Kaspersky Lab Partners: Despite Leadership Shakeup, It Looks Like Business As Usual


Kaspersky Lab partners told CRN this week they're not seeing any major changes in the company's business focus despite the departure of several senior level executives in the past month.

The departures include Stephen Orenberg, president of Kaspersky Lab's North America business and a 10-year company veteran, and Nikolay Grebennikov, its chief technology officer and head of R&D, who joined in 2003.

Petr Merkulov, Kaspersky Lab's North American executive vice president and a 10-year company veteran, and John Malatesta, who served as global head of corporate marketing, have also departed, a Kaspersky spokesperson confirmed to CRN.

[Related: Kaspersky Channel Chief Promoted To Top North America Operations Post]

On Friday, Reuters reported that the executives left because they disagreed with how Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky is running the company. In a statement cited by Reuters, Kaspersky said Orenberg's departure was over a "disagreement" about business strategy.

Orenberg and Grebennikov's departures in mid-April came just days after Kaspersky appointed channel veteran Christopher Doggett to oversee all of the company's North America operations.

In a recent interview with CRN, Doggett said Kaspersky Lab is planning to open a Washington, D.C.-based office in the coming months and is on track to roll out new enterprise-grade products.

Kaspersky Lab is also hiring two new channel executives to oversee its North American partner program, Doggett said. "We are continuing to go forward with those efforts," he said.

Doggett declined to comment on the reasons for Orenberg's departure.

Some of Kaspersky Lab's top U.S.-based partners told CRN they're watching the company closely for additional signs of trouble. They said they're also monitoring roiled political relations between U.S. and Russia. But so far, it looks like business as usual at Kaspersky, they said.

There have been no indication of any major strategy changes at Kaspersky Lab, said Todd O'Bert, president and CEO of Productive Corp, a Minneapolis-based partner and member of the company's partner advisory council. 

O'Bert said Productive Corp has built up a large install base with Kaspersky Lab but also does business with a half a dozen other endpoint security vendors.

"They've built good products up to this point and we have no reason to believe that they won't moving forward," O'Bert said of Kaspersky Lab. "I would suspect that they will put the right people in place and are going to build out their products in the way that we've come to expect."

Wade Danielson, owner and operations director at Guardian Network Solutions, a Fort Worth, Texas-based Kaspersky Lab partner, told CRN he hasn't seen any signs that the vendor is changing its business focus.

"At this point we'll continue to move forward with their product," Danielson said. "Vendors have done stuff in the past to partners that leave a bad taste in your mouth, but Kaspersky has continued to demonstrate that it's deeply committed to the channel."

Michael Knight, chief technology officer at Greenville, S.C.-based Encore Technology Group, said Kaspersky Lab has been developing a strong product portfolio in-house and needs strong leadership to increase market share in a crowded market for endpoint security products.

"Steve [Orenberg] did a great job up until this point, and now it was time to make a change," Knight said.