Palo Alto Networks Names New CEO

McLaughlin, most recently president and CEO of VeriSign, will join the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network security upstart at a time of impressive growth and increasing popularity in the channel.

The move, which was confirmed to CRN by Palo Alto Networks on Sunday, follows McLaughlin's resignation from VeriSign last week. He will take over at Palo Alto later in August.

"I'm very excited to join Palo Alto Networks," said McLaughlin, who will also join Palo Alto's Board of Directors, in a statement. "The company's disruptive technology, proven market success and strong momentum make this a unique opportunity to lead the company with its continued, explosive growth in a multi-billion dollar market."

A veteran IT security executive, McLaughlin spent 12 years at VeriSign, which acquired his previous employer, Signio, in 1999. He became VeriSign's president and CEO in August 2009, and earlier this year, McLaughlin was also named to President Obama's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC).

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"We are thrilled that Mark is joining Palo Alto Networks," said Nir Zuk, Palo Alto's founder and CTO, in a statement. "His proven executive leadership experience, customer focus, and passion for innovation will help us take the company to the next level."

Rising star Palo Alto, whose firewall technology manages applications and content by user instead of by IP address or port, has made no secret of its initial public offering (IPO) ambitions. It has also developed a healthy following among network security-focused VARs, despite some early missteps in Palo Alto's channel organization.

Along with the McLaughlin announcement, the company said Monday that it has achieved a bookings run rate above $200 million and has seen five straight quarters of positive cash flow. About 60 percent of Palo Alto's business is in the U.S., and globally, it has more than 4,500 enterprise customers, Palo Alto executives said.

The company added that in the past fiscal year, it doubled its employee headcount, and plans to add more than 300 additional employees in the next 12 months. Palo Alto also recently moved its headquarters to Santa Clara, Calif., from its previous base in Sunnyvale.

McLaughlin's appointment ends a nearly eight-month search for a chief executive following the departure of former Palo Alto CEO Lane Bess last December. Bess, whose ouster came following what Palo Alto described as "differences in leadership philosophy," is now COO of cloud security upstart ZScaler.

McLaughlin resigned from VeriSign last week as the company reported a fiscal second quarter loss of $10.6 million. VeriSign confirmed Thursday that founder and former CEO Jim Bidzos will return to the CEO job as of Aug. 1. VeriSign, best known for its domain-name business, which operates the registry for .com, .net and other well-known Internet domains, sold its identity authentication business to Symantec in 2010.

McLaughlin's appointment at Palo Alto also dispels rumors that David DeWalt, who resigned as McAfee's president in July, would be taking over at Palo Alto.