F5 is a multi-cloud application services and security provider committed to bringing a better digital world to life. F5 partners with the world’s largest, most advanced organizations to optimize and secure every application and Application Programming Interface (“API”) anywhere, including on-premises, in the cloud, or at the edge. F5 enables organizations to provide exceptional, secure digital experiences for their customers and continuously stay ahead of threats.
Our application security and delivery solutions are available in a range of deployment and consumption models. We sell packaged software in perpetual, subscription and usage-based consumption models. We also sell our solutions in software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) and managed services deployment models with subscription and usage-based consumption models. In addition we sell high-performance systems, as well as a broad range of global services including maintenance, consulting, training and other technical support services.
Our customers include large enterprise businesses, public sector institutions, governments, and service providers. We conduct our business globally and manage our business by geography. Our business is organized into three primary geographic regions: Americas; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (“EMEA”); and the Asia Pacific region (“APAC”).
F5 was incorporated on February 26, 1996 in the state of Washington. Our headquarters is in Seattle, Washington, and our mailing address is 801 5th Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104-1663. The telephone number at that location is (206) 272-5555. Our website is www.f5.com. We have 80 subsidiaries, branch offices, or representative offices worldwide. Through a link on the Investor Relations section of our website, we make available the following filings as soon as reasonably possible after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”): our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. All such filings are available free of charge. The information posted on our website is not incorporated into this report.
Strategy and Priorities
Nearly all organizations today find themselves at the convergence of two significant trends: the evolution of applications as the center of their businesses and their customers’ digital lives, and the escalation of threats against those applications. This presents a tremendous challenge as many companies now manage complex application portfolios comprising older legacy and newer modern technologies and infrastructures. In our 2023 State of Application Strategy Report, 85% of organizations said they operate both legacy and modern application architectures, and operate in multiple clouds. These hybrid environments create operational complexity and expand the threat surface area as companies are forced to deploy separate, and often inconsistent, security controls across different environments.
Over the past several years, F5 has significantly expanded its software and SaaS offerings to deliver a broad portfolio of solutions to help customers address the complexity and risk in today’s hybrid IT environments. Through its BIG-IP, F5 NGINX, and F5 Distributed Cloud Services product families, F5 offers a range of integrated, artificial intelligence- and machine learning-driven solutions that support performance and protect both legacy and modern applications and APIs across data center, cloud, and edge locations.
Our multi-cloud application security and delivery solutions reduce our customers’ operational complexity and costs, enabling our customers to scale, secure, and optimize both legacy and modern applications, across any infrastructure to create extraordinary digital experiences for their end users. We are leveraging near real-time collection of live application telemetry, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and toolchain automation to enable applications to rapidly respond to changes in performance, availability, and security threats with little to no human interaction.
Key components of our strategy include:
Solving multi-cloud application delivery and security challenges
Through our organic innovation and inorganic investments, we have created the broadest portfolio of multi-cloud application security and delivery technologies in the market and as a result, we are the only provider capable of serving any application or API in any environment. Our BIG-IP family serves traditional applications on premises, co-located or in cloud environments. Our F5 NGINX family serves modern, container-native and microservices-based applications and APIs. Our F5 Distributed Cloud Services is a portfolio of SaaS and managed services serving both traditional and modern applications where a SaaS-deployment model is preferred. As a result of this broad portfolio, we are the only provider capable of supporting our customers’ modern and legacy application security and delivery needs across any environment — on premises, co-located, in a cloud or at the edge — with the added flexibility of multiple deployment models including packaged software, SaaS, managed services and hardware offerings.
Transforming how customers experience F5
As we expand the role we play for our customers, we are also transforming how our customers experience F5. Our goal is to create a unified and frictionless F5 experience for our customers. Over the last several years, we have made it easier for our customers to procure, deploy, use, manage, and upgrade our technologies. We also have taken steps to integrate the customer experience across our growing portfolio by simplifying the product naming and rebranding of several acquired and integrated solutions as part of our F5 Distributed Cloud Services platform.
Going forward we will leverage and grow our foundational capabilities in data and insights, digital sales, and SaaS-delivered capabilities to deliver consistent world-class customer experiences, including simple, integrated and friction-free consumption of our technologies. We will continue to improve customer awareness and understanding of F5’s expanded portfolio with a focus on both user and buying personas, and business needs and intend to enhance our digital customer experiences to deliver both growth and efficiency.
F5 is leveraging AI to accelerate the strength of both our current and future offerings. F5 uses AI in its security solutions to support performance and efficacy. Today, our customers are able to further benefit from our three-pronged AI strategy. First, our current portfolio is positioned to solve security and performance challenges associated with new AI workloads. Second, we are building AI models leveraging our current data fabric in order to enhance our existing products. Finally, we are working to build new offerings based on the changing application and data security landscapes and the customer needs associated with these changes.
Capturing growth in security and software-as-a-service
In the previous decade, our customers were focused on protecting their networks from attacks. Today, attackers are targeting applications with threats like malware, bots, and API penetration. Through both organic and inorganic investment, we have expanded our application security portfolio and the deployment models through which customers can consume our solutions. F5’s leading security capabilities combined with our hybrid multi-cloud approach enables our customers to deploy a consistent security posture across their entire application estate.
After announcing and launching in fiscal year 2022, we continue to focus investment in expanding our SaaS-based offerings within F5 Distributed Cloud Services, our comprehensive unified, security, networking, and application delivery service. F5 Distributed Cloud enables our customers to choose the best location and architecture for their application portfolio while easing the operational burden of securing and delivering applications across public, private and edge clouds.
F5 Products and Solutions
F5’s portfolio of multi-cloud application services and security technologies are enabling customers to address the challenges of delivering differentiated digital experiences to their customers. Our multi-cloud, infrastructure-agnostic approach means customers can use F5 to create a more unified experience across disparate hybrid IT environments, enhancing automation and driving operational and cost efficiencies. Our product portfolio is comprised of solutions made available within the following F5 product families: F5 Distributed Cloud Services, F5 NGINX and F5 BIG-IP, and are discussed below.
F5 Distributed Cloud Services. A unified, security, networking, and application management service that enables customers to deploy, secure, and operate their applications wherever they may reside, regardless of platform or architecture. F5 Distributed Cloud Services leverages the F5 Global Network, a purpose-built, cloud-based, global private backbone to deliver performance, reliability, and control across hybrid, multi-cloud, or edge environments. F5 Distributed Cloud Service offerings are available as packaged software and SaaS-based consumption models and include the following:
•F5 Distributed Cloud Web App and API Protection ("WAAP"). A comprehensive SaaS-based security solution, F5 Distributed Cloud WAAP allows our customers to accelerate time-to-service, lower total cost of ownership, and increase security efficacy on a cloud native platform that is fully integrated across a single policy engine and management console. F5 Distributed Cloud WAAP can be leveraged through multiple deployment options, allowing organizations to simplify security and improve visibility while reducing operational complexity. The solution provides the following F5 application security technologies:
•Advanced Web Application Firewall (“WAF”) capabilities through F5’s BIG-IP WAF engine, which allows our customers to quickly apply, secure, and manage uniform comprehensive security policies at scale, across data centers, multi-clouds, and edge computing.
•Mitigation against L3-L7 application-based and volumetric DDoS attacks through advanced F5 Distributed Cloud DDoS Mitigation, a managed, cloud-delivered mitigation service that detects and mitigates large-scale network, SSL, and application-targeted attacks in real time.
•Enhanced API security, which leverages machine-based learning, auto-discovery, and anomaly detection, which automates the entire process of finding, securing, and monitoring APIs for anomalous behavior.
•Next-generation, AI enabled bot mitigation through F5 Distributed Cloud Bot Defense provides our customers the ability to defend applications and APIs from automated attacks. The solution leverages AI to analyze massive amounts of traffic and machine learning to ensure sustainable bot prediction models with high efficacy.
•Protection from sophisticated account takeover attempts.
•F5 Distributed Cloud Multi-Cloud Networking ("MCN"). Our MCN solutions simplifies networking with an integrated service stack that securely connects both networks and application workloads, lowering operational costs and increasing agility. Under our MCN solutions we offer the following product solution:
•F5 Distributed Cloud Network Connect. A networking solution that offers easy, secure, and consolidated connectivity across public and hybrid clouds, data centers, and edge sites. It provides unified policies and single-pane-of-glass management, reducing complexity and increasing efficiency, including full multi-tenancy and segmentation, enabling self-service capabilities for DevOps, NetOps and SecOps. Network Connect automates the configuration of native public cloud networking resources and seamlessly connects multiple clouds using site-to-site connectivity over a private backbone or the F5 Global Network.
•F5 Distributed Cloud App Connect. An application delivery and deployment solution for connecting clusters across various cloud providers and regions. App Connect offers orchestrated awareness for API endpoints on all connected clusters, allowing cross-cluster service discovery and advertisement for seamless app-to-app communication with fine-grained API control. Connections between sites are self-maintaining, redundant, and fully automated, which reduces the need for administrative tasks such as establishing VPNs and routing. App Connect provides end-to-end visibility for customers, who can choose their underlying transport, including the F5 Global Network.
•F5 Distributed Cloud DNS. A cloud-based Domain Name System (“DNS”) solution that offers DNS delivery across multi-cloud environments and modern applications. F5 Distributed Cloud DNS can be distributed globally as either a primary or secondary DNS, providing authoritative DDoS protection, Domain Name System Security Extensions ("DNSSEC"), and the flexibility to automatically scale to meet our customers growing application demands.
•F5 Distributed Cloud CDN. A high-performance, multi-cloud and edge focused content delivery network (“CDN”) solution that allows our customers to efficiently connect, secure, and optimize applications and workloads across multi- and hybrid-cloud environments through efficiently leveraging the integrated tools and technologies in the F5 Distributed Cloud Platform. F5 Distributed Cloud CDN can be purchased with other F5 Distributed Cloud offerings or as a stand-alone service.
•F5 Distributed Cloud App Stack. A SaaS-based solution that provides our customers the ability to deploy and orchestrate applications on a managed Kubernetes platform with centralized management of distributed applications through a single pane of glass. F5 Distributed Cloud App Stack simplifies the management of application deployments as one across on-premises, cloud, and edge locations.
F5 NGINX. Built from the F5 NGINX open source software that powers hundreds of millions of websites and applications across the world, our F5 NGINX technology suite delivers a lightweight, agile ADC and API connectivity solution for modern, container-native, micro-services-based applications and APIs. F5 NGINX delivers a range of capabilities including web server, load balancer, proxy, API gateways and caches in packaged software subscription consumption models. F5 NGINX product offerings include the following:
•F5 NGINX Plus. F5 NGINX Plus, our all-in-one, high performance load balancer, web server, content cache, and API gateway for modern applications, is offered as packaged software in a subscription consumption model. F5 NGINX Plus software delivers cloud-native, Kubernetes-friendly solutions that drive mission-critical applications and APIs with scalability, visibility, security, and governance. F5 NGINX Plus can be easily integrated into enterprise application workflows and CI/CD pipelines, as well as automation frameworks and ecosystems. F5 NGINX Plus is lightweight and can be used as a per-application ADC, but also scalable and performant enough for an enterprise’s largest and most critical applications. F5 NGINX Plus is also offered as a fully managed native service on the Microsoft Azure Cloud allowing teams to lift-and-shift their applications to the cloud with no configuration change removing the operational burden of self-managed instances from teams.
•F5 NGINX Management Suite. The F5 NGINX Management Suite includes software tools that provide application and API management along with orchestration and analytics for F5 NGINX Plus instances running in private data centers and public clouds. The F5 NGINX Instance Manager accelerates application and API deployments with a self-service API driven tool set and allows enterprises to streamline lifecycle management and security. Using F5 NGINX Instance Manager, which is included in this offering, teams can inventory, control and secure F5 NGINX Plus, F5 NGINX Open Source and F5 NGINX WAF instances.
•F5 NGINX Ingress Controller. The F5 NGINX Ingress Controller provides traffic management for Kubernetes clusters. This solution is deployed at the central point of entry into a Kubernetes cluster and reduces complexity, increases uptime, and provides better insights into application health and performance at scale. This offering is sold in a subscription consumption model that scales with the customer’s Kubernetes cluster size.
•F5 NGINX App Protect. F5 NGINX App Protect is a comprehensive WAF security and denial-of-service ("DoS") defense solution designed to protect applications and API’s from advanced Layer 7 attacks. It is a lightweight solution that seamlessly integrates into DevOps environments and is platform-agnostic running across distributed architectures and hybrid environments to deliver consistent protection. It can be used in a variety of the use cases that F5 NGINX Plus is deployed and integrate easily into CI/CD pipelines for automation. F5 NGINX App Protect can be added to subscriptions and is bundled into “advanced” offerings for F5 Ingress Controller.
F5 BIG-IP. Our BIG-IP family of product offerings provide feature-rich, highly programmable and configurable application security and delivery solutions for legacy applications in enterprises and service providers. Also known as traditional applications, legacy applications are based on monolithic, three-tier, or client-server architectures. Such legacy applications are the most ubiquitous application architecture today, and many organizations continue to rely exclusively on legacy applications to power the most mission-critical business applications, customer-facing digital interfaces and internally used applications. For most organizations, the priority around legacy applications is maximizing operational efficiency and minimizing the total cost of ownership. BIG-IPs “best-of-suite” approach helps standardize and consolidate application security and delivery functions into a single solution, automating functions and reducing operational cost. The F5 BIG-IP family of products includes packaged software, which are available in subscription and perpetual consumption models, and F5 BIG-IP system offerings.
•F5 BIG-IP Packaged Software. F5 BIG-IP packaged software includes a growing portfolio of products that provide the performance and security to deliver applications to end users. F5 BIG-IP Packaged Software offerings include the following:
•F5 BIG-IP Security. F5 BIG-IP application security products include F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manager that secures and protects user access to applications, F5 BIG-IP Advanced Web Application Firewall that protects applications with behavioral analytics, bot defense and application layer encryption, and F5 BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator that maximizes infrastructure security with encryption/decryption and traffic steering. We also offer F5 BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager which drives accurate detection with machine learning, stress monitoring, dynamic signatures, and attack mitigation, F5 BIG-IP Carrier Grade NAT which provides carrier-grade scalability with a high number of IP address translations, fast network address translation setup rates and high-speed logging, and F5 BIG-IP DDoS Hybrid Defender which delivers advanced cloud and on-premises DDoS defenses to ensure real-time protection against volumetric DDoS threats and dynamic network and applications attacks.
•F5 BIG-IP Application Delivery. F5 BIG-IP Application Delivery products include F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager which manages network traffic so applications are always fast, available, and secure; F5 BIG-IP DNS which provides hyperscale and security during high query volumes and DNS DDoS attacks; and F5 BIG-IP Policy Enforcement Manager which improves network performance through effective policy management.
•F5 BIG-IP Automation Tool Chain. F5 BIG-IP Automation Tool Chain is a set of automation tools that make it faster and easier to deploy and configure F5 application services. Via the F5 Automation Tool Chain, F5 BIG-IP capabilities easily integrate into orchestration frameworks such as Ansible, HashiCorp Terraform, OpenShift, and Cloud Foundry as part of a CI/CD pipeline.
•F5 BIG-IQ Centralized Management. F5 BIG-IQ simplifies, enhances management of, and reduces customer operational costs associated with F5 BIG-IP deployments through central management, analytics, and automation for F5 BIG-IP instances.
•F5 BIG-IP Systems. F5 BIG-IP systems are designed to enhance the performance of our software by leveraging a combination of custom field-programmable gate array ("FPGA") logic and off-the-shelf silicon, providing customers a balance of cost and flexibility. All of our systems run all available F5 BIG-IP software modules. Our next-generation hardware, rSeries systems and VELOS chassis and blades are designed to enable enhanced automation and multi-tenancy, a capability that enables running multiple versions of F5 BIG-IP software on the same system thereby making it easy to migrate from one version to another with minimal or no downtime. We also offer our legacy systems, F5 BIG-IP iSeries and chassis-based VIPRION systems.
As F5 expands its reach and role into a broader set of multi-cloud security and delivery solutions, the companies that we consider competitors evolve. We compete against companies that offer web application firewalls, server load balancing, traffic management, and other functions normally associated with application delivery, application security, multi-cloud networking, and policy management.
The principal competitive factors in the markets in which we compete include deployment model, consumption model, ecosystem integrations, features and performance, customer support, brand recognition, scope of distribution and sales channels, and pricing. We believe we generally compete favorably on the basis of these factors as a result of our robust solutions and services, and our ability to deliver and secure any application, and any API, anywhere.
Within application delivery, our customers have the best of both worlds: reliability that F5’s always been known for – across any environment from on-premises to multi-cloud; and agility and flexibility enabled by lightweight modern technologies, without compromising security or manageability. Our BIG-IP offerings compete against Citrix Systems and VMware. Our lightweight, developer-friendly F5 NGINX offerings, which provide capabilities like optimizing Kubernetes traffic management and load balancing cloud-native and hybrid cloud applications compete against Amazon Web Services ("AWS"), Google Cloud Platform, Envoy, HAProxy, and Microsoft Azure.
In application security, we compete with companies that offer web application firewall, bot detection and mitigation, API protection, carrier-grade firewall, carrier-grade network address translation ("NAT"), SSL orchestration, access policy management, and DDoS mitigation including Akamai, Cisco, Citrix Systems, Cloudflare, Fortinet, Imperva, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto and Radware.
F5 Distributed Cloud Services use cases include multi-cloud networking, as well as security offered as SaaS, competing with traditional networking vendors including VMware and Cisco, pure-play vendors like Aviatrix, and to some extent public cloud providers.
Customer Services and Technical Support
In connection with our products, we offer a broad range of global services including maintenance, consulting, training, and other technical support services.
We believe that our ability to provide consistent, high-quality customer service and technical support is a key factor in attracting and retaining large enterprise and service provider customers. Accordingly, we offer a broad range of support services that includes phone and online technical support, hardware repair and replacement, software updates, online tools, consulting, and training services.
We provide these services directly to customers and also utilize a multi-tiered support model, leveraging the capabilities of our channel partners. Our technical support staff is strategically located in regional service centers to support our global customer base.
We believe our future success depends on our ability to maintain technology leadership by continuing to innovate and to improve our products and by developing new products to meet the changing needs of our customers and partners. Our engineering organization uses standard processes for the development, documentation, and quality control of services, software, and systems that are designed to meet these goals. These processes include working with our business development and marketing teams, customers, and partners to identify technology innovation opportunities to better meet the evolving needs of our addressable markets. We have had dedicated teams focused on testing new disruptive innovations in technology, business models, or customer segments. We expect innovations resulting from the work of these teams will be complementary to our goal of delivering the broadest and most consistent portfolio of solutions across cloud and on-premises environments.
Our engineering teams are primarily located in Seattle and Spokane, Washington; Hyderabad, India; Tel Aviv, Israel; San Jose, California; and Cork, Ireland. Members of our engineering teams collaborate closely with one another to ensure the interoperability and performance of our solutions.
We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws and restrictions on disclosure to protect our intellectual property rights. F5 holds various patents in the United States and internationally (with applications pending for various aspects of our technology). We file patent applications to protect our intellectual property and believe that the duration of our issued patents is sufficient when considering the expected lives of our products. Our future success depends in part on our ability to protect our proprietary rights to the technologies used in our principal products. Despite our efforts to protect our proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of our products or to obtain and use trade secrets or other information that we regard as proprietary. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries do not protect our proprietary rights as fully as the laws of the United States. Any issued patent may not preserve our proprietary position, and competitors or others may develop technologies similar to or superior to our technology. Our failure to enforce and protect our intellectual property rights could harm our business, operating results, and financial condition.
In addition to our own proprietary software, we incorporate software licensed from several third-party sources into our products. These are generally term licenses which may renew annually and that generally provide for certain rights and licenses to support our customers post termination. While we may not be able to renew all of these licenses in the future, we believe that alternative technologies for these licenses are available both domestically and internationally.
Sales and Marketing
Our customers include a wide variety of enterprises and service providers among Fortune 1000 and Business Week Global 1000 companies, including those in technology, telecommunications, financial services, transportation, education, manufacturing, healthcare, and government. In fiscal year 2023, sales outside of the Americas represented 43.7% of our net revenues. Refer to Note 15 of our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding our revenues by geographic area.
We sell our products and services to large and medium enterprises, government entities, and service providers through a variety of routes to market and channels. Our sales teams sell our products and services directly to customers by working closely with our channel partners including distributors, value-added resellers (“VARs”), managed service providers (“MSPs”), and systems integrators.
F5 sales teams. Our inside sales team generates and qualifies leads from marketing and helps manage accounts by serving as a liaison between the field and internal corporate resources. Our outside sales team works directly with partners and customers across the globe. Our field sales personnel are located in major cities across our three sales regions. Field sales personnel work closely with our channel partners to sell our products and services to their customers. We reward partners that identify new business and provide sales expertise for our portfolio of products and solutions through various incentive programs. Systems engineers, with deep technical domain expertise, support our regional sales account managers and channel partners providing pre-sale technical solution engineering and support, as needed.
Distributors, VARs, and MSPs. As a key component of our sales strategy, we have established relationships with a number of large national and international distributors, local and specialized distributors, VARs, and MSPs. We derive a majority of our product sales from VARs and MSPs, relying on our large distributors for fulfillment, training, and partner enablement.
Our agreements with our channel partners are not exclusive and do not prevent them from selling competitive products. These agreements typically have one-year terms with no obligation to renew, and typically do not provide for exclusive sales territories or minimum purchase requirements.
For fiscal year 2023, sales to two of our worldwide distributors, Ingram Micro, Inc. and Synnex Corporation represented 15.6% and 15.0% of our total revenues, respectively. Our agreements with distributors are standard, non-exclusive distribution agreements that renew automatically on an annual basis and generally can be terminated by either party with 90 days written notice prior to the start of any renewal term. The agreements grant certain distributors the right to distribute our products to resellers, with no minimum purchase requirements.
Systems integrators. We also market our products through strategic relationships with systems integrators, including Dell Services, DXC, HP Enterprise Services, and IBM Global Services, who include our products as core components of application deployments or network-based solutions they deploy for their customers. In most cases, systems integrators do not directly purchase our products for resale to their customers. Instead, they typically recommend and/or manage our products as a part of broader solutions supporting enterprise applications and internet facing systems that incorporate our technology for security, high availability, and enhanced performance.
Resellers and technology partners. Historically, our ability to compete with much larger companies has been strengthened through partnerships with large systems and software vendors. Currently, we partner with many technology partners and public cloud providers who resell our products. We have ongoing partnerships with the major cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform and have expanded our reseller routes to market to include their public cloud marketplaces. F5 has recently signed a Strategic Collaboration Agreement (“SCA”) with AWS and are actively engaged with Microsoft Azure on private offers levering our software on Azure. Our business development team manages these relationships and closely monitors adjacent and complementary markets for opportunities to partner with those whose solutions are complementary to ours and could enable us to expand our addressable market.
As we continue to expand our offerings and our range of consumption models, we are focused on driving the compelling and unique value proposition of F5 among our existing customers, including new buying centers within existing customers, as well as with new customers. To do so, we are revitalizing our brand to inform customers about our expanded portfolio and broaden our reach with new customers. We continue to focus on our core NetOps persona while seeking to expand our relationships with DevOps, SecOps, CISO and Cloud Architect audiences.
We invest in driving brand, demand, and advocacy experiences, addressing touchpoints across the customer journey to ensure we do all we can to enable our customers to realize value in their investments with F5. To maximize our reach and impact, we continue to meet customers where they are by increasing our focus and investments in more digitally enabled, personalized, and frictionless experiences at scale.
We outsource the manufacturing of our systems to a third-party contract manufacturer, Flex Ltd. ("Flex"), for building, assembling, and testing according to our specifications at Flex's facilities in Guadalajara, Mexico and Zhuhai, China. Flex also performs material procurement, assembly, system test, quality control, and direct shipment on our behalf.
We provide a rolling forecast that allows Flex to stock component parts and other materials, plan capacity, and build finished goods inventory in anticipation of end-user demand. Flex procures components in volumes consistent with our forecast, assembles the products, and tests them according to our specifications. Generally, we do not own the system components. Hardware components for our products consist primarily of commodity parts and certain custom components.
Many of our components are purchased from sources which we believe are readily available from other suppliers. However, we currently purchase several hardware components used in the assembly of our products from a number of single or limited sources, and lead times for these components can vary significantly. Per the terms and conditions with our agreement with Flex, if the components are unused or the products are not sold within specified periods of time, we may incur carrying charges or obsolete material charges for components that our contract manufacturers purchased to build products to meet our forecast or customer orders.
Systems built in Guadalajara are shipped to the Flex fulfillment center in Milpitas, California for distribution primarily to distributors, value-added resellers, or end users in the Americas and EMEA. Systems built and fulfilled in Zhuhai are distributed to partners and customers in APAC. Title to the products transfers from Flex to us and then to our customers upon shipment from a designated fulfillment location.
Backlog is primarily systems-based and represents orders confirmed with a purchase order for products to be fulfilled and invoiced to customers with approved credit status. Orders are subject to cancellation, rescheduling by customers, or product specification changes by customers. Although we believe that the backlog orders are firm, purchase orders may be canceled by the customer prior to fulfillment without significant penalty. For this reason, we believe that our product backlog at any given date is not a reliable indicator of future revenues. At the end of fiscal year 2023, we had product backlog of approximately $53 million.
Human Capital Management
F5’s commitment to its employees is to be one global and diverse team that is both human-first and high-performance and to attract and grow amazing talent. This commitment is delivered through our culture and engagement, our investment in employees’ growth and development, our focus on diversity and inclusion, and in our compensation, benefits, and wellbeing offerings.
As of September 30, 2023, we had 6,524 employees – over 99% of whom were full time employees. Our employees are in 47 countries with 49% of employees in the United States. None of our employees in the United States are represented by a labor union. We have experienced no work stoppages and believe that our employee relations are in good standing, as evidenced by our bi-annual employee engagement survey results and described in the section below entitled Culture and Engagement.
Culture and Engagement
We have been able to sustain our strong company culture in a hybrid work model thanks to increased focus on continuously embedding BeF5 and LeadF5 behaviors into our systems, processes, decisions, and conversations. We are constantly reinforcing, rewarding, and recognizing desired behaviors to send the message that they are key to executing our strategy.
We measure the success of and identify areas of improvement for our company culture through global surveys of employee experience and sentiment at least twice each year. As of June 2023, employees reported high satisfaction with F5’s culture on several key questions:
•83% of employees favorably rate “I am proud to work for F5."
•87% of employees favorably rate “At F5, employees are treated equally and fairly regardless of their background.”
•80% of employees favorably rate “F5 has a great culture."”
One survey measure that F5 tracks closely as a gauge of our culture decreased from fiscal year 2022. As of June 2023, 76% of employees favorably rate “I feel a sense of belonging at F5,” compared to 84% a year prior. The employee comments in the survey highlighted recent changes in fiscal year 2023 related to the reduction in force, Freedom to Flex policy and incentive plans among the key reasons for the decline of our belonging score and underlined the areas F5 needs to enhance to maintain our culture.
Growth and Development
We provide employees with opportunities to improve their technical and professional knowledge, nurture our innovation ecosystem, strengthen management and leadership, as well as maintain our high standards of business integrity through ongoing compliance training.
These development opportunities are available through live employee events during Innovation Months, Idea Fests, Technology Days and Learning Days dedicated to exploring new ideas, such as Generative AI. F5 also offers employees customized learning paths, leadership coaching, global mentor and sponsorship programs, as well as multiple third-party resources to enhance the learning opportunities developed internally.
Diversity and Inclusion
F5 believes our differences—when embraced with humility and respect—drive smarter decisions, increased innovation, stronger performance, and a culture where everyone can be themselves and reach their full potential.
At F5, we are committed to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Our strategic framework is called “IDEA”: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Allyship. Each concept in IDEA requires focus and engagement at all levels of the organization and to be embedded into our ways of working. (For more information, please see our most recent Diversity & Inclusion report at F5.com/company/diversity-inclusion).
To increase inclusion at F5, we foster communities through our Employee Inclusion Groups (“EIGs”) – F5 Ability, F5 Appreciates Blackness, F5 Connects Women, F5 Latinx e Hispanos Unidos, F5 Military Veterans, and F5 Pride. In fiscal year 2023, the EIGs focused on intersectional events prioritizing community building, culture and talent development and diverse recruitment, with strategic counsel and support from their executive sponsors. The EIG leaders continue to be recognized for their efforts to build a thriving community of diverse employees across F5 through quarterly bonuses.
F5 offers differentiated development programs to help address the barriers for underrepresented groups in the company. In fiscal year 2023, F5’s commitment to increase representation at F5 for Women, Black, and Latinx employees across management and leadership positions, and the company overall, was a focus of both our mentor and sponsorship programs.
Allyship is critical to the sustainability of our diversity and inclusion program at F5. The F5ers engaging with this program are on a continuous learning journey to build a culture where everyone feels they belong and can reach their full potential. Each month, content is made available to the allyship community to deepen their understanding of experiences different from their own and gain new skills to speak up and speak out as active participants in creating a more diverse and inclusive F5.
Compensation, Benefits and Wellbeing
F5 aims to attract, reward, and retain extraordinary talent from diverse backgrounds by offering a total compensation package that is equitable, flexible, and market competitive.
This includes the pay, incentive plans, restricted stock unit grants (“RSUs”), Employee Stock Purchase Plan, retirement plans, healthcare, paid time off and family leave F5 provides to employees, as well as the programs that support the diverse needs of our employees’ overall health and wellbeing. In fiscal year 2023, F5 launched free and global access to therapy and coaching sessions to all employees, and renewed our popular Wellness Weekends to provide one weekend a quarter when all employees have a set Friday through Monday off to reset and refresh.
Two significant changes were made to F5 employees’ compensation and benefits in fiscal year 2023 in response to both macroeconomic and post-COVID-19 pandemic conditions:
•In the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, we altered our incentive plans to reduce our operating budgets. F5 eliminated the annual cash bonus for the CEO, reduced annual cash bonuses for executives by 70% and reduced the funding pool by 50% for employee Management by Objective ("MBO") plans.
•In the third quarter of fiscal year 2023, F5 updated its Freedom to Flex program to reflect the worldwide expiration of COVID-19 pandemic health and safety protocols. To balance the company’s goals for employee collaboration and connection, with employees continued need for flexibility from their employer, F5 requires all employees within 30 commutable miles of an F5 office, accommodating 30 or more employees, to work in the office for 30 business days each quarter. The remainder of employees worldwide continue to be offered a choice to work fully remote, hybrid or full-time in an F5 office.
Environmental, Social & Governance
At F5, we care deeply not just about what we do, but how we do it. We consider this our uniquely human-first and high-performance approach to the way we conduct our business, and it is reflected in our commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”).
Environmental. In fiscal year 2023, F5 expanded its environmental initiatives by committing to a science-based target. F5 submitted its target for verification to the Science Based Target Initiative, outlining its commitment to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50%, and reduce absolute Scope 3 emissions by 43% by 2030 from a 2021 baseline year.
The company plans to reduce its operational emissions, referred to as Scope 1 and 2, by sourcing more renewable energy and improving its offices' energy efficiency. F5 identified that the majority of the Company's emissions, however, come from the value chain, referred to as Scope 3. This will require F5 to prioritize more sustainable design and energy performance in its products and services, followed by decarbonizing its supply chain, in order to reach its science-based target.
Social. In addition to the employee programs and benefits outlined in the Human Capital Management section above, we continue to prioritize F5 Global Good, the community development initiative that amplifies our employee engagement and diversity and inclusion programs. In fiscal year 2023, more than half of all worldwide employees participated in Global Good programs, volunteering over 10,400 hours and directing the entirety of F5’s donations, through both the Company matching program and grant selection committees. F5 and its employees donated over $3.8 million to over 3,000 non-profits worldwide in fiscal year 2023.
Governance. Our guiding principle to do the right thing for each other, our customers, our shareholders, and our communities is set forth in F5’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, compliance training programs and most importantly, in the behaviors we measure all employees on: BeF5 and LeadF5.
In fiscal year 2023, F5 completed its first Double Materiality Assessment, based on industry benchmarking and the engagement of hundreds of internal and external stakeholders. This process served as F5's most recent climate-related risk identification for risks with a substantive impact and enabled the Company to identify appropriate ESG risks for our enterprise risk assessment process. The oversight of our ESG programs is conducted by the Nominating and ESG Committee of the Board of Directors, where ESG strategy, disclosures and metrics are reviewed each quarter.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
The following table sets forth certain information with respect to our executive officers as of November 14, 2023:
|François Locoh-Donou||52||President, Chief Executive Officer and Director|
|Tom Fountain||47||Executive Vice President of Global Services and Chief Strategy Officer|
|Frank Pelzer||53||Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer|
|Scot Rogers||56||Executive Vice President and General Counsel|
Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer
|Chad Whalen||52||Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales|
François Locoh-Donou has served as our President, Chief Executive Officer and member of our Board of Directors since April 2017. Prior to joining F5, Mr. Locoh-Donou served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ciena Corporation. During his more than 15 years at Ciena, Mr. Locoh-Donou served in several leadership positions. From August 2011 to October 2015, he served as Ciena’s Senior Vice President, Global Products Group. Previously, he served as Ciena’s Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa from June 2005 to August 2011. He holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University, a 'Mastere' in Optical Telecommunications from the National Institute of Telecommunications of Paris, and a 'Diplome d'Ingenieur' in Physics Engineering from the National Institute of Physics in Marseille, France. Mr. Locoh-Donou serves on the board of Capital One Financial Corporation. He is also the co-founder of Cajou Espoir, a cashew-processing facility that employs several hundred people in rural Togo, 80 percent of whom are women. Cajou Espoir exports more than 400 tons of cashew kernels annually to the U.S. and Europe.
Tom Fountain has served as our Executive Vice President of Global Services and Chief Strategy Officer since June 2020. Mr. Fountain joined F5 in January 2018 as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. Mr. Fountain is responsible for F5’s global services organization, including global support, consulting, and services teams. He is also responsible for F5’s corporate strategy, corporate development, technology partnerships, our service provider business, and new business incubations. From November 2012 to January 2018, Mr. Fountain served as Senior Vice President for Strategy and Corporate Development at McAfee LLC, Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Intel Corporation, and Senior Vice President for Strategy and Corporate Development at McAfee Incorporated. Previously, Mr. Fountain served as Vice President and General Manager of the Content and Media Business Unit at Juniper Networks from December 2011 to November 2012 and Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Juniper Networks from February 2009 to December 2011. Earlier in his career, Mr. Fountain was a venture capitalist at Mayfield Fund from June 2003 to February 2009 and co-founder and engineering leader at Ingrian Networks from December 1999 to June 2004. He holds an M.B.A., an M.S. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering, and a B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering, each from Stanford University.
Frank Pelzer has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since May 2018. He oversees F5's worldwide financial planning, analysis, accounting, reporting, and internal auditing procedures, as well as investor relations. Prior to joining F5, Mr. Pelzer served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Cloud Business Group at SAP, responsible for the execution of strategy and operations of the company's SaaS portfolio including Concur, Ariba, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors, and Hybris. Prior to that, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Concur Technologies, before it was acquired by SAP in 2014. Mr. Pelzer has also held senior leadership positions at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse Group. Mr. Pelzer serves on the board of directors Freshworks Inc. He holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Scot Rogers has served as our Executive Vice President and General Counsel since January 2014. Mr. Rogers has held a variety of positions in F5's legal department since 2005, including most recently as Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel immediately prior to his promotion to Executive Vice President. From 2002 through 2005, Mr. Rogers was the General Counsel for Xpediate Consulting, a healthcare technology and consulting company located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to becoming a corporate counsel, he spent eight years in private practice as a commercial litigator. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds a J.D. from the Dedman School of Law of Southern Methodist University.
Kara Sprague is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer. She is responsible for F5’s portfolio of multi-cloud application security and delivery solutions. Prior to joining F5 in 2017, Ms. Sprague held various leadership positions across the technology practice of McKinsey & Company. Most recently she led the Technology, Media, and Telecom Practice for the Western Region. Prior to McKinsey, Ms. Sprague was on the engineering staff of Oracle, Agilent Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard. She holds a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serves on the board of Girls Who Code.
Chad Whalen has served as our Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales since July 2018. He is responsible for F5’s global sales strategy and brings over 20 years of experience leading global teams across Europe, Asia, and North and South America in network infrastructure, security, and SaaS. Mr. Whalen joined F5 in 2017 to lead the Cloud Sales team. Prior to joining F5, he ran strategic alliances at Fortinet, worldwide sales and services at Jasper, Americas sales and field operations at Ciena and global sales and marketing at World Wide Packets. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Management from Eastern Washington University.
Item 1A.Risk Factors
In addition to the other information in this report, the following risk factors should be carefully considered in evaluating our company and operations.
Risk Factor Summary
•Cloud-based and SaaS computing trends present competitive and execution risks;
•Security vulnerabilities in our IT infrastructure or multi-cloud application security and delivery solutions and services as well as unforeseen product errors could have a material adverse impact on our business results of operations, financial condition and reputation;
•We are dependent on various information technology systems, and failures of or interruptions to those systems could harm our business;
•Our success depends on our key personnel and our ability to hire, retain and motivate qualified executives, sales and marketing, operations, product development and professional services personnel;
•Acquisitions present many risks and we may not realize the financial and strategic goals that are contemplated at the time of the transaction;
•Our success depends upon our ability to effectively plan and manage our resources and restructure our business;
•Our business may be harmed if our contract manufacturers are not able to provide us with adequate supplies of our products or if a single source of hardware assembly is lost or impaired;
•Our business could suffer if there are any interruptions or delays in the supply of hardware components from our third-party sources;
•It is difficult to predict our future operating results because we have an unpredictable sales cycle;
•We may not be able to sustain or develop new distribution relationships, and a reduction or delay in sales to significant distribution partners could hurt our business;
•Reliance on fulfillment at the end of the quarter could cause our revenue for the applicable period to fall below expected levels;
•Our operating results are exposed to risks associated with international commerce.
•The average selling price of our products may decrease and our costs may increase, which may negatively impact revenues and profits;
•Our business could be adversely impacted by conditions affecting the markets in which we compete;
•Industry consolidation may result in increased competition;
•We may not be able to compete effectively in the application security and delivery market;
•Our success depends on our timely development of new software and systems products and features, market acceptance of new software and systems product offerings and proper management of the timing of the life cycle of our software and systems products;
•Our success depends on sales and continued innovation of our application security and delivery product lines;
•Issues related to the development and use of artificial intelligence ("AI") could give rise to legal and/or regulatory action, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm of our business
•Misuse of our products could harm our reputation.
•Our failure to adequately protect personal information could have a material adverse effect on our business;
•A portion of our revenue is generated by sales to government entities, which are subject to a number of challenges and risks;
•We face litigation risks;
•We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, and our products may infringe on the intellectual property rights of third parties;
•We are subject to governmental export and import controls that could subject us to liability or impair our ability to compete in international markets;
•Changes in governmental regulations could negatively affect our revenues.
•We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities;
•We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations;
•Changes in financial accounting standards may cause adverse unexpected revenue fluctuations and affect our reported results of operations;
•If we are unable to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, the accuracy and timeliness of our financial reporting may be adversely affected.
•Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate in future periods, which may cause our stock price to fluctuate;
•Anti-takeover provisions could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us;
•Our stock price could be volatile, particularly during times of economic uncertainty and volatility in domestic and international stock markets;
•If securities or industry analysts publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, or discontinue publishing research about our business, the price and trading volume of our securities could decline.
•Continued macroeconomic downturns or uncertainties may harm our industry, business, and results of operations;
•We face risks associated with having operations and employees located in Israel;
•Our business is subject to the risks of earthquakes, fire, power outages, floods, and other catastrophic events, and to interruption by man-made problems such as terrorism;
•Climate change may have an impact on our business.
Operational and Execution Risks
Cloud-based and SaaS computing trends present competitive and execution risks
Customers are transitioning to a hybrid computing environment utilizing various cloud-based software and services accessed via various smart client devices. Pricing and delivery models are evolving and our competitors are developing and deploying cloud-based services for customers. In addition, new cloud infrastructures are enabling the emergence of new competitors including large cloud providers who offer their own application security and delivery functionality as well as smaller companies targeting the growing numbers of "born in the cloud" applications. We devote significant resources to develop and deploy our cloud-based and SaaS software and services strategies. While we believe our expertise and investments in software and infrastructure for cloud-based services provides us with a strong foundation to compete, it is uncertain whether our strategies will continue to attract the customers or generate the revenue required to be successful. In addition to software development costs, we are incurring costs to build and maintain infrastructure to support cloud-computing and SaaS services, and the securitization of our customers’ data. These costs may reduce the gross and operating margins we have previously achieved. Whether we are successful in this new business model depends on our execution in a number of areas, including:
•continuing to innovate and bring to market compelling cloud-based and SaaS services through consumption models that generate increasing traffic and market share;
•maintaining the utility, compatibility and performance of our software on the growing array of cloud and SaaS computing platforms and the enhanced interoperability requirements associated with orchestration of cloud computing environments; and
•implementing the infrastructure and the securitization of our customers' data to deliver our own cloud-based and SaaS services.
These new business models may reduce our revenues or gross and operating margins and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Security vulnerabilities in our IT infrastructure or multi-cloud application security and delivery products and services as well as unforeseen product errors could have a material adverse impact on our business results of operations, financial condition and reputation
In the ordinary course of business, we store sensitive data, including intellectual property, personal data, our proprietary business information and that of our customers, suppliers and business partners on our networks. In addition, we store sensitive data through cloud-based services that may be hosted by third parties and in data center infrastructure maintained by third parties. The secure maintenance of this information is critical to our operations and business strategy. Our IT infrastructure and those of our partners and customers are subject to the increasing threat of intrusions by a wide range of bad actors and malicious parties, including computer programmers, hackers or sophisticated nation-state and nation-state supported actors or they may be compromised due to employee error or wrongful conduct, malfeasance, or other disruptions. Despite our security measures, and those of our third-party vendors, our IT infrastructure has experienced breaches or disruptions and may be vulnerable in the future to breach, attacks or disruptions. If any breach or attack compromises our IT infrastructure, creates system disruptions or slowdowns or exploits security vulnerabilities therein, the information stored on our networks or those of our customers could be accessed and modified, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen, and we may be subject to liability to our customers, suppliers, business partners and others, and suffer reputational and financial harm.
Our multi-cloud application security and delivery products and services are used by our customers to manage their critical applications and data. Bad actors and other malicious parties, may attempt to exploit security in our internal IT infrastructure or cloud environments that support our SaaS-based and managed solutions and services as well as our products that may be deployed in a customer environment. To address these security risks, we devote significant resources to identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities in our multi-cloud application security and delivery products and services. These efforts include, but are not limited to engineering and enhancing security and reliability features in our products and services, deploying security updates to address security vulnerabilities, and seek to respond to known security incidents in sufficient time to minimize any potential adverse impacts to our customers and IT infrastructure. Despite our efforts to harden our IT infrastructure, our security and delivery products and services against these risks, from time to time, we experience attacks and other cyber-threats. These attacks can seek to exploit, among other things, known or unknown vulnerabilities in technology included in our IT infrastructure, security and delivery products and services. While we have undertaken efforts to mitigate these vulnerabilities, they could render our IT infrastructure, security and delivery products and services susceptible to a cyber-attack which may subject the Company to liability to our customers, suppliers, business partners and others, and suffer reputational and financial harm.
Our products may also contain undetected errors or defects when first introduced or as new versions are released. We have experienced these errors or defects in the past in connection with new products and product upgrades. As our products and customer IT infrastructures become increasingly complex, customers may experience unforeseen errors in implementing our products into their IT environments. We expect that these errors or defects will be found from time to time in new or enhanced products after commencement of commercial shipments. These problems may cause us to incur significant warranty and repair costs, divert the attention of our engineering personnel from our product development efforts and cause significant customer relations problems. We may also be subject to liability claims for damages related to product errors or defects. While we carry insurance policies covering this type of liability, these policies may not provide sufficient protection should a claim be asserted. A material product liability claim may harm our business and results of operations.
Our products must successfully operate with products from other vendors. As a result, when problems occur in a network, it may be difficult to identify the source of the problem. The occurrence of software or hardware problems, whether caused by our products or another vendor’s products, may result in the delay or loss of market acceptance of our products. The occurrence of any of these problems may harm our business and results of operations.
Any errors, defects or vulnerabilities in our products or IT infrastructure could result in:
•expenditures of significant financial and product development resources in efforts to analyze, correct, eliminate, or work-around errors and defects or to address and eliminate vulnerabilities;
•remediation costs, such as liability for stolen assets or information, repairs or system damage;
•increased cybersecurity protection costs which may include systems and technology changes, training, and engagement of third party experts and consultants;
•increased insurance premiums;
•loss of existing or potential customers or channel partners;
•loss of proprietary information leading to lost competitive positioning and lost revenues;
•inaccessibility to certain data or systems necessary to operate the business;
•negative publicity and damage to our reputation;
•delayed or lost revenue;
•delay or failure to attain market acceptance;
•an increase in warranty claims compared with our historical experience, or an increased cost of servicing warranty claims, either of which would adversely affect our gross margins; and
•litigation, regulatory inquiries, or investigations that may be costly and harm our reputation.
We are dependent on various information technology systems, and failures of or interruptions to those systems could harm our business
Many of our business processes depend upon our IT systems, the systems and processes of third parties, including cloud hosting service providers, and on interfaces with the systems of third parties. For example, our order entry system provides information to the systems of our contract manufacturers, which enables them to build and ship our products. If those systems fail or are interrupted, or if our ability to connect to or interact with one or more networks is interrupted, our processes may function at a diminished level or not at all. This could harm our ability to ship products or our ability to deliver cloud-based services, which could harm our financial results.
In addition, reconfiguring our IT systems or other business processes in response to changing business needs may be time-consuming and costly. To the extent this impacted our ability to react timely to specific market or business opportunities, our financial results may be harmed.
Our success depends on our key personnel and our ability to hire, retain and motivate qualified executives, sales and marketing, operations, product development and professional services personnel
Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to attract, engage, retain, and integrate qualified executives and other key employees throughout all areas of our business. In order to attract and retain executives and other key employees in a competitive marketplace, we must provide a competitive compensation package, including cash- and equity-based compensation. If we do not obtain the stockholder approval needed to continue granting equity compensation in a competitive manner, our ability to attract, retain, and motivate executives and key employees could be weakened. Failure to successfully hire executives and key employees or the loss of any executives and key employees could have a significant impact on our operations. We have recently experienced changes in our senior leadership team and we expect to continue to see changes as we build the team that is needed to execute our strategy. Changes in our management team may be disruptive to our business, and any failure to successfully integrate key new hires or promoted employees could adversely affect our business and results of operations. The complexity of our products and their integration into existing networks and ongoing support, as well as the sophistication of our sales and marketing effort, requires us to retain highly trained developers, professional services, customer support and sales personnel. Competition for qualified developers, professional services, customer support and sales personnel in our industry is intense, especially in Silicon Valley and Seattle where we have substantial operations and a need for highly skilled personnel, because of the limited number of people available with the necessary technical skills and understanding of our products. Also, to the extent we hire personnel from competitors, we may be subject to allegations that they have been improperly solicited, that they have divulged proprietary or other confidential information, that they have violated non-compete obligations to their prior employers, or that their former employers own their inventions or other work product. Our ability to hire and retain these personnel may be adversely affected by volatility or reductions in the price of our common stock or our ability to get approval from shareholders to offer additional common stock to our employees, since these employees are generally granted restricted stock units. The loss of services of any of our key personnel, the inability to retain and attract qualified personnel in the future or delays in hiring qualified personnel may harm our business and results of operations. In addition, restructuring plans to better align strategic and financial objectives, optimize operations, and drive efficiencies for long-term growth and profitability, may include a reduction in force of the Company's workforce. These restructuring activities could lead to increased attrition amongst those employees who were not directly affected by the reduction in force program.
Acquisitions present many risks and we may not realize the financial and strategic goals that are contemplated at the time of the transaction
With respect to our past acquisitions, as well as any other future acquisitions we may undertake, we may find that the acquired businesses, products or technologies do not further our business strategy as expected, that we paid more than what the assets are later worth or that economic conditions change, all of which may generate future impairment charges. Our acquisitions may be viewed negatively by customers, financial markets or investors. There may be difficulty integrating the operations and personnel of the acquired business, and we may have difficulty retaining the key personnel of the acquired business. We may have difficulty in integrating the acquired technologies or products with our existing product lines. Our ongoing business and management’s attention may be disrupted or diverted by transition or integration issues and the complexity of managing geographically and culturally diverse locations. We may have difficulty maintaining uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies across locations. We may experience significant problems or liabilities associated with product quality, technology and other matters.
Our inability to successfully operate and integrate newly-acquired businesses appropriately, effectively and in a timely manner, or to retain key personnel of any acquired business, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to take advantage of further growth in demand for application security and delivery solutions and other advances in technology, as well as on our revenues, gross margins and expenses.
Our success depends upon our ability to effectively plan and manage our resources and restructure our business
Our ability to successfully offer our products and services in a rapidly evolving market requires an effective planning, forecasting, and management process to enable us to effectively scale and adjust our business and business models in response to fluctuating market opportunities and conditions. From time to time, we have increased investment in our business by increasing headcount, acquiring companies, and increasing our investment in research and development, sales and marketing, and other parts of our business. Conversely, in the last few years, we have initiated restructuring plans to better align strategic and financial objectives, optimize operations, and drive efficiencies for long-term growth and profitability, which resulted in restructuring charges. Our ability to achieve the anticipated cost savings and other benefits from these initiatives is subject to many estimates and assumptions, which are subject to uncertainties. If our estimates and assumptions are incorrect, if we are unsuccessful at implementing changes, or if other unforeseen events occur, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our business may be harmed if our contract manufacturers are not able to provide us with adequate supplies of our products or if a single source of hardware assembly is lost or impaired
We outsource the manufacturing of our hardware platforms to third party contract manufacturers who assemble these hardware platforms to our specifications. We have experienced minor delays in shipments from contract manufacturers in the past. However, if we experience major delays in the future or other problems, such as inferior quality and insufficient quantity of product, any one or a combination of these factors may harm our business and results of operations. The inability of our contract manufacturers to provide us with adequate supplies of our products or the loss of one or more of our contract manufacturers may cause a delay in our ability to fulfill orders while we obtain a replacement manufacturer and may harm our business and results of operations. In particular, we currently subcontract manufacturing of our products to a single contract manufacturer. If our arrangement with this single source of hardware assembly was terminated or otherwise impaired, and we were not able to engage another contract manufacturer in a timely manner, our business, financial condition and results of operation could be adversely affected.
If the demand for our products grows, we will need to increase our raw material and component purchases, contract manufacturing capacity and internal test and quality control functions. Any disruptions in product flow may limit our revenue, may harm our competitive position and may result in additional costs or cancellation of orders by our customers.
Our business could suffer if there are any interruptions or delays in the supply of hardware components from our third-party sources
We currently purchase several hardware components used in the assembly of our products from a number of single or limited sources. Lead times for these components vary significantly. The unavailability of suitable components, any interruption or delay in the supply of any of these hardware components or the inability to procure a similar component from alternate sources at acceptable prices within a reasonable time, may delay assembly and our ability to fulfill our sales of our products and, hence, our revenues, and may harm our business and results of operations.
It is difficult to predict our future operating results because we have an unpredictable sales cycle
Our products have a lengthy sales cycle and the timing of our revenue is difficult to predict. Historically, our sales cycle has tended to lengthen as our products become increasingly complex. Also, as our distribution strategy is focused on a channel model, utilizing value-added resellers, distributors and systems integrators, the level of variability in the length of sales cycle across transactions has increased and made it more difficult to predict the timing of many of our sales transactions. Sales of our products require us to educate potential customers in their use and benefits. Sales of our products are subject to delays from the lengthy internal budgeting, approval and competitive evaluation processes that large enterprises and governmental entities may require. For example, customers frequently begin by evaluating our products on a limited basis and devote time and resources to testing our products before they decide whether or not to purchase. Customers may also defer orders as a result of anticipated releases of new products or enhancements by our competitors or us. As a result, our products have an unpredictable sales cycle that contributes to the uncertainty of our future operating results.
We may not be able to sustain or develop new distribution relationships, and a reduction or delay in sales to significant distribution partners could hurt our business
We sell our products and services through multiple distribution channels in the United States and internationally, including leading industry distributors, value-added resellers, systems integrators, service providers and other indirect channel partners. We have a limited number of agreements with companies in these channels, and we may not be able to increase our number of distribution relationships or maintain our existing relationships. Recruiting and retaining qualified channel partners and training them in our technologies requires significant time and resources. These channel partners may also market, sell and support products and services that are competitive with ours and may devote more resources to the marketing, sales and support of such competitive products. Our indirect sales channel structure could subject us to lawsuits, potential liability, and reputational harm if, for example, any of our channel partners misrepresent the functionality of our products or services to customers or violate laws or our corporate policies. If we are unable to establish or maintain our indirect sales channels, our business and results of operations will be harmed. In addition, two worldwide distributors of our products accounted for 30.6% of our total net revenue for fiscal year 2023. A substantial reduction or delay in sales of our products to these distribution partners, if not replaced by sales to other indirect channel partners and distributors, could harm our business, operating results and financial condition.
Reliance on fulfillment at the end of the quarter could cause our revenue for the applicable period to fall below expected levels
As a result of customer buying patterns and the efforts of our sales force and channel partners to meet or exceed their sales objectives, we have historically received a substantial portion of sales orders and generated a substantial portion of revenue during the last few weeks of each fiscal quarter. In addition, any significant interruption in our information technology systems, which manage critical functions such as order processing, revenue recognition, financial forecasts, inventory and supply chain management, and trade compliance reviews, could result in delayed order fulfillment and decreased revenue for that fiscal quarter. If expected revenue at the end of any fiscal quarter is delayed for any reason, including the failure of anticipated purchase orders to materialize, our third party contract manufacturers’ inability to manufacture and ship products prior to fiscal quarter-end to fulfill purchase orders received near the end of the fiscal quarter, our failure to manage inventory to meet demand, our inability to release new products on schedule, any failure of our systems related to order review and processing, or any delays in shipments based on trade compliance requirements, our revenue for that quarter could fall below our expectations, resulting in a decline in the trading price of our common stock.
Our operating results are exposed to risks associated with international commerce
As our international sales increase, our operating results become more exposed to international operating risks. Additionally, our international sales and operations are subject to a number of risks, including the following:
•greater difficulty in enforcing contracts and accounts receivable collection and longer collection periods;
•the uncertainty of protection for intellectual property rights in some countries;
•greater risk of unexpected changes in regulatory practices, tariffs, and tax laws and treaties;
•risks associated with trade restrictions and foreign legal requirements, including the importation, certification, and localization of our products required in foreign countries;
•greater risk of a failure of foreign employees, partners, distributors, and resellers to comply with both U.S. and foreign laws, including antitrust regulations, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and any trade regulations ensuring fair trade practices;
•heightened risk of unfair or corrupt business practices in certain geographies and of improper or fraudulent sales arrangements that may impact financial results and result in restatements of, or irregularities in, financial statements;
•increased expenses incurred in establishing and maintaining office space and equipment for our international operations;
•greater difficulty in recruiting local experienced personnel, and the costs and expenses associated with such activities;
•management communication and integration problems resulting from cultural and geographic dispersion;
•fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies in markets where we do business;
•economic uncertainty around the world, including continued economic uncertainty as a result of sovereign debt issues in Europe; and
•general economic and political conditions in these foreign markets.
In addition, the impact of Brexit on EU-UK political, trade, economic and diplomatic relations continues to be uncertain and such impact may not be fully realized for several years or more. Continued uncertainty and friction may result in regulatory, operational, and cost challenges to our UK and global operations.
We must hire and train experienced personnel to staff and manage our foreign operations. To the extent that we experience difficulties in recruiting, training, managing, and retaining an international staff, and specifically staff related to sales management and sales personnel, we may experience difficulties in sales productivity in foreign markets. We also enter into strategic distributor and reseller relationships with companies in certain international markets where we do not have a local presence. If we are not able to maintain successful strategic distributor relationships internationally or recruit additional companies to enter into strategic distributor relationships, our future success in these international markets could be limited. Business practices in the international markets that we serve may differ from those in the United States and may require us in the future to include terms other than our standard terms in customer contracts. We intend to continue expanding into international markets.
These factors and other factors could harm our ability to gain future international revenues and, consequently, materially impact our business, operating results, and financial condition. The expansion of our existing international operations and entry into additional international markets will require significant management attention and financial resources. Our failure to successfully manage our international operations and the associated risks effectively could limit the future growth of our business.
The average selling price of our products may decrease and our costs may increase, which may negatively impact revenues and profits
It is possible that the average selling prices of our products will decrease in the future in response to competitive pricing pressures, increased sales discounts, including responses to inflationary pressures, new product introductions by us or our competitors, or other factors. Therefore, in order to maintain our profits, we must develop and introduce new products and product enhancements on a timely basis and continually reduce our product costs. Our failure to do so could cause our revenue and profits to decline, which would harm our business and results of operations. In addition, we may experience substantial period-to-period fluctuations in future operating results due to the erosion of our average selling prices.
Strategic and Industry Risks
Our business could be adversely impacted by conditions affecting the markets in which we compete
A substantial portion of our business depends on the demand for information technology by large enterprise customers and service providers. We are dependent upon the overall economic health of our current and prospective customers. International, national, regional and local economic conditions, such as recessionary economic cycles, protracted economic slowdown or further deterioration of the economy could adversely impact demand for our products. Demand for our products and services depends substantially upon the general demand for application security and delivery solutions, which fluctuates based on numerous factors, including capital spending levels and growth of our current and prospective customers, as well as general economic conditions. Moreover, the purchase of our products is often discretionary and may involve a significant commitment of capital and other resources. Future economic projections for the information technology sector are uncertain as companies continue to reassess their spending for technology projects and embrace a range of consumption models from physical systems to software, SaaS-based and managed services solutions. As a result, spending priorities for our current and future customers may vary and demand for our products and services may be impacted. In addition, customer buying patterns are changing over time and more customers seek to rent software on a subscription basis and to reduce their total cost of ownership. These evolving business models could lead to changes in demand and licensing strategies, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Industry consolidation may result in increased competition
Some of our competitors have made acquisitions or entered into partnerships or other strategic relationships to offer a more comprehensive solution than they had previously offered. We have also entered into large, strategic partnerships to enhance our competitive position in the marketplace. As technology companies attempt to strengthen or maintain their market positions in the evolving application delivery, mobility, cloud networking and cloud platform markets, these companies continue to seek to deliver comprehensive solutions to end users and combine enterprise-level hardware and software solutions that may compete with our solutions and which could negatively impact our partnerships. These consolidators or potential consolidators may have significantly greater financial, technical and other resources than we do and may be better positioned to acquire and offer complementary products and services. The companies resulting from these possible combinations may create more compelling product and service offerings and be able to offer greater pricing flexibility or sales and marketing support for such offerings than we can. These heightened competitive pressures could result in a loss of customers or a reduction in our revenues or revenue growth rates, all of which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We may not be able to compete effectively in the application security and delivery market
The markets we serve are rapidly evolving and highly competitive, and we expect competition to persist and intensify in the future. As we expand our reach and role into a broader set of multi-cloud solutions, the companies that we consider competitors evolves as well. In addition to server load balancing, traffic management, and other functions normally associated with application delivery, our suite of solutions has expanded our addressable market into security, and policy management, where we compete with a number of companies focused on niche areas of application security.
We expect to continue to face additional competition as new participants enter our markets. As we continue to expand globally, we may see new competitors in different geographic regions. In addition, larger companies with significant resources, brand recognition, and sales channels may form alliances with or acquire competing application services solutions from other companies and emerge as significant competitors. Potential competitors may bundle their products or incorporate an Internet traffic management or security component into existing products in a manner that discourages users from purchasing our products. Any of these circumstances may limit our opportunities for growth and negatively impact our financial performance.
Our success depends on our timely development of new software and systems products and features, market acceptance of new software and systems product offerings and proper management of the timing of the life cycle of our software and systems products
The markets for our products and services are characterized by:
•rapid technological change;
•evolving industry standards;
•consolidation of network and application functions into existing network infrastructure products;
•requirements that our products interoperate with technologies from other vendors to enable ease of management;
•fluctuations in customer demand;
•changes in customer requirements; and
•frequent new product and service introductions and enhancements.
Our continued success depends on our ability to identify and develop new software and systems products and new features for our existing software and systems products, to meet the demands of these changes, and the acceptance of those products and features by our existing and target customers. In addition, our software and systems products must interoperate with our end customers’ IT infrastructure, including the expanding use of the cloud and hybrid cloud environments, which often have different specifications, deploy products from multiple vendors, and utilize multiple protocol standards. Our customers’ IT infrastructure is becoming more complex and we may be reliant on orchestration and interoperability with third party vendors on whom we are reliant for testing and support of new software and systems product versions and configurations. If we are unable to identify, develop and deploy new software and systems products and new product features on a timely basis, our business and results of operations may be harmed.
The current development cycle for our software and systems products varies and has become increasingly complex due to the sophistication and the addressing of our customers' needs. The development timetable to commercial release and availability to our customers is uncertain, and the introduction of new products or product enhancements may shorten the life cycle of our existing products, or replace sales of some of our current products, thereby offsetting the benefit of even a successful product introduction, and may cause customers to defer purchasing our existing products in anticipation of the new products. This could harm our operating results by decreasing sales of our software and systems products, or increasing our inventory levels of older systems products and exposing us to greater risk of product obsolescence. We have also experienced, and may in the future experience, delays in developing and releasing new software and systems products and related product enhancements. This has led to, and may in the future lead to, delayed sales, increased expenses and lower quarterly revenue than anticipated. Also, in the development of our systems products, we have experienced delays in the prototyping, which in turn has led to delays in product introductions. In addition, complexity and difficulties in managing product transitions at the end-of-life stage of a product can create excess inventory of components associated with the outgoing product that can lead to increased expenses. Any or all of the above problems could materially harm our business and results of operations.
Our success depends on sales and continued innovation of our application security and delivery product lines
We expect to derive a significant portion of our net revenues from the sale of our cloud, software and hardware application security and delivery product lines in the future. Implementation of our strategy depends upon these products being able to solve critical network availability, performance and security problems for our customers. If our products are unable to solve these problems for our customers or if we are unable to sustain the high levels of innovation in product feature sets needed to maintain leadership in what will continue to be a competitive market environment, our business and results of operations will be harmed.
We operate in an industry of evolving standards and rapid technological advancements. If our competitors are able to develop and implement compelling technological innovations or features into their product offerings or services more rapidly or successfully than us in the future, our ability to compete effectively may be impacted which could negatively impact our business and results of operations.
Issues related to the development and use of artificial intelligence ("AI") could give rise to legal and/or regulatory action, damage our reputation or otherwise materially harm of our business
We currently incorporate AI technology in certain of our products and services and in our business operations. Our research and development of such technology remains ongoing. AI presents risks, challenges, and unintended consequences that could affect our and our customers’ adoption and use of this technology. AI algorithms and training methodologies may be flawed. Additionally, AI technologies are complex and rapidly evolving, and we face significant competition in the market and from other companies regarding such technologies. While we aim to develop and use AI responsibly and attempt to identify and mitigate ethical and legal issues presented by its use, we may be unsuccessful in identifying or resolving issues before they arise. AI-related issues, deficiencies and/or failures could (i) give rise to legal and/or regulatory action, including with respect to proposed legislation regulating AI in jurisdictions such as the European Union and others, and as a result of new applications of existing data protection, privacy, intellectual property, and other laws; (ii) damage our reputation; or (iii) otherwise materially harm our business.
Misuse of our products could harm our reputation
Our products may be misused by end-customers or third parties that obtain access to our products. For example, our products could be used to censor private access to certain information on the Internet. Such use of our products for censorship could result in negative publicity and damage to our reputation. In addition, as many of our products are subject to export control regulations, diversion of our products to restricted third parties by others could result in investigations, penalties, fines, trade restrictions and negative publicity that could damage our reputation and materially impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
Legal and Regulatory Risks
Our failure to adequately protect personal information could have a material adverse effect on our business
A wide variety of local, state, national, and international laws, directives and regulations apply to the collection, use, retention, protection, disclosure, transfer, and other processing of personal data. These data protection and privacy-related laws and regulations continue to evolve and may result in ever-increasing regulatory and public scrutiny and escalating levels of enforcement and sanctions and increased costs of compliance. Certain safe-harbor exemptions upon which the Company relies for data transfers have been challenged and may no longer be available to us in the future. Our failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations, or to protect such data, could result in enforcement action against us, including fines, imprisonment of company officials and public censure, claims for damages by end-customers and other affected individuals, damage to our reputation and loss of goodwill (both in relation to existing end-customers and prospective end-customers), any of which could have a material adverse effect on our operations, financial performance, and business. Changing definitions of personal data and personal information, within the European Union, the United States, and elsewhere, especially relating to classification of IP addresses, machine identification, location data, and other information, may limit or inhibit our ability to operate or expand our business, including limiting strategic partnerships that may involve the sharing of data. The evolving data protection regulatory environment may require significant management attention and financial resources to analyze and modify our IT infrastructure to meet these changing requirements all of which could reduce our operating margins and impact our operating results and financial condition.
A portion of our revenue is generated by sales to government entities, which are subject to a number of challenges and risks
Sales to U.S. and foreign, federal, state, and local governmental agency end-customers account for a significant portion of our revenues and we may in the future increase sales to government entities. Sales to government entities are subject to a number of risks. Selling to government entities can be highly competitive, expensive, and time consuming, often requiring significant upfront time and expense without any assurance that these efforts will generate a sale. The substantial majority of our sales to date to government entities have been made indirectly through our channel partners. Government certification requirements for products like ours may change, thereby restricting our ability to sell into the federal government sector until we have attained the revised certification. Government demand and payment for our products and services may be impacted by public sector budgetary cycles and funding authorizations, with funding reductions or delays adversely affecting public sector demand for our products and services. Government entities may have statutory, contractual or other legal rights to terminate contracts with our distributors and resellers for convenience or due to a default, and any such termination may adversely impact our future operating results. Governments routinely investigate and audit government contractors’ administrative processes, and any unfavorable audit could result in the government refusing to continue buying our products and services, a reduction of revenue or fines or civil or criminal liability if the audit uncovers improper or illegal activities, which could adversely impact our operating results in a material way. Finally, for purchases by the U.S. government, the government may require certain products to be manufactured in the United States and other relatively high cost manufacturing locations, and we may not manufacture all products in locations that meet the requirements of the U.S. government, affecting our ability to sell these products to the U.S. government.
We face litigation risks
We are a party to lawsuits in the normal course of our business. Litigation in general, and intellectual property and securities litigation in particular, can be expensive, lengthy and disruptive to normal business operations. Moreover, the results of complex legal proceedings are difficult to predict. Responding to lawsuits has been, and will likely continue to be, expensive and time-consuming for us. An unfavorable resolution of these lawsuits could adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, and our products may infringe on the intellectual property rights of third parties
We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws, and restrictions on disclosure of confidential and proprietary information to protect our intellectual property rights. Despite our efforts to protect our proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy or otherwise obtain and use our products or technology. Monitoring unauthorized use of our products is difficult, and we cannot be certain that the steps we have taken will prevent misappropriation of our technology, particularly in foreign countries where the laws may not protect our proprietary rights as fully as in the United States.
Our industry is characterized by the existence of a large number of patents and frequent claims and related litigation regarding patent and other intellectual property rights. In the ordinary course of our business, we are involved in disputes and licensing discussions with others regarding their claimed proprietary rights and cannot provide assurance that we will always successfully defend ourselves against such claims and such matters are subject to many uncertainties and outcomes are not predictable with assurance. We expect that infringement claims may increase as the number of products and competitors in our market increases and overlaps occur. Also, as we have gained greater visibility, market exposure and competitive success, we face a higher risk of being the subject of intellectual property infringement claims. If we are found to infringe the proprietary rights of others, or if we otherwise settle such claims, we could be compelled to pay damages or royalties and either obtain a license to those intellectual property rights or alter our products so that they no longer infringe upon such proprietary rights. Any license could be very expensive to obtain or may not be available at all or may require us to make royalty payments which could adversely affect gross margins in future periods. The actual liability in any such matters may be materially different from our estimate, if any, which could result in the need to adjust the liability and record additional expenses. Similarly, changing our products or processes to avoid infringing upon the rights of others may be costly or impractical. In addition, we have initiated, and may in the future initiate, claims or litigation against third parties for infringement of our proprietary rights, or to determine the scope and validity of our proprietary rights or those of our competitors. Any of these claims, whether claims that we are infringing the proprietary rights of others, or vice versa, with or without merit, may be time-consuming, result in costly litigation and diversion of technical and management personnel or require us to cease using infringing technology, develop non-infringing technology or enter into royalty or licensing agreements. Further, our license agreements typically require us to indemnify our customers, distributors and resellers for infringement actions related to our technology, which could cause us to become involved in infringement claims made against our customers, distributors or resellers. Any of the above-described circumstances relating to intellectual property rights disputes could result in our business and results of operations being harmed.
We incorporate open source software into our products. Although we monitor our use of open source closely, the terms of many open source licenses have not been interpreted by U.S. courts, and there is a risk that such licenses could be construed in a manner that could impose unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to commercialize our products. We could also be subject to similar conditions or restrictions should there be any changes in the licensing terms of the open source software incorporated into our products. In either event, we could be required to seek licenses from third parties in order to continue offering our products, to re-engineer our products or to discontinue the sale of our products in the event re-engineering cannot be accomplished on a timely or successful basis, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
Many of our products include intellectual property licensed from third parties. In the future, it may be necessary to renew licenses for third party intellectual property or obtain new licenses for other technology. These third party licenses may not be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all. The inability to obtain certain licenses, or litigation regarding the interpretation or enforcement of license rights and related intellectual property issues, could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition. Furthermore, we license some third party intellectual property on a non-exclusive basis and this may limit our ability to protect our intellectual property rights in our products.
We are subject to governmental export and import controls that could subject us to liability or impair our ability to compete in international markets
Our products are subject to U.S. export controls and may be exported outside the U.S. only with the required level of export license or through an export license exception because we incorporate encryption technology into our products. In addition, various countries regulate the import of certain encryption technology and have enacted laws that could limit our ability to distribute our products or our customers’ ability to implement our products in those countries. Changes in our products or changes in export and import regulations may create delays in the introduction of our products in international markets, prevent our customers with international operations from deploying our products throughout their global systems or, in some cases, prevent the export or import of our products to certain countries altogether. Any change in export or import regulations or related legislation, shift in approach to the enforcement or scope of existing regulations or change in the countries, persons or technologies targeted by such regulations, could result in decreased use of our products by, or in our decreased ability to export or sell our products to, existing or potential customers with international operations. Any decreased use of our products or limitation on our ability to export or sell our products would likely adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
Changes in governmental regulations could negatively affect our revenues
Many of our products are subject to various regulations promulgated by the United States and various foreign governments including, but not limited to, environmental regulations and regulations implementing export license requirements and restrictions on the import or export of some technologies, especially encryption technology. Changes in governmental regulation and our inability or failure to obtain required approvals, permits or registrations could harm our international and domestic sales and adversely affect our revenues, business and operations.
The SEC requires us, as a public company that uses certain raw materials considered to be “conflict minerals” in our products, to report publicly on the extent to which “conflict minerals” are in our supply chain. As a provider of hardware end-products, we are several steps removed from the mining, smelting, or refining of any conflict minerals. Accordingly, our ability to determine with certainty the origin and chain of custody of these raw materials is limited. Our relationships with customers, suppliers, and investors could suffer if we are unable to describe our products as “conflict-free.” We may also face increased costs in complying with conflict minerals disclosure requirements.
We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities
Our provision for income taxes is subject to volatility and could be affected by changes in our business operations, including acquisitions, new offerings, and changes in the jurisdictions in which we operate. The provision for income taxes may also be impacted by changes in stock-based compensation, changes in the research and development tax credit laws, earnings being lower than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory rates and being higher than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory rates, transfer pricing adjustments, not meeting the terms and conditions of tax holidays or incentives, changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, changes in actual results versus our estimates, or changes in tax laws, regulations, accounting principles or interpretations thereof, including changes to the tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals. In addition, we may be subject to examination of our income tax returns by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities. While we regularly assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes from such examinations and the adequacy of our provision for income taxes, there can be no assurance that such provision is sufficient and that a determination by a tax authority will not have an adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows.
We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations
Our sales contracts are denominated in U.S. dollars, and therefore, substantially all of our revenue is not subject to foreign currency risk. However, a strengthening of the U.S. dollar could increase the real cost of our solutions to our end customers outside of the United States, which could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results. In addition, an increasing portion of our operating expenses is incurred outside the United States, is denominated in foreign currencies, and is subject to fluctuations due to changes in foreign currency exchange rates. If we become more exposed to currency fluctuations and are not able to successfully hedge against the risks associated with currency fluctuations, our operating results could be adversely affected. To date, we have not entered into any hedging arrangements with respect to foreign currency risk or other derivative instruments.
Changes in financial accounting standards may cause adverse unexpected revenue fluctuations and affect our reported results of operations
A change in accounting policies can have a significant effect on our reported results and may even affect our reporting of transactions completed before the change is effective. New pronouncements and varying interpretations of existing pronouncements have occurred with frequency and may occur in the future. Changes to existing rules, or changes to the interpretations of existing rules, could lead to changes in our accounting practices, and such changes could adversely affect our reported financial results or the way we conduct our business.
If we are unable to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, the accuracy and timeliness of our financial reporting may be adversely affected
As a public company, we are required to design and maintain proper and effective internal controls over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in such internal controls. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting and provide a management report on the internal controls over financial reporting, which must be attested to by our independent registered public accounting firm. We have an ongoing program to review the design of our internal controls framework in keeping with changes in business needs, implement necessary changes to our controls design and test the system and process controls necessary to comply with these requirements. If in the future, our internal controls over financial reporting are determined to be not effective resulting in a material weakness, investor perceptions regarding the reliability of our financial statements may be adversely affected which could cause a decline in the market price of our stock and otherwise negatively affect our liquidity and financial condition.
Risks Related to our Common Stock
Our quarterly and annual operating results may fluctuate in future periods, which may cause our stock price to fluctuate
Our quarterly and annual operating results have varied significantly in the past and could vary significantly in the future, which makes it difficult for us to predict our future operating results. Our operating results may fluctuate due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside of our control, including the changing and recently volatile U.S. and global economic environment, which may cause our stock price to fluctuate. In particular, we anticipate that the size of customer orders may increase as we continue to focus on larger business accounts. A delay in the recognition of revenue, even from just one account, may have a significant negative impact on our results of operations for a given period. In the past, a majority of our sales have been realized near the end of a quarter. Accordingly, a delay in an anticipated sale past the end of a particular quarter may negatively impact our results of operations for that quarter, or in some cases, that fiscal year. Additionally, we have exposure to the credit risks of some of our customers. Although we have programs in place that are designed to monitor and mitigate the associated risk, there can be no assurance that such programs will be effective in reducing our credit risks adequately. We monitor individual payment capability in granting credit arrangements, seek to limit the total credit to amounts we believe our customers can pay and maintain reserves we believe are adequate to cover exposure for potential losses. If there is a deterioration of a major customer’s creditworthiness or actual defaults are higher than expected, future losses, if incurred, could harm our business and have a material adverse effect on our operating results. Further, our operating results may be below the expectations of securities analysts and investors in future quarters or years. Our failure to meet these expectations will likely harm the market price of our common stock. Such a decline could occur, and has occurred in the past, even when we have met our publicly stated revenue and/or earnings guidance.
Anti-takeover provisions could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us
Our Board of Directors has the authority to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock and to determine the price, rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions, including voting rights, of those shares without any further vote or action by the shareholders. The rights of the holders of common stock may be subject to, and may be adversely affected by, the rights of the holders of any preferred stock that may be issued in the future. The issuance of preferred stock may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change of control of our company without further action by our shareholders and may adversely affect the voting and other rights of the holders of common stock. Further, certain provisions of our bylaws, including a provision limiting the ability of shareholders to raise matters at a meeting of shareholders without giving advance notice, may have the effect of delaying or preventing changes in control or management of our company, which could have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock. Similarly, state anti-takeover laws in the State of Washington related to corporate takeovers may prevent or delay a change of control of our company.
Our stock price could be volatile, particularly during times of economic uncertainty and volatility in domestic and international stock markets
Our stock price has been volatile and has fluctuated significantly in the past. The trading price of our stock is likely to continue to be volatile and subject to fluctuations in the future. Some of the factors that could significantly affect the market price of our stock include:
•Actual or anticipated variations in operating and financial results;
•Analyst reports or recommendations;
•Rumors, announcements or press articles regarding our competitors’ operations, management, organization, financial condition or financial statements; and
•Other events or factors, many of which are beyond our control.
The stock market in general and the market for technology companies in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations. These fluctuations have often been unrelated or disproportionate to operating performance. The fluctuations may continue in the future and this could significantly impact the value of our stock and your investment.
If securities or industry analysts publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, or discontinue publishing research about our business, the price and trading volume of our securities could decline
The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. If one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our common stock or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our securities would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our securities could decrease, which might cause the price and trading volume of our securities to decline.
Continued macroeconomic downturns or uncertainties may harm our industry, business, and results of operations
We operate globally and as a result, our business, revenues, and profitability may be impacted by global macroeconomic conditions. The continuing adverse global macroeconomic conditions and related market uncertainties have, among other things, softened customer demand and customer purchase decisions, which may in turn, limit our ability to forecast future business activities involving our products and services. Prolonged adverse macroeconomic conditions both in the U.S. and abroad, including, but not limited to, rising interest rates to combat inflationary pressures of goods and services, challenges in the financial and credit markets, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, trade uncertainty, adverse changes in global taxation and tariffs, sanctions, outbreaks of pandemic diseases such as COVID-19, political unrest and social strife, armed conflicts, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or other impacts from the macroeconomic environment have led to a slowing of global economic growth. Continued worsening of macroeconomic conditions could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows through, among others, softer demand of our products and services as well as unfavorable increases to our operating costs, which could negatively impact our profitability.
We face risks associated with having operations and employees located in Israel
We have offices and employees located in Israel. As a result, political, economic, and military conditions in Israel directly affect our operations. The future of peace efforts between Israel and its Arab neighbors remains uncertain. There has been a significant increase in hostilities and political unrest in Israel. The effects of these hostilities and violence on the Israeli economy and our operations in Israel are unclear, and we cannot predict the effect on us of further increases in these hostilities or future armed conflict, political instability or violence in the region. In addition, many of our employees in Israel are obligated to perform annual reserve duty in the Israeli military and are subject to being called for active duty under emergency circumstances. We cannot predict the full impact of these conditions on us in the future, particularly if emergency circumstances or an escalation in the political situation occurs. If many of our employees in Israel are called for active duty for a significant period of time, our operations and our business could be disrupted and may not be able to function at full capacity. Current or future tensions and conflicts in the Middle East could adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and cash flows.
Our business is subject to the risks of earthquakes, fire, power outages, floods, and other catastrophic events, and to interruption by man-made problems such as terrorism
A significant natural disaster, such as an earthquake, a fire, a flood, or a significant power outage could have a material adverse impact on our business, operating results, and financial condition. We have an administrative and product development office and a third party contract manufacturer located in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region known for seismic activity. In addition, natural disasters could affect our supply chain, manufacturing vendors, or logistics providers’ ability to provide materials and perform services such as manufacturing products or assisting with shipments on a timely basis. In the event our or our service providers’ information technology systems or manufacturing or logistics abilities are hindered by any of the events discussed above, shipments could be delayed, resulting in missed financial targets, such as revenue and shipment targets, for a particular quarter. In addition, cyber-attacks, acts of terrorism, or other geopolitical unrest could cause disruptions in our business or the business of our supply chain, manufacturers, logistics providers, partners, or end-customers or the economy as a whole. Any disruption in the business of our supply chain, manufacturers, logistics providers, partners or end-customers that impacts sales at the end of a fiscal quarter could have a significant adverse impact on our quarterly results. All of the aforementioned risks may be further increased if the disaster recovery plans for us and our suppliers prove to be inadequate. To the extent that any of the above should result in delays or cancellations of customer orders, or the delay in the manufacture, deployment or shipment of our products, our business, financial condition and operating results would be adversely affected.
Climate change may have an impact on our business
Risks related to climate change are increasing in both impact and type of risk. We believe there will not be significant near-term impacts to our offices worldwide due to climate change, but long-term impacts remain unknown. However, there may be business operational risk due to the significant impacts climate change could pose to our employees’ lives, our supply chain, or electrical power availability from climate-related weather events. In addition, rapidly changing customer and regulatory requirements to reduce carbon emissions present a risk of loss of business if we are not able to meet those requirements.
In addition to other risks listed in this “Risk Factors” section, factors that may affect our operating results include, but are not limited to:
•fluctuations in demand for our products and services due to changing market conditions, pricing conditions, technology evolution, seasonality, or other changes in the global economic environment;
•changes or fluctuations in sales and implementation cycles for our products and services;
•changes in the mix of our products and services, including increases in SaaS and other subscription-based offerings;
•changes in the growth rate of the application delivery market;
•reduced visibility into our customers’ spending and implementation plans;
•reductions in customers’ budgets for data center and other IT purchases or delays in these purchases;
•changes in end-user customer attach rates and renewal rates for our services;
•fluctuations in our gross margins, including the factors described herein, which may contribute to such fluctuations;
•our ability to control costs, including operating expenses, the costs of hardware and software components, and other manufacturing costs;
•our ability to develop, introduce and gain market acceptance of new products, technologies and services, and our success in new and evolving markets;
•any significant changes in the competitive environment, including the entry of new competitors or the substantial discounting of products or services;
•the timing and execution of product transitions or new product introductions, and related inventory costs;
•variations in sales channels, product costs, or mix of products sold;
•our ability to establish and manage our distribution channels, and the effectiveness of any changes we make to our distribution model;
•the ability of our contract manufacturers and suppliers to provide component parts, hardware platforms and other products in a timely manner;
•benefits anticipated from our investments in sales, marketing, product development, manufacturing or other activities;
•impacts on our overall tax rate caused by any reorganization in our corporate structure;
•changes in tax laws or regulations, or other accounting rules; and
•general economic conditions, both domestically and in our foreign markets.