25 years of Symantec

You have to hand it to the fine people at Symantec Corp. for 25 years in business.As a reporter covering the IT sector you sometimes lose perspective on these milestone moments for a company.

If you look back at what Symantec was in Canada back in 1987 when it got started here it is a remarkable story of survival and success.

To think Symantec was a publisher of software titles back then. Any title really. Any one that could make a buck at retail. Its first office in Canada was a condo unit near Toronto’s lakeshore. They had products such as Symantec Q&A, a plain English language search tool and Symantec Game Pack, which had a great game of pick-up sticks. Close to 100 per cent of their business came from retail. Today, the company has a balanced business model with sales in all area of the market.

I have tested many Symantec products over the years. One of my favourites was Anywhere, where you could transfer data from one PC to another no matter the location. It could be even out of town. This was before e-mail of course.

The Canadian operation had fantastic team leaders starting with Keith Robinson, Stephen DeWitt, Chris Monnette and the current chief, Michael Murphy.

They were also a company that looked outside the box for acquisitions. The big one of course was Peter Norton Systems. Veritas made headlines as well. But I think buying Delrina, which was a Canadian IT darling, was a great move.

I have also interviewed both Symantec CEOs, Gordon Eubanks and John W. Thompson.

With Eubanks I got him during the famous mud-slinging war between McAfee and Symantec of the late 90s. The feud was started by Bill Larson, the CEO of McAfee/Network Associates. Larson was a real character and without a doubt the most aggressive person I have ever interviewed. Eubanks, in comparison was more reserved, and clearly stated that no-matter the competitive nature of the business nothing he said was ever meant to be a personal attack.

I have had my moments with Thompson. When news broke that he was the new CEO I immediately thought it was John M. Thompson, the former vice-chairman of IBM. I later found out John M. Thompson hired John W. Thompson at IBM.

John W. Thompson was very gracious with the media here in Canada, staying well past his scheduled time to field all of our questions. My second interview with him during Partner Engage last year played more like a scene from Seinfeld.

I would credit him for making security the buzzword it is today, defining zero-day attacks and quite frankly having the gumption to take a company with revenues at around half a billion dollars into a US$5 billion plus global leader in security.

I find Symantec’s 25 year story remarkable. If you think about it this company should have been acquired sometime between 1997 and 1998, but instead they were the acquirer. When you look at 25 years it’s not a long time. If Symantec was a boxer the press would say he was hitting his prime. And maybe that is the case for Symantec. The growing pains are over and there is more to come.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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