Bessemer Venture Partners is one of California’s more successful technology investors, an early backer in the likes of Yelp, LinkedIn and Skype. Lately, the venture firm has taken a particular interest in the Washington area’s cybersecurity scene. Its fund owns stakes in at least 40 cybersecurity companies, and recently added three local companies to its portfolio.
All three — PhishMe, Distil Networks and Virtru — are niche cybersecurity outfits that draw heavily on the region’s three-letter agencies for top talent.
“There are people around [the District] who invented the anatomy of a cyberattack. The only place to find people with operational cyber expertise is within driving distance of [the National Security Agency’s campus at] Fort Meade.”
Big ticket investors tend to see cybersecurity as a chameleonic market prone to quick exits and constant consolidation.
In cybersecurity, “there’s a whole other industry of people who are constantly rendering your product obsolete,” Cowan said. That means older and bigger cybersecurity companies “have to always be buying up start-ups to stay advanced.”