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Obama Looking To Symantec CEO For Commerce 168

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fear-monger-your-way-to-the-top dept.
patentpundit writes "Word has started to circulate that President Barack Obama may be close to appointing John W. Thompson, the outgoing chief executive of network security firm Symantec Corp., to be the next Secretary of Commerce. According to the LA Times, over the last several days Thompson has spoken on the telephone and met with key senators, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a member of the commerce committee that would hold confirmation hearings for any appointed Secretary of Commerce, is 'extremely supportive and hopeful he'll be the nominee.' The appointment of Thompson to head the Department of Commerce would be an exceptionally interesting choice given that only days ago President Obama asked Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to lead his open source charge and conduct a study and report back regarding the feasibility of the US government forgoing proprietary software and moving toward open source software solutions."
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Obama Looking To Symantec CEO For Commerce

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  • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:08AM (#26638831)
    Is his track record so far.

    What can we now expect?
    • by gravos (912628) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:15AM (#26638931) Homepage
      Thompson had a career at the IBM Corporation and serves as a director on the corporate boards of UPS and Seagate Technology.
    • by FlopEJoe (784551) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:49PM (#26640463)
      Sounds perfect for a government official!
    • by kwandar (733439)
      Hey!! It tool a lot of work to make a not bad Anti-virus parasitic bloat wear!! He should be congratulated for having exceeded beyond anything anyone outside of MS could have conceived!
    • by aliquis (678370)

      Symantec antivirus products not reporting NSA developed spyware?

      Paranoids and conspiracy believers unite!

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Anybody that can not only get people to PAY for that shite, but maintain a thriving business based on it, obviously has some skills in commerce.

    • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:17PM (#26640939)

      "What can we now expect?"

      A Department of Commerce that adds positions throughout government which affect essential services and are difficult to remove without system damage?

      • by El Torico (732160)

        A Department of Commerce that adds positions throughout government which affect essential services and are difficult to remove without system damage?

        It already does, as does the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, etc. Hiring him would be superfluous.

    • Well he's also guilty of laying off employees to prop up the pathetic SYMC stock price and then cashing in his stock options for $600,000 a transaction (twice this year).

      JWT is a scumbag. I've lost a lot of faith in Obama.

      Fortunately I left that shithole of a company on my own and went to a far better gig.

  • Oh great- (Score:5, Funny)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:09AM (#26638839) Homepage Journal
    The first thing he'll do is Root the country- for our own protection. We won't be able to do anything once he's in. He'll screw everything up, and won't leave when we ask him to. We'll need to find a special force of people to go in and remove him manually.

    Worst of all, he won't even fix any problems while he's there, and we'll end up calling his competitors to fix the problem later.
    • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:21AM (#26639027)

      We won't be able to do anything once he's in. He'll screw everything up, and won't leave when we ask him to. We'll need to find a special force of people to go in and remove him manually.

      Actually he might be a blessing in disguise. After 4 years of this guy, the only hope for the USA will be repartitioning the country and then a swift reinstall of the operating system. Looks like the hardcore liberalists will get their wishes after all ;-)

      • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:36AM (#26639265) Homepage Journal
        ...and who's to say that he won't be productive while in office! I'm looking forward to his hourly TV and radio address broadcast over all channels:

        John W. Thompson: "Hi, I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to let you know that your commerce is safe."
        average American: "&*%^&$&* how do I turn this damn thing off?!"
        John W. Thompson: "YOUR COMMERCE is SAFE, DAMMIT!"
        average American: "^$%^#$*%%"
      • by lytles (24756)

        hardcore "liberalists" ?

        i wasn't familiar with the term so i googled it, and mw says:

        1: the quality or state of being liberal
        2 (a) often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity (b) a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard (c) a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AvitarX (172628)

          Libertarian is a political party.

          liberalism is an ideology.

          The presence of another party that shares views is irrelevent, if you are not a partisan Libertarian, but share liberalist ideas, then you are liberalist, not a Libertarian.

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          That he means is a person who is literally liberal, that is what some Americans would call libertarian. The point is anyway that "libertarian" is a stupid invented word that means liberal to people who has forgotten what liberal really means.

  • by xzvf (924443) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:10AM (#26638855)
    CEO's are just part of the same thought elite recycling old ideas. Even ones that run technical companies. Stuff like this is only news when real reformers like RMS get cabinet appointments.
    • by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:19AM (#26639001) Journal

      Stuff like this is only news when real reformers like RMS get cabinet appointments.

      I'm fairly certain that would be the start of the apocalypse.

    • Stuff like this is only news when real reformers like RMS get cabinet appointments.

      I thought we were supposed to keep religion [stallman.org] out of government?

    • by WindowlessView (703773) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:53AM (#26639493)

      CEO's are just part of the same thought elite recycling old ideas

      Worse. Letting Scott McNealy lead an open source initiative is like putting the CEO of United Fruit Company in charge of campesino agrarian reform.

      • by Software (179033)
        Sun open-sourced StarOffice and Solaris, both of which were acquired or developed at a cost of many millions of dollars. How many other companies have done this?
    • I'd rather Linus. He's proven himself to be a competent manager, gets things done, delegates tasks well, and doesn't make a fuss.

      No offense to the guy, but RMS is a dirty hippie, and almost certainly a communist (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that). Appointing him as Commerce Secretary would be grossly irresponsible.

      It's not like what you're describing hasn't already happened -- Steven Chu, Obama's Secretary of Energy is an extremely accomplished scientist with some serious management c

    • by jdgeorge (18767)

      CEO's are just part of the same thought elite recycling old ideas. Even ones that run technical companies. Stuff like this is only news when real reformers like RMS get cabinet appointments.

      Richard Stallman IS part of the "thought elite". His ideas ARE now old ideas. His ideas have become part of the establishment view.

      The "thought elite" of business founders and CEOs includes people who have used recycled "old ideas" to get a lot of good stuff done, such as Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Paul Newman, etc.

      Writing off the entirety of such a diverse group of people as the CEOs of corporations with the nearly meaningless accusation that they are "recycling old ideas" is not only fallacious, but also

    • RMS is just like Oprah... He'll say something like, "No thanks, I don't have the time to do this cause I got my hand in umpteen other things."

      .

      .

      Celebs only bring to the table... themselves.

    • by Sentry21 (8183)

      RMS is enough of a revolutionary lunatic that he'd most likely destroy the country. Judging from his ideas, he'd make illegal software patents, as well as commercial software, since 'information wants to be free'.

      RMS's intentions are great, but putting him in a position of power would be as ill-advised as doing the same for Theodore Kaczynski.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:16AM (#26638945) Homepage
    Obama's administration, feature creep, and bloat. Just like Symantic.
  • Any explanation? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:16AM (#26638949) Homepage

    I don't know about John W. Thompson, but my gut response to this was, "Could he look for someone who runs a company that doesn't suck?" Thompson might not be responsible, but *someone* has been running Symantec into the ground for several years now-- at least as far as product quality is concerned.

    As far as technology goes, I'd be much more pleased if I felt like the administration were looking for people with pro-freedom and pro-consumer tendencies.

    • Oh I remember... Symantec and Sun are both on the list of "Tech Giants that Might Not Survive 2009." http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=910 [com.com]

      I wish the new president would bring successful executives into government, not losers.

      • Well, that survey was hardly conclusive, but I suppose it might be a symptom of the old, "only losers go into government" theory.

        I've never seen it explicitly stated anywhere that I can remember, but I've heard people complain on countless occasions that the best and brightest simply don't go into government. If you're making millions and millions of dollars running a successful company, are you going to quit to make a salary that's chicken feed (relatively) working for the government?

        I don't know how tr

    • by Arterion (941661)

      Symantec Antivirus products are good.

      Norton sucks.

      It's not a horrible company, they just have one bad product: Norton. Unfortunately, many, maybe people have had bad experiences with Norton. Their business software is pretty good.

      I use their business version -- Symantec Endpoint Protection 11 -- at home, and it works pretty well.

  • Well if this guy gets in, according to Obamas decree this guy will not be allowed to tap them for projects for the gov't. I am sure this will not extend into existing contracts but this could prevent Symmantec from providing any contracts to the white house for 2 years.
  • Mixed Blessing? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cowmonaut (989226) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:19AM (#26638995)

    I suppose he knows the "tech industry" or what have you better than other possible choices. I just have this feeling that having the former CEO of a proprietary software company in charge of looking into the feasibility of going open source might not be as good an idea.

    I mean, the guy is capable but is he willing? Several nations are going nuts with open source now since it puts them in control of their own systems and even fits their philosophical ideas (power to the people, etc) better than going Windows. So we know its possible and seems to be working out okay where it has been done. Why do I have a feeling whomever we do get for Secretary of Commerce is going to say we should stick with Windows for the OS, Symantec for the AV, and MS Office for our primary apps?

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:22AM (#26639053) Homepage

    I couldn't help but notice that he picked the CEO of a company that makes the worst, most bloated, least valuable proprietary products I've ever used. Say what you will about the bloat in Microsoft products, but at least the bloat is there because they are trying their damnedest to create a robust platform and maintain compatibility. I've never seen a single benefit to the bloat that Symantec products have, and have often found myself wondering how you would even notice malware and viruses on a system that has their antivirus products on it.

    • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:29AM (#26639163) Homepage Journal

      Hey, ghost is a great product. ( ya, i know they bought it a good decade ago, but all the legacy code is long gone by now )

      And their latest acquisition: Altiris is nothing to sneeze at either.

      They are *much* more then antivirus. ( which i agree, sux )

      • Try ghost on a unicode (ie non english) FS - I guarantee you won't like it anymore.

        2 years ago it would FAIL to restore an image (the entire sodding image!) with any file that had a unicode character in its name.

        No clue if they fixed it lately because I binned it all and went with something else.

        • Have you tested partimage [freshmeat.net] on such a FS? I am not trying to "sell" partimage, I am just curious if it is capable to restore the FS on which Ghost would choke.

        • by nurb432 (527695)

          It used to work on Japanese installs ( NT4 ), but i do admit that was before Symantec bought them.

          Not had to deal with any non english installs since then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      His company makes a shitty product and have made a huge profit from it. He should be excellent as Secretary of Commerce. Hell, selling a good product ain't that hard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by db32 (862117)

      maintain compatibility

      AAAHAHAHAHA....Ok...to be fair here... I think Symantec's consumer offerings are total garbage, but I have not had anywhere near the same level of nightmare in dealing with their corporate products. But seriously...saying Microsoft became bloated in an effort to maintain compatability?! That is laughable at best. Hell, half of their 'backwards compatability' issues wouldn't even exist if they weren't constantly trying to make sure their newest software is incompatable with everything else.

    • by nvrrobx (71970) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:07PM (#26639719) Homepage

      Having been an engineer at Symantec for 5 1/2 years, I can tell you that what they suffer from is the inability to build new products themselves, or a management team that refuses to try (you choose).

      It's a company of "buy everything you can see, who cares if you can integrate it". Very little in the way of shared components, every product looks and works different, very little interoperability, etc.

      It seemed like we always bought the worst codebases we could find, then tried to fix it. It's not due to a lack of good engineering talent - there is plenty at the company.

      While I think JWT is a nice guy, one only needs to look at the purchase of Veritas to find a completely failed business model, and a CEO who doesn't seem to "get it". Even after that, they continued (and still continue) to snatch up other companies with little regard to how it will really affect shareholders. Nice guys don't make CEOs.

      When John Schwarz left to take the CEO spot at Business Objects and we kept Gary Bloom (CEO, Veritas) - I knew we were in trouble.

      • While I think JWT is a nice guy, one only needs to look at the purchase of Veritas to find a completely failed business model, and a CEO who doesn't seem to "get it". Even after that, they continued (and still continue) to snatch up other companies with little regard to how it will really affect shareholders.

        I think this is more indicative of a general trend in modern corporate culture that has never really made any sense to me.

        Somewhere along the line corporate success has become less equated with how g

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ogive17 (691899)

        Having been an engineer at Symantec for 5 1/2 years, I can tell you that what they suffer from is the inability to build new products themselves, or a management team that refuses to try (you choose).

        So what you're saying is we're going to have to buy Canada in order to fix health care?

  • I realize you want experience when you appoint people, but if they still have 'ties' there is a great chance of conflict of interest in moves like this.

  • Anyone else curious when they're going to start adding "360" to the end of every departmental name or Project?

    DHS is dead. Long live DHS360!

    If you thought NSA was watching you, just wait until the NSA360 upgrade comes out.

    Can't wait for change360.gov website.

    Let's just hope in four years the 360 moniker doesn't ring too true. Turn 360 degrees, and you're pretty much back where you started from.

  • lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nilbog (732352) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:29AM (#26639161) Homepage Journal

    What has this guy done except lead a company that makes a crappy product that only succeeds because of their volume license deals with computer manufacturers and Microsoft's own ineptness and inability to produce a secure product?

    Symantec produces software that slows down your computer, makes your other software stop working, and makes itself difficult to uninstall. Pretty much the same as a virus.

    • ha (Score:2, Interesting)

      by unity100 (970058)

      what did ANY senior post appointee in the administrations of the last 30 years do to get to their post ? APART from being regulars of smoke filled rooms ?

      please wake up. this person, is of our age and times. he doesnt belong to an age in which life was decided in smoke filled rooms on leather armchairs.

      its not what he has done. its that he is of OUR generations, the tech affiliated generations, and he is of our rising internet/tech culture. thats what's important.

      it would be utterly stupid, STUPID to assign

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      The symantec corporate AV product is pretty solid. Ghost is pretty solid, but certainly has been badly hurt by Acronis. They own Veritas now which is a solid backup solution.

      Its not all the home market.

      • I work in the SMB space and am familiar with every product you named.

        SEP is a pile. Even the latest version has mondo performance issues. It's centralized management is terrible and has ridiculous problems. For instance; try and delete the "Default Group" created at install time.

        Ghost is horribly outdated and lacking features that it had 10 years ago. It has been solidly thrashed by Clonezilla. If you haven't tried Clonezilla lately then you have no idea what you're missing and how crappy Ghost is in compar

    • Obama or the guy he is appointing?

      I just want to know the obvious creeps are getting a free pass from the Republicans and the press. The problem with a "Cult of Personality" President is that the usual concerns don't question or challenge him. That is the real danger and a good number of his appointments demonstrate that clearly.

      All in all we end up with the realization that after the election the dream world ceases to exist.

      • by Uberbah (647458)

        Obama or the guy he is appointing?

        When has Obama run a software company?

        The problem with a "Cult of Personality" President is that the usual concerns don't question or challenge him.

        As is usually the case, take the opposite of the wingnut viewpoint and you have reality [mediamatters.org].

  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:39AM (#26639323) Homepage Journal

    open source initiatives through sun ceo, ex yahoo exec for admn. post, symantec exec for ceo .... totally investing in the upcoming tech age.

    u.s. is going to shake up and lead again after all. just at the time we thought it was going down the drain. amazing.

  • open source (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:49AM (#26639443)

    The appointment of Thompson to head the Department of Commerce would be an exceptionally interesting choice given that only days ago President Obama asked Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to lead his open source charge and conduct a study and report back regarding the feasibility of the US government forgoing proprietary software and moving toward open source software solutions

    The Navy-Marine Corp. Intranet (NMCI) project has been seen as a huge, overpriced failure. It's also due for re-bidding in 2010, I believe, because EDS decided it wasn't a profitable contract.

    I wonder if a general push towards OSS in the federal government will even lead to an eviction of the unholy Exchange servers that are part of the current NMCI.

  • Whew!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:52AM (#26639487) Homepage

    For a second there, I read "Jack Thompson"

    • by The Moof (859402)
      Jack Thompson's real name is John Bruce Thompson (for reasons I've never understood, 'Jack' is short for 'John')
  • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:03PM (#26639651)

    given that only days ago President Obama asked Scott McNealy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, to lead his open source charge and conduct a study and report back regarding the feasibility of the US government forgoing proprietary software and moving toward open source software solutions.

    It certainly wasn't Obama, but SOMEONE in the administration that asked McNealy to write a paper on open source in government. That is not the same as leading a "charge."

    Interestingly, Symantec reports earnings today. Gotta believe at least one of the analysts will ask about the reports (and be given a long winded "no comment."

  • Should I be buying stock in Symantec now? Is this going to be like Haliburton with tons of money being thrown at it via government?

    • For what it's worth, JWT has all but run Symantec into the ground at this point. He's destroyed morale among most development teams by demanding across the board layoffs regardless of relative performance.

      Finally the board got a clue and he's being forced to retire in April. Not nearly soon enough. Glad I don't work for that asshole anymore.

      He's a great public speaker, but he's a self-serving snake. Lay off 5%, and cash in the stock options a couple weeks later.

  • by lyz (988147) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:11PM (#26640833) Homepage Journal
    Most of the comments here are quite negative towards Mr. Thompson. He is actually a very impressive person. I suggest people who have decided to base their judgment of him on the company he ran watch the episode of CEO Exchange with him in it. http://www.pbs.org/wttw/ceoexchange/episodes/ceo_jthompson.html [pbs.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tniermann (1394985)
      He is a great choice. He was on the advisory committee of a previous company of mine. He was always insightful, and he has a magnetic personality. He is someone who is impressive in both small private sessions as well as the big forums. At the end of the day he is a sales person through and through. Having someone in Commerce who can facilitate big deals and trade structures with class will be very good for the country.
    • It really doesn't matter what someone says in life - its the results of what he/she does that makes a difference.

      Ceo exchange had Carla Fiona on there once - she came across as quite pleasant, and not the CEO that destroyed the HP way and fired so many American workers building and developing HP products and then campaigning for McCain on a platform of "we need to create more jobs in America" (something she said with a straight face).

      Symantec is no better - they outsource and ship more work off to India/Chi

    • by antdude (79039)

      JT is a great speaker too. I have seen him in person a few times already. I was sad him to see him resigning this year. :(

    • by madman101 (571954)
      This is Slashdot. No one cares about facts...
      • by bit01 (644603)

        This is Slashdot. No one cares about facts...

        The fact is that Symantec software is crap and he was in part responsible for that crap.

        ---

        Don't be a programmer-bureaucrat; someone who substitutes marketing buzzwords and software bloat for verifiable improvements.

  • by zullnero (833754) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:20PM (#26641001) Homepage
    You all could be thankful that it isn't someone who believes the Internet is a set of tubes, which you cannot dump large objects on, as you could the bed of a flatbed truck.
  • New Policy (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @01:29PM (#26641159) Homepage
    Going forward, taxes will now be referred to as a Yearly Government Subscription Fee.
  • The people who ruined the Norton Utilities?

    Why in the world would he want a corporate exec from a corporation that does even know how to improve its own products?
  • Fantastic idea. I can't imagine someone better at creating an artificial need and demand for products than the ex-CEO of Symantec.

    "Oh Noes! The current products suck! You might all die!

    But fortunately, do I have the solution for you. In low low payments of $800B/Qtr, all of your problems will be solved..."

The amount of weight an evangelist carries with the almighty is measured in billigrahams.

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