Lead by co-founders Nadav Zafrir, Israel Grimberg, and Liran Grinberg, Team8 takes a new approach to tackling the challenges of cyber space
Rising stars in the cyber security sector Team8 announced today that they have closed a $23 million strategic round, bringing into the fold new partnerships with some of the biggest players in the market.
AT&T, Accenture, Nokia (who owns Bell Labs), Mitsui, and Temasek will now join current the list of Team8’s previous partners Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker LLC, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors in growing their security problem solving venture.
Lead by co-founders Nadav Zafrir, Israel Grimberg, and Liran Grinberg, Team8 takes a new approach to tackling the challenges of cyberspace. As the former head of the IDF’s Technology and Intelligence Unit 8200, Zafrir and his team seek out security problems and build new companies aimed addressing them. This announcement comes a little over a year after they raised their initial $18 million funding in February 2015.
With the goal of creating five companies in five years, their first company illusive networks launched in 2015. Illusive’s honeypot deception and detection solution succeeded in raising a $5 million Series A in June that was rapidly followed up with an impressive $22 million Series B in October.
Expanding their global reach with new partnerships
Along with the addition of new funds, this announcement marks a major step for the company building platform as they grow their capacity and reach across the globe. The company has sought out partnerships with leaders in a wide range of fields, including telecommunications, infrastructure, and enterprise, just to name a few. These include entities with strong presences in all the major markets, with deep roots in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Speaking on the importance of their partnerships, Zafrir tells Geektime that, “Cyber security is a global issue and collaboration is critical to maintaining an advantage over today’s highly innovative and motivated attackers. The ability to collaborate with market leaders across many verticals and geographies is absolutely essential to the success of the innovation process at Team8. I am not aware of any syndicate that brings more diversity or expertise to the table. ”
“As one of the world’s telecommunications giants, AT&T gives Team8 intimate insight into the cybersecurity issues facing networks today,” Zafrir says, explaining how each partner plays an important role in pushing them forward. “Accenture will work with Team8 on a collaborative R&D agenda to innovate tailored solutions and strengthen the cybersecurity capabilities it delivers to enterprise clients. Team8 and Nokia Bell Labs will collaborate on research initiatives to support large scale telecommunications infrastructures. New partners Mitsui and Temasek extend Team8’s reach into Asia.”
Looking to future challenges
Team8 currently has two yet to be described companies in the works that are due to launch later this year. As for the new funds, Zafrir says that they will primarily be used for the Series A of their upcoming companies. Beyond that, he tells Geektime that the rest of the money is designated in support of Team8’s research and go-to-market teams, who work closely with the companies throughout the company creation process.
In the meantime, Zafrir and his team are looking for big problems to solve. He highlights the areas of industrial networks and critical infrastructure, incident response, and virtualization as fields that are ripe for innovation.
“The push toward the ‘interconnectivity of everything’ includes modern ICS Networks, which sit at the foundation of our national infrastructure,” Zafrir explains about the importance of protecting critical infrastructure networks. “This interconnectivity exposes these networks to greater risk. And if compromised — for whatever reason … a cyber attack, a malicious insider or simple human error — it can cause widespread physical, financial, and environmental damage. While cyber security needs to be taken into account, an entirely different approach is required for ICS Networks. Particular sensitivity and awareness must be considered given the nature of operations and high cost of downtime.”
Israel has been one of the major beneficiaries of the cyber security tsunami that hit the mainland of the tech industry over the past year. As more large scale hacks have become public and the need to establish more comprehensive protections have entered the general consciousness, the market has seen a burst of new and creative companies enter the scene, each with their own solution.
While I have some concerns that the market may be becoming a bit overcrowded, the global demand continues to grow, with countries like Japan looking to the Startup Nation for security innovations.
Some companies like Cynet promise to be one-stop shops for protection, while others like Minerva Labs and Hexadite state outright that they are meant to work in concert with other solutions. Operations like Team8 have chosen to address more specific issues, even if they are still on a big scale. With their innate connections to the 8200 network, they have excellent access to talent that will help them to build strong companies.