FS Team Blog

Why Finite State? (Part I)

The cybersecurity industry has grown substantially over the past two years - and anyone in the market knows that there are opportunities for employment, investment and advancement that extend far beyond other markets. 

And as I begin a new journey here at Finite State, I’d like to share why I came here with a perspective on trends I’m seeing in the cybersecurity market that partially influenced my decision, but also to express the reasons why I chose Finite State. 

There are quite a few factors that influenced my decision - too many to cover in one post, so lucky you, I’ll turn this into a series of posts and hope that it’s helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about why I believe so strongly in Finite State. 

The Market is Hot. But a Targeted Opportunity Provides Clarity in Persona.

2021 saw a record set for investment into new cybersecurity innovation, a 145% jump from 2020. Other software markets didn’t do this. So like no other time in this industry, cybersecurity is arguably the hottest market in B2BSW, and it has become a candidate’s market for anyone looking to make a change, or enter the cybersecurity market due to the skills gap. 

And investors are jumping headfirst into new innovation and getting ridiculous returns, sometimes more quickly than they anticipated vs investing for longer-term growth (compared to a 5-7 year return). Other estimates suggest the market did over $29B in deals, but what’s worth noting is cyber saw $77B in M&A action

That’s great - and as rewarding financially as the cyber industry is and can be, I believe that anything you do in this industry helps contribute to protecting our global economy. It’s about purpose. That’s what motivates me to do the best possible job that I can in this industry. 

So as I begin my journey at Finite State–and I sifted through a number of opportunities that all addressed different areas of cyber in some way–I liked the highly targeted market opportunity Finite State is addressing. I also realized this: Not enough organizations are thinking about the downstream impact that device and product security will play across the broader ecosystem of “connected risk.”

What’s interesting is in pretty much every role I’ve ever had in cyber marketing, any interaction with a CISO-level exec at a financial services organization has always been the top persona I’ve marketed to. Why? They have more budget, more problems and an appetite to adopt early-stage tech if it’s good. That’s not to say I won’t put resources behind targeting that persona here; however, this is a shift from my previous seat. I’m now speaking to product-line owners who need to pass audits and understand where vulnerabilities and exploitability exist within the firmware that is embedded into that connected device; I’m speaking to software leads who are required to have a full SBOM (software bill of materials) associated with their system to ensure vulnerabilities are fixed before that system ships inside a product - think a connected refrigerator, thermostat, a medical device or a device connected into a critical infrastructure system. 

If you think about all the products in the market where firmware hasn’t had the Finite State analysis, the problem expands by an order of magnitude, framed by an exploitability factor that is quantifiably hard to to envision. 

Over 60% of organizations have expressed that connected product security concerns have definitively cost them sales. This is a bottom-line negative consequence of software not being protected either in the SLDC, or in production. Finite State worked with the Ponemon Institute on a study that explores how vulnerable devices can introduce next-level risk into organizations and to consumers who use those devices. Take a look here. 

This speaks to the opportunity we have in front of us - the ability to help support cybersecurity, software development, and product teams who are building security into the solutions that enable highly productive organizations and consumers to automate and digitize processes that ten years ago would not have been possible. Like anything, the Internet can mobilize humanity, but it’s not without risk. 

There’s a big future ahead in this market, and we are only scratching the surface right now at Finite State as a leader in this category. 

You Need to Have a Great (not good) Team!

I could not be more excited about this opportunity for reasons explained above, but I also wanted to take a few minutes to communicate–to the market and those who know me–exactly why I took this awesome and challenging opportunity, and why the next 24-36 months will be an incredibly fun ride on the way to helping Finite State become the defacto standard for product and IoT security. The people. 

First off, let me say that people are everything - the bots haven’t completely replaced humans yet. And unless you have people who are: 1) really good at their job 2) can check their ego at the door 3) know how to collaborate and weigh other opinions 4) work efficiently 5) focus on the things that matter and 6) generally get along well…then you will have a hard time building a sustainable business. Check. Finite State has those people. 

You know when things just click? That was how each conversation went while interviewing at Finite State. Every engagement with every member of the leadership team was productive and informative. And every conversation I had with the Marketing team I now get to collaborate with, was the same - productive and just easy.

I want to start off by saying that I’m pumped to work with the Marketing team members already here, and those yet-to-be-hired, as we start to ramp activity, planning, and collaboration so Marketing can be a force multiplier to the business. 

The team has done an impressive job on so many levels already - I’m just excited to continue what’s in motion, and to put my stamp on the brand and the revenue-generating programs to add value to Finite State’s business. Everything from product marketing to content marketing to events, demand gen, PR, digital and analyst relations - it’s a lot but the challenge is exciting. I’ll give a brief shout to each of them in a subsequent post. I have more coming where I will highlight some of the incredible work they are doing, and will do over the next quarter.

But it’s not just the marketing team that excites me. At the absolute foundation at Finite State, there is a transparent culture across the company. Everyone at Finite State can answer the important questions: What are we trying to achieve? How do we get there? And what are the pieces along the way that are required to define success and satisfaction? They can answer these questions because of the sheer amount of transparency and collaboration at every level of the company. This was evident from Day 1, and it’s refreshing. You know where you stand, respectfully, and you know what you have to do in your lane to make an impact. 

And then there’s the company leadership. I’ve struck up a rapport quickly with all individuals across the Executive team, and I’ve asked for help, and I’ve received help, with no red tape. That is an amazing way to start a new role - as an enabling approach to all go-to-market activities. 

Beyond that, it’s so cool to work with a CEO (Matt Wyckhouse) who is direct, clear and motivated alongside the rest of the team. It’s inspiring, it motivational and it’s the way you want a CEO to work with you so you know where you stand, you know your role and you know what goals to hit that will ultimately indicate performance success. 

And of course, it’s fun to work with old friends. It’s no secret that I’m particularly happy to be working with two talented leaders I’ve worked with in the past: Kirk Appelman, EVP of Sales, and Connie Yuen, VP of Finance. It has made the transition into a new role easier and just smooth, so that I can accelerate the things I need to get in place in my first 30 days. 

Other attributes around the horn: I’m excited to work with an experienced product leader in Jeff Martin, who knows this market well, and from whom I have already learned a lot. I particularly love having Eric Greenwald on the team as General Counsel as it makes SO many more things happen more quickly and in a more streamlined path vs relying on external attorneys. I’ve gotten to know Gun Akkor, our CTO, and have already kicked off conversations on how we can work together to bring some of the great cyber research his team is doing into the Marketing engine. I’ve also liked how quickly Linda Deeb (VP, of HR) has helped me on the recruiting and onboarding front. For all of this, I am truly appreciative of the team! 

I didn’t initially mean to write a post this long, but I couldn’t help but give my authentic look at my early journey at Finite State that undoubtedly will continue to evolve and expand. I plan to cover the competitive landscape we play in in Part II of this series. Until then, if you have questions for me, please get in touch!