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CEO Thompson absent from Symantec partner show

WASHINGTON, D.C. — By now you know that outgoing channel chief Julie Parrish isn’t here at Symantec Partner Engage 2008, but there’s an even more notable executive absence.

CEO John W. Thompson isn’t here either. Word around the conference is that he had another meeting to attend.

Thompson was an integral part of last year’s Partner Engage, where he gave a keynote speech and held Q&A sessions with partners and reporters. His presence would have undoubtedly been welcome this year, as Symantec tries to rebound from this summer’s controversy about its direct sales strategy.

Instead, his role at this conference will be filled by COO Enrique Salem — the man whose comments to Wall Street analysts sparked the controversy in the first place. Will Salem be able to reassure the 300 partners here that Symantec is committed to the channel? I’ll let you know after his keynote, which begins in about five minutes.

UPDATE (10:34 a.m.): Salem didn’t directly address this summer’s fiasco, but he did go out of his way to stress how important partners are to Symantec. We’ll have a full story up later today, complete with partner reaction.

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You can read more information about recent [A href=",289202,sid97_gci1512332,00.html"]Symantec partner[/A] program changes, including the company's exit from consulting services and its move to include more specializations.