Cybersecurity CFO Hustles to Foster Firm’s Growth

CrowdStrike’s Burt Podbere worries “every single day” about whether the firm has enough capital to fuel “explosive” growth.
David KatzDecember 30, 2015

As the new CFO of CrowdStrike, a firm zeroed in on preventing other companies’ worst fears about cyberattacks from coming true, Burt Podbere has a persistent worry of his own. Could the company somehow lose its advantage in what he sees as a market with huge growth potential?

Burt Podbere

Burt Podbere

Asked what his biggest concern on the job is, Podbere replies that it’s “making sure that we execute, given all of the tailwinds that we have and being in a space that’s explosive.”

In terms of finance’s role in making that happen, he’s focused on assuring that CrowdStrike has enough capital to fuel that growth and that it makes the best use of that capital. “Those are the things that are in our control,” Podbere says. “And that’s what I think about every single day.”

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The company’s high growth expectations hinge on the dawning assumption among CFOs and other top executives that it’s impossible for firewalls and other longstanding cyber security fixes to keep their companies’ networks completely free from penetration by hackers.

Rather than selling traditional software aimed at armoring company systems against attacks from the outside, CrowdStrike offers a Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that “detects, prevents, and responds to attacks,” according to the firm. Dubbed Falcon, the solution does those things via a form of endpoint security, a way of sealing off corporate networks against attacks that come in by way of such remote “endpoints” as mobile phones, laptops, or sensors collecting data for use on the Internet of Things.

CrowdStrike made news in October when it claimed to have successfully intercepted cyberattacks against seven U.S. companies by hackers affiliated with the government of China.

Perhaps fueled by the fears of a growing threat of such attacks, Global Fortune 500 companies have generated “massive worldwide deployments of CrowdStrike Falcon,” the company boasts. Without revealing revenue figures, the privately held firm claims to have “more than tripled its growth of total billings” over this year. Also asserting that it’s tripled its number of employees year over year, the company is “edging up to around 300 employees today,” Podbere said earlier this month.

In July, the company announced its completion of a $100 million Series C financing round. Led by Google Capital, the funders also included Rackspace, a CrowdStrike customer, along with existing investors Accel and Warburg Pincus. The round brought the company’s total funding raised to $156 million.

Just two months after its Series C round, CrowdStrike brought in Podbere, who has “more than 20 years of financial and operations management experience with both pre-IPO and post-IPO technology companies,” the company noted in a press release announcing the hiring of the new finance chief.

Given that the management teams of many startups start thinking about going public after their companies’ third rounds of funding, it’s logical to ask Pobbere if CrowdStrike might be thinking IPO. Refusing to “speculate on IPO-related issues at this moment,” Podbere told CFO in an interview that “right now we’re really focused on continued growth and protecting our customers.”