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Symantec CEO Greg Clark unexpectedly steps down

Cybersecurity giant Symantec is searching for a new CEO once again after Greg Clark unexpectedly resigned from the vendor after three years at the helm.

Symantec CEO Greg Clark unexpectedly resigned from the company Thursday, ending his influential and sometimes tumultuous tenure at the cybersecurity vendor.

Symantec announced Clark's resignation prior to its fourth quarter and fiscal year-end earnings call. Richard Hill, a Symantec board member, was appointed interim president and CEO as the company searches for a replacement. On the earnings call, Hill said Clark's decision to step down as Symantec CEO was influenced by personal matters.

"In early April, Greg introduced me to the Symantec field organization and in late April, indicated he had personal issues he needed to attend and wanted to spend more time with his aging father," Hill said on the call.

Symantec's stock dropped approximately 15% following the earnings call, which included disappointing Q4 financial results and a lower than expected outlook for the first quarter and full 2020 fiscal year.

Clark previously served as CEO of web security vendor Blue Coat Systems. In 2016, he was named Symantec CEO when Symantec acquired Blue Coat for $4.65 billion. Under Clark's leadership, Symantec made several other acquisitions as it transitioned from its legacy antivirus business into other markets. Those acquisitions included identify theft protection vendor LifeLock for $2.3 billion in 2016; malware detection startup Fireglass for $225 million in 2017; and Luminate, a software-defined perimeter startup, for $200 million in February.

Clark's tenure as Symantec CEO was also marked by tumult. In 2017, Google investigated Symantec's certificate authority business and found "a series of failures" within the business, including 30,000 mis-issued certificates. As a result, Google and Mozilla moved to deprecate trust for Symantec's SSL and TLS certificates in their browsers, which led to Symantec selling its web security and certificate authority business to rival DigiCert Inc. for approximately $1 billion.

Symantec disclosed last May that it had launched an internal investigation into unspecified financial issues within the company that were first raised by a former employee. The vendor said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had also launched a formal investigation into the matter.

Richard Hill, SymantecRichard Hill

In September, Symantec completed its internal probe, which resulted in the deferment of $12 million in revenue but did not include any "adverse material findings," Hill said on the earnings call. However, the SEC investigation is ongoing.

During the earnings call, Hill was asked if Clark's abrupt resignation was in any way related to the SEC investigation. Hill said there was "absolutely" no connection to the investigation "that I know of."

Symantec's CEO position has been a revolving door for much of the last decade. In 2012, former chief executive Enrique Salem was forced to resign amid disappointing financial results, and in 2014 Salem's replacement Steve Bennett stepped down as well. In 2016, Michael Brown was also forced out as CEO following disappointing earnings results.

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