The new CEO and president of Belcamp-based SafeNet Inc. said Monday he intends to raise the profile of the data protection firm and “take SafeNet to the next level” by pursuing more commercial clients who are moving toward “cloud” computing.
The company on Monday announced the appointment of Dave Hansen, the 48-year-old former CEO of Nomura Software and, since March, vice president and general manager of BMC Software, which had acquired Nomura. Hansen succeeds Chris Fedde, CEO since 2011, who will become a consultant to SafeNet, the company said.
“What’s really growing in the industry… is the area around data protection, encrypted security for the cloud,” Hansen said. “You see a lot of stories of breaches and data loss… We are singularly focused in the data protection space (and can) provide that single-stop shop for that space.”
SafeNet, which employs 1,600 people, describes itself as one of the world's largest data security companies, saying it secures about 80 percent electronic banking transfers — almost $1 trillion a day.
The company filed for an IPO in 2010, seeking to raise $300 million but withdrew the plans in March. The company, with headquarters in Belcamp as well as an office in Columbia, had $454 million in revenues and a $900,000 loss in 2010, according to IPO documents, the Sun reported.
Founded in 1983, SafeNet is now owned by by San Francisco-based private equity firm Vector Capital, which took it private in 2007 amidst a scandal involving back-dated stock options at the then-publicy traded company. Its former chief operating officer went to prison and its former CEO paid a penalty to settle civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
SafeNet has long served government clients, but in November, SafeNet said it was selling off its government solutions business, which focused on custom-made classified encryption products, to focus on data protection and cyber security for commercial and government customers. The company sold off the business as part of a strategy to divest its largely defense-related software product lines that were customized and built with the government.
Hansen said there are additional data security opportunities lie in growing areas such as health care. For instance, the company could encrypt and protect electronic medical records.
Government contracts would continue to be important to SafeNet, Hansen said, but “we see the growth as much more predominantly in health care, finance, insurance, the larger corporate functions where more and more of their data is in the cloud.”
The growth in demand for cyber security has come, in part, as consumers gained more access to electronic data, such as accessing bank accounts electronically.
“The corporate accounts are providing more access to more data and want to do it in a progressive way but without any risk,” Hansen said.
Dave Fishman, a director at SafeNet and partner at owner Vector Capital, said in a statement that Hansen was selected as a “known innovator within the security industry that brings strong strategic and execution skills, a proven ability to lead high performing management teams and a successful track record of driving growth for multi-national corporations.”
Fishman was not available for further comment Monday.
James Foster, CEO of Baltimore-based Orange Knocks, an investor in cyber-security firms, said that though SafeNet has been around for years, the company has only recently gained a wider reputation as a cyber security company.
“They flew under the radar,” Foster said. But the company “has been putting a bigger emphasis on re-branding themselves and become outbound focused — focused on commercial clients.”
With the appointment of Hansen, “I would assume the board is looking to say, ‘What is the next big move for SafeNet as opposed to chugging along on federal dollars,” he said. “What you’re seeing is the emergence of a lot of these federal government, traditional companies trying to break into commercial.”
Typically a private equity owner would bring in new leadership “because they are changing direction or your exit strategy has changed,” Foster said.
In the short-term, Hansen said he will be spending time raising awareness of the company.
“We’re known in those specific verticals we serve,” such as classified government agencies, he said. “We want to become better known outside of that.”
In the company’s statement Monday, Fishman praised Fedde's leadership at the company. Fedde has been with SafeNet since 2001.
“During that time,” Fishman said in a statement, “the company has transformed from a diversified vendor of security tools into one of the industry’s leading, pure-play data protection and rights management companies.”
“I am proud of all that we have accomplished, particularly the company’s transformation into an industry-recognized data protection market leader,” said Fedde, also in the statement. “SafeNet is a company with tremendous opportunities and I look forward to its continued success.”
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