WatchGuard Hires Channel Veteran HoJin Kim As CRO To Drive MSP Push

‘When you think about the challenges that end customers are having around managing a successful security posture and how difficult and complicated that is, MSPs represent the best route to market that will actually help guarantee the best customer satisfaction,’ Kim said.


WatchGuard Technologies Tuesday said it has hired longtime channel sales executive HoJin Kim as its new CRO as the vendor looks to sharpen its focus on enabling MSPs with its unified cybersecurity platform.

Kim, who joins WatchGuard effective April 17, will hold the title of senior vice president and CRO at Seattle-based WatchGuard and will lead the company’s global sales force, taking over for Sean Price, who is stepping down.

Kim is “the right person at the right time” for the role, according to WatchGuard CEO Prakash Panjwani. “What’s ahead of us is getting MSPs to fully cross-sell what we have built for them—all the services we have brought together—but also adding new MSPs to our partner base,” the WatchGuard CEO said.

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When it comes to Kim’s “depth in channel and distribution, we couldn’t have found a better fit from that perspective,” Panjwani said. “And combining that with the security expertise that HoJin already brings to the table made it [even more of] a clear fit.”

Kim was most recently the CRO at The Channel Company, where he was a “key architect” of a successful sales strategy at the media, events and marketing company, according to The Channel Company CEO Blaine Raddon. The Channel Company, which is the parent of CRN, has promoted sales and marketing veteran Heather Barnes to the role of CRO.

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Kim’s rare expertise acquired from his time at The Channel Company, where he’s been able to get a broader view of the solution provider landscape, made him even more ideal as a candidate for the CRO role at WatchGuard, Panjwani said.

“When I think about the depth that The Channel Company brings [to Kim], and that HoJin brings because of his other past experiences, that was just very unique,” Panjwani told CRN.

Prior to joining The Channel Company in May 2022, Kim spent four years as vice president of worldwide channels and North America sales at cybersecurity vendor SonicWall. Earlier, Kim held channel sales executive roles at Samsung, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Juniper Networks and IBM, with a tech career spanning nearly three decades.

‘The Power Of Partners’

Kim said that he comes to WatchGuard with a firm belief in “the power of partners and partner ecosystems.”

“When you think about the challenges that end customers are having around managing a successful security posture, and how difficult and complicated that is, MSPs represent the best route to market that will actually help guarantee the best customer satisfaction,” Kim said. “A lot of that complexity is then hidden from the customer because the MSP is managing that.”

WatchGuard has a 100 percent channel sales model and primarily sells to its network of 17,000 MSPs, Panjwani said.

Over the years the company has transformed itself from a vendor focused on network security to a provider of a unified security platform. The WatchGuard platform now spans identity and endpoint protection as well as secure wireless access points, in addition to its core network security capabilities. In April 2022, private equity firm Vector Capital acquired a majority stake in WatchGuard, which was founded in 1996.

WatchGuard did not disclose revenue figures, but Panjwani said that the company’s annual recurring revenue has grown by double-digit percentages, year over year, for the past 24 quarters.

About 87 percent of WatchGuard’s sales are to MSPs, Panjwani said, which in WatchGuard’s definition includes managed security service providers (MSSPs) and any other firms that offer managed IT services.

‘Perfect Role’

The Channel Company’s Raddon congratulated Kim on his new position at WatchGuard.

“This position that HoJin is taking on is a perfect role for him, given his experience in security, sales leadership and revenue generation,” Raddon told CRN. “I’ve known HoJin for 30-plus years, and he’s a tremendous find for WatchGuard.”

The fact that The Channel Company was able to bring aboard an executive with Kim’s experience shows the huge opportunity and traction that the company is finding right now, according to Raddon. Likewise, “HoJin taking a role of this stature is a testament to how well-positioned our company is within the ecosystem of the channel,” Raddon said.

The Channel Company CRO Heather Barnes

The Channel Company CRO Heather Barnes

Barnes, meanwhile, will bring her “successful track record in sales leadership” to the CRO role at The Channel Company as she helps to continue driving the momentum for the company, Raddon said. The Channel Company has promoted Barnes to the position from her most recent role as senior vice president of business transformation.

Since joining The Channel Company in March 2022, Barnes has provided critical strategic direction throughout the process of integrating several businesses acquired by the company in 2022, among other contributions, according to Raddon. Those acquisitions included Incisive Media’s technology group brands—consisting of its Computing, CRN UK and Channel Partner Insight properties—as well as two global technology marketing agencies, bChannels and Lauchlan.

Barnes brings a “natural ability to train and develop sales teams and sales leaders and envision and architect solutions for clients,” Raddon wrote in a recent message to staff members of The Channel Company. This talent has enabled her to “consistently expand traditional sales motions into pre-sales architecture, strategic marketing, full-cycle customer success, sales operations and offering innovation,” he wrote.

Before joining The Channel Company, Barnes spent two decades at sales and marketing services firm MarketStar, most recently as its vice president of partner channel operations. There, she headed sales and customer success teams for numerous tech giants including Google, Microsoft, Meta, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., Intel, Cisco and Juniper Networks. Raddon said he has worked with Barnes for more than 15 years in total.

Ultimately, at The Channel Company, Barnes “has all the passions and talents necessary to step into the CRO role and lead our sales efforts worldwide,” Raddon wrote in the message to staff members.