Security News

New Zscaler Channel Chief: We’re ‘In Build Mode Right Now’

Wade Tyler Millward

‘Zscaler is in build mode right now,’ Karl Soderlund tells CRN in an interview.

About three months after an executive shuffle at Palo Alto Networks, former channel chief Karl Soderlund has left for security rival Zscaler.

Soderlund told CRN in an interview that his departure from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palo Alto Networks did not have one motivating factor, but rather he was attracted by the opportunity to grow San Jose, Calif.-based Zscaler’s ecosystem and deliver more value to partners.

“Zscaler is in build mode right now,” Soderlund said. “They’re crossing the chasm when it comes to their partner strategy. They’ve always been partner-first, but now they’re looking to continue to really invest and grow. We’re going to look at how we can evolve the partner program to be more beneficial and profitable for our partner community. I’m excited to leverage my 30 years of experience to lead this evolutionary transformation.”

[RELATED: Palo Alto Networks Appoints New Worldwide Channel Chief After Executive Reshuffle]

Palo Alto Loses Channel Executive To Zscaler

A spokesperson for Palo Alto Networks told CRN in a statement, “We thank him [Soderlund] for his contributions throughout the past six years and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Alan Mayer, senior vice president of partners and alliances at Denver-based Optiv—No. 25 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500 and a company whose 450-plus vendor partners include Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks—told CRN that Soderlund’s transparency and ability to align vendor success with partner success are some of the skills that have made him an effective channel chief.

“It has been balancing the requirements of both entities, understanding the broader market dynamics and having mutual respect and strong communication so that we can arrive at our shared goals,” Mayer said.

Zscaler is a smaller company with a smaller channel partner program compared to Palo Alto Networks.

Zscaler has about 200 employees in its channel organization, based on information supplied for CRN’s 2023 Channel Chiefs list – although the company announced earlier this month that it would lay off about 3 percent of its total workforce, about 177 employees.

It has about 2,000 channel partners worldwide, about 930 of them in North America.

Palo Alto Networks has about 300 channel organization employees, based on information supplied for CRN’s 2023 Channel Chiefs list. It has about 10,000 worldwide channel partners, about 1,200 of them in North America.

Zscaler has a market capitalization of about $17 billion. Palo Alto Networks has a market capitalization of about $57 billion.

Although Zscaler’s ecosystem is smaller, “it’s no less important,” Soderlund said.

Here’s what else Soderlund had to say to CRN.

Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at

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