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Palo Alto Networks Sales Exodus Continues With Exit Of Global Leader: Report

EVP of Worldwide Sales Dave Peranich will be the third high-ranking sales executive to leave Palo Alto Networks following the hiring of a new CEO and a new president in 2018

Dave Peranich will be the third high-ranking sales executive to leave Palo Alto Networks this year following turnover in the executive ranks in 2018, according to The Information.

Peranich will leave Palo Alto Networks at the end of September following three years as the Santa Clara, Calif.-based platform security vendor's EVP of worldwide sales, company officials told The Information, which first reported the move. Neither Palo Alto Networks nor Peranich immediately responded to a request for comment from CRN.

Peranich has managed the worldwide channels, sales operations, sales reps, and sales engineering teams at Palo Alto Networks since joining the company from Riverbed in August 2016, according to his company biography. Palo Alto Networks' stock fell $15.34 (7.15 percent) to $199.27 after The Information report came out late Friday, the lowest the company's stock has traded since June.

[Related: Palo Alto Networks SaaS Deal Referral Program Is Causing Partner Angst: Sources]

One solution provider who didn't wish to be identified said Peranich was a nice guy with a great resume, but ended up having a limited impact on the channel since he was more focused on the company's customers. Peranich's departure will be "inconsequential" from a channel standpoint since the company's go-to-market strategy is being set further up the food chain, the partner said.

"I think [new CEO] Nikesh [Arora] and [new president] Amit [Singh] are setting the direction," the partner said. "I don't think the direction is coming from [other members of] senior management."

The departure of Peranich will come just a few months after two of his top leaders in North America - Patrick Blair and Rick Wenning - both left the company. Blair had run the Palo Alto Networks' Americas sales organization since August 2017, left the company in March, and has since become EVP of global commercial business for online brand management vendor Yext.

Wenning, meanwhile, had been VP of sales for Americas enterprise accounts since May 2017, left Palo Alto Networks in February, and has since become VP of Americas sales at privileged access security vendor CyberArk.

Palo Alto Networks ended up this month tapping Todd Surdey, who joined the company in November 2018 as SVP of global channels and routes to market, to replace Blair at SVP of North America sales, according to Surdey's LinkedIn profile.

In his previous role, Surdey directly oversaw SVP of Worldwide Channels Karl Soderlund, according to Soderlund's 2019 CRN Channel Chiefs Profile. Soderlund is one of the few holdovers from the company's previous executive team.

The go-to-market leadership changes at Palo Alto Networks haven't been limited to the sales side of the organization, though. Just last month, Palo Alto Networks snagged former NetApp executive Jean English to serve as the company's new CMO. English replaced longtime Palo Alto Networks CMO Rene Bonvanie, who stepped into the EVP of strategic accounts role to help with managing a chronic illness.

The tectonic personnel shifts began in June 2018 with the surprise appointment of former Google leader Arora to replace Mark McLaughlin in the CRO role. Four months later, the company brought over Singh, another longtime Google leader, to serve as Palo Alto Networks' new president, replacing Mark Anderson, who had been considered the frontrunner for the CEO job prior to Arora's hire.

Anderson started this month as the chief growth officer at SaaS platform provider Anaplan.

Four months after channel advocate Anderson left the company, Palo Alto Networks disclosed a new SaaS Deal Referral program, where partners would receive a 10 percent reward for brining RedLock opportunities to the company. The company acquired RedLock in October 2018 for $173 million to strengthen its public cloud threat defense capabilities.

Partners told CRN earlier this year that the SaaS Deal Referral program restricts their relationship with the customer and limits the margin they can make on a product sale. Solution providers also expressed concern that SaaS Deal Referral program could move to other products besides RedLock, though the company hasn't disclosed any plans to do so at present.

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