Today: Two years after going public, Infoblox loses its CEO amid shrinking revenue growth, and shares plunge. Also: Apple gains after Beats acquisition, Twitter's gains continue.

The Lead: Infoblox loses its CEO and a third of its market cap

Santa Clara network-security company Infoblox announced the departure of its CEO along with disappointing financial results Thursday, and the firm's stock immediately nose-dived, chopping off nearly a third of Infoblox's market valuation.

In separate news releases Thursday afternoon, Infoblox reported that CEO Robert Thomas would step down as soon as a replacement is found and weak year-over-year sales growth and revenue forecast that sent the stock spiraling.

"While we made progress in a few areas of the company, we again experienced challenges in closing seven-figure transactions," Thomas admitted in the earnings announcement. "Clearly, our top priority is to reaccelerate top-line growth and we are taking actions to improve sales execution."

"While we would be pleased if he would continue as CEO, the board respects his desire to pursue other personal and professional goals," board chairman Michael Goguen said in Thursday's announcement od Thomas's departure.

Thomas took the helm at Infoblox in 2004, five years after its founding and a year after the firm moved from Chicago to Silicon Valley upon receiving an investment from Sequoia Capital. The former Netscreen Technologies and Sun Microsystems executive led the company through a 2011 initial public offering that valued Infoblox at more than $800 million, a total that only swelled after shares hit the open market.


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Thursday's dual announcements seemed to immediately sour enthusiasm for the company, though. Sales grew only 5 percent year-over-year to $61 million, the low end of Infoblox's forecast and part of a trend that has seen the company's growth rate -- a big selling point ion its IPO -- decline while net losses persist. Infoblox doesn't expect that performance to improve anytime soon, either, with forecasts calling for $60 million to $61 million in revenues in the current quarter and $245 million to $246 million for the full year, both coming up well short of Wall Street expectations.

After closing with a 1.8 percent increase at $20.52, giving Infoblox a $1.1 billion market capitalization, shares plunged by 30 percent and more in late trading Thursday, with prices calming around the $14.50 level. Infoblox is the 116th largest technology company in Silicon Valley in terms of sales after growing revenues 27.6 percent to $245.5 million in 2013, when losses were halved to $5.7 million.

Other SV150 companies announcing earnings Thursday included San Francisco big-data company Splunk, which went public just a day ahead of Infoblox in 2011; the software firm beat expectations with more strong revenue growth, boosting sales 50 percent year-over-year to $85.9 million while losing 43 cents a share. Splunk shares dropped more than 9 percent in after-hours trading as its forecast disappointed, with the stock falling to less than $47.50 after closing with a 2.4 percent gain at $50.04.San Jose's Nimble Storage gained after reporting 110 percent sales growth, and Santa Clara components maker Omnivision soared after releasing its results.

SV150 market report: Apple, Twitter help push Wall Street higher

Wall Street clocked gains Thursday despite a fresh report on United States GDP that estimates the economy contracted in the first three months of the year, the first such quarter in three years. Investors found reason for cheer in other economic news and mergers while Silicon Valley technology stocks such as Apple and Twitter helped fuel increases.

Apple gained 1.8 percent to $635.38 after confirming its $3 billion acquisition of Beats on Wednesday afternoon, the largest such deal in the Cupertino company's history. Analysts said that Apple was hoping to break into younger markets with the move, with IDC analyst Danielle Levitas telling The Mercury News, "This probably helps Apple's penetration into Millennials and urban hipsters." The biggest reason for that is the fashionable aura around the headphones and streaming-music company, which could be a big help as Apple looks to get into wearable products, The Associated Press reported.

Twitter continued its rebound after a gain of more than 10 percent Wednesday, adding another 0.7 percent to close at $34 while plotting a free mobile service for third-world users; after the bell, the San Francisco social-networking company announced the loss of an important engineering executive. Salesforce jumped 2 percent to $54.40 after the S.F.-based cloud-computing pioneer struck a deal with Microsoft to make their products work together better, despite a previously antagonistic relationship. Google basically held steady, adding 11 cents to $570.56, after releasing rarely seen workforce demographic information Wednesday afternoon; the Mountain View company's recently announced attempt to build its own self-driving cars was called a possible "very serious competitive threat" by a General Motors executive. Intel gained 0.3 percent to $26.96 while plotting a flood of tablets with the Santa Clara company's chips, and Hewlett-Packard added 0.9 percent to $33.64 while confirming that its deal with Beats would not end immediately.

Up: Yelp, SolarCity, Palo Alto Networks, Netflix, VMware, SunPower, Splunk, LinkedIn, Salesforce, Apple, Oracle,

Down: Workday, Applied Materials, Zynga, Cisco, eBay, Nvidia

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 12.6, or 0.87 percent, to 1,463.13

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 22.87, or 0.54 percent, to 4,247.95

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 65.56, or 0.39 percent, to 16,698.74

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 10.25, or 0.54 percent, to 1,920.03

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