“It is easy to hack into almost all the organizations in the world”
Hacker turned entrepreneur, Cynet founder and CEO Eyal Gruner is not worried about a cybersecurity bubble, as he gets accustomed to his latest role as an investor
At the age of 16 when I first hacked into a large bank in Israel and I told them about it, I asked myself ‘how come it was so easy?’ Then at the age of 22 I asked myself the same question, it had been six years and it was still easy. And now, it is ridiculous and sad but still, it is easy to hack into almost all the organizations in the world. And I think, in cybersecurity, until it won’t be so easy, there won’t be a bubble.”
That’s how Cynet founder and CEO Eyal Gruner sees the cybersecurity industry and the market in which it exists. In an interview with CTech, on the heels of one of the Israeli tech ecosystem’s wildest weeks with four companies launching on Nasdaq at a total valuation of $26 billion, Gruner addressed the rise of new unicorns saying “I think that the valuations today, and I think smart investors and smart VCs will tell you this, the valuations today are aggressive, huge, not connected to the real market, for sure,” he said, although he also admitted that going public is his eventual goal for Cynet.
Cynet founder and CEO Eyal Gruner Photo: Rami Zarnegar
Cynet is Gruner’s most recent venture, founded in 2015, it already raised $78 million in a few fundraising rounds, with the last from March of this year raking in $40 million. His company offers an “end-to-end affordable way to protect your organization from multiple forms of attacks.” A combination of cybersecurity solutions targeting mid-size businesses and organizations.
”If in cybersecurity today, you need to buy eight or nine solutions and integrate them, install and maintain them, you need to have a team that knows how to handle them, they are very difficult to manage,” Gruner explained. “So we created this one platform that has all these multiple solutions in a single dashboard, a simple and easy way to manage. We do not say we are the best in each category but we have the best suite. All of our solutions are ours, in-house development.”
Gruner also explained that for Cynet’s clients, its service is not just about managing and maintaining their cyber-defense strategy, rather a question of costs as well. “It is harder for mid-market organizations to have those budgets and they cannot buy eight, nine, ten different solutions, and it is hard for them to hire quality security talent,” he said. “We are simplifying everything for them, we can take our clients from zero detection and protection to 90%-95% in an easy, simple plug-and-play way. One of our advantages is we can do a fast deployment, we can deploy our solution in one hour on 5,000 endpoints and the customer can see improvements in less than a day.”
Gruner is a hacker “wonderkid” turned entrepreneur turned investor. In 2004, when he was still in his teen years, he hacked an Israeli bank, launching a career in cybersecurity. Gruner was promptly hired by the bank and later by security company Aladdin to defend cybersystems. Gruner founded his first company BugSec when he was just over 16 and later founded Versafe which he sold at 24 for $100 million to F5 Networks.
Gruner’s newest hat is that of the investor, and he is already involved with three different companies: Cymulate, Build Security, and Tycode. “I like it, it is fun to see that you take two people and you help them in the beginning and they start doing amazing things and create and succeed,” he said, emphasizing he has much to offer even from a supportive role. “Every time I invest, I tell the founders one thing, ‘do not make the same mistakes that I did. I made a lot of mistakes in my startups, if you can not repeat them it will be perfect’. I know all the mistakes that are on the road to an exit or a big company and it is easy to show them to the founders I work with.”
When asked about what advice he would give his younger self if he could, Gruner answered without hesitation to be more aggressive. “I think I did not understand the huge opportunity that was in cyber and if I was more aggressive back then I think I would have done even better than what I did.” When reminded that he did sell his company for $100 million he laughs. “There is always a bar and a higher bar. If you do not have a mission or goals in life then your life is boring. You need to have dreams.”