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Longtime Qualys CEO Philippe Courtot Exits For Health Reasons

‘We are incredibly proud of the visionary work that Phillippe has done to lead Qualys during his time with the company. It has been a privilege and an honor to work alongside Philippe,’ says Qualys Interim CEO Sumedh Thakar.

Serial entrepreneur Philippe Courtot has resigned from his role as Qualys’ CEO for health reasons after leading the cloud security vendor for two decades.

The departure of Courtot, 76, from Foster City, Calif.-based Qualys was announced Monday, six weeks after he temporarily stepped aside to address non-COVID health issues. Courtot’s top deputy – President and Chief Product Officer Sumedh Thakar – has served as Qualys’ interim CEO and board member since Feb. 7, and Thakar will remain in both positions on an interim basis going forward.

“Since becoming CEO 20 years ago, Philippe has built Qualys into a leading provider of cloud-based information security and compliance solutions, and we are incredibly grateful for his vision and leadership,” Qualys Lead Independent Director Sandra Bergeron said in a statement. “On behalf of Qualys’ Board and all our employees, we keep Philippe and his family in our thoughts.”

[Related: Qualys’ Philippe Courtot Takes Medical Leave; Interim CEO Named]

Courtot will remain a director on Qualys’ board until his current term expires at the 2021 annual meeting of stockholders and will not stand for re-election. The company hasn’t set a date for this meeting, though its 2020 annual meeting of stockholders was held June 10. Thakar, 45, will continue to serve as a director until the 2021 stockholder meeting or his successor is elected, Qualys said.

“We are incredibly proud of the visionary work that Phillippe has done to lead Qualys during his time with the company,” Thakar said in a statement. “It has been a privilege and an honor to work alongside Philippe since I joined the company in 2003.”

Qualys said it doesn’t maintain key person insurance on Courtot, which would have offered a financial cushion if the sudden loss of a certain individual would have a profoundly negative effect on operations. The loss of Courtot could significantly delay or prevent Qualys from achieving development and strategic objectives and harm its business, financial condition and results of operations, the firm wrote in a filing.

The company’s stock is up $5.82 (5.78 percent) in trading Monday afternoon to $106.59 per share. That’s the highest the company’s stock has traded since Feb. 10, the day Qualys announced after the market closed that Courtot was temporarily stepping aside.

Courtot became Qualys’ chairman and CEO in March 2001, just two years after the company was founded, and also served as the company’s president for most of the past decade until Thakar was promoted to that role. Prior to joining Qualys, Courtot was a serial entrepreneur, serving as chairman and CEO of electronic payment startup Signio, which was acquired by VeriSign in 2000 for $1.3 billion.

He took Qualys public in October 2012, raising $90.9 million in a Nasdaq initial public offering that valued the company at $360.6 million. Today, Qualys is worth $4.18 billion after growing annual sales to more than $360 million and its headcount to more than 1,500 employees.

Courtot was born in Nazi-occupied France in 1944, earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Paris, immigrated to the United States in 1981, and has lived in Silicon Valley since 1987. As CEO of Thomson CGR Medical in 1986, Courtot received the Benjamin Franklin Award for his role in the creation of a nationwide advertising campaign promoting the life-saving benefits of mammography.

Then in 1988, Courtot founded cc:Mail and turned it into the dominant e-mail platform provider, achieving a 40 percent market share before selling it to Lotus for $55 million in 1991. In 1993, Courtot was named President and CEO of enterprise knowledge retrieval firm Verity, leading the company through an initial public offering in 1995 before stepping down two years later and joining Signio.

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