Kenna’s openness leads to security
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Size category: Smallest (25-49 employees)
CEO: Karim Toubba
HQ: San Francisco
Bay Area employees: 26
What it does: Cybersecurity provider
In the past six months, San Francisco-based Kenna Security has closed a $25 million financing round and moved into larger offices in both San Francisco and Chicago. In the past year, it’s also more than doubled the customer base and doubled headcount to about 100 employees.
But if you ask CEO Karim Toubba what he is particularly proud of, he cites Kenna Security’s culture and the character of its employees.
“Character matters at Kenna, and we insist on people with integrity, habits of transparency and initiative,” Toubba said.
For a startup focused on helping businesses guard sensitive data, Kenna Security takes pride in an unpretentious vibe where openness, transparency and accessibility are paramount.
Kenna’s platform helps business to monitor security risks, with an emphasis on tools that make it simple for teams to collaborate on predicting and managing risks. The spirit of collaboration is reflected internally at Kenna, said Tania Valle, Kenna’s operations manager.
“We’re small enough that we motivate one another; it’s part of the character that we have a certain set of strengths – creativity, self assurance, honesty – that are contagious here. It’s not hard to push people,” she said.
Employees also cite the accessibility of Kenna’s leadership. To date, Toubba has interviewed every new hire, and both offices have open floor plans.
Kenna’s leadership wants to maintain the company’s culture as it grows by codifying its most important values –including integrity, transparency, and initiative – as employees become managers.
“We are beginning to train new managers in how to lead according to these principles, and we will be baking these into how we evaluate leaders in the company. We believe that the culture emanates from our leaders and managers walking the talk,” Toubba said.
Another driving principle: Happy employees do their best work. One example, Valle notes, is encouraging healthy habits: A robust benefits package, an office stocked with healthful food and drinks, and importantly, giving employees time take exercise and mental breaks essential to remaining creative and productive. Valle herself teaches morning workout classes, and points out that policies like flexible hours and work-from-home allowances help to encourage a healthy work-life balance that encourages outside passions.
“This also includes a great benefits program, fueling our bodies with smart eating – yes, cake and beer from time to time too – but we believe by keeping our employees happy, they’ll do their best work,” Valle adds.