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Check Point CEO On Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet: ‘We’re Providing By Far Better Security’

Jay Fitzgerald

Gil Shwed says Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet’s real strengths are in ‘sales and marketing machines.’

Gil Shwed, the legendary founder and CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, wants to make two things clear: He respects rival cybersecurity giants Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet, but he doesn’t believe their security products come close to matching Check Point’s offerings.

“We’re providing by far better security,” Shwed recently told CRN.

“I don’t want to discredit (Palo Alto and Fortinet). They are strong, valid competitors. But I think that we’ve been… Let’s put it this way. I think they’ve been much stronger sales and marketing machines than we are and that’s something that we need to improve (upon). In terms of innovation, technology and mainly providing better security, we are providing better security every step of the way in every area.”

Besides taking diplomatic shots at Check Point’s faster-growing competitors, Shwed also told CRN in a wide-ranging interview that his company plans to continue acquiring firms, likely in the cloud security field, and that he believes major consolidation lies ahead for the cybersecurity industry in general.

He also expressed his commitment to the channel and his satisfaction with Check Point’s recent expansion outside network security and into cloud security, email security and managed detection and response (MDR) businesses.

“I think we’ve really, really expanded what we’re doing,” Shwed said of Check Point’s recent broadening of its security offerings.

But his remarks about Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet are sure to raise eyebrows within the cybersecurity industry.

Considered by many the corporate granddaddy of cybersecurity and developer of the first true firewall, Check Point, whose headquarters are located in San Carlos, Calif. and Tel Aviv, Israel, has seen slow revenue growth of late compared to Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet.

In fiscal 2021, Check Point’s revenues grew by 5 percent, to $2.1 billion, while Palo Alto’s revenues soared last fiscal year by 25 percent, to $4.25 billion, and Fortinet’s sales surged by 29 percent, to $3.3 billion.

Meanwhile, Check Point’s shares have been trading for a while now at a considerably lower price than its rivals, or about $124 a share as of the close of trading on Tuesday, compared to Palo Alto’s $473 stock price and Fortinet’s $282 per share.

Though Shwed appeared to give his two rivals a backhanded compliment when he said they had stronger “sales and marketing machines” than his firm, Check Point is indeed beefing up its own sales force by about 25 percent.

Shwed talked more about that and other issues in his interview with CRN. The following are excerpts from that interview:

 
Jay Fitzgerald

Jay Fitzgerald is a senior editor covering cybersecurity for CRN. Jay previously freelanced for the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, Boston magazine, Banker & Tradesman, MassterList.com, Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, the National Bureau of Economic Research and other entities. He can be reached at jfitzgerald@thechannelcompany.com.

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