Open-Source Superstar, Former HP Cloud Exec Mickos Takes CEO Post At HackerOne

Marten Mickos, the open-source rock star who previously headed up Hewlett Packard Enterprise's cloud business, has taken the CEO job at HackerOne, a venture-backed security upstart that pays hackers a bounty for finding security breaches.

"HackerOne brings together responsible hackers and responsible corporations to eradicate vulnerabilities in systems on the Internet," wrote Mickos in a blog post explaining why he took the new job. "HackerOne makes a platform that companies can use to access a global community of hackers searching for vulnerabilities. In addition to representing a cause, HackerOne is also a rapidly growing business."

[Related: HP Internal Memo: Mickos Giving Up Cloud Operations To Focus On Building Ties With Startups]

More than 350 customers, including high-profile companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Dropbox and Square, are using the San Francisco-based company's vulnerability tracking platform. So far more than $5 million in security bounties have been paid to 2,000 hackers who have found more than 14,000 vulnerabilities using the HackerOne platform, said Mickos.

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Worth Davis, CTO of Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, No. 130 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500, said it takes "visionaries" like Mickos to steer new technologies like the HackerOne platform into the market.

"I think HackerOne is on to something," he said. "If you look at what is most damaging to a company, it used to be a consumer product like Tylenol being tampered with. Now it is losing customer data and credit cards to hackers -- that is most damaging to a company's brand and finances. What HackerOne is doing is using crowdsourcing to get bugs fixed, paying bounties and rewarding people to solve the security problem."

The most trusted companies are going to be the ones that secure customer data and credit cards, said Davis. "If your store gets hacked every six months, people are not going to want to shop there," he said. "That's why companies are investing in the arms race against the hacking community."

One of the keys for companies like HackerOne, said Davis, is building a strong channel program that makes solution providers like Computex a key part of the go-to-market strategy. He said many technology startups just "don't get" how to successfully build a channel go-to-market model.

HackerOne's platform for tracking vulnerabilities is free. The company takes a 20 percent fee when a hacker is rewarded for discovering a security vulnerability.

Mickos was the CEO of Eucalyptus, an open-source startup with software for building private clouds that supported Amazon Web Services APIs, when HP bought the company 13 months ago.

After the acquisition, Mickos joined HP as senior vice president and general manager of HP's Cloud Business, reporting to Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman.

But just five months after joining HP, Mickos handed over day-to-day responsibilities for the cloud business in order to build ties with the startup community. "My personal passion is identifying disruptive companies that transform the technology landscape," said Mickos at the time.

A number of HP partners viewed the shakeup as a sign of a culture clash. "The politics and approach of a $100 billion company is a lot different than an open-source startup," said one partner executive at the time. "You can't move as fast. There are politics and procedures and probably a lot of stuff that got into the way of how Mickos wanted to move with the cloud business."