Bull's Eye Awards: Turnaround of the Year

  • By

    Lawrence Walsh

    | Posted 2009-12-22



In the Channel Insider 2009 Market Pulse Report, solution providers rated McAfee the fourth most likely vendor to not survive the recession. And there was good reason behind putting the security vendor on a death watch: It was increasingly under competitive pressure, its channel program was adrift without leadership, and there were persistent rumblings of acquisitions or attempts to sell the company to Cisco, Microsoft, EMC or Hewlett-Packard.

What a difference a year makes. Today McAfee looks less like a company on the rebound and more a force of nature. After closing the massive acquisition of Secure Computing in the fall of 2008 and sealing the purchase of MX Logic in 2009, McAfee has positioned itself with one of the strongest portfolios of enterprise to consumer security products in the industry. And its reorganized and revitalized channel is an essential part of McAfee’s growth strategy.

Outside of the acquisitions, the biggest sign of McAfee’s recommitment to the channel is the installation of strong channel leaders. In May, McAfee began refilling the channel leadership void with the elevation of Fernando Quintero to lead the Americas channel. In August, McAfee scored a huge win by luring Alex Thurber away from Cisco Systems to run global channels.

Quintero, who previously ran Latin America channels, has taken to the new post with a zeal and enthusiasm not seen since the post was held by David Roberts. He’s crisscrossed the country meeting with partners, hosting advisory board meetings, hosting sales seminars with partners and joining partners on sales calls. Already during his short tenure, he’s introduced deal incumbency protection, cash for clunkers and competitive displacement programs, and a new sales methodology to help extend partner sales and profitability.

Thurber is working tirelessly to rebuild partner confidence in McAfee and its channel programs. His candor is refreshing when speaking with partners; he readily admits McAfee has made mistakes and hasn’t been consistent, and he looks to partners to guide his policy and decision making. After meetings with partners, he often turns to his field teams with a list of things that need immediate and long-term attention.

Perhaps the strongest indication that McAfee has reaffirmed its commitment to the channel is that Thurber reports to Michael DeCesare, executive vice president of worldwide sales operations, and has the ear of CEO Dave DeWalt. And DeWalt has made it clear that the channel is the go-to-market path for the company and will only build the minimum level of direct touch sales and fulfillment required.

McAfee’s return to grace is still a work in progress. But the No. 2 security vendor has made significant moves and progress in reforming its partnership with the channel and its perception among solution providers. Thurber, Quintero and the McAfee channel team have built tremendous momentum that is expected to only gain speed in the coming year, and for that McAfee has earned the Channel Insider Champion Bull’s Eye Award for Turnaround of the Year.

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Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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