As Websense Leaves Town, Iboss Network Security Takes Center Stage
When fraternal twins Paul and Peter Martini founded a startup now known as iboss Network Security in San Diego in 2003, another local company was already becoming one of the dominant providers of Web gateway security technology.
For the next decade or so, iboss operated in the background while San Diego’s Websense rose into the middle of Gartner’s “magic quadrant” of industry leaders in specialized cybersecurity, showing both “the ability to execute” and “the completeness of vision.” Today Websense still provides security technology that protects computer networks from cyber attacks and data theft.
At the end of February, though, Websense confirmed that it would move its headquarters to Austin, TX. The decision was made by Vista Equity Partners, the private equity firm that acquired Websense for nearly $1 billion last June. Vista was lured in part by $4.5 million from the state-operated Texas Enterprise Fund and $438,000 in performance-based incentives from the city of Austin.
Now iboss Network Security is emerging as a fast-growing successor with a new generation of Web security technology.
After recording about $20 million in annual revenue in 2013, iboss sales are now running at a rate of about $20 million a quarter—and accelerating, CEO Paul Martini said by phone yesterday.
As a privately held company, iboss is not obligated to disclose its sales. In the first quarter that ended March 31, iboss says its sales grew by 400 percent over the same period last year. “We’re blasting right through,” Martini said. “In the first quarter [of 2014], we made more than in the first half of last year.”
By coincidence, the Martini brothers were in the process of moving their company to Austin, TX, last year when they concluded that it just wouldn’t be worth the disruption to their business. While there is no state income tax in Texas, Martini said they found that labor costs were higher in Austin than in San Diego, and commercial office space was significantly more expensive. “Overall, you’re really not saving as much as you might think,” he said.
The decision to stay in San Diego was sealed, he added, after they learned that cross-town rival Websense was laying the groundwork to move its headquarters to Austin. “Websense was the icing on the cake for us,” Martini said.
Since then, iboss has made dozens of new hires, including many Websense employees in San Diego who were unwilling to move with the company to Texas. The headcount at iboss has increased from about 70 in January to about 110 today, including engineers, sales and marketing personnel, and account executives, Martini said.
The iboss CEO and his brother say their company’s fast growth has resulted largely from a variety of massive Internet trends over the past decade—including the Web 2.0 revolution, the rise in cloud-based Web services, and the proliferation of smartphones and other personal mobile devices.
Many legacy security products that were developed 20 years ago to control access to static Web pages provided no protection against cyber attacks that take advantage of more dynamic content applications like Skype and BitTorrent that use different Internet protocols. And system administrators struggled to control how employees could access data on corporate websites during this new age of BYOD—Bring Your Own Device.
“There are so many programs and so many ports that if your security is designed to just look at data packets and certain networking ports, then you’re just not seeing all of the traffic” on your network, Paul Martini said.
At iboss, he said, developers had to fundamentally redesign how data packets were processed, so it wouldn’t make any difference whether they were coming from an AOL chat room or a mobile device. Changing a security policy with the iboss system means it gets synched throughout the network and cloud for all users, no matter how they are accessing the network.
In a statement today, Martini says the company’s accelerating sales growth is a testament to the fact that iboss has been able to address complex network security challenges caused by cloud computing, the rush of new mobile devices entering the market, and the increasing prevalence of sophisticated cyber threats. Iboss says its technology now protects big computer networks operated by the state of Florida and other big customers. New customers added during the first quarter include Xerox, NutraSweet, and Sears.
With triple-digit sales growth, high profit margins, and no debt, Martini says the success that iboss has achieved so far “allows us to reinvest in our technology and grow our team. In 2014 we plan to significantly expand our international footprint, which will ensure we can improve network security for organizations across the globe.”
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