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How Enterprises Can Harvest The Knowledge Of Security-Focused Venture Capitalists
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Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2014 | 2:31:50 PM
Vested interest
Tim, Any given VC is going to have a strong incentive to recommend to enterprise CIOs/CISOs the startups it's invested in. So, you might visit four VCs asking about X problem and get four promising solutions. I guess that's actually better than the alternative, but how do you recommend sorting through the possibilities?  
DarkReadingTim
DarkReadingTim,
User Rank: Strategist
4/30/2014 | 4:28:01 PM
Re: Vested interest
Thanks Lorna, you make a great point. To get the full value of the VC community, you need to track multiple VCs and get their varying points of view. But it's still a lot easier to evaluate (in your scenario) four promising startups than to start from scratch and listen to pitches from dozens of unknowns. Another point I might make is that many startups, such as FireEye and CrowdStrike, are actually getting funding from multiple VCs, so it's not a one-sponsor, one-startup situation. If you see 3-4 VCs that know security backing a single startup, that's a good sign that there might be a there there.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
4/30/2014 | 4:14:25 PM
VC explosion
There is a lot of VC activity going on lately in security. Nearly once a week, there's been a new VC funding announcement from one startup or another. I'm wondering how this compares with a year ago, or even six months ago.
DarkReadingTim
DarkReadingTim,
User Rank: Strategist
4/30/2014 | 4:23:05 PM
Re: VC explosion
Great points, Kelly. Interestingly, according to numbers from Thomson Reuters, the number of security companies receiving funding was actually down slightly between 2012 and 2013 -- there were a lot of startups funded in the 2011-12 years. However, I think what we're noticing is that startups are getting a lot more traction than they did during those years -- a startup today has a real chance of breaking into an enterprise and building a business relatively quickly, as we saw with FireEye, Palo Alto Networks and CrowdStrike. There's a real opportunity for a new company to make the grade.
BobAckerman
BobAckerman,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/8/2014 | 8:24:19 PM
Cyber Security Solutions - Innovation Trumps Size

Nice follow-up piece Tim.  As a venture capital investor in cyber security innovation, we spend a lot of time with enterprise customers to: 1) understand where they see the threat vectors based on their technology infrastructure and business profile, and 2) to seek input into the opportunities we are evaluating.  The symbiosis here is to draw connections between those with the problems and those looking to provide the solutions.  Historically, enterprise customers have been reticent to purchase solutions from young companies for the reasons you articulated through your two pieces,  Cyber is definitely an exception to that generalization.  Frankly, the nature of cyber threats evolves and morphs faster than most legacy solution providers can track.  Experienced customers understand this and turn to the start-up community out of necessity – they simply don't have a choice in many cases. The cutting edge innovation is coming out of Silicon Valley (and other innovation clusters) and the imperative to "get it right" with cyber security outweighs the risk of engaging with a start-up company in many cases.  Look to the resignation of the Target CEO earlier this week when you think about the consequences of getting it wrong in cyber.  Expect to see more of this in the future.  Maybe this is a reason why you see groups like Blackstone actually setting aside a pool of capital to engage and work with cutting edge cyber innovators to provide advanced cyber security solutions for their portfolio companies.

DarkReadingTim
DarkReadingTim,
User Rank: Strategist
5/8/2014 | 9:39:48 PM
Re: Cyber Security Solutions - Innovation Trumps Size
Great points, Bob -- you answered some of the questions I raised in the comments in response to your remarks at the end of my Part 1 story! I do think that the relationship between security executives and venture investors like yourself is one that has huge potential for benefit on BOTH sides, and I hope that Dark Reading can facilitate more discussion between security-focused VCs and security professionals such as those in our community. I hope you'll continue to add your insight to our news and analysis pieces!


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