Partners Concerned As Fortinet Loses Chief Marketing Officer, Top Enterprise Sales Leader

Fortinet, a security vendor that has seen several top executives depart over the past year, recently lost its chief marketing officer and enterprise sales chief, sources familiar with the matter told CRN on Tuesday.

Fortinet CMO Holly Rollo and Pete Brant, senior vice president of Americas enterprise sales, have both departed, a company spokesperson confirmed to CRN.

The spokesperson said Rollo's and Brant's departures are "unrelated" and that Rollo left to "pursue an opportunity that is more closely aligned with her professional interests and goals as well as a personal desire to be located closer to her family."

[Related: Fortinet Reorganizes Sales Force, Says Partner Organization Is Not Affected]

Sponsored post

"We thank both Pete and Holly for their valuable contributions and wish them well in their future endeavors. Our commitment to marketing remains unchanged and continues to be a very high priority," the spokesperson said. "With a strongly aligned global sales and marketing model in place as well as a significant market-leading technology advantage, we are confident in our ability to drive global demand and brand awareness to seize the market opportunity ahead."

CRN has reached out to Rollo and Brant directly and will update this story if we hear back.

Sources said a significant number of employees in the company's human resources department have also left within the past few months. Curt Sellers, Fortinet's senior director of human resources for the past two-plus years, left and joined security vendor Zscaler last month, according to his LinkedIn profile. CRN has reached out to Sellers and will update this story if we hear back.

Rollo joined Fortinet last September from security vendor FireEye, and was brought in to help reinvigorate Fortinet's marketing strategy. One source told CRN that Rollo has taken an executive role at RSA.

Brant, a five-year Fortinet veteran, joined F5 this month as senior vice president of North America sales, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rollo is the latest high-profile marketing executive to leave Fortinet. Last June, Vice President of Marketing Luanne Tierney left after just 11 months at Fortinet. She's now senior vice president of marketing at Proofpoint.

Brant's departure comes just a few months after Fortinet announced a reorganization of its sales force, which eliminated the U.S. Enterprises team and redistributed it into two groups focusing on either large global strategic accounts or regional territories. That integrated sales force is led by Patrice Perche, now executive vice president of global sales and support.

The departures come at a critical time for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security vendor, which has stated that an "aggressive" push in marketing is one of its top initiatives for the coming year.

Partners have praised the moves by Fortinet to invest in marketing, saying it was an area that the vendor was sorely lacking compared with its competition. However, one top partner executive, who did not want to be named, said the recent resignations in sales and marketing show that Fortinet is likely not putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to marketing investment.

"All the partners have told them, and their own people have told them, that they need to invest in marketing," the executive said. "Ultimately you don't ever see change or mass scale change of direction. Luanne tried. Holly tried."

Another partner executive agreed, saying that it has been notably more difficult to get funding for partner marketing programs recently, even those that have proven successful in the past.

"Until they learn from getting [beat by] superior marketing companies and they don’t do what credible seasoned marketing professionals like Holly and Luanne want to do, they will continue to lose people. Those people will not want to stand around and do nothing," he said.

Fortinet channel chief Joe Sykora, vice president of Americas channels and enhanced technology, said the company's marketing budget "is up significantly compared to the year before" and that it has increased channel marketing headcount but declined to provide more details, citing the company's quiet period.

Another partner executive, who did not want to be named, said the departures show that "the environment there is not conducive for a marketing leader."

"I don't think this is good news. … The executives up above are wanting huge growth, but are unwilling to invest in marketing. I would assume her hands were tied, so she left. Hard to be successful without the funding," the partner executive said in an email.