Archive for October, 2009

Trey Ford leaves WhiteHat Security

October 20, 2009

So, I’ve got news to share on the professional front: Yesterday was my last day at WhiteHat Security .  I’ve kept this transition pretty quiet, but figured I should include a brief post about it here.

I’m leaving the premier SaaS player in the Web Application Security game.  <shamless_plug> For those who don’t know what we’ve been building over at WhiteHat Security, take a look.  The Sentinel Platform is IMHO *THE* most flexible way measure website/application security risk to date.  Seriously, whether the website is big or small, valued or worthless; whether the business understands website security or not – WhiteHat has a service level to help. </shameless_plug>

If you know anything about WhiteHat you may think me crazy for leaving.  The best I can explain is my heart is in product management.  I may have been able to do that in a couple of years for WhiteHat, a little bit, maybe… but I was rocking a position that my heart just was not in.

I like how Steve Johnson puts it: “You need product management if you want low-risk, repeatable, market-driven products and services.  It is vastly easier to identify market problems and solve them with technology than it is to find buyers for your existing technology.”  WhiteHat has this nailed – they are directly in front of what the market needs for website security. It was Kevin Overcash at WhiteHat who first introduced me to the process of Product Management a few years ago.  I knew instantly that it was what I yearned to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely proud to have been a member of the team and family at WhiteHat.  Proud of the work we have done, relationships we have forged, and milestones we have smashed!  The decision to leave was not easily made.

So we get back to the question of “Why are you leaving?” …and there are a couple of reasons:

In this new role, I will no longer be a sales resource.  My primary role at WhiteHat was that of a Sales Engineer, and my heart just wasn’t in it.

My heart is in Product Management, it is time to execute on that.

“What is that?”

“Product management is a well-understood role in virtually every industry except technology… The role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical – some very technical, others less so. The strategic role of product management is to be messenger of the market, delivering information to the departments that need market facts to make decisions.” (for more on this, check out the team at Pragmatic Marketing)

I have an opportunity to do this full time, and it is the right move.

“Why not do this for WhiteHat?”

We had it covered.  We had it covered in spades.

In a small company, if you have a diverse skillset, you help everywhere you are needed.  This solves tactical needs (is good for the team), and diversifies your experience base (is good for you).  Depending on the needs of your organization, your desire for strategic growth may be trumped by tactical needs (this is kinda what the sales organization is all about…)

I had kinda become the little dutch boy – I was completely tied up solving tactical problems, the strategic stuff I yearned to do was inaccessible.  There was no near-term opportunity for a move to product management inside WhiteHat.

“Where are you going?”

Keeping that under wraps for the moment.  I still have a LOT to wrap my head around with becoming a full time PM.  I am not leaving security, and I am not moving.

There are a couple of you who know, and I am going to ask you to keep it to yourself at this time.

Closing Thoughts

I am proud, and I am thankful.  I wish my team and associates back and WhiteHat the very best.  I am thankful to the partners, their friendship and generosity (sorry guys, you to too many to be named).  I appreciate all the coaching and banter and late nights with Jeremiah Grossman, working on presentations, discussing industry level problems, and his incessant need to tap EVERYONE out.

So Thank-You WhiteHat.  So many bright individuals, and up and coming talent, and wonderful friends- I am going to enjoy watching you grow.  Thanks for everything!

Off to go study for my private ticket!