CRN Exclusive: Threat Hunting Startup Infocyte Lands Ex-SonicWall Top Exec As CEO, Launches Channel Blitz


Infocyte has tapped former SonicWall General Manager Curtis Hutcheson to double the company's headcount and size of its partner community over the next year.

The San Antonio-based threat hunting startup appointed Hutcheson as CEO in conjunction with the company's close of a $5.2 million Series B funding round, which was led by Newport Beach, Calif.-based venture firm Toba Capital. Hutcheson started last month and replaces Peter Klante, who served as Infocyte's CEO for one year.

"The company is about a great product and a great platform," Hutcheson told CRN exclusively. "I think it's the right time to really scale the business."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: SonicWall Names New CEO As It Closes Dell Spinout Deal]

Sponsored post

Hutcheson recently spent 19 months leading Dell Security's $550 million software business unit, which included the SonicWall network security practice and the One Identity identity and access management team. In that role, Hutcheson restructured the division to become a stand-alone business with full P&L authority in preparation for its 2016 sale to Francisco Partners and Elliott Management.

Prior to that, Hutcheson spent nearly two years leading Dell's $8 billion North American data center business. After leaving Dell, Hutcheson has evaluated hundreds of security companies for potential investment as a partner at Toba Capital.

Hutcheson said he had been planning to step into a leadership role with a security company when a strong opportunity arose. And based on Infocyte's potential for mainstream threat hunting, which only the largest enterprises have had the capability to do themselves up until now, Hutcheson felt the timing was right.

"Every enterprise deals with the problem of 'How do I know my network is clean?'" Hutcheson said. "I think it's been cost-prohibitive. I think it's been too complex."

Until now, threat hunting has primarily been the domain of military and top-tier financial institutions that often rely on manual and time-consuming techniques to sift through analytics and behavioral data, according to Infocyte.

From a partner perspective, Infocyte has grown its channel community from just 10 solution providers a year ago to 54 partners today as the company's products gain traction in the market, according to co-founder and Chief Product Officer Chris Gerritz. Hutcheson said Infocyte is "definitely in recruit mode" when it comes to channel partners, and plans to double its base of solution providers in 2018.

"There's tons of turf out here," Hutcheson said.

Infocyte also plans to introduce a formal, tiered partner program this quarter, Hutcheson said, with solution providers receiving greater rewards for holding more certifications and being able to deliver higher levels of expertise to customers.

The company is most interested in channel partners that have experience managing protection tools, networks and endpoints for customers since they know how the network is configured and are already trusted by customers, Hutcheson said. Infocyte isn't that concerned about a partner's size or scale since solution providers only need a few security experts to deliver value to clients.

Infocyte is also seeking out partners with deep expertise in verticals such as retail, finance, banking, insurance, health care or government, according to Hutcheson. Health care and finance tend to attract a lot of adversaries since they have valuable assets, Hutcheson said, while government agencies are also an appealing target due to the sensitive data in their domain.

From a personnel standpoint, Infocyte plans to double its headcount from 25 workers today to 50 employees a year from now, according to Hutcheson. The company has up until now has invested primarily in its product and platform, meaning that the new hires will allow Infocyte to make significant gains from a coverage and marketing perspective.

The company's signature product, Infocyte Hunt, simplifies the threat hunting process by reducing the skill set requirement for pursuing malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs). The product significantly reduces the period of time between infection and discovery, according to the company, denying bad actors the ability to operate undetected.

As a result, Infocyte said the business impact of malware or APTs is reduced and trust in the network's health is restored. The offering was developed by former U.S. Air Force cybersecurity officers, and leverages military-grade techniques and practices in an automated platform.

Infocyte goes beyond a basic vulnerability assessment or penetration test by letting end users know what – if any – malware or persistent threats have gotten through the holes in their coverage, according to Chad Smith, CEO of San Antonio-based Everon Technology.

"It opens up a really great conversation, especially at the executive level," Smith said. "It filled a gap that we were really looking for."

Everon has run six Infocyte assessments thus far, Smith said, and expects to close agreements with four or five additional customers by the end of the quarter. In time, Smith hopes to incorporate Infocyte's technology into a bundled package that combines the company's offering with classic penetration testing.

"They're really fulfilling a need in the industry," Smith said. "They're a fast-growing company, and they're going to rise quickly."