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Adobe CEO Chizen steps aside, Narayen to replace him

Current president and COO Shantanu Narayen to take over from outgoing CEO Bruce Chizen. Company forecasts 13 percent revenue growth in fiscal 2008.

Adobe Systems on Monday announced that its board of directors named Shantanu Narayen as new chief executive, replacing outgoing CEO Bruce Chizen.

Narayen is the company's current president and chief operating officer. The change will be effective at the beginning of December.

Chizen will serve on Adobe's board through the spring and be an adviser through fiscal year 2008. He has been CEO for the past 7 years and with Adobe for 14 years.

Shantanu Narayen, Adobe's incoming CEO. Adobe Systems

In a statement, Adobe executives said the transition was part of a planned succession.

"Shantanu's extensive knowledge of our products and platforms, customer experience, and exceptional operational leadership make him the ideal choice to lead Adobe as CEO," Chizen said. "For me personally, the time is right for a transfer of leadership."

Narayen joined the company in 1998 as head of Adobe's engineering group. With Chizen, he helped spearhead the acquisition of Macromedia.

During Chizen's time as CEO, the company expanded its product portfolio substantially from its roots with illustrators and designers to a broader audience that includes Web developers and consumers of media software.

He leaves at a good time financially for Adobe.

The company said it expects to hit the high end of the range--between $860 million and $890 million--that it gave financial analysts for fourth-quarter revenue. It also said it anticipates 13 percent revenue growth in fiscal year 2008.

During a conference call Monday, Narayen said Adobe decided to make the announcement now to make it clear the shift was not driven by financial reasons.

Chizen said he is leaving to consider what to do in the next phase of his life. He said he has no plans beyond fiscal 2008 when his time as a strategic adviser ends.

"This was all about me," Chizen said in an interview with CNET "I want to make sure I left the company in good shape."

Chizen said that in addition to being a more diversified company, Adobe is stronger than when he began as CEO because it is now a platform company. Providing an application platform brings an ecosystem of third-party applications that run with the company's Flash browser plug-in and Acrobat PDF document format.

"The reality is Adobe has been a platform company from day one. It just never thought about itself as a platform company," he said. "AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is absolutely the next big to platform for Adobe."

Narayen said he doesn't anticipate any changes to Adobe's current strategy.

He said demand is very strong for the company's Creative Suite 3 line of multimedia software and is in a good position with its tools and servers to capitalize on applications moving to the Web.

"People have thought of Adobe has authoring tools," he said. "The reality is we are expanding way beyond that."