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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Obsidian Security Names New CRO

Choudhry to focus on SaaS clients

Obsidian Security in Newport Beach has added a new­ chief revenue officer, as the company ramps up its cyber-protection business after receiving a major financing round earlier this year.

The closely watched cybersecurity company announced the appointment of industry veteran Reena Choudhry on Sept. 13.

Obsidian Security moved further into the front ranks of Orange County’s growing cyber-protection industry with the $90 million financing round led by prominent Silicon Valley investment firm Menlo Ventures announced in April.

The software maker, whose founders include two former executives of onetime Irvine-based cybersecurity firm Cylance Inc., and which also counts ties to well-known security firm Carbon Black, has raised a total of $119.5 million since its founding in 2017.

Choudhry told the Business Journal on Sept. 16 she sees an even greater move to the cloud “in the near term” with the growth of the software as a service (SaaS) industry, a sector that Obsidian’s technology is focused on protecting.

“This problem is going to become larger and larger,” she said of SaaS security issues.

Various Fortune 500 companies trust Obsidian Security to secure SaaS apps, such as Salesforce, GitHub, ServiceNow, Workday and Atlassian.

The company hasn’t disclosed its revenue figures to date, but said revenue showed an almost four times increase last year, and CEO Hasan Imam told the Business Journal in April he expects three times growth in 2022.

2­­­0+ Years

Choudhry brings more than 20 years of experience in enterprise sales leadership and partner-driven go-to-market strategies to her post.

She most recently served as the chief revenue officer at Very Good Security in San Francisco and before that, served as the vice president of North American Sales for Santa Clara-based Shape Security (acquired by F5), where she worked alongside Obsidian leader Imam.

Before her posts in various Silicon Valley startups, Choudhry spent several years at Cisco in a variety of senior roles.

“With Reena’s exceptional people-centric sales leadership and revenue growth experience across a range of verticals, she brings a wealth of knowledge that will allow us to continue driving value for our customers,” Imam said in last month’s announcement of her appointment.

Choudhry is the second person to hold the Obsidian Security CRO post. Bob Kruse was the company’s CRO from November 2019 until August 2020. He is now the CEO and co-founder at Revelstoke Security in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Boosting Headcount

Choudhry, who is based in New York, said “we will be scaling out our sales. I’m ramping up my team.”

“Hiring is a key focus area.”

Obsidian Security now has 100 employees companywide and is growing. It has an office in Redwood City in Silicon Valley, in addition to its Newport Center base.

The privately held company had about 35 job openings posted on its website as of Sept. 21, including account executive, data analyst and detection engineer positions­­­.

Company officials told the Business Journal in April that it planned to double its headcount this year.

Fortune 500 Focus

Along with Menlo Ventures, other investors in the Series C round announced in April were Norwest Venture Partners and IVP, with participation from existing investors Greylock, Wing and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

Obsidian said the new funds will help the company meet the growing demand for corporate cybersecurity, enabling companies to maintain what the tech world calls good “SaaS Security and posture management.”

The company counts more than 100 corporate customers. Snowflake, Coinbase and BigCommerce are three customers that work with Obsidian.

Obsidian helps security and IT operations bridge the security and compliance gaps created when lines of business adopt SaaS applications to run business-critical functions such as finance, payroll, HR, sales and operations.

“The adoption of tools like Salesforce, Workday, Github, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, ServiceNow and Zoom only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic with organizations of more than 1,000 employees using more than 150 SaaS applications on average,” Obsidian said in announcing its latest financing on April 14.

Imam said such SaaS applications are making certain data visible to the outside world that the application owner doesn’t want to.

Obsidian says it fills the gap left by traditional security solutions by analyzing data within and across applications to reduce the chances workers will have overly broad access, while also preventing sensitive data from being exposed and detecting compromised accounts and insider threats.

“The existing solutions being deployed to protect mission critical SaaS applications are simply not adequate,” Choudhry said at the time of her hiring, noting Obsidian’ potential to be an industry leader.

2017 Founded

The company was founded in 2017.

Co-founder and former Cylance executive Glenn Chisholm is Obsidian Security’s chairman and chief product officer, while another Cylance veteran and Obsidian co-founder, Matt Wolff, is chief scientist.

“I am betting on the team here at Obsidian,” Choudhry said of her decision to join the company.

As SaaS applications have proliferated, businesses have been faced with the vexing question of how to protect data and information as applications multiply.

“The SaaS application is giving someone certain privileges, and that’s creating risk for the enterprise,” Imam told the Business Journal earlier this year.

Local Cluster

OC’s cybersecurity industry is large and growing.­­­

Other local cybersecurity companies include Netwrix and SecureAuth, both in Irvine, while the University of California, Irvine, is home to the national recognized Cybersecurity Policy and Research Institute.

Austin, Texas-based Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CRWD) got its start in Irvine in 2011 and currently counts a nearly $37 billion valuation. It still has a base of operations in the city.

Newport Beach resident Stuart McClure, a Cylance co-founder, this summer joined Santa Clara-based cybersecurity company ShiftLeft as chief executive.

Toasts, Mountains and Community

New Obsidian Security Chief Revenue Officer Reena Choudhry brings a few unique personal hallmarks to the job.

She is a certified sommelier, ready to pick the most appropriate wine.

She also has climbing in her blood and is planning to trek to the base camp of Mount Everest this fall.

She is also part of a distinct minority—24%, according to industry data—of women in the cybersecurity space and is using her proven track record to continue paving the way for others who aspire to follow a similar career path in tech.

She says she is passionate about building a vibrant community of women in cybersecurity and plans to continue to engage with leaders in the industry, and help foster growth and opportunities for Obsidian and its partners.

“My hope is to be the catalyst in bringing together a vibrant community of women leaders in cybersecurity.”
—Kevin Costelloe

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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