Love & Wisdom

Most Influential: F5 Networks CEO John McAdam

CEO John McAdams web traffics F5 Networks from shambles to fortune

By Leslie D. Helm December 31, 1969


When John McAdam became CEO of F5 Networks 10 years ago, the company was in shambles. Demand for its product, which helped manage Web traffic, plummeted after the dotcom bust, and its share price, which had reached a high of $160 the year before, had dropped to less than $10. McAdam reinvented the company, focusing F5’s efforts on developing software that improves the performance, efficiency and security with which Web information is stored in data centers. He also made a series of strategic acquisitions.

Good call. Data centers—clusters of computers where companies store information—have emerged as strategic components in the booming technology trend called cloud computing: the delivery of software services over the Internet. F5’s software has found its way into the data centers of such major consumer-driven companies as Facebook, MSNBC, AT&T and Alaska Airlines. Microsoft’s popular SharePoint software, a kind of Facebook for corporate intranets, operates eight times more efficiently when running F5 software. Just as significantly, the company’s application delivery controllers, or ADCs, are hardware appliances that connect to corporate networks. The devices come with built-in software that analyzes network traffic to help applications delivered over networks run better and more securely.

F5 was 64th on Fortune’s 2010 list of the world’s 100 fastest-growing companies. Forbes has ranked F5 among its top 25 technology stocks, and this year cited its aggressive hiring—the company added more than 300 employees since last October, bringing worldwide employment to 1,900.

McAdam says F5’s good fortune is born of a philosophy that takes advantage of challenging times. “I believe our ability to thrive in today’s economic climate is due to the strategic value our solutions provide to customers—allowing them to respond quickly to change, scale their businesses online, reduce costs and, ultimately, to be more competitive.”

Published November 2010

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