FireEye Names Former Symantec Exec As Head Of Worldwide Sales

FireEye has named Bill Robbins as its new head of worldwide sales, bringing in the long-time industry executive with a mission to win back the hearts and minds of the company's channel as it looks to push more business through partners.

Robbins joins FireEye, starting Friday, from Nuance Communications, where he was executive vice president of worldwide sales. Before that he was executive vice president of worldwide sales and services at Symantec, joining the company as part of its 2005 acquisition of Veritas.

In an interview with CRN, Robbins said he saw the opportunity to join FireEye as a chance to join a company with a "unique set of capabilities and solutions," mission to protect customers from threats and leverage his channel-centric background to bring that vision to customers through partners.

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Robbins' appointment comes after a period of drastic change at the Milpitas, Calif.-based security vendor, including the appointment of new CEO Kevin Mandia, a round of significant layoffs, restructuring and a prioritization of the company's roadmap around Cloud MVX, HX and FireEye-as-a-Service.

"It's a new day for FireEye," Robbins said. "They have gone through a lot of change … I just feel like it’s a great time to come in - with a lot to build from and a number of things that can be improved on – and make a difference."

Nic Alicandri, founder and chief business officer at CipherTechs, a New York City-based FireEye partner said Robbins has a good reputation from his time at Symantec for being a hard-worker and his ability to get things done. While Symantec wasn't the strongest channel vendor at the time, Alicandri said Robbins ran a "world-class sales organization" at the company.

"It's definitely a win for FireEye," Alicandri said.

CEO Kevin Mandia also praised Robbins' "track record of sales management and operations success" in a statement about the appointment. He said Robbins has a history of "overseeing teams that have driven revenue for a broad range of technologies."

"Bill's experience as a sales leader and a senior operations executive will be invaluable as we move forward to transform our sales organization to capitalize on new opportunities in the evolving cyber security market," Mandia said in a statement.

Robbins replaces Senior Vice President of Sales John McGee, who has left the company. FireEye would not comment on where McGee is now. Travis Reese, president, has been handling sales in the interim, the company said.

As a worldwide sales leader, Robbins said a top priority for him in his first few months at FireEye would be to repair partner confidence in FireEye, which remains shaky in part from the company's 2014 acquisition of Mandiant. Robbins said he recognized the "trust bucket has been knocked over" with partners and he plans to "work like hell to make things the best they can possibly be going forward."

"Getting over the $1 billion [in revenue] level is the next step. For us to do that and to do it successfully, we really need to have a well-thought-out go-to-market structure and inclusive of that is definitely going to be through the channel ecosystem," Robbins said.

While FireEye has already started down this path, Robbins said he plans to set clear rules of engagement when it comes to working with partners, and plans to enforce those rules. He said his track record at Symantec, where he was brought in as the Americas sales leader to roll out clear rules of engagement and even terminated sales representatives who violated those rules, will show those commitments are "a lot more than just lip service."

"We will communicate clearly, and we will be very focused on making sure those partners that invest in FireEye really see a great return on that investment and feel our commitment to them," Robbins said.

A part of that discussion will be getting partners engaged with FireEye's product roadmap, Robbins said. While it might not come in the first 90 days, Robbins said he wants to involve partners in helping map which products the company should prioritize and how it will take them to market.

"There is not a shortage of demand and needs in the industry for security and for the types of services and the intellectual property and experience that FireEye can bring to market. Getting that to market to our customers in a way they can consume it, that is explained to them, and they get the full value of that is a great opportunity for FireEye and our channel ecosystem to do together," Robbins said.