Mandiant CEO Kevin Mandia: Too many security startups


Among the many complexities of cybersecurity in 2022 is the fact that businesses have a lot of choices when it comes to new technologies to try. Too many choices, in fact, according to Kevin Mandia, founder and CEO of cybersecurity powerhouse Mandiant.

“When we look at all the startups [in security]I feel like 80% of them probably shouldn’t be there,” Mandia said in an interview with Protocol.

In addition to his day job, Mandia is now a strategic partner at cybersecurity-focused venture capital firm Ballistic Ventures, which announced the planned closing of its first fund Tuesday at $300 million. And with his VC hat on, Mandia says his mission now is to use his rare insight to help the Ballistic team only back the startups that bring the most valuable security insights.

A common problem he sees with security startups is having the “wrong founder.” Too many founders are stepping into the fray and announcing, “‘we’re going to fix this cybersecurity problem’ – with no cybersecurity track record,” Mandia said.

Another problem with many security startups, he said, is that they don’t have a strong or original idea.

But while 80% of security startups may not be needed, that doesn’t mean Mandia thinks they’ll all fail.

“There’s probably a higher percentage of them that are good investments,” he said. “My idea of ​​success probably comes more from the mind of the practitioner — [that] they have the solution I would choose. And that’s hard for a startup. Google is expected to complete its $5.4 billion acquisition of Mandiant later this year.

Yet Mandia’s instinct for spotting startups that could make a real difference in the fight against cybercrime seems to be exactly why Ted Schlein, the prominent former VC of Kleiner Perkins, tapped Mandia while forming Ballistic Ventures.

Mandia says his “superpower” on the Ballistic team is the ability to “understand the founders” and quickly discern whether their idea and experience is right for the job when it comes to security.

Cybersecurity startups Ballistic Ventures has backed so far include Pangea, Concentric, Nudge Security, and Veza.


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