Security News

IronNet Taps Former Zscaler, Duo Executive Bill Welch As Co-CEO

Michael Novinson

New IronNet Cybersecurity Co-CEO Bill Welch plans to aggressively grow the startup's presence in the channel by recruiting service providers, systems integrators, and MSSPs.

Welch joined the Fulton, Md.-based cybersecurity vendor Monday following a brief stint as president and COO of Duo Security prior to its $2.35 billion acquisition by Cisco as well as a four-year run as COO at cloud security vendor Zscaler, where he quintupled revenue and quadrupled headcount prior to helping take the company public in early 2018.

"Everybody knew I had a strong desire to go and be a very senior executive in a CEO role or co-CEO role," Welch told CRN.

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In the co-CEO role, Welch will work alongside Keith Alexander, a general who spent a decade as director of the National Security Agency before founding and leading IronNet in 2014. Alexander's understanding of cyber at an offensive and intelligence level will benefit the company technologically, while Welch's background in the private sector will make him more helpful on the go-to-market side of the operation.

"With his background and my background, it was a very nice, symbiotic, relationship," Welch said.

As an early-stage startup, Welch said IronNet had up until now embraced more of a direct sales model to ensure the company's technology fits the outcomes customers are looking to drive. The company would work with solution providers in situations where it made sense, but Welch said there's wasn't any focused or systematic strategy to drive business through the channel.

Welch said that, between Duo and Zscaler, he has a long history of working in channel-friendly organizations, and he intends to follow in those footsteps again at IronNet. To start with, Welch said IronNet will pursue relationships with service providers such as BT Group that have deep roots working with Global 1000 companies.

In addition, Welch said IronNet hopes to strengthen its ties with systems integrators such as Accenture, Deloitte and Capgemini that that are very focused on vertical-oriented solutions in areas such as energy, financial services, healthcare, government, and retail.

IronNet also intends to work with partners at the higher end of the VAR channel such as Optiv, SHI, CDW and Forsythe that have excelled at augmenting their solutions with services. Finally, Welch said IronNet hopes to pursue relationships with MSSPs that can deliver its IronDefense and IronDome offerings as a managed service to go after mid-market and SMB customers.

Welch took Zscaler's channel organization from four people to 40 in his first year with the organization, and he plans to do something similar at IronNet to ensure the company is able to help its channel capture customers and market alongside them.

The percentage of IronNet's business going through the channel isn't significant today, according to Welch. But in time, Welch said he wants to have a majority of IronNet's business flowing through the channel.

"We are open to doing business with the channel," Welch said. "The thing that's nice is that the channel is a volunteer sales organization."

From a metrics standpoint, Welch said he plans to focus on customer net promoter scores (NPS), margins, sales and growth figures, ensuring spending levels are appropriate, and an employee's ability to advance in the organization. The company employs 195 people, according to Welch, and has raised $110.5 million in two rounds of outside funding.

"We are doing something that the market is really absorbing and embracing," Welch said. "Sales and channel will be a very high priority."

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