Google investment fund leads $140m round in Israeli cybersecurity startup

Backing values Salt Security, an API security company, at $1.4 billion; new clients include innovation unit of oil giant BP

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

Salt Security co-founder Roey Eliyahu. (Courtesy)
Salt Security co-founder Roey Eliyahu. (Courtesy)

Israeli-founded cybersecurity startup Salt Security has pulled in new investment of $140 million led by CapitalG, the independent growth fund of Google parent company Alphabet, the company said Thursday.

Existing investors such as Sequoia Capital, Y Combinator, S Capital VC and Advent International also participated in the round. The Series D investment values Salt Security at $1.4 billion, making it a unicorn, a private company valued at over $1 billion.

The round brings the company’s total funding to $271 million, with $210 million raised over the past 12 months.

Salt Security was founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs Roey Eliyahu and Michael Nicosia, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, with offices in Tel Aviv. The company developed software that detects risks and protects APIs (application programming interface, software that allows for connection between devices and programs). Salt Security says it uses machine learning and AI to automatically and continuously identify and protect organizations. It works with Fortune and Global 500 enterprises and its customers include Spanish multinational telecommunications company Telefonica, financial software company Finastra, and City National Bank.

Salt Security’s list of clients also includes a host of Israeli companies, or those founded by Israelis, such as TripActions, AppsFlyer, Payoneer, Gett, and Guesty.

The company said in a statement that it will use the capital to expand its investment in R&D, drive sales and grow its international operations. It said demand for API solutions has increased exponentially as they drive digital transformation, application mobilization, and other IT modernization initiatives.

Salt Security said that in the past year it has seen a 500% growth in revenue and grew its customer base by 300%.

Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals, bp Launchpad (the digital innovation and scale-up unit of oil giant BP), and Berkshire Bank were among Salt Security’s newest clients, it said.

“APIs provide the foundation for innovation in today’s economy,” said Eliyahu, who serves as CEO. “Our vision for Salt Security has always been to make it safer and easier for companies to innovate by securing APIs in the face of a growing and dynamic attack surface. We are honored to have CapitalG as our strategic partner as we achieve this vision at a global scale and widen our lead in this important industry.”

James Luo, a partner at CapitalG and a Salt Security board member, said the investment “comes at a time of critical importance for the wider business community. APIs are essential to enabling business innovation, but security risks are multiplying at an unprecedented scope and scale.”

“Salt took an innovative, best-in-class approach to building its API security platform leveraging cloud-scale big data, allowing it to effectively detect and stop attacks in the wild while not compromising on strong shift left capabilities,” said Luo. “We look forward to partnering with the team at Salt Security to help it catapult into the next tier of market penetration and success.”

“Five years ago, the Salt founders had the vision to create this critical category, and they have led it ever since by creating the most secure and robust solution in the industry. The company’s innovation and dominance led us to double down on our investment,” said Ali Rowghani, managing director of YC Continuity, the investment fund of the famed Y Combinator. The startup accelerator has helped launch companies such as Airbnb, DoorDash, Instacart, Dropbox and Twitch

“YC Continuity invests only in the very best, category-defining YC companies. Salt Security is one of those companies. Like fellow YCC companies Stripe in payments and DoorDash in food delivery, Salt will become an iconic security company,” added Rowghani.

Last month, Google acquired Israeli threat detection firm Siemplify for a reported $500 million, nine years after a $1 billion purchase of navigation app Waze.

Google has also bought Israeli companies Elastifile, a cloud storage firm, and data migration company Alooma, in 2019.

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