Corero’s CTO: Why I left HP for a startup

Corero’s new CTO shares why he left HP to experience the fast pace world of tech startups again

Deciding to work for a startup or a big corporate can be a tough decision to make for some people as both have their pros and cons.

With over 20 years of networking experience across corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises, Dave Larson, chief technology officer and vice-president of product at Corero, recently spoke to Computer Weekly about whether or not working for a small business is a risk.

Corero provides DDoS attack and cyber threat defense solutions, with Larson’s role being to drive the company’s next phase of growth.

Larson has been at Corero for about five months and previously served as chief technology officer for HP and vice-president of the HP Networking Advanced Technology Group, among other senior roles held at the supplier.

Prior to HP, Larson was vice-president of integrated product strategy for TippingPoint, and has held senior marketing and product roles with Tizor Systems, Sandburst Corporation and Xedia Corporation.

He said: “I've been in networking for 22 years and in that time I've been between startups and large corporates, but after HP I wanted to do the startup thing again.

“I'm in a place now where I can influence more as Corero is smaller and more agile. There is more flexibility to be in an environment where you try and fail and try and succeed within a startup.”

According to Larson, working for a technology startup isn't a risk, but a tradeoff. 

"Big companies are not a bad thing and it is important to have experience in both," he says. "With HP it was a $2.5bn business, number two in the world after Cisco. But with Corero the technology is new and you get the opportunity to develop something new in the market.

“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the corporate environment very much. At HP, I was luckily enough to work on a great team, which was small, and influenced on a global scale. I really enjoyed the corporate culture at HP, but at Corero everything I do and every decision I make affects the share price, which can be a good or bad thing.”

Larson said one of the benefits of working at a startup is that you get to know every person in the company, which he said is important, especially as a leader.

“You also get to be a mentor to junior members of the team, but working for a startup does sometimes involve a lifestyle change,” he said.

“Corero is based in Massachusetts and I'm from Texas, so I have to sacrifice seeing my family, but it's a tradeoff. I get to try something new and if we continue to progress at the pace we have in the last five months then the tradeoff will be worth it.”

For two weeks a month Larson visits the Corero office in Massachusetts, as he believes it is important to bond with the team “to be there in person and to be part of the arguments,” he joked.

Read more on IT technical skills