WhiteHat Security CRO: NTT Acquisition to Boost Expansion

The WhiteHat Security acquisition expands NTT Security’s portfolio.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

March 29, 2019

7 Min Read
Security merger

WhiteHat Security wants to accelerate its expansion outside of North America once its acquisition by NTT Security gets pending regulatory approval.

That’s according to Matt Handler, WhiteHat’s chief revenue officer. Earlier this month, NTT Security, a NTT Group company, signed an agreement to acquire WhiteHat. Post-acquisition, WhiteHat will operate as an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of NTT Security.

“NTT Security’s overarching goal is to provide comprehensive, game-changing cybersecurity solutions that address the broader needs of digital transformation,” said said Katsumi Nakata, NTT Security’s CEO. “WhiteHat is recognized globally as a leader and pioneer in the application security cloud services and DevSecOps spaces. By bringing WhiteHat Security into our portfolio, we are now well positioned to deliver on our vision of securing a smart and connected society by providing comprehensive security solutions for enterprises undergoing digital transformation.”  

As a result of this acquisition, NTT Security said it will provide the “world’s most comprehensive end-to-end cybersecurity solutions,” and the two organizations will work hand in hand to “address enterprise security needs that range from IT infrastructure to critical business applications, covering the full life cycle of digital transformation.”


WhiteHat Security’s Matt Handler

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Handler talks about how the acquisition came about and what partners can expect in terms of new opportunities.

Channel Futures: How did this acquisition come about? Have the two companies worked together? Are they competitors?

Matt Handler: Sometime in 2018 after having the success and the reaction from our customer base of the WhiteHat service, we decided to go out and look for an investment, and the idea behind the investment was to add fuel to the growth that we were experiencing, and continue to build a better road map and enhance it, and accelerate some of it. So we looked at two different kinds of partners. There [are] the private equity shops out there that could potentially invest, and the strategic investors. And NTT was on the strategic investor front. We hadn’t worked with them in the past directly; however, I had some experience with them with Solutionary, which is a company that they acquired. So they reached out to us and we started working with them, and then we began talks. And from our standpoint, the idea of NTT and where they were taking their transformational journey in security within NTT Security merged very well with where we wanted to go and the type of partner we wanted in a market.

CF: How will this acquisition impact WhiteHat’s expansion plans?

MH: NTT Group, the larger entity, as well as NTT Security, have a large and diverse customer base, so from a WhiteHat perspective, this gives us an opportunity to secure a larger amount of enterprises globally. They have a very global presence where WhiteHat has been focused in North America primarily; 90 percent of our business is in the United States, and this allows us to accelerate our global reach and leverage their reach globally. So I think in the beginning … our global expansion outside of the United States is where we’re going to be focused, and then internally leveraging the size and scope of NTT. What I’m most excited about is …

… just accelerating our existing strategy from a partner, R&D and a product perspective. Having these additional resources and leveraging that route to market is going to be a big deal for WhiteHat and hopefully a really nice offering for [partners’] customers globally so we can secure their applications.

CF: What will this acquisition mean to partners of both companies? Will it create new opportunities for them?

MH: From a partner perspective, we’ve been very channel-centric from the beginning of my time here, in late December 2016, and we had been building our channel program and then recently launched a new, improved channel program that came out at the beginning of this year. So the idea with the NTT acquisition is nothing changes in our channel program — NTT Security and any NTT companies are treated like any other partner in our program. They will get certified and follow all of the partner program requirements … including deal registration.

We will remain an independently run, wholly owned subsidiary. This is very important to the channel program and our existing channel partners and future channel partners.

CF: What will the acquisition mean in terms of cybersecurity technology? Will this provide more access to technology for partners?

MH: For a customer of NTT, they’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of the WhiteHat services for application security testing and use our platform. For our customers, we have the opportunity to resell NTT managed services to help them more fully secure their entire infrastructure and applications. So what we’ll be doing is, NTT has a set of managed services that they take to market and we will have the ability to provide those services to customers the same way we provide other partner services.

The idea is to integrate our application security platform for their customers into NTT’s managed security platform and then that will add our 18 years of attack-vector data to what they do in providing a comprehensive solution for their customers. So one plus one, hopefully, equals three from their standpoint. And then on our standpoint, we have our application-security platform that we sell; the idea here is by integrating NTT with us is we can also provide solutions for network security, other services that our clients like to use that we don’t offer directly.

CF: Does this acquisition give NTT Security and WhiteHat a competitive edge?

MH: Speaking from WhiteHat, we always want to provide our customers with the most comprehensive security offerings they can get. We’ve focused on application security and there are a lot of attack vectors that our customers are facing every day, and by having additional services in other areas of IT, that gives them a more comprehensive solution. NTT has a set of services, and other partners have services and manufacturers that we provide as well. So they just join our increasing amount of partners and services that we can deliver to our customers.

CF: What have you been hearing from partners about this acquisition? Do they have concerns? Questions?

MH: It depends on the partner. There [are] multiple kinds of partners out there. There are the traditional VARs of the world and then there are …

… technology alliances that we work with … but for the most part it’s a positive reaction. From a traditional VAR perspective, this is just another partner that we deal with and that we enable, and that has customers that they want to make sure are secure, so from that perspective, the VARs understand. The fact that we’re a wholly owned subsidiary and we’re independent is what’s key.

CF: What sort of growth has WhiteHat experienced in its partner ecosystem and is this acquisition likely to prompt more growth?

MH: When I got here in late 2016, we grew the partner program significantly. In 2017 it was about 30 percent of our business. In 2018 and into 2019, we’re looking for it to be more than half of our business, and to continue to grow that through 2021. That plan doesn’t change. What this acquisition does is it can accelerate our ability to grow all of our programs. That’s R&D, our partner sales, and when needed, our direct sales. So it just accelerates our existing plan and doesn’t change any of our strategy.

CF: What sort of integration, if any, is going to take place in terms of the companies and their channel programs?

MH: In the near term, it’s purely partner to partner because the transaction hasn’t closed. Once we actually close and we’re a wholly owned subsidiary, it stays pretty much the same. We are services that can be provided through their go to market, and their services can be provided through our go to market, which is our partner program, just like any other set of services.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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