Racing Into 2011: 20 Scenes From The Kaspersky Partner Conference

Fun In The Sun

Kaspersky Labs took more than 200 of its best partners from the Americas to gorgeous Riviera Maya, Mexico for a long weekend (Feb. 3 through Feb. 6), to highlight the latest company information and give a snapshot of what it hopes to accomplish in 2011. It was a mix of business and pleasure.

Here, we take a look at what was said and done at the 2011 Kaspersky Lab Americas Partner Conference.

We Will Be No. 3

Kaspersky COO Eugene Buyakin didn't mince words: Kaspersky will unseat Trend Micro as the No. 3 endpoint security vendor in 2011. Buyakin said Kaspersky has made a steady climb to reach that position. Its preliminary market share hit 7.5 percent in 2010. So far, Trend Micro hasn't released its 2010 numbers.

"We are winners. We like to win. We like the challenge. We like to compete," Buyakin said, later adding, "We do want to become clearly the No. 3 player in this industry [in 2011]."

Racing Toward Partnerships

Kaspersky Co-Founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky took the stage donning a Kaspersky-emblazoned racing outfit to showcase the security player's recent sponsorship of the Ferrari Formula One racing team. Kaspersky said one of the company's key initiatives in 2011 is to boost brand awareness and the Formula One sponsorship -- which will feature Kaspersky's logo on the racing team's fleet of Ferraris -- is part of that strategy. That initiative also got Kaspersky behind the wheel of the Italian sports car, which he demonstrates here. When asked to describe the feeling of driving a Ferrari, he said: "that's like trying to explain the taste of an orange to someone who will never taste an orange."

Steady, Now! Steady!

During breaks in the general session, Kaspersky hosted challenges straight out of the TV show "Minute To Win It." Here, Curtis Jacobson, president and CEO of Corporate Technology Group, a Missoula, Mont.-based solution provider, tries to steady a toppling tower of cans. Though the tower fell, Jacobson was still rewarded with a sombrero and t-shirt.

General Atlantic Weighs In

Earlier this year, investment firm General Atlantic took a major stake in Kaspersky, becoming the No. 2 shareholder to CEO Eugene Kaspersky. At the partner conference, General Atlantic Managing Director John Bernstein told partners that the financial injection won't hurt their business. Instead, Bernstein said, it will create a new level of strategic insight and help Kaspersky maintain the entrepreneurial spirit. Bernstein said GA looked at several security companies and chose Kaspersky due to its technology and growth potential. GA will support Kaspersky's management team, join the board, help with acquisitions and assist if and when Kaspersky launches an IPO.

Big Growth In Retail

Kaspersky was the No. 1 best selling security product in American retail in 2010, said Kaspersky President Steve Orenberg at the Kaspersky Partner Conference. According to data from the NPD Group, Kaspersky retail sales grew 165.3 percent in 2010 from 2009 and hit 4.85 million units sold.

Additionally, Orenberg said, Kaspersky's total bookings grew 60 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Pressing The Big Red Button

Even if it means the loss of Kaspersky Labs as he knows it, Eugene Kaspersky told the crowd that if he coud put an end to all cybercrime, he would. "It's my dream to have a big red button with 'stop cyber crimes' on it. I will press it." While that's not feasible, Kaspersky said he has such disdain for cybercrime that he'd put his company's future on the line to put an end to it.

Fling It

During another challenge, attendees were called to the stage to fling rubber bands at a pyramid of cans. The first one to knock of all of their cans was the winner. Here, CDN (Computer Dealer News, Canada) staffer Paolo Del Nibletto gives it his all.

The Threat Is Real Editor-In-Chief Dennis Fisher scared the wits out of Kaspersky partners with his presentation on security threats that are on the horizon in 2011. Mobile threats, targeted financial attacks and attacks perpetrated via social networks will continue to keep folks up at night. And, according to Fisher, attacks will only get more sophisticated as the attackers hone their craft. "These are professional operations now," he said, adding that attackers have college degrees, have business acumen and are adept at developing software.

And If You Weren't Scared Enough

Along with Fisher, this panel of security researchers (from left to right: Kurt Baumgartner, senior malware researcher, Kaspersky; Fabio Assolini, malware researcher, Kaspersky; and Paul Roberts, editor, highlighted some of the biggest threats partners will face in 2011.

Baumgartner said Google's Android platform will be the new battle ground. "Really clever people are trying to find a way to force spyware onto the Droid," he said.

The Road Ahead

Kaspersky Vice President of Corporate Business Keith Maskell gave partners a glimpse back at Kaspersky's 2010 product releases -- 12 products and services in October alone -- and a quick look at what's to come from Kaspersky in 2011. He said antimalware protection is necessary, as is an antimalware strategy, and Kaspersky has those two components on lock. "We have a future proof strategy," he said.

Building The Brand

While his purple and green striped jacket was enough of an attention grabber, Kaspersky Global Marketing Vice President Roger Wilson detailed for partners some of the steps Kaspersky is taking to beef up its brand awareness. Recently, the company changed its logo and added new graphics to both its business-to-consumer and business-to-business products. Wilson said Kaspersky's global brand recognition grew from 53 percent to 58 percent in 2010 and in the U.S. it grew from 12 percent to 16 percent. And a host of marketing programs, like the Ferrari sponsorship will help build up the Kaspersky brand into 2011.

"This is going to be one of the great brands in IT, if not the world, going forward," he said.

Time Has Come Today

Not to be outdone by Wilson, Randy Drawas, Kaspersky CMO, busted out a slick jacket of his own as he took the stage.

But Drawas didn't let his duds get in the way of his message that Kaspersky is confident in its future. "I think we are so pat with momentum right now...our time has arrived," he told partners at the Kaspersky Partner Conference. And to ensure that that time has arrived, Drawas unveiled Kaspersky's plans to launch an advertising full-court press that includes the company's first ever television commercials and an all-out online ad blitz. The advertising plan elicited rousing applause from partners. The television ads will be centered on the tag line "It's time to get serious" in regards to security.

"We want everyone to be aware of who we are," he said.

Prepping Partners For Growth

Gary Mullen, vice president of corporate marketing, told partners of some key new initiatives Kaspersky has planned for the channel as it moves into 2011, plans that will help partners grow and make money with Kaspersky. Mullen said Kaspersky will launch the Kaspersky Total Rewards Program to incent and attract top partners. As part of the Total Rewards Program, which is open to members of Kaspersky's Green Team partner program, solution providers will earn rewards for sales and training involvement and will be rewarded in cash via a reloadable cash card. To kick off the program, channel managers will give partners a card good for $25 the first time a solution provider sales rep signs up for the Total Rewards Program. The Web site for the Total Rewards Program will also feature sales, marketing and communication tools.

'Laser Focus'

Kasperksy will focus heavily on its channel operations in 2011 and will attack with a "laser focus," said Nancy Reynolds, senior vice president of corporate sales and support. The company will focus heavily on partner relationships and helping them evolve into business partnerships, Reynolds said. Kaspersky will "move the stuff off and really focus on what matters to partners' businesses," Reynolds said, noting that Kaspersky is entering 2011 with a "less is more" attitude.

"Healthy margins and healthy partners doesn't mean more partners," she said.

"We've always been a wildly successful company, and we want to make sure we don't screw it up," Reynolds said.

Bubble Bursting

In another challenge, two VARs took to the stage to see who could keep three balloons afloat for the longest while batting them with one hand. The bubble bauble didn't last long (as evidenced by this picture, which was snapped just seconds after this VAR bobbled his balloons to the ground).

The Sales Team Weighs In

Nancy Reynolds called members of Kaspersky's sales crew to the stage for a roundtable of sorts about what they're doing in their specific areas to benefit partners. "If at the end of the day we're not executing with every single partner...we haven't done our job," she said.

Here, Gary Abad, vice president of channel sales, North America; Dan Burke, vice president of corporate sales, U.S.; and Matt Goulet, senior director, SMB sales, talk about the road ahead. And when asked if Kaspersky will ever take a direct sales approach in the enterprise, Burke quipped: "Are we at the Sophos conference?"

And The Winner IsSMQ-8230-SMQ

Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky and President Steve Orenberg celebrated its top partners with an awards ceremony at the Kaspersky Partner Conference. Maple Grove, Minn.-based Cyber Advisors took home the statue for VAR Partner of the Year.

Where To Go Next Year?

CEO Eugene Kaspersky said it'll be tough to top Riviera Maya, Mexico for the Kaspersky Partner Conference, but at the close of the general session he told the crowd what was on his short-list for 2012: Hawaii. Here, Kaspersky implores President Steve Orenberg to make it so.

Party At The Beach

One of the big draws for Riviera Maya are the beautiful white sand beaches, and Kaspersky closed out its 2011 partner conference with a lavish dinner and party on the Ambassador Beach. Here, partners filter into their last night in paradise.