The cybersecurity startup SentinelOne, widely speculated as a candidate for an upcoming initial public offering, is hiring Silicon Valley financial veteran Dave Bernhardt – who helped take textbook rental company Chegg public and to scale IPO-bound Palantir as VP of finance – as its new chief financial officer.
Bernhardt is a 20-year financial executive in tech, and helped take Chegg, now valued at some $8 billion, public in 2012. The company said he would oversee SentinelOne's "growth trajectory in the cloud security market as it enters the next phase of its development."
While hiring a CFO is commonly one of the first steps in preparing for an impending stock market debut, SentinelOne CEO Tomer Weingarten said only that "there is a possibility" that the company could file for an IPO in the next 12 months.
"We're not in any rush," he said. "We're just building the right foundation" with the hiring of Bernhardt.
Weingarten also said another funding round is possible for SentinelOne "pre-IPO." The company picked up $200 million in Series E funding at a valuation of $1.1 billion in February, and has raised a total of $430 million from Insight Partners and Samsung Venture Investment, among others.
Bernhardt said that "having been at a variety of high-growth SaaS companies and taking them to the next level, I recognize the incredible trajectory that SentinelOne is on" and that he is "excited to help SentinelOne create shareholder value."
SentinelOne, a Silicon Valley maker of automated protection of employees' laptops, has boomed during the new era of remote work, fueling speculation about going public. The company reached 100% growth in annual recurring revenue — a key measure of how much revenue it projects over the following 12 months — last year, and expects to do the same this year.
"SentinelOne is definitely an IPO candidate due to its high growth," Pitchbook analyst Brendan Burke told Business Insider.
Pitchbook's Burke believes the successful IPOs last week of enterprise-focused companies Sumo Logic and JFrog show a warm reception for cybersecurity startups to make the leap, and that something of a pipeline is developing of companies with significant venture capital and revenue. Peers like Tanium, Riskified, Snyk, Netskope, Darktrace, and Auth0 are all IPO candidates, but building a team and challenging incumbents for market share must come first, he says.
CEO Weingarten said he is not concerned about competing with legacy companies, for the most part. "Their ability to innovate is severely limited," he says. "I'm trying to be diplomatic…They're not going to win this fight." While he didn't name names, SentinelOne counts McAfee and Symantec among its largest rivals.
Unlike those more-established companies, SentinelOne is cloud-based, and boasts that its platform allowed its automated cybersecurity services to extend from protecting employee laptops to covering large enterprise computing programs in the cloud and protecting Internet of Things devices.
That expansion may be easier as a startup than after filing for an IPO, when investors have expectations for financial performance. Startups like SentinelOne may be holding back from IPOs because "you want to control your fate," he said.