Cylance Steals Symantec Channel Marketing VP As Endpoint Competition Heats Up

As competition between Cylance and Symantec heats up, the startup has stolen away a top channel marketing executive from the legacy vendor, CRN has learned. Cylance appointed May Mitchell as vice president, marketing for worldwide field and channel marketing.

Mitchell started at Cylance on Sunday after leaving Symantec was Dec. 2. Mitchell had previously served as vice president, worldwide field and channel marketing at Symantec, a position she had held since October 2013.

Symantec declined to comment on the departure, but did confirm that Mitchell's role has been filled by Muffin Mott, who now holds the title of head of global channel marketing. Mott has been operating in this role since September, the company said, after holding that role at Blue Coat Systems.

[Related: Symantec CEO Takes Aim At Cylance, Other Next-Gen Security Vendors As Blue Coat Integration Gets Under Way]

Sponsored post

In an interview with CRN, Mitchell said she was excited to start her new opportunity at Cylance after three years at Symantec. She said the new opportunity to grow channel marketing at Cylance, as well as recent changes at Symantec following the Blue Coat Systems acquisition made it the right time for a new move.

"I really enjoyed my time [at Symantec]. Symantec is going through a different phase, and it's the perfect time for a change," Mitchell said in an interview with CRN.

In her new role, which is a new position for the company, Mitchell will be responsible for driving channel marketing. Cylance, a 100-percent channel company, has been working to build out its network of channel partners and Mitchell said it is now looking to take that approach to the next level with marketing and enablement.

"We are at the next phase. That's where I come in with my expertise. We will ramp these partners' enablement and take the marketing machine we have going on and drive those programs to help partners build their business pipeline through the partner ecosystem," Mitchell said.

Justin Kallhoff, CEO at Infogressive, a Lincoln, Neb.-based Cylance partner, said he has been "doing a ton" of business with Cylance. He said Cylance has "clearly" invested in the channel under Vice President of Worldwide Channels Didi Dayton and the effects are showing. "Their channel is growing great … they have the channel right," Kallhoff said.

Kallhoff said he sees plenty of buzz in the market around the company, with customers coming to him looking for the solution, but he said an additional investment in marketing around the channel "isn't going to hurt."

In an email statement to CRN, Cylance President and CEO Stuart McClure said Mitchell's appointment would be a key factor in helping the company get the word out about next-generation endpoint security.

"There is a major shift happening right now where companies realize they don't have to settle for what the legacy anti-virus vendors call success from an anti-malware and endpoint security perspective," McClure said in the email. "As more and more companies test for themselves and realize that Cylance really is blazing new trails, we need additional talented leaders to support our customers, partners and channel. May is a seasoned and accomplished security executive who understands that Cylance is changing the endpoint security game with artificial intelligence. We’re very excited about the skill set she will bring from a channel and partner marketing perspective."

Mitchell's departure is the latest in a flood of executives to leave Symantec after its acquisition of Blue Coat Systems. Since the deal closed in August, the company has put many Blue Coat executives into top Symantec posts. Former Blue Coat executives have since assumed the CEO, president, COO and CFO roles. Other Symantec posts that have turned Blue Coat include executives leading worldwide sales, sales for the Americas, Americas channels, global partner sales and the global systems integrator organization. The company's service provider, MSP and strategic partnerships efforts are also led by Blue Coat vets.

From the Symantec side, John Sorensen remains with the company leading worldwide SMB, midmarket sales and channels. Sorensen had served as senior vice president of global sales before the Blue Coat acquisition.

Mitchell's departure is particularly interesting, as Symantec has recently come out swinging against Cylance, one of the most successful up-and-comers in the next-generation endpoint security market. At the company's Partner Engage event in October, CEO Greg Clark said Symantec is setting up "war rooms" against the competition, taking particular aim at Cylance, which he said doesn't perform as highly as Symantec's Endpoint Protection Platform.

Clark said Symantec's "war rooms" help it focus on detailing where competitors are ahead and how Symantec plans to change that. It will be a similar approach to the one Clark used at Blue Coat, where he was CEO from 2011 until Symantec acquired the company. Clark said at the event that he has already seen one large bank client rip out Cylance and put in Symantec Endpoint Protection 14, as well as another large company.

’Cylance and some of the others have got some better marketing at the moment. We are working to change that. You will see a sea change in our market,’ Clark said in October. ’We are feeling good about our ability to win.’

Cylance has also recently taken shots at Symantec, posting a blog last week slamming antivirus companies who are "pay-to-play capitulators who seek to line their pockets by perpetuating outmoded technologies while keeping more effective and innovative solutions out of the hands of the users who need them." The blog post particularly singled out Symantec as a legacy company that "commissions" AV tests that ultimately turn out positive ratings for the company, saying the company's Endpoint Protection Platform does not stand up against its own solution in independent testing.

Infogressive's Kallhoff said competition in the endpoint security market is just starting to heat up, with the market becoming more and more crowded. In that mix, he said he sees legacy vendors, like Symantec, looking to make moves and continue driving demand while seeing increased pressure from upstarts like Cylance. He said he anticipates that competition only to get more fierce in the months to come.

"I think it's just the beginning of it," Kallhoff said.