October 1, 2022

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Cequence CEO Larry Link focuses on innovations in API security software

6 min read

We recently spoke with the chief executives of companies that participated in the recent AWS Startup Showcase: The Next Big Things in AI, Security & Life Sciences to find out what drives them and learn about their visions for the future. This feature is part of theCUBE’s ongoing CEO Startup Spotlight series.

The beauty of modern technology is that it’s an industry open to innovation and evolution. The case of Cequence Security Inc.’s CEO, Larry Linkunderscores this fact.

Link didn’t discover his current career path from the get-go. His starting line was headed in a parallel direction – he secured a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University in 1982. One of four siblings, he was raised in a household that extolled the virtues of hard work, dedication and curiosity – with his father retiring from Exxon Mobil Corp. after a long and distinguished career. These traits saw Link through his college days and eventual entry into the job market.

His first stop as an engineer was at United States Steel Corp. While that environment suited the passions and working styles of others, Link discovered that heavy industry wasn’t his calling, so he “gravitated toward high-tech” and took up an opportunity at Hewlett Packard as a manufacturing engineer.

Another distinctive passion that he uncovered over time was that instead of the core engineering aspect of technology, his true interest lay in sales and marketing and how technology helps create great customer experiences.

Over the years, Link has learned from various mentors, including David Packard, a former US Deputy Secretary of Defense and co-founder of HP. A technologist turned business person, Packard’s story inspired Link’s pursuit of excellence in business. Packard also believed in the “HP Way,” which emphasizes respect for individuals while getting the job done – a trait after which Link has modeled his career and leadership style over the years.

In a career spanning more than three decades, Link has taken up high-level sales positions at companies like NetScreen Technologies, Juniper Networks, Silver Peak Systems and Palo Alto Networks. He’s also served on the board of Mojave Networks, Soha Systems, DB CyberTech and Squelch.

Outside of work, Link is as “cool” as they come. Alongside his two children who are in their early 20s, he enjoys outdoor activities, including skiing, paddle boarding and surfing. Family time is important as well, and he takes time out for family outings and vacations.

Cequence’s strong company culture

Link’s decision to follow his passion for scaling enterprise-focused organizations led him to spearhead the array of value-driven solutions at Cequence.

“When you think about business, the impact is typically made in one of two ways: either by helping your clients boost sales and conversions (heat) or by helping them reduce costs,” Link said.

Link is a strong advocate for customer success. By helping clients secure their APIs and applications, Cequence’s impact revolves around consistent customer satisfaction and, in turn, improved sales figures. Solutions companies such as Cequence have a prominent role to play in impacting customer operations, according to Link.

One such example is a client that specializes in limited-time drops for custom lifestyle items, including sneakers and accessories. The client company was hit with attacks on their APIs that allowed the perpetrators to take the site down, buy up most of their stock, and then sell at inflated aftermarket prices.

“Cequence was able to understand the good from the bad, block the bad, and allow the good customers in. They’ve gone from one limited edition drop per week to around 8 or 10 in the same period, ”Link said.

As Cequence continues to find novel ways to impact its loyal client base, customer success remains a core tenet. It’s also a highlight at the company’s weekly meetings, according to Link.

Another important asset that CEOs and other high-value members of organizations should imbibe is communication, Link pointed out. Proactive communication, especially, is crucial to understanding how a company’s product / solution can help a customer and how best it can be deployed – given the organization’s unique needs and preexisting scale.

Impacting the API security software space as a whole

APIs and their deployment are critical to the successful digital transformation journeys of enterprises. Therefore, deploying these interfaces in a safe, secure and error-free manner has never been so delicate. Organizations have to gain control of their API footprint, according to Link. They need to detect and profile those APIs that are running under their domain. Finally, they must natively protect those APIs and block out any and all forms of extraneous interference. With Cequence’s underlying products, such as API Sentinel and Bot Defense, companies can tick all three of those off their to-do list and focus on other crucial business tasks.

Led by its ambitious CEO, the company is also experiencing tremendous internal growth. Its employee count has doubled in the last 18 months. “We’re also growing by 2.5 times year-over-year as far as revenue and other heat metrics.”

Given the pandemic’s resurgence, the company has successfully leaned into the tech-driven remote collaboration and workspace tools available to mimic the semblance of in-person collaboration for its distributed workforce.

“We’re going to have to find creative ways, as a company, to thrive in this modern reality. Most especially, in bringing new people to the fold and getting them on board with the company way, our vision for API and how it’s different from some of the other companies out there, and our maniacal focus on customer success, ”Link stated.

While the pandemic has sadly affected a myriad of sectors negatively, it has proven a boom for the Sequence given its business model. The company’s products are cloud-based and orchestrated via Kubernetes. Given this entirely remote capability, Cequence has seen its stock rise as companies prioritize it above other deployment tasks.

Trends and forecasts for Cequence and the enterprise security industry

Despite the favorable reputation the company has gained in the eyes of its clients through a portfolio of excellent products and solutions, Link and Cequence have no intention of resting on their laurels. In December 2021, the company announced a Series-C funding roundled by Menlo Ventures, to the tune of $ 60M.

Those funds will be used to further broaden the scale of the company’s offerings to suit the market clamor. In the same vein, it will allow Cequence to make further inroads into prize markets in Europe and Asia. Menlo Ventures’ Venky Ganesan will also join the company’s board.

Alongside the funding announcement and talent expansion drive, there will also be a slew of features that will be added to the product end – by popular demand.

“We’re heavily investing in our product. I’m pleased to announce some neat features and capabilities coming on the API discovery front in the next few months. They’re currently in beta and showing promise with our early adopter customers, ”Link said.

While API security software has historically been targeted more toward a DevOps demographic, Cequence is also broadening the reach of its products to appeal to both DevOps and security operations teams. This trend shift, which the company is pioneering, will become a notable mainstay for the API security industry in the coming years, according to Link.

Photo: Larry Link

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