Small Firms, Big Options

A chief executive who boosted his company’s stock price more than 50 percent in two years might be expected to trade up to a larger company as his next career move. Instead, Mark McLaughlin resigned last week from the top job at publicly traded Internet-infrastructure company VeriSign Inc. to join a Silicon Valley start-up.

Mr. McLaughlin has been tapped as CEO of Palo Alto Networks Inc., a closely held security-technology company widely viewed as a candidate for an initial public offering.

“I’ve had the chance to be the CEO of a great public company,” said the 45-year-old executive, whose new job is set to be announced Monday. “Something I haven’t done is to take a great private company public.”

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