Splunk appoints former Proofpoint exec Gary Steele as CEO

The technology leader was founding CEO of Proofpoint and over the prior three decades has held a variety of senior industry roles.
(Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Splunk has hired the former founding CEO of Proofpoint to lead the company, taking over from interim CEO Graham Smith.

Gary Steele will start as CEO on April 11, and following his appointment, Smith will return to his previous role as chair of the board at the cybersecurity company.

Before founding Proofpoint in 2002, Steele was CEO of Portera and prior to that held leadership roles at Sybase, Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard. During has time at Proofpoint, he navigated both an IPO and a buyout by private equity giant Thoma Bravo.

Commenting on the appointment, Splunk interim CEO and Chair Graham Smith said: “ Gary is a visionary leader whose software and cybersecurity expertise, deep understanding of SaaS and recurring revenue models, and unwavering commitment to driving innovation and customer success on a global scale will be invaluable to Splunk on our path to $5 billion and beyond.”


Splunk’s data platform product is used by all three branches of the U.S. government, all cabinet-level agencies and all four branches of the military. In September, the company received provisional impact level 5 authorization from the Department of Defense, which allows its cloud service to process highly sensitive controlled unclassified information.

In June, California-headquartered private equity firm Silver Lake invested $1 billion in the company, to help support the transformation of the business as it moves from a traditional software-licensing arrangement to a cloud-based subscription model.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cisco Systems had made a takeover offer worth more than $20 billion for the software company, which would have been the networking giant’s biggest ever acquisition.

John Hewitt Jones

Written by John Hewitt Jones

John is the managing editor of FedScoop, and was previously a reporter at Institutional Investor in New York City. He has a master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics and his writing has appeared in The Scotsman and The Sunday Times of London newspapers.

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