Palo Alto Networks CFO Steffan Tomlinson leaves

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After almost six years on the job
  • Praise and thanks for Tomlinson
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Santa Clara, California, August 31, 2017 — Steffan Tomlinson, finance chief of Palo Alto Networks, leaves. As announced by Palo Alto Networks, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, August 31, 2017, Steffan C. Tomlinson leaves the post as chief financial officer at the cybersecurity company in a surprising move after almost six years on the job.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months was 5.6 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Tomlinson has agreed to stay on as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer until his replacement has been found.

Palo Alto Networks will undertake a search for a successor.

Tomlinson’s move is part of a management shake-up also involving the position of Chief Product Officer.

No reason given

In the announcement, Palo Alto Networks did not explicitly explain the reason for Tomlinson’s move, opening the door for speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of Tomlinson was not immediately available.

“Retire and resign”

Mark McLaughlin, chief executive officer of Palo Alto Networks, said: “Steffan Tomlinson, our chief financial officer, has informed me of his intent to retire from his position.”

Palo Alto Networks further said: “On August 29, 2017, Steffan Tomlinson, the Company’s Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, notified the Company of his intention to retire and resign from his position at the Company.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Palo Alto Networks, Inc. since July 2015.

Chaired by Mark McLaughlin

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. is chaired by Mark D. McLaughlin.

Mark D. McLaughlin joined as president and CEO of Palo Alto Networks in August of 2011 and became chairman of the board in 2012.

On the job as CFO since 2012

Steffan C. Tomlinson has served as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer since February 2012.

From September 2011 to January 2012, Tomlinson was Chief Financial Officer at Arista Networks, Inc., a provider of cloud networking solutions.

From April 2011 to September 2011, Tomlinson was a Partner and Chief Administrative Officer at Silver Lake Kraftwerk, a private investment firm.

From September 2005 to March 2011, Tomlinson was Chief Financial Officer of Aruba Networks, Inc., a provider of intelligent wireless LAN switching systems.

From 2000 until its acquisition by Juniper Networks, Inc., a supplier of network infrastructure products and services, in 2005, Tomlinson served in several roles, including Chief Financial Officer, at Peribit Networks, Inc., a provider of WAN optimization technology.

Tomlinson holds an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University and a B.A. in Sociology from Trinity College.


Generally speaking, when a top leader announces to step aside with no successor available, it’s a signal that the move was unexpected and too early.

Generally speaking, potential causes for an unexpected management change may be, among others, disagreement or dispute, health reasons, family reasons and surprising new career opportunities.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Steffan Tomlinson’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 36.2017 ($).