Ottawa’s TITUS hires new CRO to grow channel as company broadens focus from data classification to data protection

TITUS has been successful selling to very large enterprises, but as their skillset becomes even more relevant to the broader data protection market, they are broadening their go-to-market strategy with an expanded system of both strategic technology and reseller partners, with the goal of a 100 per cent channel business.

Mike Kuehn, TITUS’s new CRO

Today, Ottawa-based TITUS has announced that Mike Kuehn has joined the company as the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).  His mandate is explicitly to grow the company’s worldwide channel program through a partner-centric go-to-market model, as the company continues to broaden its business model, from a successful pure play maker of data classification software for multiple messaging, collaboration and operating systems vendors, into a data protection vendor.

TITUS has been in business since 2005, making message and file classification software, which they sold mainly to the higher end of the market.

“We are in 120 countries, millions of users across Fortune 2000 companies, including Dow Corning, and the Bank of America, among 7 of the 10 largest global financials,” Kuehn said. “We also have a strong presence among government and military organizations.”

The critical element in TITUS’s pivot in the market was the December 2017 acquisition of a majority share in the company by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities. Subsequently, in In June 2018, Jim Barkdoll, who had been the company’s CRO, was promoted to the CEO role.  Tim Upton, who with his wife founded the company, bootstrapped it from its inception, and had been the CEO for the previous 12 years, moved to a strategic advisor role, and remained on TITUS’ board of directors.

“Blackstone’s view was that data identification and classification was going to become more important in the data protection market, with the growth of compliance measures like the GDPR in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act,” Kuehn said. “The industry needs a way to identify and classify that data, and that is what we do. The unique value that we provide is the automated identification and tracking of data, which captures the metadata and puts visual markings on it, so that our customers can securely secure information. So we are moving more broadly into the holistic data protection space. To do that, we are both building out our set of strategic partners, and taking that value out to an expanded set of channel partners.”

The strategic partners with whom TITUS has integrations include AirWatch [VMware], Box, Dataguise, Dropbox, Forcepoint, GalaxKey, Google, Ionic, McAfee, Microsoft, MobileIron, NetSkope, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Virtru.

“Google G Suite, for example, has no equivalent of Azure Information Protection, which is what we provide.” Kuehn indicated. “Our strategy with these partners is to go deeper rather than wider, through a relative handful of partners, although we do need to have a relationship with AWS. We do the data identification in these integrations through RESTful APIs to help customers identify where their data is, particularly their most ‘at risk’ data.”

TITUS has had channel partners for many years, but Kuehn said that the channel hasn’t been optimized in the past. Now the company is broadening its go-to-market strategy, and to that, it needs to expand their channel and increase its effectiveness.

“A 100 per cent channel focus is the direction we are going,” he said. “85 per cent of our business today is via the channel, but it has been through a smaller set of partners, and it has been more fulfilment oriented. TITUS has been very focused on building out great technology for the largest companies in the world. We are now moving to a SaaS based model and expanding our presence. While until now we have focused predominantly on the large enterprise, we now have dedicated sales teams in the SMB and the midmarket, and we want to leverage both our  strategic partners and our channel in these areas.”

Kuehn has extensive experience leading these channel-focused go-to-market strategies. Before joining TITUS, he had been Vice President, Worldwide Partners and General Manager, MSP Sales at Data-as-a-Service software provider  Actifio for almost five years. Before that, he spent 13 years at ETL [extract, transform and load] software provider Syncsort, including multi-year stints as VP, Worldwide Sales and VP, Worldwide Partners.

A key priority will be building out the existing channel enablement structure.

“That exists today, but we are putting more wood behind the arrow, with new programs and systems to create a really channel-centric organization,” Kuehn said. “That will include a new Partner Resource Management system. We are also revamping our deal registration system, and developing certification programs. Those are being built out now, and the expectation is that we will be rolling them out in the second half of the year.

“We think we are in a highly relevant place,” Kuehn summed up. “We have marked out a set of strategic partners, and there will be some OEM opportunities as well. We will be focused on our channel partners as we go to market.”