Following HP's lead, Symantec has decided to break itself into two companies -- essentially storage and security. I can give you a few hundred reasons why Symantec is making this move. But let me sum it up with a fictitious memo that should have gone something like this:
"Dear Symantec shareholders and customers: Please disregard our 2004 merger with Veritas. It was all a big mistake that took us a decade to admit. We look forward to a divorce that will allow us to grow our respective assets faster. Seriously."
To be absolutely clear: Those are my words, not Symantec's. And perhaps my words are a bit harsh. I actually praised the Symantec-Veritas deal when it was first announced. I invited then-CEO John Thompson to discuss the art of M&A at a Ziff Davis CIO Summit in 2005 or so.
Yes, storage, security and information management were converging at the time. But somebody forgot to tell the various product teams at Symantec and Veritas that they needed to look ahead -- fast.
Indeed, Symantec should have leveraged its on-premises security and storage leadership into the cloud and mobile markets -- but instead the company was late on both fronts.
Somebody Press Reset
Fast forward to the present. After multiple CEO changes and a strategic review of the business, Symantec's decision to break itself up comes only a few days after Hewlett-Packard said it would split into two companies: HP Enterprise and HP Inc. (PCs and printers).
Who's next? Wall Street is pointing to EMC/VMware and perhaps even chunks of Cisco that deserve a spin-out. Of course, that's just speculation... for now.
The biggest winners amid the breakups? Forget shareholders. The true winners are venture-backed cloud storage start-up companies like Axcient and Druva, which can potentially capitalize on customer confusion amid the Symantec breakup.
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