Symantec chief executive tipped for Commerce Secretary

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The outgoing head of security giant Symantec is being touted as the lead candidate for the role of Commerce Secretary in the new Obama administration.

The outgoing head of security giant Symantec is being touted as the lead candidate for the role of Commerce Secretary in the new Obama administration.

John Thompson, who is stepping down from his role as chief executive of Symantec in April, is strongly tipped for the job and has spent the last week in discussions with leading political figures over taking up the role, according to US reports.

If correct, the appointment would be the strongest sign yet of the increasing role the IT industry will play in the new administration. Sun co-founder Scott McNeally has already been tasked by President Obama with examining how to move more areas of government onto open source software.

Thompson has been chief executive of Symantec from 1999 and has served on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC), which examines how to protect the US internet backbone, since 2002.

He and his wife have been heavy contributors to the Democratic party and hosted two fundraisers at his home during this election cycle.

Silicon Valley lawyer Craig Johnson, chief executive of Virtual Law Partners, attended an Obama fundraiser at Thompson's house in 2007.

"Having someone like John in the inner circle of Obama's Cabinet in Washington, D.C., would mean having someone represent the voice of the entrepreneur," he said.

Thompson worked at IBM for 28 years prior to taking his post at Symantec. He was the first African American to head up a major technology company and oversaw a period of rapid growth at Symantec that made it the market leader in the security field.
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