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Application Security Firm Virsec Taps Dave Furneaux As CEO

Founding investor Dave Furneaux will build out Virsec’s go-to-market strategy and oversee operations, while ex-CEO Atiq Raza will continue to spearhead product delivery as executive chairman.

Virsec founding investor Dave Furneaux has become CEO to help the application security vendor build its go-to-market approach and more tightly integrate sales and marketing.

Furneaux told CRN he likes to take over as CEO once a company has hit an inflection point with its product and needs some operational assistance. He is replacing Atiq Raza, who is moving into the executive chairman role and will remain with San Jose, Calif.-based Virsec spearheading product delivery and driving technological innovation.

“Protecting applications has never been a bigger priority globally,” Furneaux said. “And Virsec has a really unique way of doing it.”

[Related: 20 Hot New Security Products Announced At RSA 2018]

From a go-to-market standpoint, Furneaux said he’s focused on picking and developing the right relationships with alliance partners like Raytheon as well as system integration (SI) partners such as Tech Mahindra. Raytheon has allowed Virsec to build up a footprint in the U.S. federal and public sector space, while Virsec has capitalized on Tech Mahindra’s strength in the healthcare and telco markets.

Working with resellers, ISV (independent software vendor) and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners allows Virsec’s product to be sold as part of a larger solution, which Furneaux said is helpful given the number of tools in the security market today. As a U.S.-based company, Furneaux said partnerships can also help Virsec build out a presence in far-flung regions like the Middle East.

Furneaux wants to expand the share of Virsec’s business going through the channel from roughly 50 percent today to two-thirds of the company’s business in the long-run, according to Furneaux. The company works closely with 15 to 25 channel partners today, and is focused primarily on the large and mid-enterprise markets, Furneaux said.

Virsec is most interested in partners with expertise around digital transformation or deep knowledge of a particular vertical like healthcare, financial services, oil and gas or utilities, according to Furneaux. The company came out with its product in late 2018, and 2019 was Virsec’s first full year of selling into the market, Furneaux said.

Last year was primarily oriented around building customer relationships through outbound marketing as well as going to and speaking at events where prospective customers would be present, Furneaux said. This year, Furneaux said Virsec is now focused on integrating its inbound lead generation into its sales motion, running campaigns for clients and growing the company in a controlled and responsible way.

Furneaux’s understanding of sales processes and sales operations coupled with his history of taking technology focused on a specific vertical and getting it out into the broader world should benefit Virsec at this juncture of its maturation, according to Damian Ehrlicher, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Park Ridge, Ill.-based ProtectedIT.

Virsec’s leadership team was previously more engineering-focused and looking to integrate with defense contractors, and Ehrlicher said Furneaux can help Virsec move beyond its comfort zone in the U.S. federal space and have conversations around what the commercial market wants. Leveraging marketing to get Virsec’s name and technology in front of new customers will be vital in this effort, he said.

Furneaux can also make Virsec more appealing to MSSPs by publicizing the company’s product roadmap and pursuing more product integration opportunities to broader the company’s scope, Ehrlicher said. Building out a master class of services personnel to support MSSPs and a framework for educating partners on a regular basis about changes and updates to Virsec’s product would be helpful, he said.

“Once this technology gets out in the marketplace, it’ll be extremely disruptive,” Ehrlicher said. “It’s a great move for the organization.”

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