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Palo Alto Networks names new CEO

Verisign CEO Mark McLaughlin, soon to be CEO of Palo Alto NetworksAfter an eight-month hunt, security startup Palo Alto Networks has named a new CEO: Former Verisign CEO Mark McLaughlin.

The privately-held startup also released a few tidbits about its financial status, indicating that it was on track to book $200 million in revenue this year, up from $100 million nine months ago, and has been cash-flow positive for five consecutive quarters.

The Wall Street Journal reported the hire late yesterday, noting that Verisign’s stock price has risen 50% since McLaughlin took the reins.

Palo Alto Networks confirmed the news to VentureBeat and also provided the financial details, which will be included in a press release today.

McLaughlin, 45, resigned from Verisign late last week. He had been at Verisign for 12 years and served as the CEO since 2009. Verisign operates a large domain-name registry and provides security and internet infrastructure services to corporations.

McLaughlin will start his new job August 25.

Palo Alto Networks provides high-speed, network-level security systems that can identify and stop threats by examining the data flowing through a company’s routers. That’s in contrast to the approach taken by  traditional security companies, like Symantec and Trend Micro, which focus security measures on the end points, stopping viruses and other threats by using software that runs on PCs or servers.

Palo Alto Networks has been looking for a new CEO since December, 2010. In the interim, CEO duties have been shared between three people in the “office of the CEO,” according to PAN’s website: Cofounders Nir Zuk and Rajiv Batra, plus CFO Michael Lehman.

The hire would appear to position Palo Alto Networks well for a public offering or acquisition.

“We are thrilled that Mark is joining Palo Alto Networks,” said PAN founder Nir Zuk, in a statement. “His proven executive leadership experience, customer focus, and passion for innovation will help us take the company to the next level.”

VentureBeat had earlier reported that former McAfee CEO David DeWalt was in line for the top spot at Palo Alto Networks.

“We never commented on the rumors and speculation regarding any of the candidates who were considered for Palo Alto Networks’ next CEO,” Palo Alto Networks spokesman Mike Haro told VentureBeat.

Photo of Mark McLaughlin courtesy Verisign.