If, on the day we put $2,500 in a bank account to start Swimlane, someone told me by today this company would have over 100 employees worldwide, raised tens of millions of dollars, have a global customer base, be recognized across the industry by analysts and partners, and be winning business away from some of the biggest names in security… I don’t know that I would have believed them.
And yet with all those successes, the opportunity for security automation and technologies like Swimlane to become cornerstone capabilities within every security team in the world is still in its infancy. In 2020, the leadership team at Swimlane looked around and realized, for all that we had accomplished, there was still a lot more we wanted to do. However, last year I hit a point where I was no longer leading the pioneering team we set off with, but a rapidly scaling company.
I will be the first to admit that I love being a CEO; it has equally been the most inspiring and humbling experience of my entire career. But there is also a lot at stake when it comes to steering this ship. And as the stakes get higher, I will also be the first to admit there is no replacement for leaders who have seen this part of the journey, and have successfully taken companies to the next level.
For Swimlane, the time has come to bring in that guide, with the exact background, experience, and skill set to take us to the next level. I am pleased to share that at the end of 2020, James Brear officially took over as CEO of Swimlane.
James has firsthand experience driving high-growth startups to successful outcomes. Most recently, he was CEO of Veriflow, which was sold to VMWare in August 2019. Veriflow was launched in 2016, and quickly gained recognition as a pioneer of Intent-Based Networking. James also served as CEO of Procera, completing its public offering in 2012 and building the company into a global leader, until its successful acquisition by Francisco Partners. Prior, James was at Tasman Networks (acquired by Nortel), Force10 Networks (acquired by Dell), and Cisco Systems where he delivered more than $900M in annual revenue.
To say that James is qualified to lead Swimlane into our next phase of growth would be an understatement. In just a few short weeks, he has already come up to speed on the business – getting a strong understanding of the team, the product and services, the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and more. The timing of this transition at the end of the year was fortuitous, as James is having an immediate impact by helping to shape plans for 2021 and the future. Like the rest of us, he has big aspirations and has already brought an immense amount of experience to our go-to-market structure.
I am especially excited about my own changing role. While no longer CEO, I am not leaving Swimlane. I have officially transitioned to Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), to partner with James on driving product and partnership strategies for Swimlane going forward. Most importantly, I will have more time to do what I am best at: understanding and addressing the very pain points security teams are experiencing that I personally dealt with as a practitioner.
Early on with a start-up, you get to spend lots of hands-on time with your team and the community you are working to serve. The first few people you hire are a tight knit crew, and you are speaking directly with each other and with your customers every day. It is not a journey for the faint of heart: there were plenty of days along the way that I thought there might not be a tomorrow. Yet the team at Swimlane stepped up, our customers put their trust in us, and for that, I am forever grateful. I have felt first hand the overwhelming and unappreciated job of doing security operations, and I look forward to spending more time with the team, our partners, and our customers to bring that to an end.
In 2021, Swimlane has a huge opportunity before us. As a category, security automation has the highest potential to improve the security of organizations globally. With James as our CEO, I am confident that Swimlane will be better enabled to capture this moment and emerge as the market leader.
And as if a new CEO wasn’t exciting enough, we have more big news to share very soon… stay tuned.
Wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2021,
Gartner: Create a SOC Target Operating Model to Drive Success
“Security and risk management leaders often struggle to convey the business value of their security operations centers to non security leaders, resulting in reduced investment, poor collaboration and eroding support…” — Access this Gartner SOC Operating Model report – courtesy of Swimlane.