Podcast Summary.

Handoff from Founder to CEO in a Cybersecurity Company

Episode 52
Episode Summary

Creating a Scalable and Predictable Business: Interview with Kevin Coppins, CEO of Spirion

Today, we’re speaking with Kevin Coppins, President and CEO of Spion, a company that provides the most accurate discovery solution on the planet. Kevin was brought in by the founders to help scale the company, and he has some interesting insights on the journey from concept to company. 

The Road to Spirion

Kevin Coppins was working for a mentor at a cybersecurity company in DC when he was approached by the founders of Spion to lead their sales organization. When they asked him to become the CEO, he was hesitant, but he was drawn to the company’s strong “why” and the fact that it was poised for growth. 

He was also well-supported by the private equity company, the Riverside Company, which had acquired the company in 2018. Kevin recognized the importance of preserving the founders’ energy and keeping the mythology alive, so he made sure to bring them into company all-hands meetings and calls. 

Leveraging the Founders

Kevin has had to shift from an entrepreneurial mindset to an executive, operator, and financial engineering mindset, and he has found that the founders have been very supportive. He has also had the support of the private equity group, which has given him the opportunity to build the company according to his vision. 

The company has gone through a full transformation, moving from on-prem to cloud and perpetual to SaaS, and they have also started using the National Institute of Standards and Testing Cybersecurity Framework. With the investment of more funding, they have been able to accelerate their innovation, investments in technology, and investments in technology processes. 

Coping with Covid

The global pandemic has been a major challenge for businesses of all sizes. For Spirion, it meant having to quickly transition from an in-office culture to a distributed culture. This meant having to rethink their delivery model, as well as dealing with the great resignation of both their employees and customers.

Transitioning from Perpetual to Subscription

The transition from perpetual to subscription-based software was a major challenge for Spirion. This meant having to change their product offering and delivery model. It also meant having to rethink their marketing strategy, as they had to convince customers that their product was a need to have and not a nice to have.

Understanding the Data Privacy Space

The data privacy space has seen a lot of changes in recent years, with the introduction of GDPR, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), and the Zero Trust Presidential Announcement, to name a few. Companies must now understand what data they are trying to protect and how to best protect it.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

When it comes to staying ahead of the competition, Kevin stresses the importance of knowing what your company is good at and anchoring your marketing strategy around those things. He also stresses the importance of understanding what makes your company unique and not getting distracted by what the competition is doing.

Advice for Companies Looking to Improve Their Data Security

For companies looking to improve their data security, Kevin recommends focusing on accuracy, automation, and actionability. Companies should also look into implementing data privacy tools, such as Spirion, to ensure that their data is secure and that they are compliant with data privacy regulations. 

Navigating the rapids of the ever-changing business landscape can be difficult, but with the right strategies and tools, companies can stay afloat and achieve high growth. By understanding the data privacy space, staying ahead of the competition, and focusing on accuracy, automation, and actionability, companies can successfully transition from perpetual to subscription-based software and ensure their data is secure. 

The world has shifted significantly over the past year, and one of the most significant changes has been the shift to remote work. This shift has come with its own set of challenges, including data security and regulatory compliance. With so many people working from home, it can be difficult to keep data secure and to stay up to date on regulations. 

  1. The Need for Data Privacy

The need for data privacy is bigger than ever, and businesses must leverage tools to protect their data. According to Coppins, there is no “magic box” that will solve all security issues. It takes a mix of process, technology, and discipline to ensure data privacy. Coppins emphasizes the importance of understanding the potential harm that data can cause and treating it accordingly.

  1. Data Security Best Practices

Data security is an important part of any organization’s operations, and it is especially important in the era of remote work. Kevin Coppins recommends starting with the basics like multifactor authentication and data minimization. Organizations should also understand their “sensitive data footprint” and know where it is going. It is important to keep data only as long as necessary and to delete or archive it when it is no longer needed. 

  1. Regulatory Compliance

Organizations of all sizes need to be aware of regulations regarding data privacy and security. Kevin Coppins recommends starting with a good understanding of the data that the organization has. This will help with both regulatory compliance and certification processes. It is important to keep up with changing regulations, as what was considered sensitive data three years ago may not be considered sensitive data now. Organizations should also demonstrate intent to protect data and show that they are taking steps to stay compliant. 

  1. Competitors and Resources

When it comes to data privacy, Coppins says there are many competitors and resources available. He recommends subscribing to industry-specific feeds and using tools like Flipboard and Signals Insight to stay informed. He also suggests listening to the Spion podcast, Privacy Please, as a starting point for learning more about data privacy.

  1. Don’t Aim for Happy Customers

Conventional wisdom often says that you should aim to make your customers happy. Coppins disagrees. He believes that happy customers can be expensive and don’t necessarily bring value. He even goes so far as to say that companies should not strive for happy customers, but rather successful ones.


Kevin’s story is a great example of the importance of finding the right match between a private equity firm and a company’s culture. It’s also a reminder of the importance of preserving the founders’ energy and keeping the mythology alive. Finally, it’s a testament to the power of investing in technology, processes, and innovation in order to create a scalable and predictable business.

In today's ever-changing business landscape, companies must be able to quickly adapt and respond to the challenges that come their way. Whether it's a global pandemic, a shift in the market, or a new regulation, businesses need to be able to navigate the rapids and stay afloat.

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