INTERVIEW: BullGuard's new CEO on protecting IoT, partner program benefits and investing in future growth

PCR sits down with the security vendor’s new CEO Paul Lipman
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Experienced security software executive Paul Lipman joined BullGuard at the start of the year to identify new opportunities and invest in order to grow the business.

Dominic Sacco and Laura Barnes ask the CEO about the changing threat landscape, his plans for BullGuard and what’s next for its successful retail revenue share scheme.

Are you planning on making any changes to your retailer revenue share scheme? What should your partners be aware of in the future?

Last year we launched a new top-tier partner program called Advantage Plus. It’s an invitation-only account that provides dedicated account management, specialised support and enhanced revenue share on subscription renewals.

We’ve actually tripled the number of partners in that program over the last 12 months.

We’re also going to be increasing the amount of communication with our partners and inviting two-way communication around product roadmaps, industry trends and our programs.

How can retailers get BullGuard customers coming back into their stores, rather than just renewing their software from home?

A very large percentage of our partners do a pretty significant amount of subscription renewals in the store. In fact, some of the partners do two, three, four or five times as many renewals in-store as they do with customers directly renewing online.

And that’s typically where the BullGuard product has been sold as part of a broader package, or where a reseller is watching the renewals and proactively communicating with customers. We’re very happy to support them doing that in a number of different ways.

But regardless, BullGuard has the highest subscription renewal rates in the industry. So even if a customer chooses to renew online at home, the reseller is still going to make very attractive margins and revenue share on those renewal transactions.

When you joined BullGuard, the company said you’ll be investing in new opportunities to fuel further grow. What opportunities are you looking at?

Firstly, we’ve recently introduced some significant new partners in the UK that are going to massively expand our market presence in certain segments. Secondly, in addition to investment here in the UK, we’re also expanding internationally. We’ve signed new partners in Germany, Spain, India and the Middle East. Thirdly, we’re investing more in marketing to grow brand presence and partnerships that will drive growth across the board. And underlining all of that is increased investment we’re putting into R&D.

The security software market is incredibly competitive. What’s your share of the UK market and what are your ambitions going forwards?

BullGuard is actually focused on the assisted sale segment of the market, and in that part of the market I think we’re number one.

In that market, the larger players – I would call them the legacy players – have had difficulty operating in that market for three reasons. Firstly, it takes great product, and technical guys will only sell products that they believe are going to actually help their customers. So having a great product is really important.

Secondly, we have the highest conversion and renewal rates in the industry, so it means we can offer really attractive economics to our partners.

Thirdly, there’s a singular sales and marketing focus on that segment. At BullGuard we have dedicated account managers who work one-to-one in the field with our different resellers and partners, and that makes a tremendous difference.

Does BullGuard plan to protect smart home and Internet of Things devices? What are the challenges of protecting them?

Our recent survey of 6,000 UK people found that 66 per cent are highly concerned about the security implications of these devices, and 72 per cent have no idea how to keep themselves protected.

So for us it comes down to two things: we have to deliver services that are really easy to use for consumers, because networking is much more complex than traditional PC security. And we have to build an understanding, or database if you will, of device behaviour and reputation.

That’s the kind of thing companies like BullGuard really excel at doing in the malware world – and we’ll be bringing those capabilities to the connected home. We’re very well positioned to deliver services in this new market.

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PCR interviews BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman - Video

We had a chance to speak to BullGuard CEO Paul Lipman all about what the company is doing to ensure the safety of the Internet of Things and what users can do to to make sure that they are being as safe as possible when using the interne