Wiz Aims For ‘Huge’ Channel Push With Exec Hires, Partner Recruitment

The $10 billion cybersecurity vendor is making its channel efforts a top priority in 2024 amid massive growth opportunities in securing the use of the cloud and AI, Wiz CEO Assaf Rappaport tells CRN.

Wiz is making its channel efforts a top priority in 2024 after a series of major executive hires that seek to enable faster partner-driven growth in cloud and AI security at the vendor, Wiz CEO Assaf Rappaport and newly hired President Dali Rajic told CRN.

Rajic, who left as Zscaler’s COO in early February to join Wiz, has been followed to the $10 billion company by two other ex-Zscaler executives that are already making moves to deepen the channel commitment by Wiz, according to an executive at a key partner.

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In an interview with CRN in New York, Rappaport (pictured) and Rajic said that the time is ideal for the company to accelerate its efforts with partners given the surging demand for security tools that can protect cloud environments and the use of generative AI applications.

“In cybersecurity partners are super, super important in the success of a company. So we’ve always [seen that] this has huge potential for us to tap into. I think there is so much more we can do,” said Rappaport, who is also a co-founder at Wiz.

“We're going to put much more resources into that to make sure we are aligned with the partners to fulfill the huge demand that we're seeing in the market,” he said. “And that’s going to be a first priority for us in the next few years.”

Founded in 2020, Wiz has seen surging growth essentially from the get-go with its offering that rapidly delivers improved cloud visibility and security. The company recently surpassed $350 million in annual recurring revenue, up from $100 million in ARR in mid-2022.

A year ago, Wiz became the top-valued unicorn in cybersecurity with a valuation of $10 billion, and earlier this month hired Rajic as president and COO as it works toward going public.

Rajic said that while the success at Wiz has already been remarkable, he believes there’s a “massive” opportunity to work with a broader set of channel partners as part of driving continued growth.

“The question in my mind always is, what’s the opportunity for upside if [new] programs, structures, operating models get brought in? And what's the opportunity to do that without disrupting the magic that's already in place?” he said. “The partner community is really one of those areas.”

To help develop and execute this new partner-focused approach at Wiz, the company last week hired Tom Henderson as vice president of channels and alliances. Henderson had previously been senior director for Americas channels at cybersecurity giant Zscaler.

Wiz also hired Mike Earnest, formerly senior vice president for Americas at Zscaler, a week ago as its new vice president of worldwide sales.

For IT consultancy powerhouse Trace3, which was one of the startup’s first partners in the U.S., the hires and partner push are the right moves at the right time, said Chris Nicholas, senior vice president in the cloud solutions group at Irvine, Calif.-based Trace3, No. 36 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500.

The new Wiz channel and sales leaders have “made very impressive moves in just a few days in their tenure, to really make Wiz a 100-percent channel partner,” Nicholas told CRN. “That's music to our ears. So we're expecting fantastic collaboration.”

True Security Platform

The partner push comes as Wiz has grown from its initial focus on offering an agentless tool for improving visibility in cloud environments, known as CSPM (cloud security posture management). The company has since introduced a number of key capabilities including real-time monitoring of cloud workload threats with its Runtime Sensor last year.

“What Wiz has become is much more than a cloud security posture management solution. They are now truly a cloud security platform,” Nicholas said.

In November, Wiz announced the launch of native AI security capabilities with its AI-SPM (AI security posture management) offering, which aims to protect the use of AI tools during the software development process.

Then in January, the company extended its AI-SPM support to include the OpenAI API Platform. Wiz has said it’s the first CNAPP (cloud-native application protection platform) provider to secure customers of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.

The moves into AI security for Wiz come as countless organizations are seeking to accelerate their use of GenAI, but are faced with concerns about the risks to intellectual property and sensitive data from the use of the new technologies. Customers are seeking to reach a state of “AI readiness,” with security as an essential component, and Wiz is positioning itself as a go-to enabler for AI adoption, according to Nicholas.

“Wiz has made a huge step forward in the ability for enterprises to do this,” he said. “AI-SPM is going to be a big player in that space.”

All in all, Wiz is now “very integral to many of the domains and areas that need to be covered from a security perspective” within enterprises, Nicholas said.

Doubling Down On Partners

With Wiz at the “epicenter” of the major trends of cloud, cybersecurity and AI, customers are “really looking at the partner community to help,” Rajic said.

“I believe that every dollar of Wiz [revenue] can have a 20-plus drag of additional dollars for these partners across their other services,” he said. “It's pretty material. It isn’t just, ‘Would you like to resell us?’”

Rajic said that through his relationships in the partner community formed across his roles at Zscaler and, earlier, at AppDynamics, he’ll be looking to “fast-track” an expansion of channel collaborations for Wiz. This will include both increased partner recruitment as well as a deepening of efforts with existing partners, he said.

The collaborations will include more focus on building joint business plans and co-selling as well as enhanced investments into the channel from Wiz, according to Rajic.

“The investments that we're going to make include enhancing how we engage with partners, the portals, the enablement, the certifications,” he said. “We’re going to make investments not just on systems and enablement, but also people, because you’ve got to be engaging with these partners.”

Bigger Partner Opportunities

The channel moves come a year after Wiz announced its first formal partner program, and are partly in recognition of the increased opportunity for partners to add value, now that Wiz has expanded into a true platform for cloud and AI security, executives said.

The areas where partners can work with Wiz to serve customers now cover the spectrum from securing code repositories to protecting applications during runtime, Rappaport said.

“The opportunity for the partners in working with Wiz is being at the table as stakeholders around every new initiative that’s happening,” he said. “Cloud is the next infrastructure for the organization, and this is where you want to be.”

Ultimately, with Wiz now eyeing an initial public offering down the road, the company has no intentions to take its foot off the gas, executives told CRN.

“We want to be a public company. So that's our overall goal. I would say when we’ve reached probably $1 billion in ARR, that would be when we should be thinking more seriously about IPO,” Rappaport said. “But [with] bringing in Dali and the new leadership, I think that's around the corner.”