Ryan Leatherbury

Business. Tech. Life

Why I’m Going to Work at AlienVault

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When the recruiter first contacted me, I didn’t know much about AlienVault. I quickly learned that they are a fast growing, private company with about 200 employees that provides security monitoring software for mid-sized businesses. It didn’t take me long to realize they had a very good thing going and that I wanted to be a part of it. Here’s why:

They have a Proven Business Model. AlienVault provides a unified security solution that is easy to setup and use. They focus on helping smaller IT security teams that don’t have the budget for complex, expensive enterprise solutions or the time to cobble together lots of free open source tools on their own. AlienVault uses a low-cost inside sales model with on-line generation campaigns. This is a similar model to the one that SolarWinds used to shake up the multi-billion dollar IT infrastructure monitoring space.

I’ve sketched out a canvas of their business model below.


AlienVault BMC

They have a security labs group that provides commercial threat intelligence. But they also have a new crowd-sourced Open Threat Exchange (OTX), which is the first open community for sharing security threats. You don’t have to be a customer to join OTX, but the main benefit to customers is that information from the OTX community as well as the AlienVault labs team is constantly updated into AlienVault products.

They are the Market Leader. The large security companies rip each to shreds competing for the largest enterprise customers. But there’s little focus on mid-sized businesses.

AlienVault is listed as a Visionary in the Gartner Quadrant for SEIM products, although there really no Garter Quadrant for unified security for the middle market. If there were, they would be far to the upper right as the undisputed leader.

Sales are Good. Ash Maurya defines three phases of a start-up’s lifecycle: Problem-Solution fit, Product-Market fit and achieving Scale. Very early companies need to figure out if they are are solving the right problem with a solution people want. The next phase is getting a critical mass of customers that are willing to pay for it. AlienVault has publicly stated they are adding 300-400 new customers per quarter, so it’s clear that they have a strong product-market fit and working on achieving scale.






They Know Their Metrics. AlienVault has a very strong metrics-driven lead generation and marketing group. It’s clear that they know, what it takes to acquire a customer and the average lifetime value. Being more metrics driven really appeals to me. I’ve been a PM for business software for years, and at this point don’t want to switch to consumer products and start over in a completely new space. But I did want to move to an organization with more on-line sales focus and the potential to help a much broader set of customers that you do focusing only on large enterprises. So it should be a challenging, fast-paced place to work where you learn and adapt quickly to the changing needs of customers.

They are Focused on the Right Problems. Everyone I spoke with had the same understanding of the vision and mission. But each had unique ideas about how to improve the execution of it. There is no sense of waiting to see what will happen. It’s a culture of doers and innovators over talkers. It is clear that everybody does a lot. And I really like the company DNA, which is a mix of Apple, Splunk and HP security company acquisitions on the product and development side.

The Interview Process was Telling. Over the course of two on-site interview days and lots of phone conversations, I had the chance to talk with a dozen people in different departments. It was the most thorough interview process I’ve ever been through, but it really gave me a good idea of what to expect and what I should be first focus on.

During the first phone conversation with my would-be boss, he asked, “Why don’t you download our product and demo it to me in a few days.”

Puckering a little, I said “ah…sure.”

It hit me that you couldn’t ask for a better test early on during an interview. So I had a lot of instant respect for the process. Of course it is very humbling to attempt to do a demo of another company’s product that you’ve never seen before. But the base value proposition of unified security for those who need to do more with less is easy to grasp. Plus the product was easy to install and get up and running.

AlienVault USM

It’s Easy to Understand the Value. Anyone you meet on the street understands that very bad things can happen if your company gets hacked. So it’s easy to see the value of a product that makes this simple, fast and easy. I really like the idea of helping small to medium sized companies with very big security problems. It’s a very worthy problem to get out of bed each morning to help solve.

My young daughter gets it. She said, “It’s like the police to help keep bad guys from stealing things from computers.”

I couldn’t put it better myself.

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Ryan Leatherbury • September 10, 2015

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