F-Secure has split its consumer and enterprise businesses, rebranding its enterprise-focused company as WithSecure, which will concentrate on its cloud-based offerings in hopes of doubling revenue by the end of 2025.
Referring to the strategy as a "de-merger," the Helsinki-based company's executives earlier this week presented their case in a virtual event, pointing to WithSecure's growing cloud portfolio and services as the way forward. While the company's revenue from on-premises products has stagnated, its annual recurring revenue from cloud products and services has grown 34% in the past year, the firm stated.
In addition to cloud, WithSecure will focus on managed services and consulting to help companies keep up with attackers, Juhani Hintikka, president and CEO of WithSecure, said during the company's briefing.
"No one alone can protect digital society — we have to work together to make sure that it is all working properly," he said. "If you are a business owner, then you know your business and customers better than we ever will, but we are here to complement your security team when you need it the most. ... Our experts become your experts, our technology becomes your technology."
As a business, F-Secure has struggled to keep up with competitors, such as CrowdStrike, Microsoft, and Trend Micro. In 2021, F-Secure earned about €236 million (US$260 million) in revenue, compared to market leaders CrowdStrike with $1.45 billion and Trend Micro with ¥190 billion ($1.57 billion). While CrowdStrike, Trend Micro, and Microsoft all lead the pack in endpoint-protection products, F-Secure lags behind as a niche player, according to Gartner's Magic Quadrant.
The split is a good, if painful, first step, but the question is whether the company can execute on its plans, says Fernando Montenegro, senior principal analyst at Omdia.
"The competition they face all have strong support for cloud environments plus an increased focus on integrating different aspects of their portfolios into what has emerged as extended detection and response (XDR) offerings," he says. "Still, as the saying goes, 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating,' so if WithSecure can deliver the combination of security results with a more focused and potentially personalized touch to their customers, they will likely find space for growth."
Founded in 1988 under the name Data Fellows, F-Secure was one of the original antivirus companies, and competed with peers such as Norton, McAfee, Avast, Kaspersky, Sophos, NOD, and Dr. Solomon. In 1999, Data Fellows changed its name to F-Secure, and now more than two decades later, the company has split into the business-focused WithSecure and the consumer-focused F-Secure.
The two companies have their work cut out for them. In an investor presentation, WithSecure claimed €130 million in revenue after the split, which leaves the consumer-focused F-Secure with €106 million of the 2021 revenue. The enterprise company is currently limited by its geographic focus, with 31% of revenue coming from the Nordic region, 42% of revenue coming from the rest of Europe, and only 8% coming from North America.
Like other companies, WithSecure has to solve the challenges of perception, Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at WithSecure, said during the briefing. Other product companies typically create something that their customers use, while security firms create products and services that customers hope they do not have to use.
"Our job is to prevent things from happening," he said. "When we do our job 100%, the end result is that nothing happens."
The current complex cyber landscape, however, will work to the company's favor, because companies need to partner with cybersecurity experts to understand their risks, he said.
Without giving actual revenue totals for its cloud services, WithSecure claimed that the net subscription fees from its unified security-as-a-service and its managed detection and response (MDR) service both grew 78% over the past two years. Whether that expansion can continue, and WithSecure can grow and challenge the leaders in other markets, remains to be seen, Omdia's Montenegro says.
"We’ve seen many vendors navigate this consumer/business split in different ways and this type of separation is one of the more efficient — if initially painful — ways of realigning companies to serve what are indeed quite separate markets," he says. "In a way, the market evolution is also driven by the changing patterns in attacks and how they impact the targets: Consumer-level concerns are usually more diverse outside core security features, while business concerns are very much aligned to responding to significant attacks."