At a time where funding is scarce, Palo Alto in early November added $10 million in fresh venture financing to its coffers, bringing its total haul to $64 million.
What's got backers so excited is the Palo Alto's technology: next-generation firewalls that the company says were designed from the ground up to deal with Web applications such as Skype, instant messaging, video, SaaS and other software designed to circumvent traditional firewalls.
Bess--who joined the company as CEO in July after leaving his post as executive vice president of global sales at Trend Micro--now is bringing his technology and channel experience to bear in order to ramp Palo Alto and compete against incumbents such as Check Point Software Technologies Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc.
"My charter is to build a sales and distribution channel that will allow this great technology to find its way to an IPO," Bess says, adding that, despite the current state of the economy, his goal is to take the company public three years from now.
Bess took a major step toward building up Palo Alto's channel cred in September when he brought over Nancy Reynolds, his former colleague and vice president of channel and SMB sales for the Americas at Trend Micro, to head global channel sales at Palo Alto.
Bess seems happy to play David to his rivals' Goliath, pointing out that each of the vendor's 100 or so customer wins thus far was in accounts where one of his major competitors was already playing. "Our product is so neat that it provides the opportunity for channel partners to move away from any one of those vendors to our platform and actually take business away."