Israeli cyber start-up Checkmarx nets $84m investment

Insight Venture Partners sees the firm as a ‘true leader’ in the area of cyber-security

Checkmarx Central Scanning Mode Architecture (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Checkmarx Central Scanning Mode Architecture (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israeli cyber-security start-up Checkmarx announced Thursday that it had received an $84 million investment from New York-based venture capital and private equity firm Insight Venture Partners. The new round of capital will be primarily used to further accelerate growth through product innovation and global expansion.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. Reports in the Israeli media earlier in the week depicted the investment as a “buyout” of Checkmarx, with Insight, a venture capital firm worth $10 billion, acquiring as much as three quarters of the company. The company did not comment on its equity arrangements with the new investor.

Checkmarx is a good investment regardless of who is running the company. Revenue is up 100% so far in 2015 over last year, and the company currently serves over 700 customers worldwide including, the US Army, Samsung, Deutche Telekom, Deloitte, PwC, Atlassian, LivePerson, and Playtech — all of which use the company’s technology to check their in-house software.

Checkmarx tries to deal with a major problem in the information technology world. Many studies indicate that programmers and tech staff just don’t “get” the importance of security. One study by IT computer security consultancy and training firm 7Safe, for example, claims that only 11% of security spending is geared toward application hardening, the process whereby programmers test their work for security risks.

According to Checkmarx Founder & CTO Maty Siman, “programmers are measured by the features they produce, and the companies they work for are looking for them to produce those features. Unfortunately, due to the pressure of having to innovate those features, programmers often ignore their security implications.”

What’s needed, said Siman, is a system like the one Checkmarx offers, which lets programmers scan their code against a checklist of vulnerabilities using its Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tool. The Checkmarx Source Code Analysis (SCA) system highlights the security issues in code, and gives them an opportunity to correct them before they are released, he added.

Concurring, Richard Wells, managing director at Insight Venture Partners, said, “Security has become one of the greatest concerns for companies, and Checkmarx has a proven track record of true leadership in application security. We are pleased to add Checkmarx to our portfolio of companies as they continue to provide businesses and organizations with innovative solutions to keep their data secure against ever-increasing security threats.”

It was a fitting conclusion to Cyber Week 2015, which brought together government officials and cyber-security professionals from around the world to discuss cyber-security problems and issues.

Speaking at the main event at Tel Aviv University Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the country’s cyber-defense capabilities.

“Israel is in a unique place, we have a large number of talented people in this field, but it’s not only numbers,” said the prime minister. “It is a unique place because of our culture, challenging assumptions is deeply embedded in our culture. Culture is difficult to replicate. It happened here and our job is to ensure it keeps on growing. We need to make the cyber culture not only a vehicle for national defense, but also for business.”

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