Insider Q&A: Mimecast's Peter Bauer

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NEW YORK (AP) — Email has become a crucial part of how companies communicate, but those systems are constantly being attacked by everything from inbox-clogging spam to phishing emails looking to steal secrets and money.

Mimecast Ltd. tries to tackle that as a specialist in email filtering and security. What began as a South African startup is now a global company with a market value of more than $1 billion.

Peter Bauer, Mimecast's CEO, spoke with The Associated Press recently about the company's growth since going public in November 2015 and the security threats that businesses currently face. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What's your first year as a public company been like?

A: All of our quarterly results have been well received. We're now trading at more than double our initial issue price, so we're feeling really good.

Q: Where has your growth come from? Have you gotten a boost from the rise of ransomware, where hackers use malware to lock up a victim's hard drive if they don't pay up, and spearfishing attacks, where hackers use personal details to supercharge fake emails to steal money or personal information? What about impersonation attacks such as spoofing emails from a finance chief to get payroll records?

A: For many years, we felt like we were toiling in obscurity. And now, the last couple of years, it's become really interesting again, with us IPOing and a real shift in the threat landscape. So many providers were not prepared for that and were just taking for granted that email security was just about spam and viruses. With ransomware, with spearfishing and with impersonation attacks it has really become important to have better solutions.

Q: What kinds of changes have you seen in the threats against businesses?

A: Impersonation attacks really picked up over the past year. Beforehand, attackers were targeting larger organizations. Now they've realized how successful they can be at taking smaller amounts of money or data off smaller organizations.

Q: How big a part of your business are mid-sized companies like these?

A: About 75 percent of our revenue is coming from 100- to 5,000-seat organizations, so we're focused on that massive mid-market, which is under resourced. They don't have the budgets or the sophistication to have lots of different things on the go, so we do a lot of educational webinars to help customers learn about this stuff.

Q: Do you see cybersecurity IPOs picking up in 2017?

A: Some of the shine has come off security companies from an investor point of view, but I think that's coming back as investors are trying to figure out who the darling stocks are. I don't think we're the bellwether by any stretch, but I think other companies look at us and see what's possible.

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