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Area 1 Security Snags Ex-SonicWall Vet Patrick Sweeney As CEO

Sweeney plans to take Area 1 from having virtually none of its business going through the channel to mapping between 75 percent and 80 percent of the email security vendor’s sales to solution providers within the next six months.

Area 1 Security has brought on former SonicWall and Talari Networks executive Patrick Sweeney as CEO to help build the company’s channel program from scratch.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based email security vendor has tasked Sweeney with taking Area 1 from having virtually none of its business going through the channel as recently as April to mapping between 75 percent and 80 percent of the company’s business to solution providers within the next six months. Sweeney joined Area 1 on April 1 and officially became the company’s CEO Monday.

“I think they were looking for someone that they felt respected product,” Sweeney told CRN. “But they also wanted somebody that really had shown and demonstrated a passion for building channels and go-to-market motion and knows how to do it.”

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Talari Crowns Former Dell Exec As CEO, Plans To Go 100 Percent Channel]

Sweeney takes over for Oren Falkowitz, who had led the company since its founding in November 2013. Falkowitz will remain with Area 1 as chairman, where Sweeney said he will serve as general manager for the company’s U.S. federal business, advocate for customers and write up some of the company’s most notable research.

In the past 60 days alone, Sweeney said Area 1 has gone from selling virtually entirely direct to mapping 25 percent of its business to a channel partner. Area 1 today works with channel powerhouse SHI as well security solution provider mainstays Optiv and GuidePoint, and hopes to have between 30 and 40 tightly managed solution provider relationships within the next six months, according to Sweeney.

From a product standpoint, Sweeney said Area 1 plans to invest in message sentiment analysis to better understand how well an individual piece of email correspondence fits in the broader pattern of communication between two entities. Adversaries will often insert a malicious email deeper into a legitimate conversation thread by making small changes to a URL, which Area 1 is working hard to catch.

Area 1 is looking to scale its web crawlers at a massive level since the faster the company can crawl the internet, the faster it can see new campaigns being stood up, according to Sweeney. Today, Sweeney said Area 1 is on average seeing malicious campaigns 24 days before they launch. Area 1 is also investing in verdict escalation to make sure there’s a robust Security Operations Center in place to put a human eye on things, he said.

Finally, Sweeney said he will double down on having Area 1 publish more of its original findings around new campaigns and techniques on an ongoing basis. Falkowitz has started to write up things he has intimate knowledge of such as political campaigns that are still running on Russian-controlled servers, and Area 1 plans to hire another person to pull more information out of the company’s research group.

“Channel partners should recognize the shift in the marketplace, look at vendors like Area 1, and recognize that we are growing very, very rapidly,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney most recently spend two years as CEO of SD-WAN vendor Talari Networks, where he spearheaded the company’s November 2018 sale to Oracle. Prior to that, Sweeney spend more than 16 years as SonicWall’s vice president of marketing and product management, where he helped the nascent network security vendor grow to more than $400 million in revenue before its sale to Dell in 2012.

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