Infosec hits the exits

BY Brenon Daly

At Black Hat last year, we half-cleverly noted how information security (infosec) vendors should feel right at home in Mandalay Bay, since exits were hard to find in both the infosec industry and the casino itself. Now, as the annual security conference gets set to open this weekend, it’s a much different picture. The exit door has been thrown wide open, with an unprecedented level of both IPOs and M&A in the cybersecurity market.

Start with IPOs. At this point last year, only one cybersecurity provider had made it public (Okta). As the conference gets set to open this weekend, three infosec startups have already debuted on Wall Street this year (Zscaler, Carbon Black and Tenable). Collectively, this year’s trio of new listings has created $9bn of market value, more than 10 times the amount of venture backing they raised altogether.

More significantly, the long-expected wave of consolidation in the overpopulated infosec market is beginning to take shape. For instance, 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase lists 18 infosec acquisitions in July, which matches the highest-ever monthly total for the sector. Last month’s acceleration continues the already-strong dealmaking activity posted earlier this year, putting 2018 on track for the most infosec transactions in any year in history. This year’s unprecedented rate of M&A activity is being driven by an ever-increasing number of buyers that have been attracted to the fast-growing market.

Subscribers to 451 Research can look for a full report on the exit environment for infosec companies on our site early next week.

Big money, behind closed doors

Contact: Brenon Daly

Who needs to go public when there’s so much late-stage money sloshing around out there? That question hit us in the head this week after two startups announced, separately, that they were each raising $50m in new funding. First, it was marketing automation vendor Marketo saying it pulled in $50m in a new round led by Battery Ventures and then on Thursday, vulnerability management company Rapid7 also drew in that amount from Technology Crossover Ventures.

The latest round for Marketo, which effectively doubles the amount of capital it has raised, is particularly noteworthy. After all, Marketo has seen two of its main rivals track to the public market. Eloqua is currently on file for a $100m offering, while Responsys went public in late April, an offering that raised $79m.

In the case of Responsys, it may well consider itself fortunate that it raised money when it did. The company recently indicated that business through the end of the year is likely to be substantially slower than it had been. The warning knocked the stock about 25% below where it priced in April and half the level it had hit in the summer.

Imperva: the strong, silent type

Contact: Brenon Daly

As far as tech IPOs are concerned, the two latest offerings could hardly be more different. Last week, we had the debut of Groupon – the daily deals site that is either the next Amazon or the next, depending on the point of view. The debate around Groupon raged loudly and publicly, dominating last week’s financial news broadcasts and financial sites. In contrast, Imperva quietly crept onto the public market on Wednesday, with little fanfare. (The company didn’t even get to ring the opening bell on the NYSE, where it started trading today. Instead, it’ll be doing the honors on Thursday.)

For all of the differences in attention for the two companies, however, there’s one important similarity: performance. Both offerings priced above their expected range and then surged in trading. Groupon, which has created more than $15bn in market value, is still above water. In its offering, Imperva has also put up a strong debut. The data security vendor priced its five-million-share offering at $18 each, above the expected range of $14-16. In midday trading, Imperva stock was changing hands at $24.50. With more than 22 million shares outstanding, Imperva’s offering created more than a half-billion dollars of market value.