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CMO Matt Howard: Why I am Excited to Join Virtru

Matt Howard Joins Virtru as CMO

After spending the past 6 years working with an amazing team at Sonatype and helping to scale the business from $10 to $100m, I recently decided to get back into the smaller company growth game and join John Ackerly, Will Ackerly, Bill Smith, Dana Morris, Will Peppo, and the team at Virtru.

So, why did I make the change? And, why Virtru?

At Sonatype, we managed to position ourselves within a massive rising tide of enterprise IT spending that was aimed at shifting security controls and automated governance further left (upstream) into the “dev-centric” portion of the software supply chain. The market’s desire to “shift security left” was driven, in part, by concerned cyber professionals who understood that traditional “ops-centric” and perimeter-based security practices were no longer sufficient to protect applications and data when the world itself had become fundamentally de-perimeterized.

Against this backdrop, I studied the market carefully and watched companies grapple with the reality of a cloud-native and perimeter-less world. I saw them begin to invest heavily in Zero Trust security architectures. I saw them embracing tools that could help them automate policies designed to protect identities, devices, networks, and applications. I also saw them scratching their heads and asking questions about how to easily create and enforce policies pertaining to the most valuable asset of all — the data.

Eventually, I realized how the emergent Zero Trust zeitgeist was over-indexed on networks, devices, identities, and apps – and under indexed on data (the crown jewels). As stated by John Kindervag, the father of Zero Trust security, “the first principle of cyber security is to protect data and prevent breaches.” Upon reflection, it became clear that Zero Trust investments aimed at data-centric policy controls will inevitably skyrocket in the coming years.

Why will this happen? Because the business of sharing data and collaborating with others will never stop! Data, quite literally, has become the oxygen that businesses breathe in order to survive. It’s literally the world’s most valuable resource. Businesses can’t afford to lock it in a closet, and they can’t afford to lose control of it either. It’s a billion dollar conundrum.

So what’s the answer? It’s Virtru!

Back in 2009, our co-founder, Will Ackerly, invented an open standard called Trusted Data Format (TDF) while working at the NSA. What’s TDF? In a nutshell, it’s a simple-to-use policy wrapper that anyone can apply to their data so they can share it, but still keep control of it.

Over the past several years, Virtru has built a terrific business and a collection of best in class “data-policy” applications on top of the TDF platform. Today, these applications are used by more than 7,000 business customers to secure and protect sensitive data flowing in and out their organizations via email, file sharing systems, and SaaS applications.

While Virtru’s application business is strong and rapidly growing, what’s truly exciting is our plan to make TDF into an open platform upon which third-party developers can innovate. I’ll have more to share on this front soon, but trust me – it’s going to be awesome!

In summary, while Virtru has come a long way over the past few years, the company is really just getting started. Buttressed by our $60 million growth financing announced last week, we’re incredibly well positioned to become the “data-centric” policy pillar for all things Zero Trust.

That’s why I am so excited to be here! I can’t wait to make it happen!

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