George Kurtz, chief executive officer of Crowdstrike Inc., stands for a photograph following a Bloomberg Technology television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. Kurtz reacted to President Donald Trump's cryptic remark about the company in a call to Ukraine's president. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CrowdStrike’s George Kurtz has a plan

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how CrowdStrike thinks it can take a larger share of the enterprise IT budget, how the Biden administration plans to prevent China from getting advanced chip technology, and how Chinese researchers are planning to get around those restrictions.

CrowdStrike's strategy

The boom in data analytics technology shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s leading to lots of interesting maneuvers by some major players in enterprise tech. Some, like Snowflake, are using the technology to expand into cybersecurity for the first time.

Others, such as CrowdStrike, are tapping data analytics to go the other way, moving beyond security and into the broader IT space.

  • This week I spoke with George Kurtz, CrowdStrike's co-founder and CEO, who said the prominent cybersecurity vendor now aspires to become a more important player in areas within the wider IT landscape such as data observability and IT operations.
  • "I would say down the road, we will be known for more than just security. And we're starting to see that today," Kurtz told me.

CrowdStrike brings plenty of credibility from its work in cybersecurity to its effort to penetrate the broader IT space, according to several equity research analysts.

  • The company recently disclosed surpassing $2 billion in annual recurring revenue just 18 months after reaching $1 billion.
  • At this point, CrowdStrike has expanded well beyond endpoint detection and response, a category it pioneered to improve detection of attacks (such as ransomware and other malware) on devices such as PCs.
  • Along with endpoint protection, CrowdStrike now offers security across cloud workloads, identity credentials, and security and IT operations.

Besides identity protection, the company’s other fastest-growing product category at the moment is data observability, based on its 2021 acquisition of Humio, which was recently rebranded to Falcon LogScale.

  • And while highly applicable to security, observability focuses on tracking and assessing many types of IT data.
  • Observability enables customers to "do things that are not just security-related," Kurtz said, such as deploying software patches and taking other actions to improve IT hygiene.
  • Looking ahead, "we'll continue to solve problems that are outside of core endpoint protection and workload protection, but are related, in the IT world," he told me.

Even within cybersecurity itself, CrowdStrike's emphasis on observability "shows that the industry is starting to recognize that cybersecurity is a data problem," said Dell Technologies Capital managing director Deepak Jeevankumar.

  • CrowdStrike has no ambitions to get into areas such as network or email security, according to Kurtz. But if a certain business challenge involves collecting and evaluating data from endpoints or workloads, whether that's IT or security data, "we can do that."

Read my full story on CrowdStrike here.

— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)


In 2021, there were 623 million cyberattacks worldwide. If there’s an opportunity to enter a business’s premises undetected, cybercriminals will find it. In the digital age, no organization is safe from cyberthreats. Size doesn’t matter.

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Slowing chips to China

The U.S. unveiled a set of new regulations Friday that aim to choke off China’s access to advanced chips, the tools necessary to manufacture years-old designs, and the service and support mechanisms needed to keep chip fabrication systems running smoothly.

On a briefing call with reporters Thursday, administration officials said the goal is to block the People’s Liberation Army and China’s domestic surveillance apparatus from gaining access to advanced computing capabilities that require the use of advanced semiconductors. The chips, tools, and software are helping China’s military, including aiding the development of weapons of mass destruction, according to the officials, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the administration’s policies freely.

“I think the whole policy of the administration can be justified by the fact that if you sell an AI chip to any entity in China for cloud server activities and that’s the alleged end use, it can also be used elsewhere, and there's no way around that problem,” said Mathieu Duchâtel, director of the Asia Program at Institut Montaigne. Years ago, China adopted a civil-military fusion doctrine that effectively enables the transfer of just about any tech in China to military uses.

The Biden administration’s new controls on chip exports represent a significant shift in U.S. policy related to China.

For decades, the U.S. has attempted to keep China two generations of tech behind, typically by denying it access to the tools necessary to make advanced chips or other technology itself. Now, it seems the goal is to hinder China’s ability to produce chips with technology that is nearly a decade old, several generations behind the state-of-the-art capabilities.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

The view from Beijing: We’ll build AI accelerators

As the U.S. government scrambles to pull the semiconductor rug out from under China’s AI ecosystem, some AI researchers in the country are shrugging it off.

One reason: AI accelerators.

“Nvidia will lose a lot of [market share] in their high-end GPU graphic cards, but a lot of the startups in China making those AI acceleration cards will get orders,” according to an AI researcher and professor at a prestigious scientific university in Beijing who I spoke with via video chat this week. (The researcher asked not to be named for fear of political retribution.)

In China, where AI engineers and other developers are accustomed to technical workarounds to circumvent censors and other blockades, there may be some wiggle room to counteract U.S. export controls by building AI accelerator cards intended for more specific tasks, the researcher said.

Nvidia’s strengths have been in “very general-purpose GPUs that can handle [many] types of computations, like for gaming and computing.”

But building accelerators is not so difficult, the researcher said. “Just making accelerating cards is a lot easier because you just need to handle very few specific types of computations. So when the U.S. government shut Nvidia out of China, it actually [benefited] those startups in China.”

And as giants in China like Huawei open new chip fabs there, people familiar with the nuts and bolts of hardware for AI say there’s still lots of room for innovation in AI accelerators.

— Kate Kaye (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

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This is always a little embarrassing: Cybersecurity vendor Fortinent urged customersto patch a critical vulnerability in its software as soon as possible.


With the amount of our economy now dependent on technology, the lack of government regulation is resulting in major risk to companies, and in the end, our own citizens. In the absence of government action, insurance steps in.

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Thanks for reading — Protocol Enterprise is off for Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, see you Tuesday!

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