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这位女CEO最喜欢黑客|《财富》专访王宁

Roert Hackett 2019年01月24日

最喜欢黑客的王宁成为黑客培训公司的新一任首席执行官。这家网络安全培训公司以教授黑客技术、测试黑客技巧的流行认证项目而闻名于世。

王宁成为黑客培训公司Offensive Security的新一任首席执行官。她曾在HackerOne、Eucalyptus(如今属于慧与公司)和Lynda(如今属于微软LinkedIn)等科技公司负责财务与运营。版权所有:王宁
 

王宁成为了Offensive Security的新一任首席执行官。这家网络安全培训公司以教授黑客技术、测试黑客技巧的流行认证项目而闻名于世。公司的另一个著名产品是Kali Linux,这是一款由全世界漏洞测试者使用的开源工具库。

2006年与妻子爱丽斯一起创立Offensive Security的联合创始人马蒂·艾哈尼在给《财富》的邮件中写道:“王宁加入公司是我们莫大的荣幸。”王宁和她“完美的技术与运营背景”令他惊叹。

王宁是加州大学伯克利分校的物理学博士。20世纪90年代,她在咨询公司麦肯锡(McKinsey & Company)开始了自己的职业生涯,并在那里与Facebook的谢丽尔·桑德伯格成为同事。随后,她在多家科技公司担任了高层职务,包括Lynda.com【现在是微软(Microsoft)的LinkedIn Learning】的财务与运营总监、云软件开发商Eucalyptus【如今由慧与(HPE)】首席财务官,最近又成为漏洞赏金初创公司HackerOne的二号人物。

去年9月,在Offensive Security从波士顿的Spectrum Equity获取第一批风投资金之后,王宁作为独立董事加入了这里。交易的条款并未披露。

今年1月3日,王宁取代了之前在公司担任四年首席执行官、在菲律宾开展业务的乔·施泰因巴赫。后者于去年10月离职,前去为初创公司提供咨询和建议。

黑客人才

王宁在电话中对《财富》表示,信息安全领域的专业技能分布很不平衡。在HackerOne工作的三年里,她发现业内的技能差距普遍存在。

她说:“少数顶尖黑客做出了主要的贡献,获得了大部分漏洞赏金。人们都在寻找合格的专业人才。”

确实,各公司对黑客人才求贤若渴。据美国商务部一项教育计划赞助的职位追踪项目CyberSeek估计,目前网络安全领域的职位空缺数量已经超过30万。

恐怕具有讽刺意味的是,Offensive Security的问题恰恰相反。公司的首席战略官吉姆·欧格尔曼表示,他们的黑客队伍人才济济,还将着手培养新一代计算机破解者,但他们急需的却是经营行家。

欧格尔曼是Offensive Security产品的早期用户,他为这些产品深深着迷并加入了公司。他解释道,这种获取人才的愿望是公司寻求外部投资的动机之一。

欧格尔曼之前表示:“这里的每个人都是安全怪咖——我们没有真正的商业背景。”他说,当公司增长“进入平台期”,“显然”公司需要不一样的新型人才。

Spectrum的投资人对Offensive Security的创始人进行了长达一年的游说,终于在去年秋天敲定了投资。负责本次交易的Spectrum投资人亚当·马戈林表示“最大的难题”在于让团队“将我们视为合适的长期合作伙伴并相处愉快”。

他表示,王宁是他们“愿望清单上的首席执行官候选人”。

职业经历

如今执掌公司的王宁开始着眼于扩张。

Offensive Security单单凭借声誉,已经吸引了大量客户,如思科(Cisco)、富国银行(Wells Fargo)、博思艾伦咨询公司(Booz Allen Hamilton)和一些国防相关的美国政府机构。通过众口相传和拉斯维加斯年度黑帽安全技术大会上的现场培训,公司培养了一批拥趸。

王宁表示,她计划在保证品牌核心业务如漏洞检测工具Kali继续免费的同时,开拓订阅和继续教育业务。她把开发更多企业对企业的产品作为优先级最高的工作之一。在Lynda.com,她曾打造过类似的产品线并大获成功。

王宁称,在Lynda.com任职期间,她在三年内把公司的营收运转率从2,000万美元提高到了1亿美元。(这也让她得到了Spectrum的关注,后者是Lynda.com最大的赞助商。)

在那以后,王宁又帮助HackerOne首席执行官和Eucalyptus前首席执行官马丁·米克斯打造这两家公司。她说自己帮助上一家公司HackerOne在营收上提高了一个数量级。

米克斯通过邮件对《财富》表示,王宁在打造商业模式上“起到了重要作用”。他说:“她已经为担任首席执行官做了一阵准备,如今有了一个完美的机会。”(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

Ning Wang is the new chief executive officer of Offensive Security, a cybersecurity training business best known for its popular certification programs which teach technical skills to hackers and test their chops. The company is also known for developing Kali Linux, an open source toolset used by penetration testers the world over.

“We feel very fortunate to have Ning on board,” wrote Mati Aharoni, Offensive Security’s cofounder, in an email to Fortune. Aharoni, who bootstrapped the business in 2006 with his wife Iris, said he was wowed by Wang and her “perfect technical and operational background.”

Wang, who holds a Ph.D in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, began her career at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company as part of the same class as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg in the 1990s. She later rose to a variety of c-suite roles at multiple technology companies, including finance and operations chief of Lynda.com (now known as Microsoft’s LinkedIn Learning); chief finance officer of Eucalyptus, a cloud software-maker (now owned by HPE); and most recently as second-in-command of HackerOne, a bug bounty startup.

Wang joined Offensive Security as an independent board director in September after the company took its first venture capital investment from Spectrum Equity, a Boston-based firm. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On Jan. 3, Wang replaced Joe Steinbach, the company’s former CEO of four years, who ran the business out of the Philippines. He departed in October to consult and advise startups.

Hacking talent

Expertise is unevenly distributed within the information security industry, Wang told Fortune on a call. In the three years she spent at HackerOne, Wang discerned an extensive skills gap.

“A few of the top hackers make a majority of the contributions or bounties,” she said. “People are looking for qualified professionals.”

Corporations are indeed hungry for hacking talent. CyberSeek, a job-tracking project sponsored by an education initiative within the U.S. Department of Commerce, estimates the current number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs at greater than 300,000.

Perhaps ironically, Offensive Security had the exact opposite problem. Already replete with hacking talent and set on training the next generation of computer crackers, what the company needed was business savvy, said Jim O’Gorman, the company’s chief strategy officer.

O’Gorman, who joined Offensive Security after becoming enamored with its products as an early user, explains that this desire to get ahead was part of the rationale behind the company seeking outside investment.

“Everyone in the organization was security nerds—we didn’t really have a business background whatsoever,” O’Gorman said of the early days. When growth “hit a plateau,” he said, it became “obvious” the team needed new and different talent.

The folks at Spectrum courted Offensive Security’s founders for a full year before investing in the fall. Adam Margolin, the Spectrum investor who led the deal, said the “biggest hump” was getting the team “comfortable with us as the right long term partner.”

He said Wang was their “wish-list CEO candidate.”

Track record

Now that Wang is in charge, she has her sights set on expansion.

Offensive Security has already managed to attract big customers—including Cisco, Wells Fargo, Booz Allen Hamilton, and some defense-related U.S. government agencies—on the basis of reputation alone. The company built its following through word-of-mouth and in-person training sessions at the annual Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas.

Wang said she plans to develop subscriptions and a continuing education business while keeping core components of the brand, like the pen-tester toolset Kali, free. One of her top priorities will be to create more business-to-business offerings, a product line she built out to great success at Lynda.com.

During her tenure at Lynda.com, she took the business to $100 million in revenue run rate from $20 million in three years, she said. (It’s this achievement that put her on the radar of Spectrum, a Lynda.com backer, in the first place.)

Since then, Wang has helped Mårten Mickos, CEO of HackerOne and former CEO of Eucalyptus, build two companies. In her most recent stint at HackerOne, she helped the company grow revenues by an order of magnitude, she said.

Mickos told Fortune in an email that Wang “was instrumental” in terms of nailing a business model. “She has been preparing to be a CEO for some time,” he said, “and here came the perfect opportunity.”

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