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KnowBe4 taps former Malwarebytes exec for leadership role

Margie Manning



Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, celebrating as KnowBe4 hits unicorn status in 2019.

KnowBe4 has hired a veteran software development manager for a top leadership role.

Mark Patton

Mark Patton, former senior vice president of engineering at Malwarebytes, was named senior vice president of engineering at KnowBe4, a Clearwater-based cybersecurity training firm. At KnowBe4, he will be responsible for building, leading and mentoring the software development, quality assurance and site reliability engineering teams.

Bringing Patton on board is the most recent in a series of growth events for KnowBe4, which became the Tampa-St. Pete area’s first “unicorn”  — a technology company with a valuation of $1 billion or more — after receiving a $300 million investment in a funding round led by private equity giant KKR.

Since then, KnowBe4 made a key acquisition, buying Twist and Shout Group, a video production and media company based in the United Kingdom and the United States. KnowBe4 also expanded its board of directors, adding Gerhard Watzinger, an IT industry veteran who also is chairman of the board of CrowdStrike (Nasdaq: CRWD), a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity company that went public earlier this year.

The company expects to double its staff size to about 1,500 employees by 2023, Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 CEO, told the St. Pete Catalyst earlier this year.

Sjouwerman previously co-founded Sunbelt Software, an anti-malware software company in Clearwater that was bought by GFI Software in 2010. Patton’s resume includes stints at both Sunbelt and GFI, before he moved to Malwarebytes.

Malwarebytes, based in Silicon Valley and with a product engineering office in Clearwater, offers software to individuals and business to protect their devices, or endpoints, from advanced malware and virus threats. KnowBe4 educates users to operate on the internet more safely by providing awareness training and simulated phishing to address the problem of social engineering.

Related story: Tampa Bay offers a massive ‘competitive advantage’

“Mark has a vast amount of knowledge and aptitude when it comes to successfully running software development and engineering teams,” Sjouwerman said. “I was impressed by his previous career accomplishments and invited him to join the team at KnowBe4. He will be an invaluable asset to us as we continue to develop innovative new features and products that will benefit the greater cybersecurity community.”

At Malwarebytes, Patton built the engineering team from 15 to 175 people. He also holds several patents related to ransomware prevention and endpoint detection.

“Working in cybersecurity gives me a sense of purpose,” said Patton. “I already knew that KnowBe4 was the leader in security awareness training, but I was impressed that their training platform uses the latest technology for scale, and that they have built sophisticated machine learning into their training algorithms. When they shared with me their plans for the future, I knew I had to be part of this team.”

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