WatchGuard Technologies Names Former SafeNet Exec Panjwani As CEO

Nearly a year after the resignation of former CEO Joe Wang, Seattle-based networking security vendor WatchGuard Technologies has named Prakash Panjwani as its new chief executive officer.

Panjwani replaces interim CEO Mike Kohlsdorf -- an executive from Francisco Partners, the private equity firm that holds a stake in the company -- who will now be joining the company's board of directors.

"I couldn't be more enthusiastic to take what Mike Kohlsdorf and his team have built over the last year," Panjwani said in a statement. "I am excited to build on that success, working with a talented WatchGuard team and established channel partner base, to deliver best-in-class security solutions to customers worldwide,"

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Panjwani joins the company after spending more than 12 years at data-protection company SafeNet, where he helped spearhead more than 12 acquisitions and an $890 million acquisition by Gemalto that closed in January, according to WatchGuard. He also helped navigate a company transformation from a copyright-protection offering to a modern software monetization platform, as well as a transformation of the data-protection product line to focus on growing markets such as crypto management, data encryption and authentication. Before that, he held positions at Certicom Corp., Motorola and Telcordia, according to his LinkedIn profile.

That experience will come in handy, Kohlsdorf said, as WatchGuard is coming off of a year of record growth for the company. He said he expects Prajwani will be able to "keep that momentum going."

"Prakash helped SafeNet grow from a small startup to one of the industry's leading data-security companies," Kohlsdorf said in a statement. "His keen understanding of the security space, combined with his leadership expertise, will help ensure WatchGuard continues to deliver powerful security solutions to organizations around the world."

One partner reached by CRN agreed that he would like to see the momentum continue under the new CEO.

Richard Galganov, virtual chief information officer at Dallas-based HBR Technologies, a WatchGuard partner, said he is excited about the appointment.

"We highly regard WatchGuard. We think they are absolutely the market leader. I think that under Prakash's stewardship, they should only grow and be stronger," Galganov said.

While he said he doesn't know him personally, Galganov pointed to Prajwani's track record of growth at SafeNet, as well as its ultimate acquisition, as signs of the executive's strength.

"That says a lot about them and what he's accomplished," Galganov said. "We're excited about it."

Galganov said he would like to see WatchGuard stay the strong growth course it has been on with both its technology and communication with partners.

"I'd like them to stay on the cutting edge [of technology], and not the bleeding edge. That's what our clients want. ... Just keep the great communication they have with their partners, because if not for us, WatchGuard won't be successful," Galganov said.