Proofpoint: Competing Against Cyber Giants and Winning

Proofpoint is a $4.6 billion publicly traded company which provides cloud-based email security, e-discovery and compliance solutions that help enterprise customers protect their sensitive business data. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker PFPT.

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The company’s founder, Eric Hahn, a serial entrepreneur and computer software programmer, founded an early e-mail-based groupware company called Collabra Software in 1992. Netscape acquired Collabra in 1995, and in 1997 Hahn was appointed Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at the Internet company. He has served as Proofpoint's Chairman of the Board of Directors since May 2002.

The next-gen security and compliance company was founded in 2002, shortly after the dot-com bust, to address a large market opportunity to create a suite of applications for the security market. When paired with Big Data and a Software as a Service model, Proofpoint was able to differentiate itself from competitors.

PFPT hit the public market in April 2012, at an initial public offering price of $13 per share. Trading at $102.38 on Jan 30, 2018, its stick price has grown nearly eight fold in under six years.

The firm provides email security, encryption, archiving and data loss prevention solutions for over 3,300 enterprise-level accounts including half of the Fortune 500 and other global enterprises, universities and government agencies.

Founding Chief Executive Officer Gary Steele has led Proofpoint from an early-stage start-up to a leading SaaS provider, raising over $86 million in funding and guiding the company through its IPO. With over 30 years of technology industry experience, Steele has held positions including CEO of Portera and leadership roles with Sybase, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

In a recent interview, when asked about what companies stand as the largest competitive threat to Proofpoint, Steele indicated that his company has had “great success” competing against tech giants such as Cisco, Microsoft and Symantec. While Proofpoint may eventually be bought out by one of these larger players as the industry consolidates through M&A, the CEO suggested that the most important thing for the firm is that it continues to beat its numbers, as it has done consecutively since its IPO six years back. Steele indicates that Proofpoint is set up to beat its guidance in 2018 as the same growth drivers, notably continued demand for better security posture and protection against threats such as phishing attacks, support continued growth.