The CEO of $9 billion cybersecurity startup Tanium said during a break in his online conference Monday that the behemoth startup is on track to hit a major revenue milestone.
Orion Hindawi, co-founder and CEO, Tanium, told Business Insider in an interview that "we'll make $600 million this year," referring to the company's fiscal year, which ends in January.
Tanium, one of the most valuable private companies in the space, makes "endpoint" cybersecurity tools that give companies detailed data across their networks, providing key information from employees' computers and other connected devices.
Hindawi's comments give rare insight into the financial situation at closely-watched Tanium, but the CEO repeated his previous skepticism of going public any time soon.
Tanium has already raised venture capital funding twice this year, including a reported $100 million investment from Salesforce Ventures and an additional $150 million round in October. This gives the company the cushion it needs to serve its customers, as well as make tender offers to its employees, Hindawi said, without the pressures associated with holding an IPO in the current state of pandemic-driven uncertainty.
"If I look at the obligation we have through our customers, one of the things we really need to make sure of is even in a really bad black swan scenario, market turn or nasty environment, Tanium can be there for customers," Hindawi said.
A partnership between IBM and Tanium
Tanium's partnerships with titans like IBM, Salesforce, and Google are a major topic of conversation this week at the company's virtual Converge conference, which Hindawi said drew 5,000 online attendees Monday.
At the conference, to be more specific, IBM and Tanium announced a partnership that will see Big Blue integrate the startup's security tools with its own products, including its cloud services for larger customers.
"Those partnerships have a lot of legs," Hindaw said, adding that 100 employees at his 1,700-employee company now work exclusively on those partnerships – and that the number will likely climb to 300 within the next several months.
Enterprises today often maintain multiple cloud computing systems, but that can make life difficult for companies in regulated industries that must be able to demonstrate compliance with privacy and security regulations. Tanium and IBM agree that this is a major hurdle to the widespread adoption of cloud computing among large enterprises.
"For financial services, telecommunications, healthcare and government organizations in particular, regulatory requirements and security concerns continue to be an obstacle for cloud adoption," said Howard Boville, senior vice president of IBM Hybrid Cloud.
"Highly regulated organizations often face the need to choose between spending significant time, effort and money to obtain audit evidence for the workloads they migrate, or not modernizing at all."
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic
While Tanium competes against companies like CrowdStrike and Microsoft, Hindawi sees a major opportunity in combining the abilities of disparate security products on the marketplace into one platform.
"We're a platform that does a lot of those things in one place," Hindawi said. "We're competing against the idea that we should have fifty different tools. You don't actually want to have fifty tools today. That's unsustainable... Our industry loves to sell our customers, you need five more of these every year, another five next year. What our customers are realizing is they just can't."
Tanium has similarly benefitted from the sudden shift to remote work, Hindawi says. Many of its customers found Tanium after their existing security products "completely broke" when employees started working from home, he says. In fact, the company has also benefited from positive word-of-mouth, with new customers coming through via referral, Hindawi says.
"I get a lot of customers coming to us because their friend who does the same thing in some other company heard from the person that this is actually working for them," Hindawi said. "It's shifted to a lot more to reference selling rather than field marketing and field sales. It's really interesting to think about if this continues for a while, how we can reinforce that."
All of this means that Tanium is well-positioned to thrive in a time of turbulence, Hindawi says.
"I don't know if it's helped or hurt our business," Hindawi said. "It's hard to know where we would have been otherwise but I think we'll finish the business on or above our plan. It's allowed us to sell products we didn't think we would sell to customers anytime soon."
Hindawi says Tanium doesn't face pressure to go public
A lot of startups go public because "the executives get tired. They really want to go buy boats." Hindawi said. "With our customer base and the partnerships we've got, an IPO isn't required."
Hindawi says he has plenty of friends who are CEOs of both public and private companies, and some have even flip-flopped between them. He says he's heard from his peers that "the amount of brain damage" that comes with gathering together data required for earnings reports is "really stifling in being able to focus on your mission."
While other companies may have had to go public or get acquired because investors were demanding it, Tanium isn't facing that same pressure, Hindawi says.
"I don't think going public will make our company any better," Hindawi said. "I don't feel any pressure to do that. We deliver for customers and focus on that."