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SailPoint: The Lifeline for Companies’ Data Systems


In a data-driven world, the security and integrity of data management are the driving force.

Large and mid-sized businesses deal with vast quantities of data daily. Much of that is privileged business or personal information. Without proper management and security, sensitive information can easily fall into the wrong hands.

Yet, statistics indicate big swathes of corporate data are ‘unstructured,’ i.e., information is not part of relational and organized databases.

With over half a century of experience in tech and business development, Mark McClain and Kevin Cunningham understood the urgency of corporations to get on top of every fragment of data circulating in their data systems.

Mark and Kevin created SailPoint to provide companies with methodical solutions to some of their most extensive data and identity security challenges.

Building Sailpoint was a testing ground for two ambitious IT entrepreneurs, so stick around and read all about how an idea turned int

How It All Started

SailPoint’s current success can be traced back to Mark and Kevin’s formative years and their acquisition not only of skills related to IT, more specifically data management, but of people skills that would grace every workplace they’ve set foot in.

Mark was born into a Christian family, the eldest of four brothers. Mark had understood the necessity of responsibility towards those in his closest circle from a young age. Mark knew that mutual respect and care toward and between people who spend a lot of time with one another is key to fostering a constructive environment.

Regardless of whether he’s been around family, friends, business, or everyday associates, Mark has always placed the importance and happiness of people before everything else.

His people-first approach has driven individuals and companies he’s worked for on a one-way path to success. Before becoming an IT executive, Mark knew that achieving individual happiness in employees in the workplace was the only way to achieve collective success. Kevin has been an ambitious and successful sales and marketing employee before diving into information technology.

Kevin’s been blessed with exceptional leadership and organizational skills early in his career and applied a similar people-first outlook on life wherever he’s worked. Like Mark, Kevin understood that long-term success depends, above all, on creating a customer and employee-friendly constructive work environment.

Diving into Professional Waters

Their core values of creating and fostering a family-like work culture, alongside a drive and enthusiasm to invent and innovate, would lead Mark and Kevin on separate paths that would inevitably cross.

Both worked in marketing and sales in their early professional years before segueing into the IT industry. At some point in their lives, both men took an interest in information technology, specifically the rising but risky sector of data and identity management.

It was risky because Mark and Kevin – both young and eager for new challenges – were to start a company on the heels of the dot com bubble, followed by the dot com crash.

Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and these two’s wills were resolute, and their plan foolproof. Where most would see no way for success, they would simply create it.

In 2000, Mark and Kevin co-founded Waveset Technologies' first attempt at an identity management company. With Mark and Kevin at the helm, Waveset saw a whopping 250% increase in revenue in the first three years of operations.

This significant growth drew the attention of tech giant Sun Microsystems, which ultimately acquired Waveset.

After Sun Microsystems acquired Waveset, Mark and Kevin continued to serve in different executive capacities at Sun Microsystems. Mark was a VP of software marketing, while Kevin worked on software product development.

Their time at Sun’s executive division, followed by spells at major tech companies such as HP and IBM, would lay the foundations for what comes next.

SailPoint Sets Sail

The road to creating one of the foremost companies in its field was rocky and riddled with obstacles.

For the next two years after the Waveset-Sun link-up, Mark and Kevin worked on their next project, which would become one of the IT industry’s most promising start-ups.

Mark and Kevin invested all their efforts and wealth of experience into a then-still-developing branch of the IT sector: data and identity management.

By their own estimates, unstructured corporate data accounted for about 80% of all company data in most businesses. As opposed to structured data, unstructured data is like the pesky younger sibling – disorderly and all over the place.

The visionary innovators and entrepreneurs they were, Mark and Kevin both understood that the world was fast-moving online, and cloud computing and cloud data storage would be the next big thing in corporate data management.

As a result, in 2005, they founded SailPoint. Initially a below-modest start-up, the company's services would soon prove an invaluable asset to large- and mid-scale organizations dealing with complex data systems.

Companies were in dire need of getting a better handle on their data to stay in compliance with strict data privacy regulations. SailPoint’s principal aim today is the same as the day it was established: to help companies untangle and arrange intricate data networks into a meaningful data system.

Sailing Towards Financially Strong Shores

As a direct consequence of the dot-com bubble, NASDAQ dropped nearly 80% in the early 2000s, and investors were more than vigilant about investing in IT start-ups.

But Mark and Kevin were hell-bent on moving on with their SailPoint project come hell or high water.

It took them 12 years of building their small company from the ground up and collecting investments wherever they could. One of the firm’s most prominent investors and stakeholders is the private equity firm called Thoma Bravo, owning 62 percent of the shares.

In 2017, led by big and small financial service companies, including Morgan Stanley, SailPoint went public. Mark and Kevin initially offered 20 million shares, anticipated at between $9 and $11 a share.

However, they priced their shares at $12 apiece on the first day of trading. In the early hours of trading, the company saw a significant rise in share value, at one point reaching $15, before closing the day at $13 a share.

Following the first day of trading, SailPoint joined the billionaire’s club, valued at over $1 billion.

But SailPoint’s future was far from secured. In fiscal 2017, before launching its IPO, SailPoint reported $118 million in earnings. But it also reported $13 million in net losses, almost $7 million more compared to the year before.

Even in their IPO filing, Mark and Kevin stressed their ‘history of losses’ and predicted the company might experience revenue and profit shortfalls.

No Sign of Slowing Down

Despite the projected revenue losses, Mark and Kevin still managed to keep SailPoint on rock-solid ground.

The company rose to a global brand with a workforce of more than 1,000 and a market cap of over $2 billion within a short time following its IPO.

With Mark and Kevin as the chief executives, SailPoint’s worth as of April 2022 is estimated at a staggering sum of over $4.4 billion and raking in over $430 million in fiscal 2021.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, today SailPoint is one of the world’s wealthiest firms and provides identity data management services to dozens of Fortune 500 brands.

All the blood, sweat, and tears only strengthened the success of SalPoint, leading them to fend off the competition coming from companies like Okta, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, and JumpCloud, among a few more.

Once uncertain of how far success will follow them, Mark and Kevin’s team-building spirit and knack for IT upper management have helped build a multi-billion dollar company that’s yet to reach its prime.

A beacon of hope in an era where online data privacy is dwindling, SailPoint also sets an example for emerging start-ups that a content workforce and, effectively, a customer base are essential for success in the long run.