Awake Security CEO Rahul Kashyap traded in his chief technology officer gig at endpoint security unicorn Cylance for top billing at the startup, which he says shows unicorn potential because the network security market is ripe for the picking.
“I saw an opportunity here where I feel I could create what Cylance did for the endpoint in terms of building a unicorn; Awake has that potential as well,” he said. “If you look at the [security] industry at large, not a whole lot has happened on the network for the past two years. Endpoint has been the big focus. The network is where the opportunity lies.”
The company announced the new CEO appointment late last week. Awake’s founding CEO, Michael Callahan, will move into a technical leadership role and continue as a director on the board.
“I’m very excited to welcome Rahul to Awake as CEO,” Callahan said in a statement. “We are closing a record quarter, with six-figure wins across Fortune 500 customers. I look forward to working closely with Rahul and the rest of the Awake team to help advance our technology leadership and scale the company.”
Former Cylance, McAfee Exec
Kashyap spent almost two years at Cylance where he served as chief product officer and then chief technology officer. Before that, he was executive vice president of products at Bromium and head of vulnerability research at McAfee.
Leaving Cylance “wasn’t an easy decision,” he said. “Cylance is doing really well.”
Last month the company closed a $120 million Series E round, bringing its total funds raised to $297 million. At the time it said its revenues will exceed $130 million for fiscal year 2018. It also claims over 90 percent year-over-year growth, and it counts more than 4,000 customers.
And in a year when security startups are raising hundreds of millions in initial public offerings — including Cylance competitor Carbon Black that scored $152 million in its May IPO — a Cylance public debut is likely to happen in the near future.
“For me it came down to personal choice,” Kashyap said. “Cylance is in a very advanced stage. I really enjoy the state of a company where it is at 35, 40 people, and then build it out and secure the company — the various pieces of the organization and the technology.”
Awake is in that 35- to 40-employees stage.
Awake’s Next Phase
The Sunnyvale, California-based startup emerged from stealth mode in July 2017 with more than $30 million in total funding and a security platform that uses machine learning and data science to automate threat detection and hunting. Its network traffic analysis platform analyzes every packet on the network to automatically discover, track, and build profiles of devices, users, applications and who they interact with, while flagging and ranking suspicious activity.
Kashyap’s top priority is “actively” hiring more employees, building a “humming sales-channel focused strategy,” marketing the company and its technology, and in general growing the company to meet industry and customers’ demands. “With my background from Cylance, I will be investing a lot into data science because I believe it has a lot of potential in network security as well,” he said.
The first six to nine months the company will focus heavily on the North America region before evaluating where to expand. It’s also planning a product release in the next three to six months that will include new analytics capabilities and integrations with other security vendors and products. This means customers can leverage their existing security infrastructure and tap into Awake’s network visibility and threat hunting technologies, Kashyap said.
“It’s going to be heavily focused on the SOC [security operations center], but at the same time have the ease-of-use of traditional network security [products],” he said.
“The biggest challenge in security is the attack surface is so big and it’s always growing,” Kashyap continued, citing the growing number of IoT and connected devices, as well as the cloud. “And all of these are connected via the network. So if you can position a platform that gives you complete visibility, identify all your devices, and then automatically triage possible attacks, that can be huge for enterprises.”