Like most startups, Sourcefire had humble beginnings. For cybersecurity company Sourcefire, humble beginnings looked like a living room in Carroll County, Maryland. But founder Martin Roesch (pictured, right) had big dreams, and technology that was changing an emerging market in the early 2000s, so it didn’t take long for the company to take off.
As the company grew, it eventually moved into its own office space in Columbia, hired hundreds of employees, and entered the public marketplace in 2007. In 2011, the company made a strategic acquisition and experienced triple-digit growth, earning it a spot on Deloitte’s list of the 500 fastest-growing technology companies.
The tech world couldn’t help but notice Sourcefire, and ultimately, the company caught the eye of one of the biggest names in the game—Cisco. And in 2013, Cisco acquired Sourcefire for $2.7 billion. But the story of Sourcefire wasn’t finished. The team behind the startup was just starting a new chapter here in Maryland.
Matt Watchinksi, one of the original 20 Sourcefire employees, is now the Vice President of Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group, which he reports as “the largest commercial cyber intelligence organization in the entire world.”
The acquisition of Sourcefire allowed Cisco to expand its portfolio of cybersecurity offerings. It’s the company’s breadth of portfolio, and integration of that portfolio, which differentiates it in the marketplace, Watchinski said.
“Cisco’s portfolio is extremely broad and comprehensive, and it's very well integrated amongst those products,” said Watchinski. “It allows for a lot of efficiency when you deploy your security infrastructure.”
The acquisition also helped the company achieve a stronger foothold of the East Coast technology market. Citing Maryland’s talent pool, education system and location, Watchinksi said the company saw the value of being in Maryland.
“We have a wonderful group of people down the road at Ft. Meade who build some very spectacular cybersecurity,” Watchinski said, “There are an infinite number of resources in the cybersecurity space. So, Maryland is an ideal location to do anything related to cyber. Great people, great location, and a lot of great infrastructure.”
While Cisco has operations across the globe, the company’s primary cybersecurity operations are located in Fulton, a newly developed area directly between Baltimore and Washington D.C. The brand new 60,000 square feet office space accommodates about 500 employees, who lead the company's next-generation firewall, anti-virus systems and e-mail systems, among other things, Watchinski said.
An unmatched talent pool, fueled by a strong military presence and great universities, is a primary reason why Cisco decided to open cyber operations in Maryland, Watchinski said.
“The University System of Maryland is spectacular, and they have some really wonderful cybersecurity programs that they’ve been working on for many years,” said Watchinski. “They are experts in building experts in cybersecurity.”
The area’s significant veteran population also helps fuel the local cyber workforce, said Watchinski.
“You have an amazing Veteran’s population here. They are highly skilled, highly trained, and they are highly motivated workforce”
To continue to leverage the existing Veteran population, Cisco implements innovative programs to ensure a strong pipeline for years to come. Each year, the company trains 200 veterans through its CyberVets USA program, helping them obtain Cisco certifications that allow them to go directly into the workforce with a highly coveted certification. The training is completely free.
Watchinski, who has been in Maryland for 20 years, says he sees positive momentum for business, particularly in the cybersecurity and biotechnology space, and even sees emerging industries, such as data analytics and cloud services starting to set up shop in the area too.
“There’s an amazing amount of opportunity in the state of Maryland and surrounding areas,” Watchinski said. “This place is a job mecca when it comes to technology. We’re essentially the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.”
Watchinski hopes that Cisco’s footprint in Fulton may be just the start for the company’s Maryland journey.
“As we continue to build one of the greatest cybersecurity companies in the world, we are expanding in this area and using the talent that’s here,” Watchinski said. “Hopefully, some day instead of one building in Fulton, we have an entire campus down here that has a bunch of Cisco logos on it.”
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