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EXCLUSIVE: Building ESET from the ground up

Hafizah Osman | April 27, 2016
Interview with Richard Marko, CEO of IT security company ESET.

The company started in central Europe, so expanding to more mature markets like western Europe and the US or Japan or even here in Australia was a learning curve. We had to establish partnerships. We’ve now grown to have 15 offices around the world and that does have positives and challenges.

On the positive side, tech is at the heart of ESET. We attract the best talent and to do that, we needed to open up to the rest of the world. One of the important attributes of our company is being able to manage and attract people from different parts of the world.

Originally, we were focusing on products but now, as a real vendor, we need to take care of sales, marketing and the channel. That’s why we opened more offices in the various regions – they serve the specific areas. In terms of expansion, we’re officially opening a new office in Toronto. We want to work more closely with our partners and customers.

HO: What sort of changes have you seen in the security space?

RM: Looking back, 20 years ago, computer viruses were catching public attention. From the DOS viruses came the email epidemic and more sophisticated attacks that didn’t require user interaction and uses the vulnerability of the system. It has been a huge shift from this perspective. The fact that the world’s become more and more connected with the Internet, computer viruses and malware are taking advantage of that.

Another change is that back in the old days, virus writers were probably mostly students that were interested in the field and wanted to show off their hacking skills. Right now, there are some people like that but the majority of the cybercrime space revolves around financially motivated attacks. They’re all very well organised. Endpoint protection has become more challenging.

HO: How is the Asia-Pacific market different from the European market?

RM: Asia-Pacific is a very colourful market – there are many different cultures and economies in different states of development. We’ve got a strong presence in Japan and we’ve been in that market for a long time. The one thing we learnt from that market is that they expect top notch service, everything needs to be of the best quality. They even invest a lot of energy into measuring these things.

The Australian market is an interesting story. It’s the number two market within the Asia-Pacific market for us in terms of growth. We needed to find a way how to expand the business further, so we want to build long-term relationships in this market. We support our partners and they know the local market and culture here. This symbiosis works well for us and so it makes sense for us to pay extra attention to this market. Australia is a developed market and there are parallels to western Europe or the US. The know-how and the experience we have in these markets we can more directly use here.


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