Proofpoint's Global Channel Chief Departs As The Company Consolidates Channel Leadership

Proofpoint has let go of global channel chief Dee Dee Phelps Acquista, an executive credited with helping the company build out its channel strategy over the past three years, sources have told CRN.

Phelps Acquista had served as vice president of worldwide channels for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company. As of this week, she is no longer with the company, sources said.

Proofpoint confirmed the departure of Phelps Acquista in an email to CRN. In a statement, Executive Vice President of Global Field Operations Tracey Newell said Proofpoint was consolidating all of the North America channel teams to report into Jon Bove, North American channels director, as well as consolidating all of channel program management under Mark Sheridan, VP of business development, channel programs and alliances. The moves will help Proofpoint "better align our teams," she said.

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"As we launch into 2017, scaling more aggressively through our channel partners is a key piece of our channel strategy ... During her time at Proofpoint, Dee Dee has built strong relationships for us and I’m confident that Jon and Mark will continue this momentum as we remain committed to building on our strong channel progress with our strategic partners," Newall said in the statement.

Phelps Acquista declined to comment when reached directly by CRN.

Phelps Acquista joined Proofpoint in October 2013 as the company's first North American channel chief, charged with building out the company's channel strategy. In a recent interview with CRN, Phelps Acquista said Proofpoint is now "doing more business with the channel than we ever have" and that she was "pleased with the progress we've made with the channel overall."

Phelps Acquista could not disclose exactly how much or what percentage of business now goes through the channel, saying only that Proofpoint has made "great strides" in growing its channel business and that it has expanded its worldwide channel team five times in the three years since. That expansion included the addition of former Fortinet executive Bove.

Proofpoint is now looking to move into what Phelps Acquista called at the time the "next phase" of channel expansion, seeking to expand its push through regional reseller partners, to supplement the work it already does with solution providers, national security partners and multi-country systems integrators. That's a push that has been largely led by Bove, Phelps Acquista said in August.

Multiple partners spoken to about Phelps Acquista's departure said they have seen their business grow recently with Proofpoint, though at least one said there has also been some "channel conflict" as the company expands. The partners worried how Phelps Acquista's departure would affect the company's push forward with the channel, especially as the company does not currently plan on hiring another worldwide channel chief.

"People come and go all the time, but not having a head of channels goes against what they were going towards, which was a real and full blown channel strategy," one partner executive said.

In a recent Piper Jaffray report, issued after an investor event with security consultants and resellers, the research firm said partner demand for Proofpoint was "white hot." In a separate report highlighting top stocks for 2017, Piper Jaffray said 2017 "should be another solid year for Proofpoint," with opportunities around Office 365 migrations, demand for email security and the end of life transition from McAfee MX Logic. The report said Proofpoint also has an opportunity to expand its sales internationally.

In the company's third-quarter earnings call in October, CEO Gary Steele said Proofpoint was "pleased with the momentum of the channel," as it accounted for more than half of new and add-on business for the quarter.