Belfast Briefing: Having the security to realise ambitions

Maildistiller’s acquisition allows its founder to put his plans into action

Colm McGoldrick,  vice-president of Proofpoint Essentials

Colm McGoldrick, vice-president of Proofpoint Essentials


Meet the North’s newest vice-president: Colm McGoldrick, formerly chief executive of Northern Ireland’s only homegrown cloud security company, Maildistiller.

McGoldrick has been vice-president of Proofpoint Essentials for just 15 days but it is a role in which he is already more than comfortable – and one you might suspect he has been preparing for since he set up Maildistiller nine years ago.

He has not made any secret of his ambitions for
Belfast-based Maildistiller, which filters millions of emails every day in more than
20 countries to help protect companies and government organisations.

According to McGoldrick, he has more chance than ever of realising these ambitions thanks to the acquisition of Maildistiller by Nasdaq-listed Proofpoint earlier this month.

No financial details of the deal have yet been disclosed but it is a major leap on to the global stage for the Belfast company and Fermanagh-born McGoldrick.

Ahead of the game
It is readily acknowledged that McGoldrick was ahead of the game in realising just how important an issue online security would become for every single company and organisation – regardless of their size.

Back in 2004 his ideas were already making people sit up and take notice, thanks in part to a reputation he had earned during his early career with BT and Microsoft.

McGoldrick had recognised that large multinationals had expensive online security solutions in place, but smaller organisations were more concerned about potential costs than protection.

He set out to create an affordable solution that any business, particularly small to medium-sized companies, would be able to use to ward off potentially malicious emails or viruses.

Maildistiller initially focused on its email filtering service, but what McGoldrick really wanted to do was develop a complete internet security service.

He and his team developed cloud-based technology to block spam and viruses before they could attack any business or organisation’s network.

Over the past nine years Maildistiller has expanded its “solutions portfolio”, as McGoldrick likes to call it, to include a range of options from email filtering to email archiving, exchange monitoring and web filtering.

As it expanded, the Belfast company also went down the route of developing partnerships with organisations that needed to provide expert security advice and services to their clients.

It proved to be a winning and financially rewarding formula. But then two things happened that affected McGoldrick’s long-term ambitions for Maildistiller: the economic downturn hit, and there was a shake-up in the global email security market.

Market shake-up
Early last year IT security company Webroot decided to leave the market, and last summer Google announced that it intended to exit the market by moving away from Postini, an email security product it bought in 2007.

The Webroot exit created a flurry of interest in what Maildistiller was doing in Belfast and McGoldrick’s company won so much new business from the move that it struggled to cope.

McGoldrick says Maildistiller had to turn business away because of its size. He says he faced a stark choice: either gear up, which would have required securing new venture capital funding, or try to find a partner he respected and could work with.