Clearlake Capital Group, a private equity firm, has become an equal financial partner with Symphony Technology Group (STG) in RSA Security. In September 2020, STG became RSA’s sole owner when it purchased the company from Dell Technologies. As Clearlake becomes an equal co-owner, it likely means that some operational changes are in store for RSA.
“Clearlake’s investment in RSA comes at an opportune time and will support the company as it looks to accelerate innovation in the key cybersecurity and risk management markets in which we operate,” Rohit Ghai, Chief Executive Officer of RSA, said in a press release. “We are thrilled to partner with Clearlake and look forward to leveraging their proprietary O.P.S. framework to continue to deliver best-in-class software to a large and growing global customer base.”
That O.P.S. framework Ghai mentioned is Clearlake’s thorough post-investment analysis of a company that reviews the efficiency of its operations, people, and strategy.
“Clearlake’s distinguished track record of investing in leading software companies, as well as their deep understanding of the growing importance of RSA’s risk and cybersecurity solutions in the digital age, made them a perfect partner for us in helping RSA during its next phase of growth,” William Chisholm, Managing Partner of STG, said in the same release.
RSA is a computer and network security company that provides cybersecurity software and risk and compliance management software solutions. Founded in 1982, the company now runs digital risk management solutions to more than 13,000 clients worldwide, including 90% of Fortune 100 organizations.
In addition to its cybersecurity software, RSA is well known as the host of the RSA Conference, a series of IT security conferences in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the United Arab Emirates annually. Launched in 1991 as a single event, the RSA Conference has expanded into one of the largest security trade shows. The events attract an audience of approximately 45,000 people. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person events were canceled and moved online with virtual exhibits and presentations.
However, it has already been announced that the 2022 conference will be back in person on February 7-10 in San Francisco. The theme of the event is “transformation.” It will feature keynote addresses and informative sessions presented by the world’s top cybersecurity experts and thought leaders, as well as brand experiences, demos, trade show displays, and presentations of the most advanced cybersecurity products, services, and breakthroughs.
From a blog on the theme’s announcement, “As a community, we have transformed. We’ve moved from the backroom to the boardroom—from behind-the-scenes professionals focused on strengthening walls to business enablers entrusted to make game-changing decisions. The spotlight is on us. And as the world becomes more digitized, it looks to us first for protection and response.”
Transformation is an exciting and appropriate theme for more than those reasons. The 2022 RSA Conference also comes when the company itself is going through a significant transformation. It’s unclear if RSA’s new co-owners will have any impact on the RSA Conference. There was very little focus on the conference in the press announcements, other than acknowledging that it exists. However, there are two likely scenarios for the future of the RSA Conference: either nothing will change, or everything will change.
If the latter occurs, it’s because RSA Security itself has changed. There’s speculation that STG is building a new “cybersecurity powerhouse” to compete with current security giants, like Microsoft and Cisco. In addition to RSA, STG recently acquired two other cybersecurity companies, FireEye and the enterprise business unit of McAfee Corp.
According to a BankInfoSecurity article, “The consensus is STG will likely form either a complete new company out of its newly acquired businesses – hoping the sum of the parts will make STG a major player in the security space – or simply allow customers to pull together a security plan on an a la carte basis from STG’s various parts.”
“Without doubt, they will be renamed, debut with a shiny new logo, and inevitably IPO again in a few years,” Jeff Pollard, Vice President and Principal Analyst with Forrester Research, said in the same article.
Should RSA be folded into a newly renamed company, it will impact the RSA Conference because it will no longer be an RSA. However, that does not mean the conference will disappear. Given the event’s success and global presence, it’s hard to imagine that it will be canceled. Instead, the more likely scenario is that it will be rebranded with the company’s new name, or it will remain the “RSA Conference” to maintain the current brand recognition.
In fact, that current brand recognition is why it is just as likely that RSA’s new ownership will leave the event alone. According to Clearlake’s explanation of its O.P.S. framework, “Clearlake relentlessly executes upon its investment theses to implement change post-investment by leveraging its sector-specific experience and O.P.S. framework to drive value at its portfolio companies.”
In other words, they cut the fat off the steak. Without being privy to the RSA Conference’s financial data, it seems likely that the events are fiscally stable. They draw massive crowds every year (more than 20,000 people attended even the virtual event). The keynotes, breakout sessions, and exhibitors are comprised of top cybersecurity experts and thought leaders from across the globe.
“We believe the robust market growth and strong secular tailwinds underpinning RSA’s leadership position as well as STG’s successful efforts to establish RSA as a standalone company have positioned the company well for continuing to serve its blue-chip customer base. We look forward to partnering with STG in transforming the business and investing to accelerate both organic and inorganic growth.” According to the press release, that was said by both Behdad Eghbali, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Clearlake, and Prashant Mehrotra, Partner of Clearlake.
As – one can only imagine – Eghbali and Mehrotra stood side-by-side speaking in perfect unison, they clearly stated a belief in RSA as the company currently exists. As long as the event continues to attract crowds, that is likely the case for the RSA conference’s future, as well.
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By Robin Barhydt, Senior Account Executive