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ObserveIT is Officially a Proofpoint Company: Reflections on the Synergy Behind Successful Cybersecurity M&A

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TL;DR: Proofpoint finalized its acquisition of ObserveIT, and ObserveIT officially becomes an operating unit of one of the leading cybersecurity and compliance companies in the world. ObserveIT CEO Mike McKee reflects on how both companies’ shared vision and values make them the perfect match.

On November 26, 2019, Proofpoint finalized its acquisition of ObserveIT and we officially became an operating unit of one of the leading cybersecurity companies in the world. Since announcing Proofpoint’s intent to acquire ObserveIT only one month ago, I have been inundated with positive response and raw excitement from customers, analysts, and industry colleagues. Upon reflection, Proofpoint and ObserveIT seem like such a natural combination that it is hard to imagine having pursued any other path.

Strategic acquisition is an enormous milestone for any venture-backed technology company. It is a testament to the vision and execution of the entire team – from founders to new hires, from engineering to accounting, from our data geeks to our hard-charging sales team. This is a team that loves winning, and it has been a thrill to be both a player and a coach.

With the year starting to wind down and a new chapter for ObserveIT about to be written, it’s a good time to reflect on why this partnership seems so natural. It comes down to two basic organizational synergies: shared vision and shared values.

Shared Vision: People are the New Cybersecurity Perimeter

Proofpoint was the first to really embrace a people-centric approach to protecting organizational data, paying particular attention to people and brand in a world where traditional outside-in focused cybersecurity technologies fall short. ObserveIT has always taken a similar, people-centric view to Insider Threat – helping security teams understand the full context around both user behavior and data exfiltration in order to detect and stop insider-led data breaches.

There is OBVIOUS synergy between our technology approaches and vision. ObserveIT gets the scale and strength it takes to define the emerging category of Insider Threat Management. Proofpoint adds visibility to endpoint activity to enhance its data loss prevention stack. Together, we get to build a new class of integrated, cloud-based solutions that deliver incredible visibility and protection to safeguard the modern enterprise.

Shared Values: Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast (thanks Peter Drucker)

In the first meeting I had with Proofpoint’s CEO, Gary Steele, we didn’t talk about strategy or technology; we talked about approaches to building great companies. It was clear from that meeting that there were important cultural synergies to leverage. As Proofpoint dug in to better understand ObserveIT, three important core values stood out.

  • From the beginning, we kept things simple. Only report results that reflect reality. Only make promises on what we could deliver. Tell the truth. This made the due diligence process pretty straightforward.
  • Customer Centricity. You don’t build shareholder value without building customer value. ObserveIT maintained the customer focus that allowed the company to bootstrap itself for years prior to raising any significant outside investment.
  • ObserveIT likes to win. To be the category leader in Insider Threat. To make our growth goals. To hire the best talent. To outshine our competition. To win our softball league’s championship for the fourth year in a row.

Thanks to all who got us to where we are. We are thrilled to charge into 2020 as part of the Proofpoint team!

Happy (American) Thanksgiving!

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