The modern technological landscape stands poised on the brink of a new revolution. Promising dramatically faster internet speeds and the potential for a ten-fold increase in the number of potential endpoints connected to the cloud, 5G is set to catalyse the next stage of evolution for the internet age. Alongside a proliferation of new opportunities, this new era of increased connectivity will also be one of increased risk. Living in an age of increased cyber risk where the pace of technology exceeds the ability of the average user to protect their data, cybersecurity firms are working to increase their capabilities alongside the cloud revolution, the rise of software as a service (SaaS) and the new 5G era.
“The rise of SaaS has given far more power to any individual to accumulate, analyze, aggregate, store and distribute data than ever before,” explains Norman Guadagno, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Carbonite, Inc, a data protection platform provider headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. “We're seeing an uptick in not just intelligent endpoints such as laptops and tablets and mobile phones, but also less intelligent devices, IoT devices that are creating tremendous potential vulnerabilities for businesses. The amount of data that people find on their own endpoint device, and the ability to successfully manage that often outpaces their own awareness. Not only do most individuals and small businesses not even know how many different cloud services they're using, they also can't successfully tell you how much data is stored locally, how much data is stored in the cloud, how much data is in both places: where does all the data live? We feel like there is an opportunity for us to step into that breach,” Guadagno explains.
In March, 2019, Carbonite - which reported a net revenue of US$296.4mn in 2018 and employs over 1,000 people - completed the purchase of cloud-based cybersecurity firm Webroot for a total cash consideration of $618.5mn, the company’s largest acquisition to date. Business Chief spoke with Guadagno following the acquisition, who shared his insight into the cybersecurity landscape, Carbonite’s acquisition of Webroot and the careful, measured approach the company is taking to both provide a complete, end-to-end cybersecurity solution to its customers, and also adopt a ‘do-no-harm’ approach to integration of two of the US’ leading technology providers.
Founded in 2005 and 1997, respectively, Carbonite and Webroot are no strangers to the changing face of the technological landscape. “When Webroot was founded, the world was very different from a technology standpoint,” Guadagno recalls, noting that the Colorado-based tech firm has been battling computer viruses and protecting data since before the cloud revolution, the mass adoption of mobile devices and “before a world where cybersecurity was a top priority for everyone.” Likewise, Carbonite, “which was established to solve the problem of one of our founders’ daughter losing her school term paper because the computer crashed,” was creating cloud solutions before the adoption of SaaS powered by the cloud became pervasive. “As time has passed, and as the mobile revolution has taken place, then the Cloud revolution and the privacy revolution - all of it has morphed and changed the landscape dramatically. And both companies have continued to morph and change. Carbonite ultimately moved out of serving consumers and more to serving businesses, and Webroot expanded its capabilities, building an artificial intelligence engine that capitalizes on the cloud and the ability to learn from a lot of data points in real time,” says Guadagno. With their fates now combined, both companies will undoubtedly benefit from knowledge of the value of careful change over time and in response to the needs of their customers.
“There are businesses running complex technology infrastructures and handling large amounts of data but not having super sophisticated IT capabilities,” Guadagno says. “Into that world, Carbonite began to form a plan to provide better protection for the data and the ability to backup and recover the data.” As Carbonite evolved its data backup process, the company quickly recognized the need for greater cyber threat protection for its customers in order to provide a more complete and protective service. “When we acquired Webroot, our aim was to bring a 360-degree perspective to the ability to protect the endpoint device from cyber attacks. If an attack gets through, as they sometimes do because people clink on links or make other human errors, we also have the ability to make sure that the data can be recovered seamlessly through our backup and recovery technology,” explains Guadagno. In acquiring Webroot, Carbonite’s strategy has evolved towards its goal of “fulfilling this desire to provide an end-to-end capability for companies to protect their data, their business and themselves. And do it in a way that we believe will be integrated, easily, simply and affordably,” says Guadagno.
Guadagno admits that, in the wake of Carbonite’s biggest acquisition to date, “it's so easy to get swept up by a river of excitement when there's a new thing ahead, but that doesn't always serve all of the partners and customers who've been with you for a long time and who need to continue to make sure are served every day.” With this in mind, Carbonite and Webroot are progressing into the future with a methodical, considered approach that belies the rapid pace of the technological ecosystem they inhabit. “The first rule we're following as we start to walk down a path toward creating greater value and experiences for our customers, and our partners, is to do no harm,” emphasizes Guadagno. “We want to take this slowly, because the things we sell today - our customers are happy with, and we don't want to mess that up. So, the very first thing we're doing is continuing to meet with customers and partners to get their input on what they need across the board, so that we can make sure that we enable ourselves to deliver that,” he continues. “We are very methodically, thoughtfully finding opportunities to bring the companies together, through go-to-market motions such as cross-selling and referrals, and then ultimately through a future where there will be some type of integration across products and integration across sales channels.”
One of the biggest advantages facing Carbonite and Webroot is the fact the companies have very complementary customer bases. “Webroot is very strong with small managed service providers delivering cyber security to their customers and Carbonite business is very strong with Value added resellers, delivering a backup and recovery solution to their customers,” explains Guadagno. “We want to make sure that we're thinking through and balancing how we deliver more value. Of course, you want to do this quickly - that's just a reality of running a business and a public company - but we are trying to be thoughtful and keep our customer experience first and foremost in our minds.” Looking to the future, Guadagno is confident that Carbonite and Webroot’s careful, do-no-harm approach will serve both the companies and their customers in a world where technological advances and cybersecurity risks are moving at ever-increasing speeds. “We've developed a model to show how we balance the needs of the company, the needs of our customers and partners, and the needs of the marketplace overall,” Guadagno concludes. “We are taking a thoughtful, methodical approach to really build something for the future.”