Partners Concerned About Future As FireEye Founder Resigns From Board Of Directors

FireEye founder and technical visionary Ashar Aziz has resigned from the security vendor, a move one partner called ’extremely disconcerting.’

In an 8-K filing Wednesday, FireEye said that Aziz had notified the Milpitas, Calif.-based company of his decision to resign from the board of directors, a position he had held since 2004 when he founded the company. His resignation was effective immediately as of Aug. 31.

FireEye said the move was ’not the result of any disagreement.’ In an email to CRN, a FireEye spokesperson said the decision was a "personal one, reflecting his desire to spend more time with his family here and abroad, and also to pursue new projects including one related to distributing solar energy to developing world markets.’

[Related: Q&A: FireEye CEO On Layoffs, Realignment And What It All Means For Partners]

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Aziz founded FireEye in 2004 and is recognized as the technical visionary behind the company’s technology, which at the time created and led the market for advanced threat detection. However, FireEye has faltered over the past year, faced with increasing competition and pressure from Wall Street. The company’s stock dropped 35 percent in 2015.

Aziz’s departure is the latest in a series of growing concerns about the vendor’s future, coming on the heels of the announcement of job cuts amounting to around 10 percent of the company’s workforce last month and a new vision for the future under new CEO Kevin Mandia.

John Marler, COO of Set Solutions, a Houston-based FireEye partner, said the departure of Aziz is a ’big deal’ as he was the founder and executive leader.

’It is extremely disconcerting for the future of FireEye. … I don’t see how this ends well,’ Marler said.

Marler said he is worried that Aziz’s departure would lead to the exit of much of the company’s technical talent, who look to him for technical leadership. New CEO Mandia has touted a technical vision for the company investing in FireEye-as-a-service, MVX and its upcoming HX endpoint security technology.

’You take him out of the equation and it will hurt. … Technical leaders like that are more than figureheads in the company. Once they leave it affects everything, including morale and future of the product,’ Marler said. He predicted the exit would lead to further talk about a FireEye sale, something that has been rumored for months given the company’s dropping valuation.

However, a FireEye spokesperson said Aziz’s departure would not affect the company’s strategy under new CEO Mandia.

"This move does not signal a change in our strategy – we are focused on delivering the best protection to our customers, with flexible deployment options and the option to benefit from our threat intelligence and expertise through FireEye as a Service," said the spokesperson. "The MVX engine Ashar developed remains a core technology and important offering, especially as we roll out the new separated products.

"This is a company Ashar started in his own living room, which has since grown to be a global enterprise and has been the main mission of his life for more than a decade. Ashar decided to resign from our board of directors now because he feels that he is leaving the company in good hands, and he believes that the mission he started in 2004 will continue in good hands going forward,’ the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said Aziz will ’remain a shareholder, fan and founder’ of the company, even as he steps away from day-to-day involvement with FireEye.