Symantec CEO Thompson could be next commerce chief

Symantec CEO John Thompson, who is slated to step down from the position in March, is reportedly the top choice for Secretary of Commerce.

Symantec Corp. CEO John Thompson is reportedly the top choice of the Obama Administration to head the Department of Commerce.

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Thompson, who announced plans to step down at the helm of Symantec in early April, has been an ardent financial supporter of President Barack Obama's election campaign. Obama had nominated New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to fill the commerce post. Richardson withdrew on Jan. 4 when he was among several New Mexico officials being investigated for having connections with a California firm that did business in New Mexico.

Security experts were speculating about Thompson taking on a national role when Obama was successful in his presidential bid. Many thought he would be named chief technology officer of federal government, but some are signaling that the role could go to Padmasree Warrior, the CTO of Cisco Systems Inc.

Thompson has been active on the federal level. In 2002, former President George W. Bush appointed him to the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on the security of the country's critical infrastructure.

At the helm of Symantec, Thompson oversaw the company's evolution from a consumer-oriented antivirus vendor, known for its Norton antivirus product, to a software vendor focused on the enterprise.

He oversaw dozens of acquisitions, including the high-profile $13.5 billion deal to acquire storage software vendor Veritas. He has long held the belief of security as a core feature to infrastructure and network products.

In April, Thompson will be replaced by Symantec chief operating officer Enrique Salem.

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