Matt Smith joins Tessian from Duo Security to build out channel

Tessian, which sells enterprise email security to the enterprise and parts of the midmarket, has sold direct until recently, but bringing in Smith is part of the plan to change that.

Matt Smith, Tessian’s Chief Strategy Officer

Tessian, a British-headquartered enterprise email security vendor, has announced that Matt Smith, who had been Global VP of Sales for five years at Duo Security, before and after its acquisition by Cisco, has joined Tessian as its new Chief Strategy Officer. While Smith is responsible broadly for business development, including strategic alliances, building out a channel is a major part of his job at Tessian.

Tessian identifies itself as focused on Human Layer Security, which is an elaborate way of saying that they concentrate on protecting human interaction with the network, as well as the network and systems.

“Tessian, using machine learning, built a way to protect human interaction with the network for email in a much more intelligent and much less intrusive way than had been conceived before,” Smith said. “Our machine learning technology automatically rejects and stops advanced threats that are often caused by human error. When I was considering my options, and looked at who I thought would be the next Duo, I was so taken by Tessian and the way that they address old problems that no one had solved in a smart way before.”

Tessian has had a North American office for a while, in San Francisco, and has quite a few customers in North America already, but is not broadly known in the channel because until recently, their sales model was direct.

“We are just starting our transition to a channel-centric model,” Smith said. “We have become involved with partners because some have pulled us in to their customers. But while we have a few channel engagements today, we have no formal motion and no formal channel program. We are building a channel-first motion. Our sales leader is aligned around that. Our CEO supports us. We need to be sure that we can build a program that is profitable for partners, and rewards them appropriately.”

This goal is why Smith was brought in to this new position to build out the Go-to-Market mechanisms.

“Tim [Sadler, Tessian’s CEO] and the team have always believed that we would have to build out a set of friends in the industry, including Go-to-Market partners,” Smith noted. “That plan was always there. This was the right time to do it.”

Today, Tessian has what Smith termed a sub-20 number of partners working with them informally.

“It is very much the Optivs and that type of security-focused partners that are working with us, because those are the ones that CISOs turn to,” he said. “But we also have smaller security consultancies as partners in the U.K. and certain parts of North America.”

Tessian has been selling direct into the global 2000, but also parts of the midmarket, and Smith said they aren’t looking to the channel to really expand that addressable market.

“Ultimately, we aren’t looking at channel to expand the segments,” he commented. “We play in the midmarket to the enterprise. We have 400 person boutique firms as customers, and we have global 2000 customers. We want partners who can tell our story more broadly to more of these types of customers.”

Smith also stressed that the goal is to keep the partner base fairly select, even as it is built out further and a program put in place.

“I see it as similar to a car dealer analogy,” he said. “We are a Land Rover or a Porsche. If we sell broadly, like we are a Ford or a Kia, we dilute our own value and drive down our price. I have found success in developing deep relationships with a set of really differentiated partners. I like that approach, whether you are dealing with big partners or small consultancy partners.”

Looking ahead, the broad Business Development plan is to grow Tessian by adding a set of both strategic and Go-to-Market partners.

“That could be everything from strategic corporate relationships, through security channel partners, through global SIs,” Smith said. “It’s a wide range.” Smith, working closely with Tessian’s Product and Engineering teams, will identify and pursue these strategic opportunities.

“On the channel side, the plan is to build out a set of security-centric partners, who understand where our product fits in the ecosystem and where we fit in our partners’ portfolios,” Smith indicated. “We both need to know where we can add unique value.”

A partner program will be a key part of providing that value.

“My goal is to build out a program that helps customers solve solutions in a more robust way,” Smith said. “We want to build a program that will address the needs of specific partners. We want what we design and offer to be important to each partner.”

Look for a beta or smaller non-advertised version of the program in the next few months, and then a broader launch later this year, he added.