The 2016 Cyber Investing Summit was held at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street earlier this week. For CSOs and IT security executives who couldn't make the sold-out event, here's the five best-of-show nods -- according to a CSO blogger who was on hand (yours truly).
Best demo goes to John Shegerian, chairman and CEO at Fresno, Calif., headquartered Electronic Recyclers International. Shegerian walked on stage holding a canister filled with tiny metal pieces -- the remnants of a hacked server his firm shredded after one of their clients got cyber attacked. ERI is a cybersecurity focused IT asset recovery and destruction firm. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Shegerian nailed his 30-second elevator pitch.
Best applause went to Mike Morris, CTO at root9B, a cybersecurity advisory, consulting, and training firm headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. Morris got the applause just for introducing himself. He explained root9B's background securing Department of Defense networks and his own experience as an intelligence analyst and network warfare operator for the U.S. Air Force. The applause could not be mistaken for anything other than gratitude and respect from the investment community heaped upon our deserving U.S. military men and women (including veterans).
Best panelist was Ahmjed Saffarini, CEO at CyberVista, a cybersecurity training firm out of Arlington, Va., who tackled the biggest challenge for everyone in the room -- a severe talent shortage. Saffirini explained the cybersecurity indsutry has 1 million unfilled jobs globally, and that number is projected to grow worse over the next few years. He spoke to the importance of training IT workers who can cross over to IT security as a critical step towards solving the problem. Saffirini also explained why CEOs struggle to understand security, and how important it is for them to get it. Newly formed CyberVista is entering the market with a lineup of cyber training programs for IT workers and CEOs.
Best role model has to be Muddu Sudhakar, vice president and general manager of security and IoT markets at Splunk. Sudhakar is fresh off selling his startup cybersecurity firm Caspida for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $190 million, including approximately $127 million in cash and $63 million in restricted Splunk securities. Enough said on him. The event producers were able to stand up impressive cyber entrepreneurs at startups and bigger security firms. But Sudhakar represented the most likely liquidity event for today's budding cybersecurity founders. Numerous panelists agreed that there will be substantially more M&A activity as compared to IPO activity in the cyber sector over the next couple of years.
Best speaker was closing keynoter Dick Grasso, former NYSE chief who led the New York Stock Exchange through 9/11. He explained there are sayers and there are doers, injecting a dose of reality into cyber startups who are seeking capital for their groundbreaking technology innovations. Grasso's point: there's lots to be done by a company if they are going to make it to the public markets or a liquidity event. His main advice to ambitious cybersecurity companies: it's all about the people, not the technology. The companies with the best people will become the most successful players in the cyber industry. Prioritize that funding and make recruiting top cyber talent top priority.
The Cybersecurity Investing Summit producers get a nod as well. Although the main focus was on investing in cyber, the presentations covered a range of related topics which played well to an audience which included CISOs, business leaders, and of course investors. Stay tuned for information on the 2017 Cybersecurity Investing Summit.