In the last decade, cybersecurity has become a rapidly growing concern for every sector, and the 2020 SolarWinds breach exposed vulnerabilities within the vast and outdated federal IT infrastructure. Before the dust of that attack had even settled, the same suspected hackers attempted to breach end-point cybersecurity powerhouse CrowdStrike through the same flaws in Microsoft’s Azure cloud network. However, this attack was unsuccessful, fended off by CrowdStrike’s secure IT architecture. In fact, the company’s services were acquired by SolarWinds in an effort to secure and fortify the Orion software backdoor used in the 2020 breach. For CrowdStrike Co-founder and CEO, George Kurtz, it’s all in a day’s work.
Kurtz has made his way to the top of the cybersecurity world through his innate ability to assess risk and shoot straight. He began his career as an accountant with PwC, but his role quickly pivoted to cybersecurity, testing clients’ infrastructures by hacking into them. He soon launched Foundstone, his first cybersecurity company, which was acquired by old school security software giant McAfee, becoming its new general manager and chief technology officer. It was during this time when he realized his vision for a faster, cloud-based technology solution, and in 2012, he and two colleagues founded CrowdStrike.
The company first came to fame when the Democratic National Committee tapped it to investigate the Russian hack into the committee’s servers, ultimately highlighting the topic of cybersecurity on a worldwide level. High-profile cases like the DNC and SolarWinds attacks have raised CrowdStrike’s public image as a global cybersecurity leader.
The savvy CEO welcomes such positive notoriety. After all, there’s no greater endorsement than coming out on top of high-profile breaches. In 2019, Kurtz found his company loosely ensnared in another political scandal in the leadup to former President Trump’s first impeachment. Just by evoking its name during his infamous call to Ukraine, the President gave CrowdStrike invaluable free marketing, raising the company’s profile in the national conversation.
Less than ten years after its founding, CrowdStrike is worth over $40 billion, boasting a revenue over $870 million in 2020—an astounding 82% year-over-year increase. Now, it’s becoming clear that Kurtz is on to something greater than his own entrepreneurial success, and as the need for cloud-native security grows, so does his company. With a personal fortune of $3.2 billion, the CEO can afford to stay behind the scenes, but his outspoken nature has led to nothing but success thus far.