Cyber Security is becoming a bigger threat every day. Every website and app is exposed, vulnerable. This discussion explores the topic in depth, and offers pointers to open opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as WhiteHat.
Craig Hinkley: I’m the CEO of WhiteHat Security. WhiteHat Security is a company that helps customers develop secure software. We’ve been around since 2002. We were the first company who really helped incubate and develop the web application security market. We’re a company of 300 plus employees. We’re headquartered out of Santa Clara with offices in Houston, Pittsburgh, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Sramana Mitra: How many customers do you have and what’s the revenue level of the company? >>>
In 2014, Forrester conducted a survey of over 400 IT and Line of Business decision-makers across the globe to understand the growing importance of cloud-based Digital Transaction Management (DTM) solutions. Nearly 76% of those surveyed believed that DTM solutions are essential for improving customer experience. In fact 98% of those surveyed believed that paper- and pen-based processes that lead to poor transaction management have led to revenue losses. 37% of companies peg this revenue loss to be in the range of 11% to 25%.
Sramana Mitra: In a nutshell, you basically pivoted to a vertical CRM strategy and then started building out more and more verticals and developing work flow in your product for those verticals. You went after mid-market companies in each of those verticals.
Art Papas: We did. We have a lot of tiny customers and then we also have a lot of mid-market customers. Being SaaS, you can service a one-person company. You can service the person who wants to be on their own or you could service a mid-market company. Being vertically-focused allowed us to go up-market. We landed our first Fortune 500 account back in 2005. We got traction because we had all this vertically-focused workflow. We were able to get traction with these very large players early on. That also has been a key to the success – being able to go all the way up and down. We applied that across multiple verticals as we grew. >>>
Sramana Mitra: I get the whole vertical workflow woven into your product. Can you provide some examples of what somebody who’s buying a Salesforce.com CRM system would not be able to do versus your system? Let’s say recruitment vertical. What’s an example of workflow that’s specifically designed in your product?
Art Papas: A great example I use all the time is how many times, as a sales person, have you walked into a meeting and you’re there to pitch something new to the customer. You’ve been servicing the account and you’re there to say, “I’ve got something new I want to talk about.” But they open the meeting with, “I want to talk to you about this that occurred over the last three weeks with your team.” Your entire meeting is just blown out of the window because you can’t pitch a new business idea when you’re not delivering on the business you sold last time you were in there.
In the staffing industry, we would hear that from customers all the time, “I need visibility into the performance of my team.” An interesting invention that came out of that was one of our developers said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could give the sales rep a bird’s eye view into all the communication activity over email with that customer and all the contacts?” We came up with some really cool ways to organize that >>>
Sramana Mitra: Before we go on to 2008, give me a bit more detail about the strategy of building the business. You started with this recruiter CRM system as you described it. How much business did you do in the recruiter vertical? It sounds like that’s you’re primary vertical in the beginning, right?
Art Papas: It was. In many ways, it’s still an important part of what we do. Those early customers were all in the recruiting industry. We branched out to more professional services from there because those were natural corollaries. Now, we have commercial real estate, accounting, and all sorts of different types of business. Back then, it was just the recruiting industry.
We got to know more about that industry than I ever thought I would. We engaged deeply with customers to understand how they sell to customers. When they land an account, how do they expand it over time? What are the challenges they face? How do they differentiate from the competition? How can we help them have a better leg up? >>>
Sramana Mitra: Was it a large recruiting firm?
Art Papas: It was mid-sized. There was about 45 people. It wasn’t a huge business. For them, all of a sudden, they’re able to service national accounts. It was a big deal during the recession. He was really looking for ways to get his business going. He was now able to deliver an outsized growth rate even in the recession compared to the rest of the industry. It was a great outcome for him.
We went to our investors and said, “We have this amazing thing that we’ve stumbled into. We should be a CRM for vertical markets and focus on these niche industries.” The investors hated it. They wanted nothing to do with it. They were like, “The Internet thing seems like a fad. Who’s going to buy a CRM software from the Internet?” We could not raise money from an outsider. >>>
Sramana Mitra: For the last set of questions, I’d like you to put on an industry thought leader hat. What trends do you see in the market as it pertains to where you are operating? What’s coming out on the horizon? What are you anticipating? What are some open problems as it pertains to those trends? Where do you encourage new entrepreneurs to look for new business opportunities?
Jack Norris: First of all, you have to take a step back and look at the context in which these Hadoop innovations are happening. Let’s look at the data center today and how it’s changing. We’re in the middle of the biggest re-platforming of the enterprise. It’s really challenging a lot of the assumptions that dictate how data is organized and treated today. You have a separate storage network for computing, a separate production system, and separate analytic silos that separate, not only in terms of systems, but also in terms of time where it takes at least a day to get the data over into the analytics system. >>>
Sramana Mitra: If you were to synthesize some of the top use cases, it sounds like you have a mission-critical use case in retail and other kinds of Internet applications. Could you double-click on that and outline some of the mission-critical use cases?
Jack Norris: If you look at how organizations are using it, Hadoop is a journey. Typically, it might start out as a cluster that’s used to support data scientist to do some analysis to better understand some aspects of the business. It tends to rapidly move into more of the application space where it takes production data and integrates analytics and processes them together.
There’s over 50 different use cases in a single customer. 18% of our customers have 50 or more use cases running on a single cluster. It can be quite diverse not only across customers, but even within a customer. Some of those relate to top line. How do they roll out new products and >>>