FireEye CEO Stakes Growth on Multiple Deployment Options


Kevin Mandia joined FireEye in 2014, after it acquired his company Mandiant for $1 billion and became the company's CEO in May 2016. Now in his first full quarter as CEO, Mandia is optimistic that he is leading FireEye onto the path of profitability.

FireEye reported its third quarter fiscal 2016 earnings this week, with revenue coming in at $186.4 million for a 13 percent year-over-year gain. The company didn't make a profit on its earnings, reporting a net loss of $122 million, though this is an improvement over the $135 million net loss it reported for the third quarter of 2015. Looking forward, the enterprise security company provided fourth quarter guidance for total revenue between $187 million and $193 million.

"We remain committed to our goal of balancing growth with profitability," Mandia said on his company's earnings call with financial analysts.

Part of the path to profitability for FireEye involves employee layoffs. During the quarter Mandia said FireEye laid off approximately 350 people. At the end of the quarter, it had 3,025 employees.

On the growth side, Mandia said 47 FireEye customers spent $1 million or more in the third quarter, up from 34 customers in the third quarter of 2015. FireEye also added 287 new customers during the quarter.

Multiple Deployment Options

Key to future growth is the company's strategy of both cloud and on-premises deployment of its security technologies.

"I believe FireEye knows more about what cyber attackers are doing than anyone else, and our platform now protects our customers from these attackers in the cloud, on-premise, or both," Mandia said.

In tandem with the company's earnings call, FireEye announced its Cloud MVX and MVX Smart Grid products. MVX is the core threat hunting engine behind FireEye's portfolio and had previously been largely tethered to the company's devices.

Mandia explained that FireEye is now on a path to separate out the MVX services.

"MVX separation refers to us splitting the two primary functions of our MVX analysis, the network sensor and our MVX analysis engine, into two separate components; this allows us to deliver our capability from the cloud or on-premise with hardware, software and virtual form factors," Mandia said.

The MVX Smart Grid is the private cloud version of the MVX analysis engine, while Cloud MVX is the public cloud version.

"No organization can automate a defensive process that depends on alerts that are unreliable, inconsistent and distracting," Mandia said. "This is the value FireEye's MVX analysis engine provides."

'Alerts that Matter'

During the analyst call, Mandia was asked about competitive differentiation with network security vendor and next generation firewall platforms. Mandia was quickly dismissive of the competition.

"We respond to a lot of breaches and every one of those breaches is behind a firewall of some brand or another," he said.

Mandia added that in his view there are a minimum of three truths in security. The first is that organizations don't have enough security people. The second is that most organizations get too many alerts. The third truth is that eventually bad guys get in and, half the time, enterprises aren't aware of it until there's some  impact.

"What we try to do is have a sensor grid out there to tell people, 'here are the alerts that matter,'" Mandia said. "So I almost see it as apples to oranges. Yeah, they have these components they call sandboxes, but the MVX engine is much more than a sandbox."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.