Big changes at Asigra as new management team is brought in to run the company

Both Asigra founder David Farajun and his son Eran remain at Asigra, David as Chairman of the Board, and Eran on the board and with his old SVP role, but with new execs doing much of what he did previously.

Eric Simmons, Asigra’s new CEO

Asigra, the Toronto-based backup provider that David Farajun founded in 1988, has announced a major restructuring of the company’s senior leadership. David Farujan, who had been CEO, moves to Chairman of the Board, while Eran Farujan, whose SVP title somewhat concealed the fact that he was in charge of basically all of the line functions, retains his title, and is also on the board.

Coming in as CEO is Eric Simmons, who is also Toronto-based, and who before this role was Chief Strategy Officer for IMC, the parent company of artificial intelligence/analytics provider Scaled Insights. Pete Nourse is the new CRO and CMO, who will manage revenue growth and marketing, and focus on amplifying awareness for the company, especially around its security capabilities, He was most recently CMO for Veriato, an AI-based security software provider. Val Silva, the new CTO, also comes from ITC, where he had the same role. He has three decades of engineering and software development expertise. Chris Gilkes, VP of Worldwide Sales, came, like Nouse, from Veriato where he managed EMEA sales and operations.

“This is a fundamental transformation to accelerate innovation and growth,” said Eric Simmons, the new CEO. At the same time, he stressed that the Farajuns had not been purged by the board, which they control, having two of the three seats, and where David Farajun is now Chairman of the Board.

“David continues to be an active presence in the business, and continues to own the company,” he said. “David created the company back in 1988 when he lost a lot of data because there wasn’t anything he could find to back it up. Now ransomware is a pervasive problem, attacking backup and preventing recovery, and its effects have been exacerbated by COVID. David really wants to see the  company help as many people as possible. He recognized that a broader team and  some new skillsets would help with this, so we were brought in. Initially it was myself and Pete [Nourse] and the others have since been added and now it is all being announced.”

The Farajuns have tried this strategy of bringing in new blood before some years back, and concluded fairly quickly that it wasn’t working. Things returned to the status quo ante, where David was the CEO, and Erun had the title of SVP, but really the responsibility for all of the other jobs that the new people were brought in to fill. Simmons thinks that this time, the change is more likely to stick.

“I really believe that fundamentally, David saw some unique opportunities that the company could develop most successfully through a change in structure,” Simmons said. “This is his baby, his legacy. He wanted to invest in it in a meaningful way.”

Simmons said that while there is always room for improvements, the course David had plotted out for Asigra going forward is a wise one, in his opinion, and that they are more likely to work on improving messaging, particularly around their security enhancements, which he said were not that well known. A shift to something like an acquisition-focused strategy, which some of their competitors have done, is not in the cards.

“Asigra has always made investments internally, and which are growth based,” he stated. “I see the company continuing on that path. We don’t feel the need to do acquisitions right now. There are tremendous opportunities for growth through channels.

“The most critical element of backup today is integration of the secure product, and what will move the market and create buzz and interest is reaching out with this through partners,” Simmons added. “We haven’t done a good job in the last couple years of telling our story. As we reach out, there’s an opportunity to meet many new partners, and we are also looking at the virtual space very much. Asigra is looking to carve out a position as the most secure backup in the market, by adding some very creative things.”

These things are particularly necessary in the fight against ransomware.

Pete Nourse, Asigra’s new CRO and CMO

“The ransomware people have moved ahead of the defenders,” Nourse said. “Airgapped was touted as a solution and that worked for a while, so the attackers starting using trojan horses, which got backed up. Immutability came to have the same problem. The security aspect hasn’t moved forward at same rate. David, to his credit, a couple years ago built in advanced features like bidirectional capabilities and multi-factor authentication [MFA], and we will add in more security capabilities later this year.”

Simmons indicated what has already been added, but which many people don’t know about.

“We prevent ransomware from happening with a single choke point ,” he said. “Our Deep MFA allows for biometric Single Sign-On. What we and some others have done is create multi-person authentication which come into play if retention  policies, or something that is not normal to change, are changed, like changing backup retention from seven years to seven days. That would require multiple people from the organization to be able to approve to make that change. All of this is in the product today.”

The changes partners can expect to see soon are more new technology, and clearer and more aggressive messaging.

“There will be an evolution of our commercial strategy, as we work more with partners around getting out to end users,” Nourse stated. “We had slowed down that outward push, and will bring a new commercial strategy to the table.”

“We feel we will be implementing some new technologies that will create a tremendous impact,” Simmons added. “We haven’t gotten our security message out and we are enhancing that.”