Brian NeSmith is the current CEO of Arctic Wolf, but this is not the first company he has headed. Previously, he was the CEO of Ipsilon Networks and CacheFlow, which changed to Blue Coat Systems. His ability to move with the tide has ensured success in all he undertakes; while at the helm of Blue Coat Systems, he increased the company’s revenue from $5 million to $500 million. As he wonders whether to take Arctic Wolf public, let’s enlighten you on a few facts about NeSmith.
1. He is an Entrepreneur of The Year Finalist for Heartland Awards
NeSmith is among the finalists for the Heartland Awards, hoping to be named the 2021 Entrepreneur of The Year. The award recognizes entrepreneurs whose experiences and insights foster growth. If he wins on July 27, 2021, NeSmith will compete for the National Awards in November 2021 and will then be considered in June 2022 for the Worldwide Award.
2. He Hopes to Acquire More Companies with the Latest Round of Funding
When Arctic Wolf last fundraised, its valuation rose to over $1 billion, making it the first MDR (Managed Detection and Response) company to become a unicorn. It has recently raised nearly $500 million in a round led by Vikings Global Investors, and NeSmith already has plans of what to do with the newly gained financial muscle. He said that the funds would be used to keep the company’s momentum going and step up its mergers and acquisitions strategy. Since its founding, Arctic Wolf has made three acquisitions; Nesmith hopes to increase to five or ten more in the next year.
3. He Plans on Taking Arctic Wolf Public
When he talked to TechCrunch, the CEO said he is thinking about an exit strategy for Arctic Wolf. He opines that an IPO is the best solution given that it has already had a Series F fundraising round. From what he has observed over the past few months, Arctic Wolf could as well go public. Nesmith believes that although an IPO is the most likely outcome from the many exit strategy options, going from private to public is one way of changing how the company is run.
4. He Fires Anyone Who Exhibits Negative Energy
In a video uploaded on Leadership in Focus, NeSmith reveals that no matter how talented employees are, they have to go if they cannot work well with others. He explained that he would rather leave that position vacant instead of hiring such people because with them in senior positions, the company is bound to fail. The CEO said that negative energy is amplified in the entire organization, so even if only one employee is exhibiting it, it will rub off on others.
5. He Does Not Accommodate Those Who Don’t Share His Vision
They say that the company you keep will determine your future, and NeSmith seems to understand this expression all too well. Therefore, when he wanted to change how Blue Coat Systems operated, he fired those who disagreed with his strategy. The CEO planned on focusing on a single product because if he continued with the trend at Blue Coat, it would fail like the other companies in the dot-com era. For the sake of the future of his company, he kicked out anyone not on the same page with him.
6. He Doesn’t Think Google is Innovative
Most people cannot live without Google; every time we need to search for something, we rush to the site for answers. During an interview with IT news, NeSmith said that as much as Google has been good at helping people in their searches and placing adverts, the company has not done much with Google Apps.
7. He is Candid
It is rare to find someone who will tell you something as it is without sugarcoating it but wait until you meet NeSmith, and you will understand the true meaning of honesty. During interviews, the CEO does not mince his words and always tells the truth even if it is against others in the same industry. For instance, while other entrepreneurs in the cybersecurity sector talked about how the recession would affect cybercrime and make their businesses profitable, NeSmith disagreed. He said that security does not depend on the economy; hence a recession would not increase the demand for cybersecurity.
8. He Likes to Pamper Employees if Funds are Available
When NeSmith joined CacheFlow as the CEO in 1999, he ensured that the company went public, and it proved to be a smart move. The stock hit an all-time high of $126 in December 1999, and the valuation leaped to $5 million. NeSmith pampered his employees with free lunches and dinners at their Sunny Dale office. After working hours, the CEO would hire a DJ to host an after-party in the cafeteria. The company even paid for 330 employees and their spouses to take trips to Maui to attend a concert by Kenny Loggins.
9. His First Order of Business at Cache Flow was to Hire Managers
According to The Wall Street Journal, in June 1998, bankers were already eyeing CacheFlow to entice it to go public. They knew an IPO meant huge returns for the venture capitalists and higher fees for the bankers. However, when Michael Malcolm hired NeSmith in March 1999 to become the new CEO, NeSmith had other plans. As much as the board was interested in the bankers’ offer, the tech executive wanted to beef up the staff, so even when he talked to the venture capitalist about financing, he used the funds to hire more managers.
10. He was a Bright Student
NeSmith managed to get admitted to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), which speaks of his academic excellence. MIT is hailed as one of the most selective institutions, with an acceptance rate of 7.3%. Besides outstanding grades, you need letters of recommendation, high test scores, and excellently written essays to be considered.