When it comes to AI-driven cybersecurity, there are many companies trying to compete. What makes new startup Cylance different isn’t so much features as is fortune—BlackBerry recently purchased the company for $1.4 billion, putting the Irvine-based startup way ahead of the game.
Started in 2012 by former McAffee/Intel duo Stuart McCure and Ryan Permeh, Cylance is a cybersecurity company dedicated towards using artificial intelligence to “think like a cyber hacker,” cutting off current and future security threats. If successful, Cylance will be “eliminating the need for individual security teams to analyze and develop expertise in defining against each new cyberattack.” That means big money and big savings for companies worried about online hacks.
With cybersecurity increasingly in the news with increasingly high-profile hacks, there’s a growing demand for a low-cost solution. Not only is employing security teams expensive, it’s also thankless, requiring programmers to wade through endless fake threats. Since hackers are already using AI to break through security systems it’s only logical to use AI for security protection as well.
A number of companies have arisen to meet exactly this demand, such as CrowdStrike, Darktrace, and Vectra Networks. But Cylance has outpaced all competitors dramatically in terms of funding, with competing valuations in the hundred-million range.
How Cylance makes a difference
The company claims its AI technology, CylancePROTECT product, is predicting new threats rather than just facing old ones, stopping zero-day attacks, malware, and any kind of cyberthreat before it actually begins. Though Cylance now claims to be working with Fortune 100 organizations and governments, its aim is to cover everything from “the largest financial institutions to the smallest dental office in Malaysia.” However, little is known—somewhat fittingly—about the actual features of Cylance technology: Right now its official website is literally a black screen.
What makes Cylance different is its relationship with Blackstone, an investment firm wielding around $400B. Cylance has repeatedly drawn investments from Blackstone portfolio members, and its Series D round of funding was led by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities. This has given Cylance the ability to operate on a massive scale, working with over 1,000 companies including governmental agencies and large corporations. Its growth has been rapid, with client numbers rising 785% in the last five years.
Cylance was about to go public before being bought by BlackBerry. Besides Blackstone main investors include DFJ, Khosla Ventures, Dell Technologies and KKR. Cylance also has global offices in Ireland, Japan, and the Netherlands.
With an ambitious goal and an even more ambitious company backing it, sky is the limit in the emerging cybersecurity market.
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