Monday, September 6, 2021

The Topology of Crowdstrike (CRWD) Governance - what can we learn from it?

As investors in companies, we pay significant amount of attention to the fundamental metrics of a company. Revenue, cash flow, products sold, growth, sales, debt etc are all important parameters to keep track of when assessing the health of a company. Others may seek value in investing, or may track price action and base their trading decisions on those rules. However, to have a comprehensive understanding of a company is, it is vital to know who leaders and executives are. Unfortunately, many analysts do not focus on the elements of human capital to same extent as other assessment of a company or stock. 

Corporate governance for most part has 2 groups: Executive team (company leaders) and Board of Directors.  The Executive team is responsible for day-to-day decisions, keeping the company going, and business running. Board of directors have comprehensive responsibility for the activities of the company. A corporate board is responsible high level decisions, oversight, big picture, vision and change of course for a company when needed. They have a duty to the shareholders and are tasked to keep company efficient. Thus company executives can be seen a inward looking, looking to the workings of the company and focusing on the critical moving parts that make it work, while Board of Directors is outward looking.

Before we delve any deeper I would encourage you to spend a few minutes reading up about network analysis and how it can assist in improving understanding of underlying data.

We can apply principles of network graph visualization to study the work experience of corporate governance. 

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM

Figure 1: Crowdstrike Executive Leadership (Click on image to zoom)

Figure 1. shows a network representation of Crowdstrike executive team (green nodes), their roles in the organization (violet nodes) and past work experience (red nodes) or present obligations to other companies (like being a board of director - yellow node). The graphs has a concentric layout which is typical for a company structure (expected) but also shows some interesting insights. One cluster of executives (McAfee-Intel cluster, blue shape) includes executives that have help past positions at McAfee. The president of global sales worked at Intel security (also owned by Intel). A second cluster that emerges is the US Federal government cluster (green shape) comprises of the President (S. Henry) and Chief information Security Officer (J. Dixon). Both have a background working in cybersecurity in context of federal government. Sharing similar backgrounds, and translating past experiences and leveraging those relationships can be useful for company growth.

Let us next look at the specific skill sets that each executive member brings to the company. This will be crucial for company growth, and its vision to be a leader in the markets.

McAfee-Intel Cluster: 

George Kurtz (CEO and co-founder) is a security expert, an entrepreneur, and public speaker. His style is entrepreneurial innovation. Mike Carpenter's  (President of global sales and field operations)  skill set is building global, high-growth sales organizations spanning both the private and public sectors. His style is strategic planning, out-of-the-box thinking, risk-taking, and teamwork to the sales process. Mike Sentonas (Chief Technology Officer) has vast experience in cybersecurity, public speaking. J.C. Herrera (Chief Human Resources Officer) has deep expertise in building effective global HR organizations and systems to focuses on achieving strong and consistent business results. 

Federal US government cluster

Shawn Henry's (President) unique skill set is the experience he gained overseeing half of all Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) investigative operations, (criminal and cyber investigations) worldwide, international operations, and the FBI’s critical incident response to major investigations and disasters. He style is proactive, leading investigations and mitigating targeted attacks on corporate and government networks. J. Dixon's (Chief Information Security Officer) skill set is industry expertise on risk mitigation, incident response and proactive security. Mr. Henry and Mr. Dixon having worked in leadership roles in federal government bring a unique perspective to the company. This resonates with both perception of cybersecurity threats and implementation of mitigation strategies.

Other members

Colin Black (Chief operating officer) oversees building and scaling CrowdStrike’s internal infrastructure. This is to support a growing workforce and an expanding global operations footprint. Amol Kulkarni's (Chief Product and Engg. Officer) ability is to execute and deliver the product, platform vision and roadmap. Burt Podbere (Chief Financial Officer, CFO) has extensive knowledge of domestic and international finance, SaaS businesses, and international operations. His style is strategic planning, financial management and global expansion. Marianne Budnik (Chief Marketing Officer, CMO) handles  the company’s global marketing strategy. Ms. Budnik brings deep experience working with cybersecurity companies, high-growth technology startups, and Fortune 500 companies. Adam Meyers (Senior Vice President of Intelligence) skill is combining human intelligence and intelligence derived from technology to transform cybersecurity. He brings unprecedented insights into the activities of cyber threat actors, providing strategic and technical guidance.  Cathleen Anderson's  (General Counsel) expertise is wide-ranging legal experience to support companies growth.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Figure 2: Board of Directors (Click on image to zoom)

Figure 2. shows a network representation of Crowdstrike Board of Directors. As mentioned previously the responsibility of the board is high level decisions, oversight, big picture, vision and change of course for a company when needed. One cluster of board members (McAfee cluster) comprising of Mr. Kurtz, Mr. Sexton, Mr. Watzinger, and Mr. O’Leary. As with the executive team, sharing similar backgrounds, and translating past experiences and leveraging those relationships can be useful for company growth. This also applies to the outward looking big picture stuff that the board is responsible for. A smaller (could be coincidental but not sure) grouping (Green shape) is Ms. Schumacher and Ms. Austin both have connections to Abbvie and Abbot Laboratories. Ms. Austin has been or is on the board of directors for several notable companies. Ms. Schumacher has deep understanding and insight into complex corporate transactions, challenges associated with complex, highly regulated industry and corporate governance. Board members with present affiliations are noted as yellow nodes and notable ones include Mr. Sexton being on Board of Pager Duty Inc and Snap Route. Mr. Davis is the Director of several companies in SaaS space, cloud security, cyber security (yellow shape). Mr Gandhi is a partner at Accel a VC firm notable for funding several successful tech and other companies. Mr. Sullivan has more than 30-years of technology and business leadership experience as past CEO of Splunk Inc.  

Closing comments: At the conclusion of this analysis I feel confident in the leadership at Crowdstrike to deliver on the company values, mission and the expertise they all bring to the company. I own shares of Crowdstrike (CRWD) and am invested in their long term success. This information was collected from publicly available information and from Crowdstrike's website.