Trellix CEO Palma lays out strategy on building a winning culture and company

Trellix’s legacy companies, McAfee and FireEye, brought problems with them that needed to be fixed, but the company’s overall strategy is focused on moving well past those companies' focus and creating a new kind of security company.

Bryan Palma, Trellix’s CEO

LAS VEGAS – Trellix, one of the two companies spun out of the Symphony Technology Group from assets STG acquired from McAfee and FireEye, just held their first xPand Live customer event here. Company CEO Bryan Palma talked with ChannelBuzz about Trellix’s plans to re-establish market dominance in what is an admittedly tough and competitive endpoint market.

It started by remaking the corporate culture, with multiple objectives in mind.

“The issue was how we best merge the two old cultures, and create a single, stronger one,” Palma said. “Right now, there are areas which are rooted in one company. By the end of Q1, that will all go away, as we drive towards more of a startup culture with the resources and scope of an industry leader. In this kind of difficult market, we had to rethink ways to win.”

Palma indicated that they look to the integration going well in 2023, to bring about stability in the future.

“What we need to do is win is execute on the portfolio that we have,” he said. “We are working on having feature velocity at the right place, and are making progress on that. Automation is big part of what we have to do. Customers told us that our core technology was solid, but that they didn’t see our features. We had more to do in SecOps, and in reconstituting things around our DLP. The DLP piece is so important for us, because so many competitors are missing it in their portfolio.”

Palma said the DLP portfolio was not impaired by the division of the old properties into Trellix and Skyhigh.

“We are still leveraging our that technology, and we didn’t lose good technology around it to Skyhigh,” he stated. “It just wasn’t a big priority before my arrival. Some see it as a negative because it is a last line of defense, but it is important to be able to look at it from a layered perspective.”

Palma said a key problem that took place long before his arrival was the sale of what was then McAfee to Intel, as becoming Intel Security caused both strategic and development issues.

“That was really difficult,” he stressed. “Getting bought by Intel was a really tough thing, and it started a difficult path for the company to be competitive. There was some atrophy and unclear strategy, and this was at a time when the market was getting very competitive in endpoint.”

Other problems were self-inflicted, including a more recent decision to end both customers and partner advisory boards, something Palma acknowledged was perplexing because these both contributed significant value.

“Customer and partner advisory boards had both stopped in the former companies, and we restarted those this year,” he said. “We also had to completely rebuild our listening programs We hired a new head of customer success to make customers more satisfied and encourage them to expand, adopt and renew. We also hired a new head of analyst relations from Kaspersky to rebuild our relations there. We are also working on making changes that will revamp our NPS score, something that was not a strength at either McAfee or FireEye and was not where we wanted it to be.

“We’ve also broken down the hierarchy at the company – flattened it,” Palma noted.

Some people, who Palma thought no longer had the right attitude to win, were also canned.

“Companies over decades go through cycles,” he said. “When they are successful and they win, they get into one type of attitude. But when they go into a down cycle and they lose, sometimes people can get into the wrong behavior. We wanted people with the right attitude and the right will to win going forward.”

Palma said that in terms of content, even though many companies coming from various parts of the security business are also focusing on platform strategies, he sees Trellix as fundamentally differentiated from those other players.

“To me, it’s down to what I call the Iron Triangle,” he stated. “To me, you have to have endpoint, as well as SIEM, SOAR and next generation cloud, and data protection. Some platforms don’t have all these legs.”

Palma also emphasized that Trellix is working on next-generation versions of these products, not, for example, a better SIEM.

“These market moves take a while to evolve, and the established technologies take time to deteriorate,” he said. “We are reaching a inflection point which sees a need for next gen SecOps. That’s where we are focused. It’s not just building a better SIEM. XDR puts pressure on all these traditional technologies.”

Looking forward, Palma sees other areas as likely targets for Trellix.

“One is what’s happening around crypto and NFT,” he said. “I see that becoming more relevant, as well as supply chain software generally.”

Palma also sees the move in sales towards SaaS models as only intensifying going forward.

“The move to recurring revenue and SaaS models will further force sales people to be in competition,” he stressed. “These systemic changes force more people to be hunters than farmers, which I see as a good thing.”