With a career spanning more than 30 years across high-tech industries, Bill Conner is a corporate turnaround expert and global leader in cybersecurity, data protection and network infrastructure. Today, Conner is President and CEO of SonicWall, one of the world’s most trusted network security companies.
SonicWall next-generation firewalls and network security solutions protect more than 1.1 million networks worldwide, for more than 500,000 organizations in more than 215 countries and territories. Conner was selected as CEO by Francisco Partners and Elliott Management in November 2016 to launch SonicWall as an independent company from Dell. Under Conner’s leadership, SonicWall has surpassed financial and operational goals into 2021, delivering:
- Strong focus on transforming revenue models across hardware, software and service
- Expanded company product platform to deliver end-to-end cybersecurity
- Accelerated cloud productization with the innovation of the multi-engine Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox service with patented Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection™ technology
- Record partner registrations of more than 17,000 global channel partners with 5,000 net new partners
- Strong pipeline growth with over $330M in new partner deal registrations
- 97% average customer renewal rate in FY21
- Key service improvements with 80% reduction in wait times
- New corporate visual identity and groundbreaking brand campaign
- Record new product releases in 2020, including the introduction of the all-new SonicOS 7 and new Generation 7 product offerings, which can be managed via a single pane of glass through the cloud-native Network Security Manager and Capture Security Center.
In October 2017, Francisco Partners acquired Comodo Certification Authority (Comodo CA) and named Conner Executive Chairman of the Board. This marked a transition in ownership from the Comodo organization as Comodo CA, an industry leader in TLS and SSL digital certificates with more than 200,000 customers across 150 countries. The company was rebranded as Sectigo and expanded the business with organic and inorganic growth to reach a “Rule of 70.” In September 2020, Francisco Partners sold Sectigo to GI Partners.
Throughout his career, Conner has been the vanguard of transformational technology shifts, from leading key divisions of AT&T, to taking Nortel into data with a $9 billion acquisition of Bay Networks, to his work securing digital identities with Entrust, to bringing secure communications and privacy from the consumer to the enterprise through mobile and cloud with Silent Circle. He has re-engineered product lines, built world-class service organizations, re-aligned global sales organizations, and created industry-leading marketing campaigns.
As President and CEO of Entrust, Conner re-engineered the company to be customer- and market-driven. Upon taking Entrust private in 2009 with private equity firm Thoma Bravo, Conner reset corporate priorities to take advantage of SaaS and mobility. He successfully steered Entrust toward nearly a 100% subscription-based revenue model, while delivering organic growth rates in excess of two times the market rate. Contributing to the strong growth were record customer renewal rates exceeding 98%. In 2013, Entrust was purchased for 6.5 times the 2009 investment.
A staunch supporter of public-private cybersecurity partnerships, Conner regularly shares expertise with global leaders at major financial institutions, enterprises and governments. Conner has been quoted or featured in major global publications and television programs including BBC News, Forbes, Security Boulevard, USA Today, The Hill and the Dallas Business Journal. Conner has been recognized as:
- CRN’s 25 Most Influential Executives for Three Consecutive Years (2017-2019)
- Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards: 2018 CEO of the Year: Gold Winner
- Insight Success: 10 Most Admired CEOs to Watch 2018
- 2018 CRN Top 100 Executives List
- SC Media’s 2017 Reboot Leadership Award Winner
- Top Midmarket IT Vendor Executives for 2017
- Marketing Computers Marketer of the Year
- Tech Titans Corporate CEO of the Year
- Federal Computer’s Top 100 Award
Conner graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.