Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now
May 9, 2023
Mike Valentine, a 10-year leader in the Sophos sales organization and one of the preeminent figures in the cybersecurity channel ecosystem, is leaving the vendor.
Valentine, Sophos’ chief revenue officer, officer made his departure quietly. As of press time, he had not responded to requests for comment. His departure comes about a month after Sophos hired Bill Robbins as president of worldwide field operations.
Sophos confirmed the departure of Valentine to Channel Futures. The company also told Channel Futures through an emailed statement that its partner initiatives remain in strong shape.
“Sophos continues to provide channel partners, including MSPs, the single most attractive and effective partner program in the cybersecurity industry, and we remain committed to our channel partners and to our channel-best and MSP-best go-to-market strategy,” the company said. “Our vision and strategy as a worldwide cybersecurity leader are stronger than ever, and we’re looking to accelerate our cybersecurity as a service delivery to ensure all organizations, regardless of size, have the solutions need they defeat persistent attackers. Bill Robbins, who has been appointed president, worldwide field operations, is well positioned to drive Sophos’ next chapter of growth and success.”
Valentine served four years as chief revenue officer at Sophos. Previously he led worldwide sales for the company. His total tenure at the company numbered 10 years.
Bill Robbins was serving as chief revenue officer and executive vice president at security provider Mandiant. Moreover, Sophos promoted chief technology officer to president of the Sophos Technology Group.
He said last month that Sophos’ strong channel relationships helped draw him to the company.
“I fully intend to maintain and strengthen this relationship. Any updates will be made over time, in consultation with our partner community and only to improve our strategic business programs with partners and, most importantly, security for our collective customers,” Robbins said.
Sophos’ Bill Robbins
Sophos has not named a successor for Valentine.
Sophos’ channel has grown significantly during Valentine’s 10-year stint at the company. For example, the vendor stated in 2013 that it counted about 12,000 channel partners in its roster. As of 2021, Sophos reported more than 60,000 partners, including resellers and distributors.
Eric Parizo, who covers cybersecurity for Omdia, said Sophos is seeing a moment to “emerge as a top-tier enterprise cybersecurity vendor.” (Omdia and Channel Futures are both part of Informa Tech.)
“The company has leveraged its humble endpoint origins to become a powerhouse on the network, in the SOC, and increasingly in the cloud. It is moving upmarket as well, with nearly a third of its fiscal year 2022 billings coming from organizations with more than 1,000 employees. Its phenomenal revenue growth in the enterprise is in no small part due to Valentine’s leadership, particularly in regard to growing and enabling the channel,” said Parizo, managing principal analyst for the Omdia Cyber research group.
Omdia recently named Sophos its top-ranked company for comprehensive extended detection and response (XDR) solutions, ahead of Trellix, Palo Alto Networks and Fidelis Cybersecurity.
Omdia’s Eric Parizo
But Parizo added that Sophos has identified midmarket cybersecurity as a “managed services play,” which is prompting a shift.
“… the company has dramatically shifted its efforts to use its technology to power its home-grown managed detection and response (MDR) offers,” Parizo told Channel Futures. “To support that new direction, the company recently brought in former Mandiant executive Bill Robbins, someone well acquainted with how to grow a security services business. It’s reasonable to assume, with Robbins’ appointment, Valentine read the writing on the wall and decided to move on.”
Parizo offered an optimistic forecast for both Sophos and Valentine.
“Sophos has a good strategy and is executing well, so I don’t expect any disruptions, while Valentine, with his long track record of success, should be able to write his own ticket,” said Parizo.
Sophos last week announced former Trellix sales leader Pat Sheridan as its new senior vice president of Americas sales.
Prior to working at Sophos, Valentine served as vice president of sales and support in the Americas at Fortinet. He also led channels for a year. He came to Sophos from Fortinet in 2013, much to the dismay of Fortinet. Fortinet sued Sophos and Valentine, accusing the former of poaching Fortinet employees and accusing the latter of breaking his contract by soliciting Fortinet employees to join him.
Its main piece of evidence was three Fortinet executives left the company at the same week to join Sophos, in addition to other employees migrating over that year. Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman in turn wrote that Fortinet was trying to unfairly restrict employees; freedom to join new companies.
“The recipe for our recruiting and hiring success isn’t a secret. If Fortinet wishes to retain their employees we suggest they stop resorting to courtroom and legal tactics they know are without merit, and instead consider what it is that makes Sophos such a desirable place to work,” Hagerman wrote at the time.
An ugly two-year legal battle resulted in a countersuit from Sophos and mutual patent infringement lawsuits from the rivals in the unified threat management (space). The parties ultimately settled for a private mediation.
Senior News Editor, Channel Futures
James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.
You May Also Like
Channel People on the Move: AT&T, C1, Mitel, TD Synnex, MoreMar 1, 2024
Viirtue, MSP Partners Seek Larger Piece of IT PieFeb 29, 2024
New Cisco OT Route to Market Opens New Partner SetFeb 29, 2024
Broadcom-VMware Saga Update: Nutanix Wins, Carbon Black Sale, Hock Tan PayFeb 29, 2024