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Contributing Writer

The Other Side of the Symantec/Verisign Deal

May 21, 20102 mins
Cisco SystemsData and Information Security

Symantec Deal Is Just The Latest Chapter Of Verisign's Colossal Riches-to-Rags Story

I am pretty bullish on the upside of Symantec’s acquisition of Verisign. Frankly, I don’t understand why Gartner is such a downer and focused on SSL alone. Oh well, to each his own.Regardless of whether you think this is a good or bad deal, Verisign’s divestment is just the latest sad chapter for a company that once had a market cap in the tens of billions of dollars. I know that this was a long time ago during the Internet boom. Heck, even GiantLoop, the fly-by-night CLEC I worked for raised about $200 million back then with no business plan. That said, Verisign survived the Internet boom and bust cycle and GiantLoop was appropriately sent to the failed startup dust bin. So what did Verisign do? It diversified like crazy into a series of unrelated businesses. Perhaps company executives started reading 1970s business school case studies about conglomerates like Textron. That’s the only explanation I can fathom.Ultimately the market has verified what I always believed, that Verisign’s moves didn’t make business sense. Furthermore, I’ve heard anecdotal stories for years about Verisign’s poor execution. Having acquired lots of companies, I think Symantec can fix this over time.The technology industry is programmed to look forward in a constant search for what’s next. That’s a good thing in general but let’s not forget about the lessons learned from the past. It’s worth examining the troubled history of Verisign as a case study of what not to do.

Contributing Writer

Jon Oltsik is a distinguished analyst, fellow, and the founder of the ESG’s cybersecurity service. With over 35 years of technology industry experience, Jon is widely recognized as an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity and is often called upon to help customers understand a CISO's perspective and strategies. Jon focuses on areas such as cyber-risk management, security operations, and all things related to CISOs.

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