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Palo Alto Networks Hires Former VeriSign CEO Mark McLaughlin

VeriSign CEO Mark McLaughlin
Incoming Palo Alto Networks Chief Executive Officer Mark McLaughlin. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Palo Alto Networks Inc., a security software company that’s considering an initial public offering, has hired Mark McLaughlin as chief executive officer, following his resignation from VeriSign Inc. last week.

McLaughlin will start after his last day at VeriSign on Aug. 25, said Mike Haro, a spokesman for Palo Alto Networks. McLaughlin spent more than a decade at VeriSign, a company that helps manage Internet traffic, and had been CEO since 2009.

Palo Alto Networks, which competes with Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Juniper Networks Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., makes a newer kind of firewall software that determines whether Internet traffic is allowed based on the type of application generating the traffic. The company has been cash-flow positive for five quarters and is booking more than $200 million in orders a year, Haro said.

Based in Santa Clara, California, the 410-person company is looking to hire 300 people in the fiscal year that starts today. It was founded by Nir Zuk, who worked at Check Point in the 1990s and developed some of its main firewall technology. The company is contemplating going public, Haro said, without giving a time frame.

The Palo Alto Networks board, which started the CEO search in December, was impressed with McLaughlin because references said he had a good track record of working with large customers, particularly in government agencies, an area the company is targeting for growth, Haro said.

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