CrowdStrike CEO Says He Regrets Not Firing People Quicker

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

CrowdStrike CEO Says He Regrets Not Firing People Quicker
Ben Bergman/dot.LA

George Kurtz, co-founder and CEO of the cloud-native endpoint security platform CrowdStrike, says executives should be obsessed with culture. Everyone below him must be fanatical about customer success and outcome and if they aren't fitting in, they need to go quickly. It's one of the biggest lessons he's learned as CEO.

"Not one time have I regretted firing someone too fast," Kurtz told a lunchtime crowd at the first day of the Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica. "It's that I waited too long."


Kurtz founded the company in Sunnyvale, CA, in 2011 and it went public last year. He was joined on a panel by John Chambers, the former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, who said he bought 180 companies during his tenure. But he did not acquire a company that was not a very close cultural fit.

"I walked on one of the bigger acquisitions we were going to do," Chambers said. "Culture is as important as strategy and vision and I did not understand that when I was a young CEO."

Chambers said he was proud of Cisco's 95% employee retention rate when he was CEO, which is well above the industry average. He oversaw a rigorous hiring process to make sure candidates were right.

"If you're not interviewing through 10 people, you're not doing the screening process properly," Chambers said.

If an executive wanted to jump to a competitor, he would try to find out what was at the root of someone's unhappiness. The number one factor: Dissatisfaction with their immediate supervisor.

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