company biography page.
Prior to his time at Symantec, Thompson spent 25 years at IBM in a number of senior sales and marketing management positions. He was serving as general manager of IBM Americas when he moved to Symantec in 1998.
Thompson, 60, is known for more than being a company executive. Immediately after announcing his retirement as Symantec’s CEO in November 2008, he became widely regarded as a leading candidate to be President Obama’s first secretary of labor, a job that ultimately went to then-Rep. Hilda Solis a month later.
In September 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Thompson to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC), to make recommendations regarding the security of the critical infrastructure of the United States.
In addition, Thompson has served as the chair of the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology to identify and evaluate technology-driven solutions to improve the security and efficiency of national and local aviation.
Thompson was CEO of Symantec when it acquired storage vendor Veritas for $11 billion, admitting frankly only a few days after the deal was consummated in June 2005 that the company made “an enormous mistake” during the lengthy and costly acquisition process by not explaining in better fashion to stockholders and customers about why the synergy between the two companies was complementary.
At the time, Thompson said his company’s focus on “what” instead of “why” was the biggest drag on its merger with Veritas.
At the time, it was the largest software acquisition in history.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify information about the Symantec-Veritas merger of 2005.