Zscaler Poaches Salesforce Exec Syam Nair To Be Its New CTO

The cybersecurity vendor says that Nair — who’d been at Salesforce since 2017, and at Microsoft before that — will be focused on expanding Zscaler’s zero trust security platform and AI capabilities.


Cybersecurity firm Zscaler announced Tuesday it has lured a top executive from Salesforce, Syam Nair, to take the role of CTO.

The security service edge vendor — known for its cloud-based tools that can help with modernizing cybersecurity systems around zero trust principles — said that Nair will join the company on May 24. He will also hold the title of executive vice president of research and development, in addition to CTO.

[Related: Netskope, Zscaler, Palo Alto Networks Lead Gartner’s SSE Magic Quadrant For 2023]

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Zscaler said Nair’s focus areas will include expanding the vendor’s zero trust security platform, as well as accelerating the platform’s capabilities in AI/ML.

Nair has been an executive at Salesforce since mid-2017, and has held the role of executive vice president since early 2019. In the role, he leads product engineering for a number of Salesforce product lines including Tableau, Data Cloud, Einstein, Flow and Marketing Cloud, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Before joining Salesforce, Nair worked at Microsoft from 2010 to 2017, most recently as a director focused on Azure data platforms such as DocumentDB (now CosmosDB). Nair helped to build Azure data services for Microsoft, and was also a key player responsible for its “accelerated expansion,” Zscaler said in a news release.

At Salesforce, meanwhile, Nair “has been a driving force for key strategic innovations, including Salesforce Genie,” Zscaler said in the release.

Nair said in the news release that as cloud, AI and cybersecurity continue to become increasingly critical and converge, he views Zscaler as “at the forefront of this transformation.” That’s thanks in part to the vendor’s possession of what he called the “largest, most valuable data pool for cloud security.”

Comings And Goings

In October 2022, Zscaler President Amit Sinha, who oversaw R&D at the company, departed to become CEO of DigiCert. Prior to being promoted to Zscaler’s president in early 2022, Sinha had been the vendor’s CTO for more than a decade.

In an email to CRN, Zscaler confirmed that Sinha continued oversee the company’s CTO duties as president, and the company had not filled the CTO role following his departure, until now.

Following Sinha’s departure, functions that had been reporting to Sinha, including R&D, began reporting to Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry, the company said at the time. Sinha has remained as a member of the vendor’s board of directors.

Amid the challenging economic environment, Zscaler said in early March that it had reduced its workforce by 3 percent, following a surge in hiring over the previous 18 months.

For the second quarter of Zscaler’s fiscal 2023, ended Jan. 31, revenue jumped 52 percent year-over-year to $387.6 million for the publicly traded company, slightly above the Wall Street analyst consensus estimate.