Comodo Group sells Comodo CA

There are now two Comodos in the web security game. Just weeks after Symantec completed the sale of its CA to Thoma Bravo and DigiCert, Comodo has sold its certificate authority business to private equity firm Francisco Partners.

“Comodo has long been a valued, trusted and innovative leader in the digital certificate space,” said Francisco Partners Founding Partner and CEO Dipanjan (DJ) Deb via a press release. “This is demonstrated by 15 years of consecutive growth that was only made possible by leadership and product teams that keenly understand the market and their customers. We’re truly excited to welcome Comodo CA to the Francisco Partners family.”

Comodo has the largest market share in the SSL industry in terms of the total number of certificates issued. This is largely buoyed by the sale of Domain Validated SSL certificates and its partnership with cPanel.

The new Comodo CA will be its own distinct entity, separate from the Comodo Group, which offers antivirus and SaaS web security solutions. Comodo CA will be headed up by Bill Holtz, who will serve as CEO. Holtz served as the COO of Entrust and the CIO of Expedia before getting the nod at the newly minted Comodo CA. Also serving a major role will be Bill Conner, the Chairman of the Board. Conner has over 30 years of industry experience. He currently serves as the CEO at SonicWall.

“Bill Holtz and Bill Conner are very accomplished executives within the enterprise security market and we are thrilled to have them join Comodo CA,” said Brian Decker, head of security investing at Francisco Partners. “Their years of experience in the SSL and digital certificate business is invaluable for Francisco Partners in this investment as Comodo CA grows and expands its leadership from SSL certificates to IoT.”

Melih Abdulhayoglu, the founder of Comodo, will retain an ownership stake and observer status on the Board.

“Comodo CA was the first business of the Comodo brand, which has since then expanded into many other areas of security,” said Abdulhayoglu. “However, now is the time to focus attention on the CA business given the significant opportunity in the market. This next chapter for both Comodo CA and Francisco Partners will positively impact the digital certificate market and accelerate the company’s business objectives.”

The opportunity in the market Abdulhayoglu refers to is Google’s upcoming HTTPS deadline. Starting with the release of Chrome 68 in July, SSL certificates will become a mandatory requirement for any website that doesn’t want Google to label it unsafe.

Google’s market share in the browser industry (>60%) effectively makes this a mandate. The other browsers have also agreed to follow suit.

Google plans to scale up its negative indicators over the coming months as well. What will start as a more neutral “Not Secure” notification will turn red when someone attempts to enter text on the page.

All of this represents a major market opportunity, not just for Comodo but for the industry as a whole. How many times does an industry have its product become mandatory? Not often. Comodo CA hopes to position itself in the most advantageous way possible for influx of new customers to the market this Summer.

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Originally posted on Wed Nov 1, 2017