Cribl CEO Clint Sharp On Hitting $100M ARR, IPO Goal

In an interview with CRN, Sharp discusses how the company is finding massive traction as ‘Switzerland’ among data platforms and why he believes going public is ‘definitely in the cards for us.’


With the milestone of $100 million in annual recurring revenue now under its belt, Cribl is eyeing an initial public offering “in the foreseeable future,” according to CEO and Co-Founder Clint Sharp.

Cribl, which offers a data platform that enables improved flexibility and control around security and IT data, announced Wednesday it has reached $100 million in ARR in four years — becoming the fourth fastest company in the infrastructure space to do so (behind only Wiz, HashiCorp and Snowflake).

[Related: Data Observability Startup Cribl Bolsters Partner Program]

Sponsored post

In an interview with CRN, Sharp discussed how the company is finding massive traction as the “Switzerland” among data platforms, Cribl’s “channel-first” partner strategy and why he believes an IPO is “definitely in the cards for us.”

What follows is an edited and condensed portion of CRN’s interview with Sharp.

How would you summarize what Cribl offers?

The core value proposition of the products in our portfolio -- Edge, Stream and Search -- is that we are an agnostic data engine. And so on the Stream side, we can help route data, even if it’s coming from Splunk collectors. We can help put that data into a data lake. We can help put that data into a second solution. We can help replay that data to other solutions -- so that if they decide they want to go back three months, six months, a year -- and then go send all that data to a new SIEM solution, they can do that with us. Search allows them to look across multiple places where that data goes from the same experience.

And so all through our product portfolio, what we stand for is choice and control, and giving people the ability that no matter where the data is coming from, no matter where the data is going to, we can route that data, we can process that data and really give them the ability to put that data wherever is the right place for that class of data.

What are your thoughts on the term “observability”? Do you think that continues to be a useful term for describing what Cribl does?

There’s a change there for us. We call ourselves the data engine for IT and security. We think of ourselves more like a Snowflake or a Databricks, but really focused on these particular users. Because the type of data that they deal with is voluminous, and it has a lot of different shapes and doesn’t fit neatly into rows and columns. And so traditional data products are not really a great fit for them. For the last four years, we kind of were hopeful that observability would become the broader umbrella [term]. And security was a use case under observability. But that hasn’t really come to pass. Security people think of themselves very differently. Also, observability is just a hard word to say.

Our messaging now is more about, all of this data -- telemetry data, log, metric, trace data, configuration data -- all of this is data that our buyers need to go process. And sometimes they’re going to use that for observability. Sometimes they’re going to use that for security. Sometimes they’re going to use that for legacy monitoring. We’ve de-emphasized the observability portion of the messaging to focus more just on the data challenges that our customers have.

Snowflake has its own push around security data — how do you differ from what they’re doing?

Where we’ve seen Snowflake are generally in very large institutions that have an engineering team that’s capable of building solutions on top of that engine. I think they have an amazing engine for looking at very diverse types of data. But I wouldn’t even call it a Lego kit. I think it’s more like going to the hardware store.

Could you say a little about your strategy in working closely with CrowdStrike?

With CrowdStrike, we have an OEM deal. That’s the only OEM deal that we have today. I don’t think it will be the last. But in terms of strong go-to-market partnerships, we’re working closely with most of the [companies] in the space. We’re kind of Switzerland in this space. What we’re hearing in the market is [customers] are not going all-in on one vendor, especially from a logging or SIEM perspective. They’re building a portfolio of those types of tools. There’s often Splunk in those accounts, there’s often Elastic in those accounts, but then they’re considering a data lake strategy or they’re considering an XDR strategy in addition to SIEM.

And so really the problem that we’re solving for customers right now, and why these other companies are so interested in partnering with us, is that in order to add a second or third destination for this type of data, people don’t want to go back and redo all the plumbing -- and go throw out yet another agent. The way that this has been solved in the last decade is every vendor would come with their own agent. And so each endpoint then gets piled up with two, three, four, five agents, all collecting the same data. And so we’re enabling them to be able to reuse the existing collection infrastructure, and then add additional destinations, which gives customers a ton of flexibility they just didn’t have before.

How would you describe your strategy with channel partners?

I think that’s an important differentiator for us -- we’ve always been a channel-first company. WWT is a great partner, and Optiv. We’re starting to see some traction with CDW, Guidepoint. These are all really great partners for us. Oftentimes these partners are also delivering services for us. We’re working together to get the product sold, but then also working together to get the product delivered. And that’s been a hugely successful strategy for us.

Are you looking to sort of expand the contingent of partners that you’re working with?

We have dozens of signed partners in the ecosystem. We absolutely are excited to work with anybody who sees the value of what we’re delivering, and work closely with them. We have a great channel program and a team of channel managers who help develop those partnerships and go deeper. So yes, absolutely.

Could you speak a bit about the growth you’ve been seeing, and what things are looking like moving forward?

Hitting $100 million dollars in annual recurring revenue is a huge win. We also have net dollar retention over 145 percent. I think that’s a great testament to the fact that we’re not just going out and landing new logos, but we’re expanding rapidly inside of the customers that have already bought. And we’re just about to crest 600 employees. We’re starting to grow more efficiently. So we’re more than doubling revenue year over year, but doing that with more like 25, 30, 35 percent employee growth. So we’re really building a sustainable business as a future public company.

Do you have certain things you’re hoping to achieve before you would be looking to pursue an IPO?

Going public requires a reasonable amount of internal infrastructure. Some of that work is still to be done. Primarily it’s what’s the right time [in] the market. We’re working closely with our advisors around the right time for that. From a capital perspective, the balance sheet is healthy, we’ve raised over $400 million over the lifetime of the company, and the majority of that’s still sitting in the bank. So there’s no urgency from a capital perspective. But I think it’s something that we want to do in the foreseeable future. The exact timing of which is TBD. But it’s definitely in the cards for us.

So you don’t have a goal for 2024 on that?

There’s no hard date. There’s nothing urgent here on our side. But it is definitely very much in the vision of where we go.