Incident & Breach Response , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development , Security Operations

Kevin Mandia Exits Mandiant CEO Role After Google Purchase

Sandra Joyce, Jurgen Kutscher to Oversee Mandiant Threat Intel, IR Business Units
Kevin Mandia Exits Mandiant CEO Role After Google Purchase
Kevin Mandia, outgoing CEO, Mandiant (Image: Mandiant)

Kevin Mandia will vacate the CEO position at his namesake company 20 months after Google bought the threat intelligence and incident response powerhouse.

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Mandia's May 31 transition into an advisory role at Google will cap off two decades of private sector leadership for the U.S. Air Force veteran who made a name for himself by disseminating research into the tactics, techniques and procedures used by nation-state threat actors and other cybercriminals. Mandia shepherded this expertise first into the hands of FireEye in 2013 and then into Google's purview in 2022 (see: Google, Mandiant Begin Life Together After $5.4B Deal Closes).

"I am very proud of the team for all we have accomplished," Mandia said in a letter to employees Tuesday. "The word 'Mandiant' is now associated with the top-tier of security advisory services and incident response. It took extreme dedication to build such a strong brand, and our customers remain a strong testament to our capability and importance."

Google will turn to two longtime lieutenants to fill Mandia's shoes, with Sandra Joyce overseeing all threat intelligence activities at Google - including those Mandiant brought to the table - and Jurgen Kutscher leading Mandiant's incident response and remediation business. Kutscher and Joyce worked under Mandia since 2011 and 2015, respectively, and both will begin reporting to Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

"I'm incredibly proud of the momentum that Mandiant has driven and even more confident in what we'll accomplish going forward," Kurian said in a letter to employees Tuesday. "We will continue to invest in the Mandiant organization, invest in the Mandiant brand, and nothing else will change in our day to day work."

From Public Service to Private Sector Leadership

Perhaps the most high-profile moment for Mandia in his 20 years atop FireEye and Mandiant came in December 2020, when he alerted the world that his company had been hacked and determined days later that SolarWinds was the source of the compromise. Blowing the whistle on the SolarWinds hackers earned Mandia invitations to testify before Congress as well as an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Mandia's transition out of the Mandiant CEO role was first reported on X by The Washington Post's Joseph Menn, and Mandiant shared Mandia's and Kurian's employee letters with Information Security Media Group. As an adviser, Mandia said, he'll continue to sit on the board of Google Public Sector and assist Kurian and his leadership team with a variety of cybersecurity projects (see: Kevin Mandia on Attacks Against Ukraine and Why They Matter).

Mandia, 53, began his career in the Air Force in 1992, where he served as a computer security officer in the Pentagon and later as a special agent in the Office of Special Investigations. He transitioned to the private sector in 1998, holding senior positions in the security consulting division of Sytex, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin, and Foundstone, which was acquired by McAfee.

Mandia has led Mandiant since its founding in 2004, and in February 2013, The New York Times praised his "unusually detailed 60-page study" that "tracks for the first time individual members of the most sophisticated of the Chinese hacking groups … to the doorstep of the military unit's headquarters." Reports on advanced persistent threat actors became Mandiant's claim to fame for the next decade.

"Mandiant's mission has been to know more about the adversary than anyone," Mandia said in his employee letter Tuesday. "We chose this mission in order to change how organizations protect, detect, and respond to threats."

Finding a Home - First at FireEye, Then at Google

Less than a year after The New York Times coverage, Mandiant's industry-leading incident response capabilities were combined with FireEye's network security technology designed to catch what more traditional firewalls missed through a $1 billion acquisition. Mandia was FireEye's chief operating officer for two and a half years after the deal closed before succeeding Dave DeWalt as CEO in June 2016.

Under Mandia, FireEye's product business struggled to maintain high growth rates and its innovation edge, and product, subscription and support sales increased by just 2.2% in 2020 to $724.9 million. As a result, Mandia in October 2021 sold the company's product portfolio to Symphony Technology Group for $1.2 billion, which combined FireEye and McAfee's endpoint, network and data tools to form Trellix.

The company was rebranded as Mandiant after the FireEye product sale and spent just five months as a stand-alone threat intelligence and incident response vendor before agreeing to become part of Google for $5.4 billion. Mandiant's sales increased by 17.3% to $268.1 million in the final six months before the Google acquisition closed, but the firm's net loss worsened by 54.2% to $192 million during that time (see: Execs Say Google-Mandiant Deal to Merge Threat Intel, SecOps).

Mandiant's chops continue to be well-regarded by industry analysts. Google joined CrowdStrike and Recorded Future atop the August 2023 Forrester Wave for External Threat Intelligence Service Providers. Joyce told Information Security Media Group that joining Google's infrastructure and artificial intelligence with Mandiant's human expertise allows threats to be understood faster and better (see: CrowdStrike, Google, Recorded Future Lead Threat Intel Wave).

"What Mandiant does is more important than ever and I am confident that we will continue to move the mission forward - preventing and countering cyberattacks - and hopefully imposing greater risk to the criminals who hide behind anonymity and safe harbors," Mandia said in his employee letter Tuesday.

Mandia has in recent years taken on an increasing number of outside board and advisory positions. He became one of 23 members on CISA's Cybersecurity Advisory Committee in 2021, and in February 2023 he joined President Joe Biden's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee.

In the private sector, Mandia has since December 2021 invested in 15 startups as a co-founder and strategic partner at Ballistic Ventures. And just days before Google's acquisition of Mandiant closed in September 2022, Mandia joined the board of directors at data management vendor Cohesity and identity management vendor Strivacity.

About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.

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