Posted by Tom Foremski - April 20, 2009
It is RSA Conference week this week, which means lots of security companies are in town. Among my Monday meetings I had the pleasure of dinner with Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point Software Technologies [CHKP], one of Israel's most successful software companies.
The media roundtable included several journalists, analysts, and some new members of Gil's team thanks to the recent acquisition of the Nokia Security Appliance business group.
Here are a few quick notes from our conversation:
- Even though valuations are improved there aren't many acquisition opportunites for Check Point. The company is interested in companies that have hundreds of customers, not dozens of customers.
- Companies face many risks and the greatest risks are from security breaches that can take place seemingly undetected. Check Point checks for behavioral signatures to root out intrusions.
- Check Point has made 5 acquisitions, three of them are large. It generally integrates companies by bringing people over to Israel for a week or so, to get to know the company culture.
- Check Point has been a public company since 1996. Being a public company is not so bad, dealing with private investors is a lot worse.
- The Check Point offices in Israel are not open planned. The company has surveyed employees and they prefer to work in rooms of about three or so people. Open plan doesn't work because Israeli's can be loud and they like to offer their opinions freely, they get pulled into other conversations.
- A new law in Israel mandates that all companies have to account for their employees' time so that there is no exploitation of staff. In the few weeks that the law has been in effect, Check Point has had to measure employee time and discovered that staff are working at least one hour longer per week.
- Check Point culture is heavily dominated by food. Senior executives are expected to take turns preparing or bringing breakfast to weekly meetings. There can be a lot of competition between people in serving the best breakfast.
- Food is also important within the entire company. In Israel, each day, employees choose a lunch from 15 different restaurants that is delivered. And each day there is a new set of 15 different restaurants to choose from.
- Communal eating is important. In Israel company dining rooms hold about 400 people. The company has about 2300 staff worldwide and it tries to create the same environment everywhere.
- Gil notices what people eat, especially if they order the same thing every day.
- Rule number 1 at Check Point: If you are at a restaurant with colleagues, you cannot order the same food as your neighbor.
- A former employee found religion and wrote to Gil confessing that he spent about 30 per cent of his time playing online games and hanging out in communal areas, and catching up on personal tasks. He apologized and asked to be forgiven for stealing company time. Gil forgave him and said 30 per cent was on the low side compared with other employees.
It was a fun evening, good food and great conversation. And I didn't order the same food as Gil.
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