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May 4, 2023

213: Behind the Scenes: The sales journey of Wiz, the fastest company to reach $100M ARR with CRO Colin Jones

On this episode of the Cybersecurity Startup Revenue podcast, we talk with Colin Jones the CRO of Wiz, about their incredible journey as the fastest company to reach $100 million in ARR within 18 months.

We explore what has been happening behind the scenes at Wiz, particularly within the sales team. Including the mentality of learning and figuring things out quickly,  the importance of being equitable, and the loyalty and resiliency created among employees.  Additionally, we delve into creating company values and hiring the right people to contribute to growing the business successfully through customers. We also touch on the importance of communication in a hypergrowth environment and the negative consequences of neglecting it. 

[00:08:32] Leadership Challenges in Corporate Acquisition Success

[00:12:16] "Inflection Point Reached: Reflecting on Career Goals"

[00:16:05] "Leaving Duo Cisco with a Winning Mentality"

[00:18:17] "Customer Feedback at Wiz: The True Value of Products"

[00:22:10] "Success through People, Not Numbers: Hiring Strategies"

[00:24:07] "Creating Fair and Loyal Workplace Culture"

[00:25:40] "The Importance of Effective Communication in Hypergrowth"

[00:29:24] "Palo's Prisma Suite Sets Foundation for Cloud Security"

[00:32:36] "Aligning Vision and Customer Needs for Success"

[00:38:37] "Team-led exercise: The Origin of Our Values"

Colin Jones on LinkedIn

Wiz website

Support the show

Andrew Monaghan [00:00:00]:

Welcome to the Cybersecurity Startup Revenue podcast where we help cybersecurity startups grow sales faster. I am your host, Andrew Monaghan. Our guest today is Colin Jones, Chief Revenue Officer at Wiz. Colin, welcome to the podcast.

Colin Jones  [00:01:03]:

Thank you, Andrew, and thank you so much for having us today. Honor to be here.

Andrew Monaghan [00:01:08]:

I truly am looking forward to our conversation. I know I say that all the time on these interviews because the guests are so cool and they're doing amazing things. I always look forward to having the discussion and learning from them. But obviously in this situation, maybe a little bit different than some of the people I talked to in the situation with Wiz. If I look back in the last 10-15 years, it's probably every so often there's a breakout company. Right about 2010 or so, palo alto broke out and the buzz and the growth that they had was phenomenal. In the last probably five years, eight years, CrowdStrike had a similar sort of growth path. And I think you'd have to be under a rock in the last couple of years not to have heard and seen the amazing things that are going on at wiz, the fastest company to $100 million in arr inside 18 months. And in this conversation, we want to learn more what's been happening behind the scenes, behind the press releases, that we see what was actually happening in the sales team and how you were growing that. So for that reason, it's going to be a really cool conversation. But Colin, before we go any further, let's learn a little bit more about you. I've got a list of questions here, 35, believe it or not. The good news is I'm not going to ask you 35 questions. I'm going to ask you to pick three numbers, more than 35. And I'll read out the question they correspond to.

Colin Jones  [00:02:26]:

Okay, I will go 1214.

Andrew Monaghan [00:02:32]:

Okay, so one is beach or mountains.

Colin Jones  [00:02:36]:

Hawaii, so I can have both.

Andrew Monaghan [00:02:38]:

Love it. If you had to pick one beach.

Colin Jones  [00:02:42]:

Which is ironic because I live in the mountains, but beach for sure.

Andrew Monaghan [00:02:47]:

Well, it makes you appreciate the beach more, right?

Colin Jones  [00:02:49]:

It certainly does. I don't get a daily dose of it. Therefore, when I am on a beach or in the water. I think I enjoy it and appreciate it a bit more than my typical surroundings.

Andrew Monaghan [00:03:00]:

My wife is from the Dominican Republic, and we were over there, gosh, three or four weeks ago now for spring break with the kids and being living in Denver, appreciate the warmth right about this time of year.

Colin Jones  [00:03:12]:

It's so funny. We were just there for company kickoff two weeks ago.

Andrew Monaghan [00:03:16]:

Oh, yeah, we're back.

Colin Jones  [00:03:17]:

Yeah, we had it right in putekana. It was a blast. It's a wonderful location for so many reasons, but the people are just amazing. It's it's it's one of my favorites.

Andrew Monaghan [00:03:29]:

Yeah, yeah, it's a good place. We love going back there, but we we do a little bit differently because we have so much family there, but we like to get our own family time away on the beach somewhere on our own as well. It's overwhelming. All right, number two, where did you grow up?

Colin Jones  [00:03:45]:

A place I'm very proud of, philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So a very historical, blue collar, hardworking treat people the right way kind of place. My family is still there. I'm obviously in Colorado now, but wonderful city, great people, and for all the reasons I mentioned, a big part of who I am, and I don't think.

Andrew Monaghan [00:04:08]:

I've ever met someone for Philly who's not some sort of Philly sports nut. What wishes your team or is it all of them?

Colin Jones  [00:04:17]:

All of them is the answer. It's a religion and it's a medium that I think in most environments you root for your local sports team in Philadelphia, your local sports teams are a medium for your family to connect. Right. Watching an Eagles game on Sunday isn't watching a football game. It's hanging out with 100 of your best, closest family and friends. We get a bad rap sometimes, but I promise everybody's pretty nice.

Andrew Monaghan [00:04:48]:

Did you get to go to the Super Bowl last year?

Colin Jones  [00:04:51]:

I did not. I have a six year old son who was incredibly passionate, and so I elected to stay home and watch it with him and thankfully so after the outcome.

Andrew Monaghan [00:05:00]:

That's right. And your last one was number 14, I think, is that right?

Colin Jones  [00:05:05]:


Andrew Monaghan [00:05:06]:

What was your first ever sales job?

Colin Jones  [00:05:10]:

Great question and a bit of an indirect sales job, but my older brother and I had a landscaping business, and so we would go door to door and say, hey, we'll mow your lawn for $10. And luckily for us, there's a compounding effect to being sweet little kids with a lawn mower and a weed whacker. And we were able to grow a business from the time we were about ten years old until we graduated high school.

Andrew Monaghan [00:05:34]:

It is remarkable when I ask sales leaders on this podcast that question how many their first kind of way of making money, their first sales job is in the neighborhood mowing lawns, kind of hustling to make a few bucks to buy them some sort of treat or something like that.

Colin Jones  [00:05:50]:

Yeah, it was all about earning just enough money to buy some sort of gadget or ball to play with and having a little leftover for ice cream when the ice cream truck rolled by. Yeah, priorities. Priorities.

Andrew Monaghan [00:06:03]:

Andrew yeah, exactly. Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right? You get simple needs of that age. I want to get that thing, whatever that thing is, and that's about it. I don't want to do more work than that. My daughter, a couple of years ago, she was getting into competitive cheer and she wanted to get this thing called an airtrack. I don't know, it looks like something they kind of tumble on a little bit, but it was kind of expensive, so we weren't going to buy it for her. And she hustled. She started a little candle business, believe it or not, etsy business. Making and selling candles to go to them, buy her airtrack. But as soon as she got enough money to get the airtrack, candle business was cut off.

Colin Jones  [00:06:43]:

Yeah. One, kudos to her, right? And two, it's just so cool to see how inventive kids can be when they know that they have to work for something. Little bit of putting it on them goes a long way.

Andrew Monaghan [00:06:56]:

It really does. Yeah. Well, let's talk about your career a little bit. I looked at your LinkedIn resume, a few well known companies on there. IBM, Blazant, Duo, Wiz, the four companies that are on your LinkedIn resume. Interestingly enough, you said sales at you didn't quite say which roles you were doing along the way. So anything interesting there, or is it just you're in different sales roles?

Colin Jones  [00:07:21]:

Two primary reasons. One, I think in some capacity, the sales profession is almost embarrassed to announce that we're in sales. I'm not. I'm proud. I think you can sell the right way and I think customers appreciate it when you're transparent about objectives and outcomes that are mutually beneficial and forging pathways, for partnerships. And so I've always looked at sales and said, like, I am in sales, everybody at a company should be in sales. And so sales is always it. And then the second piece of it was I simply lost track. I was granted afforded, I should say, several opportunities in different capacities at almost every stop along the way. And so trying to remember what ten years ago looked like and in what month and what year I was doing what job was no longer realistic. And so I just thought, sales is easy, let's go with that.

Andrew Monaghan [00:08:16]:

Fair enough. And what was interesting, though, was when I said IBM, I mean, actually you started BigFix, BigFix got acquired by IBM at Duo, you started Duo, and Duo was acquired by Cisco. How do you contrast those two acquisition experiences?

Colin Jones  [00:08:32]:

Look, I think I was in very different positions and at different points of my career. And so by definition, my experience was wildly different. Right. A big fix. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to cut my teeth as a BDR and move into some leadership roles in a different individual capacity, contributor capacity. And so the whole world of tech was new to me. I was head down, do my job, try my best, all that good stuff. And so the actual event of acquisition didn't change very much in my world. I woke up the next day and I went to work for, in my opinion, the same company at a different office. Right. We were still big fix focused, and I still had my job to do. The Cisco acquisition of Duo, I was obviously in a more empowered position of leadership. And so for me, it was about how do we assimilate our business into this ecosystem that is Cisco, right. When you think about the scale at which they operate and the demands at which they have to address, it's a very different landscape than an 800,000 person company at Duo. And so it was making sure we could assimilate the business, but also making sure that I could provide for and kind of counsel and lead my team through the experience. So I spent a lot of time focused on our people, making sure that we found them a new home that they felt comfortable in and could be successful at.

Andrew Monaghan [00:10:08]:

Was that a good acquisition for Duo?

Colin Jones  [00:10:11]:

I think so. Look, the leadership team, Duo is second to none, whether it's Doug and John O or whether it was Jim SIB or whoever. I think what we were able to accomplish in the market category we were in was remarkable. Right. Like democratized security. We hear it quite often now. The first time I ever heard it was Doug Song saying, we're going to democratize security. We're going to take what people perceive to be this feature, and we're going to build products around it to help organizations successfully defend against threats. And I look back at the acquisition and say, what we really lacked was distribution. Right. We were a very human being led sales organization, and rightfully so. We were still in our infancy, as crazy as it sounds, ten years old, I felt like we were still in our infancy. And so the combination of what Cisco had to offer through not just the people or the presence, but their distribution network allowed us to put our technology in a lot more hands in a lot faster period of time.

Andrew Monaghan [00:11:21]:

And at the end of your time there, what was your role?

Colin Jones  [00:11:24]:

Ended up leading the America sales organization.

Andrew Monaghan [00:11:27]:

Okay. How many folks did you have underneath you?

Colin Jones  [00:11:30]:

A few hundred.

Andrew Monaghan [00:11:32]:

So that was back in the end of 2020 ish. Right. When did you first hear the word Wiz?

Colin Jones  [00:11:41]:

Interestingly enough, Wiz was something else before it was Wiz. So I think the first time I actually heard Wiz was in a conversation with our CEO. The notion wasn't, I want to connect you to this company. It was, I want you to speak with this founder. And so we actually hadn't talked about the company, the position, the strategy, the technology, any of that. I simply was introduced to a soft and kind of went from there.

Andrew Monaghan [00:12:11]:

What was the reason for the introduction, though? Was it a partnership or just someone to know?

Colin Jones  [00:12:16]:

I had reached an inflection point in my career where I felt like I set out with two goals upon acquisition. One was to learn a great deal from an organization that operated at a scale which I hadn't previously, in a capacity at which I hadn't previously. And so I spent my time at Cisco trying to help and contribute and have value, of course, but also learning the inner workings of the machine. How does it work, right? And what can I take away from this and apply to any experience I have next? And then the second was, again, to provide for our people. And I felt like we had stabilized the integration process within the Cisco machine to a point where I started looking for new opportunities. And call it the kind of simplistic nature of me, but I really just wanted to find someone that I wanted to spend time with, that I wanted to work hard with, that I wanted to endure all the challenges with. And so my ask of my network was, hey, if you know of any great people who are starting a journey and looking for someone with my skill set, who share my values, I'd like to meet them. And thankfully, credit to Chardwell Shah at index. He was the kind of connective tissue between myself and his health.

Andrew Monaghan [00:13:28]:

That's interesting, though. You were looking for the right people to go and go on a journey with, as opposed to a company that had other characteristics.

Colin Jones  [00:13:35]:

Yeah, I think objectively, it's so easy to assess opportunities. Right. You can look at the addressable market, you can look at the competitive landscape, you can look at the product and say, is this a mousetrap? Is this a platform? What's the potential of it? Right. You can do all that, and you should because it's a required part of the diligence process. But ultimately, my experience is starting at Big Fix, where I had the likes of Chip Davis and Alan Peters running global sales and North American sales through Blazant with Blue Southie and Duo with Jim SIB. And then what I really learned is that great leaders and great people seem to migrate to the same place. And so if you can find the right people, you can solve for anything.

Andrew Monaghan [00:14:23]:

Yeah, I think it's an underappreciated thing when you're in sales. Who you work for and what they're like and how you go on a journey together is so important. I don't know it's the same or different to other roles at a startup, but I think in sales especially, it.

Colin Jones  [00:14:39]:

Needs to be there yeah, it's always interesting to me. Right. It's a running joke now, but I ask the company all the time who's on the sales team, who's on the product team, who's on the market? Everybody is. Right? And so often I think we have this vision that there's this wonderful salesperson coming in who's going to revolutionize our business all by themselves, and, oh, by the way, they're going to do it in a couple of weeks. It's a false narrative. And so your ability to work cross functionally at an executive level and every level, so to speak, within an organization has always been of priority and importance to me. There's no better illustration of that than how close I am with our co founder and VP of product in Ancastica. We spend more time together than anyone realizes because we're in the field hearing what customers have to say, and he wants to hear it all because he knows that we can improve our position in our product as a result.

Andrew Monaghan [00:15:40]:

So as a result of those conversations, february 2021, you officially joined Wiz, in your case, your first startup sales leader role, and the first sales leader, I think, at Wiz, that must have gone in with apprehension, I guess. Who did you turn to for advice and try and figure out if it's the right opportunity and all the things to go with going to a startup?

Colin Jones  [00:16:05]:

Yeah, it's very interesting. I made it a point to leave Duo Cisco the right way. Meaning I was so grateful for everything that I was given there. The opportunities, the coaching, the mentorship that I really got close to those I trusted within the organization. As I started to step away and to kind of identify and elect my successor and make sure that they were successful and positioned for immediate and long term success. And as a result, I found myself getting theorizing quite often about how different it would be, how challenging it would be. But what were some foundational elements of all of my experiences that I could bring to the table to make sure that we hit the ground running? And so both inside duo but also externally with some mentors that I won't name just because I don't think it's fair to them. I had an opportunity and was able to just spitball and think out loud for hours at a time with some of them, which is probably frustrating for them. But it ultimately landed me in a place where I didn't join Whiz with some notion of what we needed to do to capture success. I joined Whiz with a framing of what I thought we could do and a mentality that was go learn, like, go figure it all out as fast as humanly possible. And for that reason, I think with kind of no blueprint, no playbook in place, we were able to very quickly identify what success looked like, capture it, and then create more of it.

Andrew Monaghan [00:17:41]:

I love that frame about learning. I think as salespeople who've been selling a long time, for many of us, our worth is our number. Right? It's how do you deliver on what you're supposed to be doing, which is selling and getting orders and getting logos and things like that. Whereas early days at a startup, obviously you need to sell, but the bigger value is around learning, figuring out what are we hearing and what does it mean for the market? And of the eight calls we had last week and the whole team, what.

Colin Jones  [00:18:11]:

Do we get from that?

Andrew Monaghan [00:18:12]:

It's such a different framing, I think, that some people struggle with when they go to such an early stage company.

Colin Jones  [00:18:17]:

Yeah, it's always interesting to me. We identify a need and then we build a product to satisfy that need. But the true value of our product to any organization, any team, any company, any business is better articulated by the customer than us. Especially early on, we've identified problem and solution. We don't know the true impact of the solution nor the value of it. And so I remember early on, I would send just a random zoom at a random time of day. Anybody who could please jump on. Let's talk about what we learned today. What did we hear from the market, what do we hear from our customers? What are we hearing from prospects? Let's just knowledge share as fast as possible in order to help each other get better and in order to help our customers better understand what it is we're actually doing. Right. Because I don't envy buyers in this market. It's impossible to with so much noise and so many vendors, how are they supposed to, A, be on the cutting edge and B, determine reality for their organization at any time? And so, because we went with a listen first approach and then knowledge shared almost on a daily basis, I feel like we were able to capture the right message, but more importantly, the right tone to approach the market with what we had to offer.

Andrew Monaghan [00:19:34]:

That's great. I think it sets off the right tone for the team as they start coming on board right. What they're there to do and how to approach sales situations. I'm wondering let's get down to some brass decks, though. You walk in on day one. Were you the first person in sales there or were there other people who are already there before you and you just came in as a leader?

Colin Jones  [00:19:54]:

Yeah, I can't take credit for being the first seller in the organization. We had actually have who I called the Goat Brian, who is one of our BDRs, who is kind of on the prowl, finding potential customers on our behalf in advance of me. And then I previously, prior to joining, had a conversation with and hired another seller in our enterprise space out west. And so I wasn't the first, but I was one of the first few, if you will.

Andrew Monaghan [00:20:24]:

Okay. And a specific question. What was your first year quota you were given? Not what you did, but what was the quota that you're normally given in that first year?

Colin Jones  [00:20:35]:

Yeah. North of 8 million.

Andrew Monaghan [00:20:38]:

Okay. So you come in, you've got a couple of people, you got BDR, you get a rep who's joining the sort at the same time given an $8 million quota, which I don't know if you thought that was high or low. Probably unknown at that point. Right. I don't know how it's going to pan out.

Colin Jones  [00:20:52]:

Yeah. Uncertain. I think it took me 30 days of diligence. And when I say diligence, I mean 30 days of identifying the interest and demand, speaking with hundreds of prospects and customers. Right. Learning the inner workings of Wiz, building relationships and trust. For me to turn around to our CEO and say, like, it's not eight, it's more than eight, and we need to rip up this plan we built two weeks ago, and we need to build a new one right now. And because of his willingness to entrust in me, he did, and we did. And so almost on a monthly basis for the first year, we were ripping up plans, throwing them out the window, and starting from scratch, because the more we invested, the more we returned. And so to meet the demand of the customer, we needed to grow faster than anyone anticipated.

Andrew Monaghan [00:21:49]:

And how do you work with the sales team on that situation? Because you come in and you say, well, here's your territory. But I don't know, three months later, you've added more heads than you thought you were going to, or you told them you would. And anytime you add heads, territories get cut, things like that. It must have been tough to keep everyone on the same page and realize what's going on.

Colin Jones  [00:22:10]:

The first thing I would call out is, it's all about the people you hire. Right. And so I wasn't looking for nor did we hire people to hit numbers. That was never the objective. We wanted people who would come in, stand side by side, and identify how to grow a business and a company successfully through customers. And so the approach, the sentiment, the philosophy has always been, show up, listen, understand, and then create solutions. I'm a big believer. And you can't sell the customer anything anymore. They know their world, their budget, like their landscape. They know their problems better than you ever can pretend to. And so I really looked for people who, a wanted to be part of a team, and B wanted to work with customers to make customers successful, whatever that is. Sometimes that means not buying our solution, and that's okay too. And then the second piece of it, which is what a fortunate position to find yourself is, I had AES coming to me and saying, I need you to cut my territory. I cannot keep up. And we're talking about high performing, round the clock, all costs, like get it done kind of people saying this isn't sustainable, this isn't the right thing for the company. It made a lot of those conversations easier because they were the ones introducing the discussion.

Andrew Monaghan [00:23:32]:

I think that's an interesting area. I was on a call with a CEO this morning talking about profiles of reps to hire. I know some of your early hires, I've worked with them in prior lives and these are absolutely the top talent in our industry, right? Really strong, good people who know what they're doing but without knowing details. I'm sure there's a price tag that comes from hiring people with that kind of quality. Was there ever a discussion internally about how much should we pay? Should we pay top dollar? Should we get someone a little more junior? Was that ever a discussion objective?

Colin Jones  [00:24:07]:

Defensive and equitable are three words I use a lot. And the only way to do that is was actually an interesting time because our competition was seemingly overpaying people in the market. Thankfully, we didn't do that. I said, Everybody who does the same job makes the same amount of money. Here's the industry benchmark on how much that means per role. This is it. This is what the data tells us and we're going to abide by that because we're not going to create inequality amongst our people. I can't look myself in the mirror if we do, and I'm so grateful that we made that decision because it would have been easy for us to concede and overpay which wasn't the right thing to do morally or financially. And as a result, we were able to identify a characteristic that means the world to me, which is loyalty. People who just were here for all the right reasons and I knew that loyalty meant resiliency because despite all the success, we have plenty of challenges too. And when those challenges arise, everybody unites to solve for them and address them and overcome them. In retrospect, I just thought we were doing the right thing. Now I look back and say, what a great strategy we deployed. Wasn't that well thought out? To be honest, it was more or less, how do we do the right thing every time? And this is a way for us to do that.

Andrew Monaghan [00:25:31]:

You mentioned there's things obviously you can't get everything perfect, right? So can you give us an example of something that you did that you wish you hadn't or didn't go as well as you thought?

Colin Jones  [00:25:40]:

We don't have enough time. For starters, this would be a three hour session and I have to pay after for the therapy. Look, there's no shortage of mistakes we've made. I'll tell you one that I think gets lost in translation, especially given the new professional environment which we all exist, is when you are moving through hypergrowth at warp speed, communication is the most important thing. And so the amount of times and I know it sounds like a generic thing, but the amount of times I got so busy and sidetracked and didn't make one phone call to update someone on a conversation or to bounce an idea off of or simple things like it's somebody's birthday and I just lost sight of it, right. All those things matter. All those details matter. The one mistake I made early on and I still struggle with it's just now, a priority is how do we effectively communicate, given either the pace or the scale at which we're operating? What are the forums we use? What are the mediums? What are the priorities? And so how do we cascade information in a thoughtful and informative way? How do we collect feedback? The bigger you get, the harder it is to be close to the truth. And so how do we successfully encourage, but also drive accountability for effective communications across our whole business is one, and then the other one is people have to learn how to work together. We're all human beings. We're all different. That's great. That's what makes us special. But when you're moving this fast, in this period, in this condensed period of time, sometimes you forget, hey, let's go grab coffee next time I'm in town, let's go to dinner. Let's just talk about your life, your family, whatever the case is. And so looking back almost two plus years now, I would have spent more time doing that early on. Right. Because then there's something else there besides the discussion topic. There's a relationship. And so putting an emphasis on it and making sure that it's no longer an issue is something that means the world to me.

Andrew Monaghan [00:27:47]:

Yeah, it feels like I have to make space for that. Right. In the hurley burly of everything's going on in that first year, I can imagine tearing plans up every month, actually deliberately makes space for that sort of interaction with your people.

Colin Jones  [00:28:01]:

Yeah, it's interesting. Obviously, the zero to 100 news comes out, and it was frankly, it was just never a goal. We never sat down and said, we want to be the fastest company from zero to 100 million. That never happened. Right. It was a byproduct of the work being done, but it was also a significant period of recognition and reflection for me because we had accomplished so much in the world of tech. That's a milestone that matters for a reason. We'd accomplished so much, but it was an opportunity for me to stop and say, the only reason we accomplished this is because of our people. So am I investing in our people the way that they're investing in our company? And if I'm not, I need to stop everything else I'm doing right now, and I need to go do that. And so as cool as it may seem externally, internally, it was an awakening that I need to do more. I need. To provide more. I need to lead better. I need to be closer to and more supportive of our people in all aspects of their life.

Andrew Monaghan [00:28:57]:

The other side of that is the customer side. So if I look at Q One 2021, this was still a relatively immature market. Right. There's definitely some players there that are well known, but it wasn't like everyone was doing cloud security. I'm wondering, as you kind of compare now to then about the buyers. How has their maturity changed? And who's the buyer these days? Is it completely different than it was two years ago? What have you learned in that area?

Colin Jones  [00:29:24]:

Yeah, massive shout out to our competitor, by the way, whether it's red lock or twist lock or you name it, Palo's Prisma Suite built this space. Right. Like they laid the groundwork for someone like us to come in and so many thanks to them and respect what they were able to accomplish. A byproduct of that. A consequence of that was you have buyers who are more educated on the subject matter. Right. We go through the Pandemic, we see it used to be called cloud transformation. Now it's digital acceleration because the Pandemic said your business is going to the cloud. Whether or not you're ready for it don't care. And it put our security teams in a position where our practitioners, our customers, our partners, are trying to solve for this new complex set of problems with legacy tooling. It's an impossible task. There is no win for them. And so what we were able to do is build upon that. Hey, we understand this set of challenges because we've lived them and we've created this solution to address them in a way that actually works in the cloud. And so you see the entire spectrum of starting in my cloud journey or more mature with my cloud infrastructure and operation. But the buyer is so smart, the customer knows it better than you do. It's a matter of helping them understand where you can add value and help them solve for these challenges in a way that hasn't been possible previously.

Andrew Monaghan [00:30:56]:

So from their perspective, you're encouraging them to keep growing with the market, then growing with the need and use their knowledge and experience to just become, I guess, more forward looking buyers. Is that what I'm hearing?

Colin Jones  [00:31:11]:

Yeah, it's interesting. I simplify it like this. Our job is to have all the questions because they already had all the answers. We just needed to make sure we were both focusing in the right place. The same place here is where you can get the most value out of a technology like ours. Great. That matters to us, not to the buyer. What matters to the buyer is here is the laundry list of things I haven't been able to accomplish with the tech stack I have today. And you can check all these boxes for me. And so for us, it's always been about understanding where the customer is in their journey? Have they recognized, felt the impact of, struggled with, or are they trying to proactively get ahead of it because someone else they know has and they're just at the ground floor of their cloud journey. And so for us, it's just about learning where they are and then kind of inserting ourselves to be of value.

Andrew Monaghan [00:32:03]:

And you brought up Prisma and Paolo. Right. So, early 2021, they were the big player through acquisition. Right. But they've got mature products. I guess in that space you don't have a mature product. One of the things I find people struggle with a little bit early on is how do I balance that whole thing about what we do right now versus talking about what we're going to do in six months or a year or three years. The Vision, the Vision sale versus the here's what we can solve for you right now. What do you learn about how to navigate that conversation?

Colin Jones  [00:32:36]:

Yeah, it's always interesting, and especially in an image. I still think our market is immature, frankly. I think we're seeing the beginning of it. And the objective market analysis will tell you that there's a long way to go here for us. There's two things that strike me. One is your vision better aligned to the customers and the only way to make sure that happens is to put it out there and get feedback. And so we are regularly iterating upon the vision. It doesn't mean that we're abandoning any core principles that have brought us to this point. Our core is our core and that will never change. But our future state, where we go next, has to align to where the market and the customer is going. And so for us, it's a matter of making sure that we have those lines of communication and those discussions with our customers regularly so that they're not only influencing, but directly impacting our future. Because their success is our success. And then the second piece of it is I'm not sure we know yet. As an industry, we can play the acronym game all day long. Is it this? Is it that? Is it this? What about that? In a lot of ways, what we're doing is watching not just what our customers are listening to, what our customers need, but watching how the market is starting to converge and diverge in some areas and then trying to make sure that we're hitting home on the most important topics to the market. Right. So if it's not that, it has to be this. If it isn't this, it has to be that. And so playing this game of selling futures is what I always call it. If you're selling futures, that means you don't offer enough value, full stop. But letting customers see what you're thinking about, what you're working towards to make sure that it aligns to what they want in the future is a really good idea. You should do it early and often.

Andrew Monaghan [00:34:28]:

Right. Going back to when you join, if the states are right, the product is ten to eleven months old at that point. Right. Eleven months of development. It's going to have rough edges, just the nature of building software tools. That's really what I was getting at. Right. You don't want to mislead anyone. You don't want to do anything stupid. Right. But you got a balance between what we're doing now and what we plan to do in the future, I guess.

Colin Jones  [00:34:54]:

Most certainly. And it gets lost often. It's not just your product. The amount of times that our product in the early kind of first few months changed direction due to feedback we were receiving. And I don't mean feedback from a customer or prospect. I mean feedback from dozens of customers and prospects, hey, this is good, this is great. That changed our direction. But it's not just your product. It's your value proposition, your motion, your routes to market, your go to market. Do you have all the compliance in place required to sell to large enterprise, to sell to any enterprise today? Are you aware of different limitations or prerequisites to sell into certain markets? And so we had to very quickly, due to the immediate demand we saw, we had to mature our entire operation, our entire company, to be enterprise grade, not just our product. Our product was built. MVP was very good. Right. We had to make sure that we had all the other pieces of the puzzle addressed and on the table so that our customers could feel confident in investing in us.

Andrew Monaghan [00:36:03]:

So talking about building out the company, I mean, you start off with just you and a few other sellers. When did you start layering in channels and integrators and all the other types of routes to market that you're doing right now?

Colin Jones  [00:36:15]:

Yeah, I think we made investments in different routes to market in different segments of the market in different regions of the globe earlier than anyone expected us to. So we brought in the Mia leader, Rob Finn, in May of 2021. So just four months after. Right.

Andrew Monaghan [00:36:35]:


Colin Jones  [00:36:36]:

And it was because we just had the demand we had to satisfy. We knew we needed to build locally within the region. Around the same time I hired our channels and alliances, leader Trish Gagliostro brought her in, said we had months worth of discussion about what it could look like. But by the time she had joined, it was, we need to go now. For example, our customers want to buy through AWS Marketplace or GCP Marketplace or Azure Marketplace. How do we make that happen in three months when it's taking everybody else two years? And so we made those investments in kind of all facets of our business early on because we knew we were on to something and we wanted to build properly for scale.

Andrew Monaghan [00:37:19]:

And when you're looking at that growth. And you've got new channels, new rights to market, new leaders coming in and where you are right now. Right. A very different sales organization today than it was a couple of years ago. If I was to ask one of your sellers at the moment about the culture inside Wiz, what would you hope? They would say to me?

Colin Jones  [00:37:40]:

One, that they love it, that they feel like they're a part of it, a contributor to it. Right. But if they had to answer it in one sentence, I hope they say it's values driven. For me, culture is a living, breathing entity. It has to change. Right? It has to evolve. Every person who joins and becomes a wizard should contribute to it and make it better. But the underlying connector is our values. We all sign up to embody and live by these. We hold ourselves and everyone accountable to these. And so our values are the kind of foundational pillars of our culture. And so I think they'd say that, and I sure hope they would.

Andrew Monaghan [00:38:24]:

You're thinking about values at your level. You've now got one or two layers of management between you and the sellers. How do you communicate that down? How do you help them embody the values that you really care about?

Colin Jones  [00:38:37]:

Yeah, for us, it was the creation of them, the origin of our values. It wasn't a founder led exercise. It wasn't a leader led exercise. We all simply sat and watched how our team worked. How do they communicate? It was a very challenging exercise because we had to find the right words to describe how great our people were and what made them special. And we spent months just watching and listening and collecting and proposing different words. I know that sounds crazy, but what's the difference between truthful and honest? One day I'll share that publicly, but there is one. And so we had to be very specific about the words that we use to describe the values we have. But we didn't create them, our teams did, through their actions every day. And then we took it back to them and said, is this us? Is this who we want to be? Are these the things that are important to us? And we got an overwhelming yes. And so not only did we start with the kind of thought process around let them build it, but we also introduce our values in our interview process. So before you join, this is who we are, this is what you sign up for. And then very quickly during Onboarding, I do a session with every new employee to make sure they're aware of what our values are and what it means to us and what they're responsible for in regards to our values every single day.

Andrew Monaghan [00:39:59]:

I mentioned at the start of our discussion about breakout companies like Palo and Crystalke. Both of those companies are now very different than where they were in their early days. They're talking about enterprise software, not just cybersecurity software. They've got grand plans. Palo is saying they want to be 100 billion in revenue in the next few years. I'm thinking at Wiz it's only two months, two years in. But what's next for Wiz in the next year or two?

Colin Jones  [00:40:31]:

First and foremost, I mean you're talking about the crown jewels of the industry, right? Like credit to Nikesh and the Palo team and George and the CrowdStrike team. What they've built is unprecedented and incredible. And so all the luck to them in the future because they've already proven they're more than capable. Now it's just a matter of when for us. We like to think about it and I use this term and it's laughable, but tactically, strategic. The only way to hit long term goals is to hit short term goals. And so we're focused on maturing our operation, our company as we prepare for what's next and making sure that we have resiliency and redundancy and the right amount of investment, infrastructure, support and operations to meet the demand in a way that is expected of us, frankly. And what comes with that is execution, right? Like you have to break it down into small consumable bits, whether that's within the sales organization, whether that's within our customer success organization. For me it's a matter of putting all the right pieces in play to make sure that we accomplish this goal which is public market worthy, ready if the opportunity presents itself.

Andrew Monaghan [00:41:46]:

That was interesting. I talked to Mark Peranella a year ago on the podcast about when he joined Sentinel One as the CRO before the IPO. And what he did, first thing he had to do was put the foundations in place because they grew so fast as well that they didn't have the chance to put some of the foundations needed to be public ready to have the scrutiny of a reliable process that works every quarter. Sounds like you're in that same motion of getting the foundations in place.

Colin Jones  [00:42:16]:

Yeah. And Mark is a wonderful man and leader and Sentinel One is a wonderful partnership of ours and their success is again, it's like, whoa, look at what they were able to accomplish. And so for us, I would say we're in a similar boat right now, right? We've proven that we have something of value. We've proven that we have a great business. We got to make sure that we're the company that everybody expects us to be and frankly that we want to be that stands behind our business and can continue to grow it successfully but also continue to deliver for our customers every single day and for the industry at large every day. And so that comparison is a fair one at the moment.

Andrew Monaghan [00:42:57]:

Well, Colin, I enjoyed our conversation this morning. You give us good insight into what Wiz two years ago was like as you got there and you're facing all the challenges that are going on and how you responded. If someone wants to get in touch and continue the conversation or maybe talk about opportunities there, what's the best way to do that?

Colin Jones  [00:43:16]:

Yeah, feel free to look me up on LinkedIn and shoot me a note and I'm pretty handy at responding to those.

Andrew Monaghan [00:43:24]:

That's great. Well, listen, wish you continued huge success and for 2023 and 24 and for you and the rest of the team there.

Colin Jones  [00:43:32]:

Yeah, thanks so much for having me today, Andrew.

Andrew Monaghan [00:43:35]:

Well, that was a fun episode for me with Colin. I really hope you enjoyed that. So much to take away. I'm sure you've got your own things for me, three things if I was to narrow it down. The first one was a theme throughout about listening. Listening at the start to customers and prospects, listening to how they changed over time. Having the sales team listen, always be in listening mode was a theme that I got from that. Secondly, a takeaway was he said exact words he used, but you want to go after big goals. The way to do that is to go after small ones. And the way I think about that is you're going to have big goals. But it's so important when there's always these things going on round about you. Big ambitions from some people and different ambitions from others and different things happening inside a company that's growing that fast. It's really important to stay focused on the short term goals and that's how you'll get to the long term ones. And then finally thinking about what he said about the types of people that he hired, his language was not around a certain type of rep that had this experience or that characteristic or whatever. He was looking for the right type of people, not necessarily the right type of reps to come in and join the team. And when he was describing some of the successes and some of the challenges that he had, always having the right people has enabled the team to be so cohesive and be together as they go on this amazing journey together. So that was my three takeaways. Hopefully you've got yours as well. Thank Colin offer jumping on the podcast and having the discussion with me and I wish everyone it was, especially the sales team and Colin every success with.

Colin Jones  [00:45:10]:

This year into 2020.