Carbon Black is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, and that’s just where CEO Patrick Morely wants to be. He grew up in New England and has spent his entire career there, and although he has traveled quite a bit, he’s a New Englander at heart.
Morley went to Providence College in Rhode Island to study math and computer science. After graduation, he started his career as an engineer for General Electric. He was doing programming and enjoyed the creative aspects of the job, but soon discovered that he wanted to be on the sales and go-to-market side of the house instead of the technical side.
He found his way to IBM and got into sales. “At IBM, I had a mentor and I told her that I’d like to be a CEO and run a company someday. She chuckled a bit and said, ‘Well, if you really want to do that, you’re going to be hard-pressed to do it at IBM in a meaningful timeframe, so if I were you, I’d go do these things called start-ups’,” says Morley. “So, I took her advice and left IBM to work at my first start-up, which was an utter failure. But as I tell my team members all the time, there’s a lot to learn from a business failure. We all learn way more from challenges than when everything goes just right.”
This first start-up – the one that provided so many lessons – was a software company that was focused on a very small total addressable market. What’s worse, it had low growth margins and not great differentiation from competitors. “When you add up all those things, it seems kind of obvious to me now that the company wouldn’t be successful, but I didn’t understand it at the time,” says Morley. “I was young and didn’t understand the importance of all those elements to create a meaningful company.”
Morley says the company failure was a bit of a shock to his system, especially coming out of IBM. “With early stage companies, you tend to have founders who are brilliant and thoughtful about where the market is going to be in a few years, but actually running the business day to day is hard. Many times, there is a scale issue from an experience standpoint.”
Morley learned his lessons but didn’t let one small disappointment get to him. He joined another startup to run the channel partner program and helped grow the company successfully to the point where it went public. Then the company was bought by Rational Software, which in turn became part of IBM.
His next move was to another startup, Allaire, which had just shipped its first product. Morley was the vice president for the Americas region. Once again, this company grew, went public and then was acquired by a larger vendor. Though Allaire was located in California, Morley stayed in New England and commuted to California for his job.
His next move in 2002 took him to Improvada, a healthcare security company, where he held his first CEO position. In addition to being new to the CEO role, he was new to the security side of business. “Security was still relatively new at that time,” says Morley. “There was just beginning to be recognition that what the Internet brought to the computing environment, to IT, had created all this capability from a productivity standpoint, but it also opened holes and created issues around security.”
Morley ran Improvada for four years, gaining a lot of experience in security as well as in leading a company. He had a short stint with another small company before joining Carbon Black as CEO in 2007.
“I came to Carbon Black because I fundamentally believed in what we were trying to achieve…and I still do,” says Morley. “I wanted to build something that matters.” And he did. When he joined the company, there were about 20 employees and a handful of customers. With Morley at the helm for over ten years now, the company has just under 1,000 employees and thousands of customers across the globe. Today, Carbon Black provides industry-leading endpoint security solutions.
“A decade ago, the way our industry approached security on devices was fundamentally flawed. The traditional approach was anti-virus based on static signatures,” says Morley. “I could see where the market was heading over the next number of years in regard to attacks getting worse and the endpoint continuing to be the target because the endpoint is where the sensitive data is.”
“Over the last ten years, we’ve essentially built the company on the mission of asking, ‘How do we help companies be more secure?’ Of course, for the first five years we were in the market, there weren’t a lot of CISOs. The people who ran security were lower in the organization,” says Morely. “Since then, the CISO role has emerged and the role of security inside companies has totally changed. CISOs today have a seat at the table for the core strategy of the company. We support CISOs through our mission of helping companies be safe from cyberattacks.”
Morley’s passion for his job comes from believing in Carbon Black’s mission and the vision the company is trying to achieve. “We don’t always get it right,” he says. “That’s one of the things I’ve recognized, especially in security, but really in all of IT. I tell every CISO I meet, ‘No vendor gets it right 100% of the time. What matters is believing in the people behind the companies you work with.’ And that’s our philosophy. We are all in this together, us and our customers, to fight the adversaries who want to attack our systems, and we work really, really hard to stay ahead.”
Morley keeps himself and his team very focused. In fact, he finds it hard to believe that ten years at the helm of Carbon Black have already gone by. “We’ve helped a lot of companies over those years, and we have a lot more to help,” he says. “That’s what gets me so excited about what I do.”