After more than three months search, firewall and Unified Threat Management firm Barracuda Networks Inc. has finally named EMC Corp. vet William “BJ” Jenkins as its new CEO, an executive move that could help usher in an eventual IPO for the Campbell, Calif,-based networking security firm.
Barracuda, which competes in the networking security and UTM space with Websense, Inc., SonicWall and Fortinet Inc., announced Jenkins’ appointment as CEO on Monday. Jenkins’ appointment fills more than three-month void left by the company’s former CEO and founder Dean Drako.
Drako resigned from the helm of Barracuda in mid-July with a desire to “pursue other avenues,” but remained on the company’s board of directors. The former leader founded the networking security firm nine years ago with chief marketing officer Michael Perone and Chief Technology Officer Zach Levow, growing his pet project from a small spam and virus firewall company to a security firm with a broad range of UTM and security appliances. Over the years, Barracuda has made a name for itself in the networking security space, competing with some of the biggest industry players by going toe-to-toe on price point, which in particular, gave it significant market traction in the SMB and other lower markets.
“Dean has executed with extraordinary focus, integrity and passion for the company and its customers, leading Barracuda Networks from a startup concept to the worldwide leader in content security appliances,” said Chief Financial Officer David Faugno, in a statement following Drako’s resignation. “We wish him well in his new venture, and are pleased he has agreed to remain on our board of directors as we continue to grow the company.”
Since Drako’s departure in July, Perone helped fill the leadership void, along Faugno and board director Gordon Stitt until a new CEO could be named.
Meanwhile, jumping over to networking security arena might be a bit of a leap for Jenkins, but he has a strong history of leadership and enterprise business expansion. Jenkins came on board to Barracuda from EMC after fulfilling a role as president of backup recovery systems at the company since January 2011.
Prior to that, Jenkins held a wide array of roles since coming on board the Massachusetts-based storage firm in 1998, including senior vice president of global marketing; vice president of telecom media and entertainment and outsourcing sales; and vice president of global field marketing and director of operations global channels.
If anything, Jenkins’ new leadership role will likely rev the networking security company for larger enterprise ambitions while setting the stage for a possible IPO. While the company has expanded since its formation in 2003, it has largely remained under tight control of its founders and thus, retained much of its startup mentality and culture.
Subsequently, Jenkins’ appointment likely heralds an era of growth for the firewall company that could portend expanded leadership, more traditional structure, new market inroads and a diversified portfolio that better caters to larger enterprise needs.
Company executive have expressed that the company is preparing for an eventual IPO, but have not disclosed any other immediate plans or timetables to that end.
However, the road has no doubt been cleared for future growth in recent months. Last month, Barracuda announced a financing and recapitalization project that incorporated a $130 million investment from Francisco Partners and Sequoia Capital.
For the channel, the new leadership and possible steps toward an IPO indicate larger and more significant opportunities to break into new and larger market segments and take other well-established and public networking security competitors head on.
Taking the company public is likely a logical next step, as Barracuda faces increasingly heated competition in this space. Fortinet was recently hailed as the leader in the UTM space, occupying more than 18 percent of the market. And Palo Alto Networks has benefitted from cash windfalls and elevated status after a roaring success of its recent IPO.
However, with its new growth ambitions, Barracuda could soon be giving competitors a run for their money.
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