Exclusive: This Cybersecurity Company was Looking for a New No. 2, but Asked the Top Candidate to be CEO Instead

October 11, 2017

Rami Essaid, co-founder of cybersecurity company Distil Networks, was looking for a chief operating officer to help him in his role as CEO.

But as soon as he started talking to Tiffany Olson Jones about the job, Essaid realized he didn’t just want her help — he wanted her to become the new CEO in his place.

Jones started last week as CEO of San Francisco-based Distil Networks and will lead the company from its Arlington, Va., office.

Distil, which has more than $65 million in funding, protects websites from “bots” and automated attacks. 

Finding bots requires “differentiating between a real person accessing a website or mobile app and some hacker, fraudster or bad guy that is using some sort of tool or program to impersonate real people,” Essaid said.

It’s a subject more people are familiar with now amid an ongoing discussion about the influence of bots across the internet, including on social media sites like Twitter where they might have been used to automatically spread misinformation during the 2016 election.

Distil’s strength comes from its early entry into the market for detecting and preventing bots, said Essaid, who also maintains that Distil was the first one preaching about the various kinds of harm bots could cause businesses, such as transaction fraud and taking over accounts. Distil, founded in 2011, “enjoyed a tremendous first-mover advantage in the beginning,” he said.

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