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WatchGuard Technologies CEO: We're On The Hunt For Acquisitions

Prakash Panjwani says partners can definitely expect to see the security vendor make some acquisitions around CASB, access control and layered defense.

As WatchGuard Technologies adds to its security platform, CEO Prakash Panjwani said partners can definitely expect to see the security vendor make some acquisitions.

"We're looking at some acquisitions. … There will be a combination of organic and technology tuck-ins that we can acquire," Panjwani said. "Because we're growing and increasing profitability, we could not be more secure in terms of what we can do as a company."

Panjwani said WatchGuard is continuing to expand its security platform, which centers around network security appliances for SMBs but has extended to include secure Wi-Fi and a host of subscription services. That expansion has been a concerted push by the Seattle-based company since Panjwani became CEO just over two years ago.

[Related: Q&A: WatchGuard CEO On Two-Year Anniversary, SMB Security Opportunity, And UTM Competition]

"I think we're at a stage now where all the things that we have put in place are starting to work," Panjwani said. "I think our strategy could not be in a more solid place."

Acquisitions already have been part of the WatchGuard portfolio expansion strategy. Last year the company acquired HawkEye G from Hexis Cyber Solutions to add new threat detection and response capabilities to its platform.

While he wouldn't specify the areas in which WatchGuard is looking to make purchases, Panjwani said the company will look for offerings that bring enterprise security to SMB customers and are also channel-ready or could be made channel-ready. Technology areas the company will look at include CASB, access control including single sign-on and two-factor authentication, and additional layers of defense for the company's web application firewall.

"We are trying to keep a pace we can manage where we can integrate, buy companies, and bring them to market through WatchGuard channels. To me, that's a huge priority of managing those categories that we're interested in and we're looking at companies in that space and figuring out what will fit for our end customers as well," Panjwani said.

Kevin Willette, partner, president and CEO of Verus, a Coon Rapids, Minn.-based WatchGuard Platinum partner, said he is glad to see WatchGuard making investments to expand its portfolio through acquisition and organic investment. He said key areas of expansion include SD-WAN, cloud applications and mobile security.

Willette said he has seen WatchGuard evolve dramatically over the nearly 15 years he has partnered with the company. That evolution has accelerated in the past two years since Panjwani became CEO, he said. He credited Panjwani with helping WatchGuard evolve its platform security strategy, including aligning the teams, advancements around product stability, partner program enhancements and acquisitions.

Willette said he has seen particular opportunity as WatchGuard expands its security UTM platform and delivers it as bundled offerings. He said the price point and new offerings, like cloud-based Wi-Fi, have really "opened the doors" with customers.

"It feels really good to be a WatchGuard partner today," Willette said. "Going through the history of the product and previous leadership regimes, this definitely is a different feel with Prakash and his team. It's something that we feel really good about."

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