Raising money: Always raise more than you think (by 25–30%) you will need and assume it will take a few months longer than you think to raise a certain round. When it comes to your funding, you always want to err on the side of caution and be as conservative in your predictions as possible to make sure you maintain a solid runway.
I had the pleasure to interview Tim Eades. With over 20 years of leadership experience in sales, marketing, and executive management at the CEO level, Tim has deep expertise in driving high growth for computing, security, and enterprise software companies. Tim joined vArmour as CEO in October 2013. Prior to that, he was the CEO at Silver Tail Systems from March 2010 until the company was acquired by RSA, the security division of EMC in late 2012. Prior to leading Silver Tail Systems, Tim was CEO of Everyone.net, an SMB focused SaaS company that was acquired by Proofpoint. Tim has also held sales and marketing executive leadership positions at BEA Systems, Sana Security, Phoenix Technologies and IBM. Tim holds advanced degrees in business, international marketing, and financial analysis, primarily from Solent University in England.
Thank you so much for joining us Tim! What brought you to this specific career path?
I have found that, in life, I like fast, new things that disrupt the traditional. As a teenager, I was a young punk with bleached blonde hair jumping around to The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Fast forward to my work life and I find that the disruption and “everyday newness” of security is absolutely fascinating. New dynamics come about every single day as attack surfaces morph and hackers find new ways to infiltrate enterprises. Due to this daily excitement, security is the perfect career for me.
Can you please share an example of a major challenge that you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from it?
Focus, focus, focus. When you are in a massive industry, like security, you need to be careful and focus on your specific vertical, what your key market is, and who your early customers will be.
Discipline starts at the top, including your board of directors, so it is pivotal to think of them as teammates rather than an oversight committee. You should want to include them in every company decision because, at the end of the day, they have the company’s best interests at heart.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became the CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
As you raise money, you form a board make sure you have an independent board seat at the table. However, it is crucial to do a culture/chemistry check with the board person that will be occupying that seat to ensure you’re aligned on the company vision, otherwise, it will be a recipe for disaster. So invite the person as a guest for a few meetings before you make a formal offer.
2. Board meetings
This is your meeting, it is a chance to represent all the hard work of every employee so do your best. Always take advantage of having facetime with investors to showcase your results to-date. You never know when you will be in a room with them again, so come prepared and ready to leave a lasting impression every single time.
3. Raising money
Always raise more than you think (by 25–30%) you will need and assume it will take a few months longer than you think to raise a certain round. When it comes to your funding, you always want to err on the side of caution and be as conservative in your predictions as possible to make sure you maintain a solid runway.
4. Your General Counsel
Always get the best general counsel available and make sure this is a high priority item when you’re starting. It’s just as important to have a strong General Counsel in your corner from the beginning as it is an amazing coder because you need to have a sound legal footing because you can start building out any internal teams.
5. Company configuration
Spend a lot of time early on understanding and managing your company configuration. It’s critical to be aware of team ratios (i.e. number of engineers to sales folks) and you to need to be able to effectively communicate this configuration to all employees.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Block out time each day to focus on yourself. It is essential to have some “me time” every single day, but especially on the weekends. I block out, roughly, 3.5 hours every Saturday and Sunday to go ride my bike or just walk around Silicon Valley and get lost in my thoughts. Having alone time helps you focus your competitive spirit in a different direction because, for example, if you join a running club, nobody cares if you’re a CEO when you’re out on a run, they only care about beating you in the daily sprint.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I worked with Rick McGee and Adalio Sanchez at IBM in the late 1990s and both of them were extraordinary leaders. Rick McFee is amazing at marketing and marketing operations and Adalio had a work ethic that nobody could touch. I would sit down with Rick three times a day for 30 minutes — at 6:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. — to try to understand market dynamics, operations, and managing priorities. The time commitment he put into my career growth was immeasurable and is something I will forever be grateful for.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I am constantly working to achieve new goals because I think that the journey towards a goal is a reward in and of itself. I like to take as many people as possible on that journey with me so that they can also learn and grow. Professionally, we are in a current hiring blast at vArmour, which is really exciting, so I’m looking forward to seeing all of the new talents that come on board and helping to develop their long term career goals. Personally, my wife and I are heavily involved with a nonprofit organization called Cake4Kids.org — my wife runs the nonprofit and I am on the board. We deliver birthday cakes to underprivileged children who are at risk or in foster homes. This year, we plan on expanding across the United States and will deliver over 5,000 birthday cakes to children who have little to smile about on their birthday.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
That building a company is done shoulder-to-shoulder with your customers, your employees, and your board. Love what you do and love who you do it for.
If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be?
Take Cake4Kids.org global 🙂