back to article Sophos puts 100 at risk of redundancy as future of Naked Security blog hangs in balance

Sophos has placed 100 staff at risk of redundancy and is said to be shutting down its Naked Security blog, sources have told The Register - although the private equity-owned biz denied this. A person familiar with the matter told El Reg that 100 personnel, mainly in the antivirus company's sales engineering division, were told …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100? Hahahaha if only.

    Hagerman has just said about 560 employees world wide - It's more like 16% of the workforce.

    People in the USA and Philippines have already been let go with no warning, and the consultation period in Europe is in practice a cover for "so long guys". I've lost talented colleagues already with no notice. It's brutal.

    The drivers are

    - Covid has hit everyone of course, but small businesses disproportionately and this is part of the Sophos core market

    - Thoma Bravo are shits demanding higher profit markets (personal opinion obviously) They bought Sophos at the height of the market before Covid struck the profit margin estimates for FY20-21

    Yadda yadda EBITDA, yadda yadda debt-driven corporate purchase. Yadda yadda we'll miss you guys you'll be an asset to your new employees.

    Disgruntled Sophos Employee in UK who wants to get out as soon as possible.

  2. Anon1101

    The Vancouver office AV support staff was also gutted. TB had promised at purchase time that there would be a 12 month moratorium on changes. As with most acquisitions it is about profits over people and promises are like fog in a heavy wind storm.

  3. Franco Silver badge

    Always liked Naked Security (even have one of their t-shirts which gets an airing every so often when I'm doing rack moves or things like that) so would be sorry to see it go. Neither the products nor the support are as good as they once were IME though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Sophos could be seen as making 100 staff redundant to avoid a monthly recurring furlough bill of up to £50,000,'

    Unlikely they are doing this to avoid what in cosmic terms is a relatively small bill, muvh more likely it's the medium term uncertainty around Covid-19.

    As ever I feel for those involved.

  5. Dourscot
    IT Angle

    I'm the man, I was there

    Getting rid of the podcast is also bizarre - that medium is booming and costs peanuts to keep going. Killed by an equity company's spreadsheet no doubt...

  6. Nifty Bronze badge

    Covid as an accelerant... Just been listening to 'In Business' BBC radio programme, probably available as a podcast.

    As big visible names head towards insolvency should:

    a) The profitable subcomponents be sold off to those who know how to run them as going concerns or,

    b) A govt funded sovereign wealth fund take over the whole carcass

    Bigfat CEOs will obviously favour (b) as it solves their existential crisis and cements their comfort zones.

    Real grafters and startups may actually benefit from (a)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AV vendor needed

    So, McAfee is out since they've bumped up prices to ridiculous levels. Sophos is out since their staff are either MIA, disgruntled or looking. Sierpinski (or is that Kaspersky) is out for too many FSB employees.

    What's left? Avast? Ha ha ha ha ha. Norton? Oh my tummy hurts from laughing.

    I just looked on my Android device. 13 of 27 are "rated" at 4.7 or higher. Lots of independence there. ROFL.

    I'm beginning to think AV is a joke.

    1. YetAnotherJoeBlow

      Re: AV vendor needed

      I use ESET endpoint protection along with Snort. I also use tripwires and other assorted goodies.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: AV vendor needed

      Well aware that I will attract flack for this, but IF you are Microsoft shop and already using either or both of SCCM or Microsoft 365 then Microsoft Defender is a decent option. The SCCM client license also includes an Endpoint Protection license (hit by the Micros~1 rebrand gun to Microsoft Defender now) and it's also included in Microsoft 365. Detection rates are comparable to the competitors and they scored pretty highly on the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant.

      https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2019/08/23/gartner-names-microsoft-a-leader-in-2019-endpoint-protection-platforms-magic-quadrant/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AV vendor needed

        Seriously the only place Microsoft Defender falls down is fileless malware and most of the big players fall down on that front too! You're talking Sentinel One, BitDefender and ESET as the only players that have any real advantage over Microsoft Defender in terms of AV performance and even that is minimal. Unless you need some extra functionality that you could probably get covered off by a non-AV product, Microsoft Defender is the place to go

  8. Rustbucket

    Ah yes, the old "US private equity corporation" takeover story.

    Let the hollowing out and asset stripping begin.

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Yep, I have a bit of fear for Veeam as well

      https://www.theregister.com/2020/01/09/insight_partners_gobbles_veeam_for_5bn/

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Original Coward posts again...

    When Sophos was on the stock market last year there was a 4% wave of redundancies, allegedly just under the threshold that required reporting to the shareholders as a separate announcement. That got rid of some dead wood for sure, and a few people who certainly did not count as dead wood.

    And there's been a rigid freeze on new hires since, each one requiring board level approval. For the second year in a row no salary increases across the board. This despite the company making its targets in the last financial year (just before Covid impacted) and profit related bonuses being paid because they contractually had to do so. All no doubt to fatten up the cow for slaughter at the hands of Thoma Bravo. My only sense of revenge is that the purchase price was locked in a few weeks before lockdown and therefore TB bought at the height of the market valuation and small shareholders like myself got a decent windfall. But I that means TB have a huge buyout cost leveraged with debt. And we're paying for that.

    Make no mistake, this is a *brutal* cull of the workforce. They still wants to go ahead with new projects and initiatives where the money is, fair enough, but they are throwing out a lot of skilled workers this time around and the remaining staff are reeling. It doesn't look good.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironically, Naked Security looks set to continue.

    1. Graham Cluley

      Who’ll be writing it?

      I would like to think you’re right, but If the roles of Naked Security’s writers and editor are redundant, they presumably won’t be recruiting a new editor or writers.

      Maybe the name will be kept, maybe they’ll mothball the content, maybe they’ll post occasional pieces of research under the Naked Security banner. Maybe they’re merge it with the technical SophosLabs Uncut blog? (Naked Security Uncut? Ewww. Not sure that’ll go down well with puritanical management)

      But it doesn’t sound to me like Sophos has a plan to continue it in its current form.

      And yeah, I take it a little personally. But mostly I feel sorry for the people who worked on the site after I left. They did good work.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately the hire and fire attitude has been in the Sophos DNA for too long. There was a brutal round several years back whilst they ramped up for IPO, having to show year-on-year growth in revenue and profits, only for someone to send out a signature update that quarantined all .EXEs including the Update.exe itself (remember that one folks?). They still grew both in the aftermath, but not by enough it would appear, so hundreds went and Ive heard these waves repeated ever since. I appreciate job security is a thing of the past but there are now 3 things definite in life... death, taxes and regular redundancies from Sophos!

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

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