Ottawa cybersecurity company Titus cuts 20% of staff following acquisition by U.S. firm

Jim Barkdoll
Former Titus CEO Jim Barkdoll left the Ottawa cybersecurity company after it was acquired by Minneapolis-based HelpSystems earlier this summer. File photo

Nearly 20 per cent of workers at a major Ottawa tech firm that was recently acquired by a U.S. cybersecurity company were laid off this week, the new owners confirmed on Wednesday.

Minneapolis-based HelpSystems said it has cut more than 20 employees across a range of departments at Titus, a cybersecurity firm headquartered on Preston Street. Titus had about 130 local employees before this week’s layoffs.

Founded in 2005, the Ottawa firm makes software that allows users to classify emails and attachments according to their level of security. It also alerts users before they send sensitive emails to recipients who aren’t on internal corporate mailing lists.

Titus does business in more than 120 countries, and its hundreds of customers include multinationals such as Dow Corning as well as NATO and military agencies across the G7 and Australia. 

HelpSystems acquired the firm in late June at the same time it reached a deal to buy U.K.-based Boldon James, which also specializes in data-classification software. Mike Devine, HelpSystems’ vice-president of marketing, said this week’s cuts were part of a “restructuring” aimed at reducing duplicate roles within the company, which has just shy of 1,000 employees worldwide.

Devine said some of the affected Ottawa employees are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company, adding he expects the total number of layoffs will likely end up in the “low twenties.”

Calling Titus the “market leader” in data-classification cybersecurity software, he said demand for the company’s products has been “brisk” despite the pandemic-fuelled global economic downturn.

“They just have fantastic software,” he said. “We’re seeing momentum in sales, which is really a validation of that.”

Bullish on Ottawa

Devine said he expects the headcount at the Ottawa operations to climb back up as HelpSystem customers start adding Titus’s products to their suite of cybersecurity software. 

“It’s not a reflection of our optimism on the future of the business,” he said of the job cuts. 

“We think (Titus) is a great company. We think it’s got potential for continued growth. We think as we grow the business and our other businesses that Ottawa will be a big spot for us.”

In addition to the layoffs, there has also been a shakeup in Titus’s executive ranks. Former CEO Jim Barkdoll left the firm following the acquisition, although Devine said many other members of the senior Ottawa leadership team have remained with the company.

“We are excited to work with those who are staying to grow the business,” he said.