Sandboxing star FireEye files for $175 million IPO

Reveals hiring binge as part of growth strategy

Fast-growing, fast-hiring but still loss-making security vendor FireEye has announced plans to raise up to $175 million (£115 million) from an IPO.

Despite being founded as long ago as 2004, tech watchers could be forgiven for viewing the firm as almost a startup. The firm's S-1 form filed with the Securities and Exchange (SEC) commission is witness to a hiring binge that has seen FireEye's workforce expand from 175 to 932 during 2012 and the first half of 2013.

In the same time period, the number of customers has increased from 425 to over 1,100, which suggests that some of the numbers boost has gone into sales.

While revenue has doubled in the first half of 2013 to $61.6 million compared to a year ago so had losses which were now $67.2 million, up from $14.3 million.

Given that the company has also made losses every year since its foundation, why might anyone invest in FireEye? Because, year after year, computer security remains a mess and every now and then a new firm makes a plausible case that it has come up with a technology that can sort things.

FireEye's USP right now is its business-grade sandboxing security, a way of isolating software to see what it does before allowing it to run in a network environment in which it might do harm.

The area is seen as another way of bolstering security in the face of the slowly-collapsing antivirus technology that no longer stops the most potent threats.

Earlier in 2013, FireEye raised $50 million in VC money, hiring former McAfee President Dave DeWalt to be its shiny new CEO.

Palo Alto, which went public in 2012, rode a parallel wave with its claim to have reinvented the aging concept of the firewall for the application age.

FireEye's IPO news is no surprise even if the exact timing and price of the offer have yet to be determined.

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