Area 1 Security Embraces MSSPs As It Pushes Downmarket

The company’s SaaS service is priced on a per-user basis and delivered through a license, all of which is extremely compatible with how MSPs and MSSPs go to market, Chief Revenue Officer Steve Pataky said at XChange+ 2021.


Area 1 Security has leveraged the channel and phishing risk assessments to expand its customer base beyond the Fortune 500 and into the SMB and midmarket.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based email security vendor has worked with solution providers for years but didn’t have a channel chief or formal partner program until Chief Revenue Officer Steve Pataky (pictured) and Head of Channel and Technology Partnerships Dawn Ringstaff joined the company last summer. Pataky and Ringstaff tapped into their decades of experience to build a world-class channel program for Area 1.

“We took all the best of our blueprints from some very notable companies and brought them here and created a really elegant reward-for-value model,” Pataky said Sunday during XChange+ 2021, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company. “This means the partner that drives the deal and owns that deal always enjoys the best margin. We know how to do that at scale, and we do that well.”

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[Related: Area 1 Security Snags Ex-SonicWall Vet Patrick Sweeney As CEO]

Area 1 works extensively with the Fortune 500 customers. The company has doubled down on solution providers to expand its customer footprint downmarket and now has 55 channel partners as well as a number of MSSPs offering Area 1 as a freemium email security tool to their customers, he said.

Pataky said the company has many customers with just a single user such as a U.S. general, a former Gartner analyst and a variety of candidates running for elected office. Area 1 also offers its technology to all solution providers at no cost regardless of whether they’re an active channel partner, according to Pataky. The company sells exclusively through the channel, Pataky said.

“We’re all part of the supply chain for our customers,” Pataky said. “If anything bad happens and your infrastructure gets weaponized against the customer, that’s bad for all of us. So we made the decision—if we’re really going to be a channel company and a world-class channel company, we will protect you for free.”

A key component of Area 1’s value proposition for channel partners is the phishing risk assessment, which monitors a customer’s email flow with its current defenses and tracks what type of attacks occurred, where the attacks are coming from and which domains are vulnerable. The assessment lasts about three weeks, and Area 1 can convert 80 percent of assessments into new business, Pataky said.

Findings from the phishing risk assessment get put into an automatically generated report that solution providers can brand with their own logo and bring to their customers, he said. The assessments have a track record of catching business email compromise or fraudulent payment before it’s too late, stopping a $26.5 million fraudulent payment for jet fuel and a $7.6 fraudulent payment by a very large retailer.

“When you have an advanced view of what’s going on with the bad guys and the infrastructure they’re setting up and what’s happening with those domains and you can track all that all the way through, you can have a stunning effect,” Pataky said. “And nothing will close a deal faster.”

Beyond phishing risk assessments, Pataky said channel partners completely own the renewal process for Area 1 customers. Area 1 has a renewal rate of more than 100 percent due to upsell opportunities for existing customers around elements and components that the company recently launched, Pataky said.

Area 1 plans to launch new features such as config APIs by the end of September that will really optimize the experience for managed service providers, according to Pataky. The company’s SaaS service is priced on a per-user basis and delivered through a license, all of which is extremely compatible with how MSPs and MSSPs go to market, Pataky said.

“As partners, can you make money off this?” Pataky asked. “And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Hell yes, you can.’”

Solution provider NGEN takes a layered approach to email security that includes phishing tests as well as protecting active credentials, according to Terry Speigner, president and CEO of the Lanham, Md.-based company. Speigner was impressed by what he heard from Area 1 and said NGEN’s customers could always use more protection against phishing given how often adversaries exploit that vulnerability.

“We’ll have to kick the tires on Area 1 and see what our customers think,” Speigner said.