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Adobe CEO Chizen leaves in surprise move

Boston, November 13, 2007

Adobe Systems said chief executive Bruce Chizen is stepping down, a surprise move that comes as the software maker seeks to develop new ways to tap the Internet.

Shantanu Narayen, a former Apple manager who has been with Adobe for nearly 10 years, will succeed Chizen on December 1, the company said.

Chizen, who transformed Adobe from a maker of publishing and graphics software into a major supplier of diverse design, media, and business tools in his 14 years at the company, will stay on the board through the spring of 2008 and continue in a strategic advisory role through the end of fiscal 2008.

"Nobody ever likes any sort of transition, but this is definitely the guy to take it on," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said of Narayen. "The business is doing very well. I think this is just a case of a CEO who is retiring."

Adobe, known for its Photoshop picture editing software and its Acrobat programme to create and exchange documents online, also said it expected fourth-quarter revenue to be near the high-end of its target range of $860 million to $890 million.

Wall Street was looking for fourth-quarter revenue of $884 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

While the news surprised some investors, Chizen, 52, said Adobe's board had been aware that he planned to retire at a relatively young age.

"It's a lifetime decision. It's not one of those where I woke up one morning and said, 'Gee I want to take a break,'" Chizen said.

"What I need them to understand is that it was my personal decision and I wanted to do it at a time when it was best for Adobe," Chizen said.

Chizen is stepping down following major upgrades of Adobe's main design software, but ahead of the planned launch next spring of new technology it hopes will form the backbone of a Web-based computing system that could eventually challenge its chief rival, Microsoft.

"It is the biggest opportunity and it will be Adobe's biggest challenge," Chizen told analysts on a conference call. "Overcoming that challenge, I won't say it will be easy. But certainly it will be doable."

Narayen, 44, held several management positions at Apple before founding a digital photo-sharing software company in 1996. He also served as head of desktop and collaboration products at Silicon Graphics.Reuters




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