Another VMWare executive is leaving the company to join a Sunnyvale cybersecurity company as its CEO.
Proofpoint Inc. announced Tuesday it hired Sumit Dhawan to be its new chief executive officer, effective immediately. Dhawan takes over for Rémi Thomas, Proofpoint’s chief financial officer, who was serving as an interim CEO for the past month and returns to his CFO duties. Thomas filled in following the October departure of Ashan Willy, who was on the job for 19 months.
Tuesday’s announcement means that Proofpoint is now on its fourth CEO since the company went private in a purchase from Thoma Brovo in August 2021 for $12.3 billion. Proofpoint co-founder and its former longtime CEO, Gary Steele, left the company in March 2022 and became CEO of Splunk Inc. the following month.
“Sumit brings a wealth of valuable experience and expertise in building category-leading, scaled companies and businesses,” Seth Boro, managing partner at Thoma Bravo, said in a news release. “We are confident his customer-centric passion and strong legacy of leadership will continue to carry Proofpoint’s mission forward in providing people-centric cybersecurity solutions that address some of the most challenging risks facing organizations today.”
Proofpoint develops cybersecurity software for mid- and- large-sized organizations. Since its founding in 2002, the company raised $31.77 million in funding from backers like Icon Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, among others, according to PitchBook Data. It went public in April 2012 on the Nasdaq and stayed there until the Thoma Bravo acquisition.
Dhawan is joining the company after serving as Palo Alto-based VMware Inc’s president for close to three years.
VMware was acquired by Broadcom Inc. for $69 billion in a deal that closed last week. Broadcom first announced it would acquire VMware in May 2022 for $61 billion and assume $8 billion of the company’s net debt. However, in order to close the deal, it had to receive regulatory clearance from China, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Broadcom (Nasdaq: AVGO) announced Wednesday it would relocate its headquarters to the former VMware campus in Palo Alto at 3401 Hillview Ave. In addition to the move, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan reiterated that he expects VMware employees return to in-office work, despite a flexible remote-work policy pre-merger.
Since the deal’s closing ,Dhawn has not been the only one to leave VMware. Several other top executives, most notably CEO Raghu Raghuram, departed following Broadcom Inc.’s $69 billion acquisition of VMware, which closed last week.
In an email to employees Monday, Broadcom said it was laying off a number of employees at VMware citing the move as a part of its integration plan, according to a report by Business Insider.
Dhawn, a graduate of the University of Minnesota and University of Florida, had also served as CEO of Instacart, legally Maplebear Inc., for a little over a year.
His appointment as Proofpoint’s chief executive comes less than a month after the company announced it has entered a deal to acquire Tessian Limited, a London-based email security software developer, for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close later this year or early 2024 given approval by both firms.
Who’s been CEO at Proofpoint since August 2021:
- Gary Steele
- From: Co-founded the company in 2002 and resigned in March 2022
- Reason for departure: Stelle resigned as the company CEO to join Splunk Inc., a San Francisco-based software company, as its CEO.
- Ashan Willy
- From: March 2022 – Oct. 2023
- Reason for departure: Reportedly left to pursue an opportunity outside of the cybersecurity vertical, although his LinkedIn account still has him listed as Proofpoint’s CEO.
- Rémi Thomas
- From: Oct. 25 – Nov. 28
- Reason for departure: Was appointed interim CEO until the company was able to find a permanent replacement.
- Sumit Dhawan
- From: Nov. 28 – present
- Reason for joining: “Over the years, Proofpoint has built an exceptional brand and is trusted by some of the world’s leading organizations as their cybersecurity partner of choice,” said Sumit Dhawan in a news release. “I’m honored to join a leader at the forefront of cybersecurity innovation and to shepherd its continuing and unwavering commitment to helping organizations across the globe protect people and defend data.”