Security Industry Mourns Death of 'Pioneer' Philippe Courtot

Courtot was an early investor and CEO of Qualys for 20 years and also was founder of cc:Mail.

Jeffrey Schwartz

June 7, 2021

3 Min Read
Qualys Philippe Courtot Obit

Philippe Courtot, who many considered an industry visionary, died on Saturday. Courtot, who was CEO of security firm Qualys for 20 years, was 76.

Besides his two decades running Qualys, Courtot was well-known for founding cc:Mail in 1988. In the early 1990s, when cc:Mail became the market-leading PC email platform, Courtot sold it to Lotus. Courtot was CEO of Verity and later Signio, which he helped sell to VeriSign.


Philippe Courtot

As an original investor in Qualys in 1999, the company named Courtot CEO in 2001 and led the company’s IPO in 2012. On his watch, Qualys become one of the earlier vulnerability management and endpoint-protection-as-a-service providers.

Earlier this year, Courtot took medical leave and stepped down as CEO shortly thereafter. In April, Qualys named Sumedh Thakar to take over as president and chief executive officer. Thakar, a Qualys veteran, was chief product officer, responsible for creating the Qualys Cloud Platform, the company said. Thakar lamented Courtot’s passing in a statement.


Qualys’ Sumedh Thakar

“Philippe was my mentor and advisor; the entire Qualys team and I are deeply saddened by his passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Thakar noted. “We are forever grateful for Philippe’s exceptional leadership, vision and passion for helping enterprise customers with practical solutions to the biggest challenges around security.”

Leader and Speaker

Many in the security industry regarded Courtot as a leader. Moreover, he was a frequent speaker at conferences and major events. Among other things, he was a trustee for The Internet Society and supported the formation of the Cloud Security Alliance in 2008. As news of Courtot’s death spread, peers mourned his passing. Among those weighing in on LinkedIn was Tenable chairman and CEO Amit Yoran.

“I was saddened to hear that Philippe Courtot passed today,” Yoran posted on Saturday. “Over two decades our relationship spanned from customer to industry colleague to competitor, but always as a friend to enjoy wine with and someone I greatly respected. He will be dearly missed by all those whose lives he touched.”

Scott Crawford, who leads the information security practice at 451 Research, called Courtot a “pioneer,” also on LinkedIn.

“Few had the vision of what ‘Security as a Service’ could become that Philippe Courtot did — fewer still the ability to see it through to what that vision became,” he wrote.

You can find a tribute page for Courtot here.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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