Network security firm SecureWorks (www.secureworks.com) has named a new chief executive officer and president to replace Robert Minkhorst, who chose to leave the company to join an equity fund.

Michael Cote, formerly chief financial officer of Talus Solutions, will take over the helm at SecureWorks, a 50-person company founded three years ago in Atlanta. Cote, 41, interviewed for the position last fall and spoke with Minkhorst, who was previously president and CEO of Philips Consumer Electronics for North America, about his decision to leave SecureWorks.

“The change was made because Robert was looking to move back into a bigger environment and work with an equity fund,” Cote tells Local Tech Wire. “My prior experience working with smaller technology companies and helping them to grow is why the board made the decision that I was the right guy.”

Cote cites four primary reasons he chose to take on the role of CEO and president. He says SecureWorks has a good investment base, a substantial amount of cash, a “hot space” in technology and “a good, proven security offering that works.”

$30 million in funding

The investment base Cote is referring to has come from several venture capital firms over the last few years. A seed amount of some $10 million was funded by ITC Holdings, along with Alliance Technology Ventures and Noro-Moseley Partners, both in Atlanta. In November of 2000, Mellon Ventures lead a $20-million second round of funding and was joined by GE Equity and SBK Capital, as well as the existing investors.

“SecureWorks is a leader in the outsourced Internet security industry,” said board member John K. Adams, vice president of Mellon Ventures, in a statement at the time. “SecureWorks offers the first comprehensive yet affordable Internet security solution to the middle market. We’re proud to support SecureWorks and its superior management team in their mission to protect this huge, underserved market.”

The funding was used to expand operations and customer acquisition and marketing programs. Since that time, SecureWorks has announced strategic partnerships with such companies as Sun Microsystems, McAfee, IBM and Intel, which recently named it a “Premier Provider,” a designation that identifies SecureWorks as a preferred source of Intel products, services and solutions.

‘Cops at the door’

As opposed to traditional network security, SecureWorks products monitor, detect, warn and counter breaches to the system, which is especially important in this age as hackers grow even more sophisticated. Cote says the company’s software provides protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Rather than just monitoring, it also provide intrusion-prevention services, so not only does it monitor, but it actually stops and blocks malicious traffic from getting into the network,” he says. “It’s like having the cops at the door, stopping you from coming in.”

SecureWork’s products and services have protected its customers against such viruses and attacks as the Code Red worm, Nimda worm, “Dark Machine” and the Badtrans worm, all of which caused widespread problems and billions of dollars in losses across the country last year.

SecureWorks delivers its products and services through direct sales, as well as through various resellers who are thoroughly trained by security experts. The company provides intrusion prevention through its three key components: real-time intervention, which provides constant monitoring by security experts; data fingerprint correlation, the blocking mechanism; and dynamic inoculation technology, the updating mechanism. For the upcoming year, the company expects its sales to increase by more than 100 percent.

Internal growth, not IPO, the current focus

For now, Cote says SecureWork’s biggest concentration is on growing revenue and gaining a larger customer base. He says an IPO is not in the near future, but rather the company is focusing its efforts internally until the market improves and the time is right, adding that SecureWorks had “plenty of capital to last for a while.”

Based on its sales projections and customer-contract renewals, SecureWorks is looking to stake its claim to the ever-growing network security market. Cote says he’s prepared for the challenge of taking his new company along that path.

“I am extremely excited to be here, and as each day goes by, I get more excited,” he says. “We have a great group of investors from Atlanta…a premier group that’s very supportive. We have cash in the bank, a great market space and a service offering that works well. I’m extremely excited about future opportunities and prospects.”