Sources: Fortinet Lays Off Multiple VPs, 100 Employees In Sales And Marketing

The sales and marketing turmoil at Fortinet is continuing with the company laying off around 100 employees on Wednesday, including at least two vice presidents, sources told CRN.

The layoffs took place company-wide, multiple sources told CRN, but particularly centered around the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security vendor’s sales and marketing departments. The layoffs account for around 2 percent of the company’s overall workforce.

The layoffs included at least two vice presidents, including Ryan Witt, vice president of the company’s healthcare practice, and Dirk Venzlaff, vice president of distribution for North America, one source told CRN. CRN reached out to both executives for comment, but has not heard back.

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Fortinet confirmed the layoffs in an email to CRN, though it declined to confirm any layoffs of specific individuals.

"To position Fortinet for success now and in the future, we continue to take necessary steps to ensure that our resources and investments are aligned and that we have the right talent in the right places to drive our strategy and growth. With our Security Fabric performance advantage and competitive differentiation, we are confident in our ability to take advantage of the opportunity ahead,’ a Fortinet spokesperson said in the email.

Multiple sources also told CRN that Vice President of Marketing Claire Trimble also left the security vendor recently, though her departure does not appear to be tied to this week's layoffs. Trimble did not respond to CRN’s request for comment.

Tracy Roccasalva, Vice President of Demand Generation, Campaigns, Brand, Inside Sales and Web, also left the company in May, according to her LinkedIn profile, taking a position as senior director of marketing at RSA in June.

Sources said the layoffs are part of more widespread sales and marketing ’turmoil’ at Fortinet. One source said the turmoil has particularly hit the company’s business development offices in Sunnyvale, Plano, Tex., and Des Moines, Iowa. The company also notably lost Chief Marketing Officer Holly Rollo in March when she left Fortinet to take a position at RSA as chief marketing officer. Fortinet has not yet named a replacement chief marketing officer, though one source said the company is currently in serious talks with a candidate from a competitor.

The layoffs and departures in sales and marketing come at a critical inflection point for Fortinet, which has stated that an "aggressive" push in marketing is one of its top initiatives for the coming year.

At the beginning of the year, Fortinet announced a reorganization of its sales force that eliminated the U.S. Enterprises team, redistributing it into two groups focused on either large global strategic accounts or regional territories, and created a single, unified sales force. The changes were designed to position the network security vendor to better handle multinational accounts and capitalize on its platform-based approach to drive profitability.

After Rollo’s departure a few months ago, CEO Ken Xie reiterated the company’s commitment to its sales and marketing push in an interview with CRN.

’We [are committed] to keeping the investment in marketing and sales … and at the same time leveraging the strong, differentiated product that we have, and the channel, the partners and support,’ Xie said at the time.

Partners had praised the company’s sales and marketing efforts. CRN spoke to at least three partners, who did not want to be named, about the recent layoffs and departures, all of whom expressed concern for the company’s future investments in this area.

On the company’s second quarter earnings call last week, CFO Andrew Del Matto said the ’productivity wasn’t as strong as we would have liked it to be in North America.’ CEO Xie also referred to the slow sales reorganization results, saying ’some of the sales changes are still early and will take a bit more time to fully materialize.’ As a result, the executives said Fortinet planned to slow headcount growth and drive synergies around its recent acquisition of SIEM company AccelOps.

’I think that we’re disciplined to control the growth and the cost to position us going forward,’ Xie said on the call, referring to the company's operating margin goals.