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Symantec chief headed to Oblix

Symantec chairman and CEO Gordon Eubanks is planning to leave the company to head Oblix, a directory software maker.

When Symantec president and CEO Gordon Eubanks was weighing his job options several months ago, fast-growing directory software maker Oblix was nowhere on his radar.

"At the time I made this decision [to leave Symantec] I had never heard the name," Eubanks said in an interview today.

Now, Eubanks is planning to leave Symantec, the global firm he joined in 1983, to take over as CEO and president of Oblix.

Eubanks announced a plan to leave Symantecin January, though he does intend to stay on until his replacement is named at the Cupertino, California-based company.

"I really think that after 15 years, the best thing you can do is turn [the company] over to someone else," Eubanks said. "It's that simple."

As Eubanks' phone started to ring after news of his pending departure spread, a call came from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, an investor in Mountain View-based Oblix, which makes Web-based software that uses directory services technology to help large corporations track business changes and ease the task of providing corporate services.

Kleiner Perkins introduced Eubanks to Oblix head Sandeep Johri, a former Silicon Graphics executive. The two clicked.

"I was just blown away by the incredible opportunity," said Eubanks.

He said he was impressed by both the company's directory technology and its future prospects, particularly in light of the growth of e-commerce and the essential role he believes Oblix's directory will play within that market.

In its CEO search, Johri said he was looking to hire an industry leader to head the young company.

"We see a pipeline full of customers and we're looking at hyper growth," he said. "We wanted a technology visionary and someone who could really lead."

Indeed, Eubanks has been at the fore of Symantec's growth. Since 1983, the company has expanded from a 10-person operation to an international firm with $600 million in 1998 revenues and 2,500 employees.

Whether Eubanks stays on as chairman of Symantec will depend on the wishes of his replacement, he said.

"I am really flexible, depending on what the CEO wants to do," he said.