Everyone is Missing the Next Billion Dollar Opportunity
“Hyper-growth and scalability is part science for sure, but there’s a lot of art, as well. There will be pivots and resets, jump-starts that fizzle and surprises that you never expected.”
– Jim Herbold, Chief Revenue Officer at Infer, Inc. and former Executive Vice President of Sales at Box
The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones captured the reality of Jim’s insight when they launched a program last year to keep track of early-stage companies shaking up today’s market in a billion-dollar way. There are several companies on this year’s 2015 list, revealed last Thursday, including many of Silicon Valley’s favorite tech darlings, as well as some less noisy companies proving to be equally successful. One common thread that binds this year’s selection, like most businesses launched in last 5 or years: they all heavily rely on data to thrive.
Most ventures on the roster are consumer facing, though a select group of the disruptive companies service the enterprise. Additionally, some companies from last year’s inaugural club have fallen under the billion-dollar line, (no) thanks to faulty IPOs and other equally less than awesome reasons. One thing struck me, though, when I read through the entrepreneurship’s 2015 membership list: there’s a glaring absence of security companies among the group. In fact, CloudFlare is the lone truly security-focused wolf among these technology-empowered ‘unicorns’, an analogy coined by Fortune in its January 2015 cover story. I see this changing – and soon.
After all, we’re regularly being hit with reality checks that expose the massive data security concerns that this explosion of amazing, billion-dollar-plus-valued apps and services have created. Securing this ecosystem of apps and services is the next major feat, and huge opportunity, technology faces. And it’s becoming increasingly vital as attempts to copy and enhance corporate hacks like Anthem, Target and Home Depot become the norm.
Personally, I view 2015 as the year that cybersecurity takes center stage thanks to these regular security wake-up calls. This stark reality bodes well for companies willing to tackle this new security frontier and will mean security-focused companies should be seen as a flare for investors looking to jump into the next wave of startup success and make the list in 2016.
Born from the user-driven mass movement toward cloud- and mobile-based applications, the exclusive clique of billion-dollar startups all boast rapidly expanding businesses, and equally expanding cyber vulnerabilities. In fact, a few companies on the list have built Fort Knox-level platform infrastructure, but once data leaves their systems, its security framework is rendered fruitless. Security should liberate companies, users and customers from the fear of placing their most valuable data in the cloud, and enable them to share via the innumerable solutions of their choice. I firmly believe that security startups have an opportunity here to fill in the data protection gaps left by the industry and completely fortify innovation for our current – and next – generation of unicorns.
People are investing billions of dollars in the startups on WSJ’s list because they’re changing lives immensely — some in ways we never could have predicted. Now is the time to invest heavily in securing them.