Shareholders don't just own stocks. We invest in businesses. Every share we buy purchases a stake in a company -- a sliver of a living, breathing enterprise run by a management team that ultimately determines the fate of the money we invest.

That's why The Motley Fool regularly contacts public companies and executives on our community's behalf, asking them the questions shareholders would find relevant. Because while quantitative measures are important, it's also crucial for investors to assess the less tangible aspects of the businesses they own (or are thinking of owning).

We recently surveyed select companies to gain insights into their business. Today we highlight Sourcefire (NASDAQ:FIRE):

Headquarters

Columbia, Md.

Market Cap

$582 million

Industry

Security Software & Services

Related Companies

CheckPoint Software (NASDAQ:CHKP), McAfee (NYSE:MFE), Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR), 3Com (NASDAQ:COMS)

Here are Sourcefire CEO John Burris' answers to our email query about the business:

TMF: What steps have you taken to navigate your business through the economic turmoil of the past 12 months?

As a cyber security company, Sourcefire is in an industry segment that customers have continued to invest in through a tough economy. The tight economy itself has drawn out increased malicious and criminal behavior on the Internet. However, that does not mean that organizations aren't scrutinizing every investment they make, so Sourcefire is focused on customer success and delivering increased value to our end users. 

As an organization, we have also been very focused on attaining and maintaining profitability -- which we achieved in Q2 2009. We entered the year with a mantra to spend no more in operating expenses than we did in 2008.  We may offer the best-of-breed solutions on the market, but if we didn't reach sustainable profitability, we could have become irrelevant very quickly.

TMF: What are the top two or three metrics to which your business pays the closest attention?

Sourcefire strives not only to help our customers secure their most critical assets, but also ensure that we maximize shareholder value over time. To that end, the metrics we have used to guide the business in 2009 have been revenue growth, operating margin, customer satisfaction, international growth, and leveraging our channel sales model.

TMF: Now that the first decade of the new century is drawing to a close, we'd like to take a moment to reflect on what lies ahead. What excites you most about your business?

Sourcefire sees a lot of opportunities as we continue to grow and innovate. Some of the most exciting things on the horizon include:

  • International expansion. We are methodically expanding into new regions where organizations are grappling with significant security issues that are impacting their businesses.
  • Indirect channel development. Sourcefire is enhancing our channel and building deeper relationships within the industry, so that customers can turn to our trusted partners to help ensure their cyber security. These partners are enabling us to efficiently expand our sales reach without sacrificing our focus on customer success.  We are also working with some very innovative alliance partners to integrate our leading security capabilities with additional solutions and expand the value that Sourcefire delivers.
  • Innovation. Finally, Sourcefire has always been focused on delivering innovative solutions that solve real customer challenges. We are working to expand our security and intelligent network awareness offerings into new areas, developing new technologies that add value to the security market and help businesses protect themselves.

Sourcefire is rated two stars (out of a possible five) by our Motley Fool CAPS community. Do agree with our community's neutral assessment? Click here to rate the stock and cast your opinion.

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