‘The bad guys already have the key to the door’ — New Axcient execs weigh in on cybersecurity challenges

By   – Reporter, Denver Business Journal

As cybersecurity attacks become consistently mainstream, companies of all sizes — and even entire cities — are targets. But in the event of a security breach, all hope doesn’t have to be lost: There can be tools in place for data recovery and business continuity.

Denver-based Axcient has 80 employees in the Mile High City and 250 employees worldwide. The firm creates the tools for managed service providers (MSPs) — the companies that provide third-party IT solutions — to recover the data of small- or medium-sized business in the event of security event, natural disaster or other catastrophe.

Denver Business Journal spoke to three Axcient execs — including new CEO David Bennett — about the state of cybersecurity, the future of Axcient and the challenge of convincing businesses they need to back up data.

Cybersecurity has been in the news a lot lately, especially with the story of hackers taking over business operations in Baltimore. How do you play a role in cybersecurity? 

David Bennett, CEO: Since the Experian breach two years ago, the bad guys already have the key to the door. They’re just waiting for the appropriate time to use it. You can go on the web now and buy hundreds of thousands of people’s data for cheap. They already have the key. You might not stop the guys from getting in, and so we’re the ones who come in and clean up after the bad guys come in.

Michael Elliott, product marketing director: Baltimore will survive this. But a small business won’t. … In the old days, everything was tape-backup. Then we moved to focusing on backup and disaster recovery, which was just trying to get back on a local server. Phase three of the industry was business continuity, which started to include cloud and remote work. Phase four, business availability, is what we do. It’s holistic. You can operate anywhere in the world as if it’s your own location.

Bennett: Your business can function no matter what happens. Because it used to be, when you backed up, it still might take a week to get everything back. Now even if your building burns down and you’ve lost all your IT, you can go buy some new laptops and get connected.

Angus Robertson, chief marketing officer: Availability is a mix of the cloud and on-premise servers, you have access at any time no matter what happens.

How do you get small- and medium-sized businesses to care about backup and recovery? I think it would be easy, given what you said about so much data already being out there, for companies to throw up their hands and say whatever happens will happen. 

Bennett: We relate it to real-world scenarios. It’s easy to pull data and say it costs you $X million a year. But for a small business that’s only turning over $1 million a year, to say not backing up can cost them $20 million a year sounds ridiculous to them. So we present it like this: If you are a doctor or a surgeon, what happens if you have no records? You have a compliancy problem because you lost customer data and you can’t do anything with your customers. You can’t take a blanket headline from Computer Weekly saying recovery costs you $80 million a year because that doesn’t relate. And you can’t talk to a doctor and use a hair dresser’s scenario from down the road. Fortunately, the MSPs we work with are also getting better at talking to specific businesses.

How did your time as chief revenue officer at Webroot prepare you for this role? 

Bennett: Webroot is a bigger company and there I ran sales, customer success, everything customer-facing. It means I understand how customers do things and could focus the business around customers. Tech companies tend to be product companies instead of customer-centric. And my prior background before was running product. So the only things I haven’t done is be CFO or the company lawyer. I have time spent in every other part of the business. Moving from chief revenue officer to CEO can be similar roles. Ultimately, they’re about the people.

What direction do you hope to take the company? 

Bennett: We’ll be continuing the path we were on, to be the best business availability provider to MSPs. But the question is also, “How do we become the strongest?” We want to be known as someone that if you’re an MSP, you’re mad at yourself if you don’t work with Axicent. My idea is we can become the biggest business availability provider. If you’re an MSP, we’re the only guy you should think of.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

Originally published in the Denver Business Journal.