US tech giant Cisco to buy Tel Aviv cybersecurity startup Lightspin

Startup set up in 2020 has raised $25 million in funding to build cloud security platform; deal said to be valued at $200-$250 million

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative. Cybersecurity technology. (Stock Depot via iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative. Cybersecurity technology. (Stock Depot via iStock by Getty Images)

Cisco Systems Inc., a US maker of networking software and hardware, said in a blog post late on Wednesday that it intends to acquire Israel’s Lightspin Technologies Ltd., a developer of cloud security software.

No financial details were provided, but Hebrew media reports estimated the deal to be worth between $200 million and $250 million.

Founded in 2020 by Vladi Sandler and Or Azarzar, Lightspin has built a cloud security management platform using graph-based proprietary algorithms to protect from the risks of potential cybersecurity attacks in cloud environments by mapping the potential attack paths and remediating the most critical security issues from build to runtime. Through graph-based visualization, the system identifies attack paths hackers could take to steal critical data stored in the cloud.

“We raised funds, we built a strong team, and we provided amazing value to our customers, but the most important thing is that we kept crafting our vision of being the most widely-adopted cloud security solution for engineers at any stage of their cloud security journey,” Sandler commented.

To date, the startup has raised a total of $25 million in capital, including from two funding rounds led by Dell Technologies Capital, the venture capital investment arm of Dell Technologies, and Ibex Investors, and is backed by IBM. Tech companies such as Imperva, ITV, Kaltura, PageUp and Riskified are among businesses using Lightspin’s cloud security platform to protect their data and workloads in the cloud.

Vijoy Pandey, senior vice president of Engineering at Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation, said Lightspin’s platform will help meet the growing needs of its customers to secure their increasingly complex multi-cloud environments.

“A mere 15% of organizations globally have a cybersecurity posture ‘mature’ enough to defend against risks of a hybrid world… where people, devices, applications, and data can be in multiple, changing locations connecting to multiple networks,” according to Cisco’s March 2023 cybersecurity readiness index.

By 2025, over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021, according to estimates by research firm Gartner. With the ongoing growth of cloud applications comes an increase in cyberthreats, including sophisticated ransomware. Cloud-based breaches account for almost half of all data breaches, according to the IBM cost of data breach 2022 report. Public cloud-based breaches cost businesses an average $5.02 million per year.

Once the acquisition closes, Lightspin’s Tel Aviv-based team of about 50 people will join Cisco’s Emerging Technologies & Incubation group, according to Pandey, who also serves as the CTO for Cisco’s cloud division.

“The Lightspin story is yet another reminder that companies can find scale and success by sticking to the fundamental building-blocks of product-market-fit and go-to-market, while being ‘lean and mean,’ rather than getting distracted by the pursuit of outrageous valuations and winning business by any, inefficient or not, means,” said Yair Snir, managing director at Dell Technologies Capital.

The deal marks Cisco’s fourth acquisition in Israel over the past two years, said Oren Sagi, the managing director of Cisco Israel. Cisco bought Israeli application monitoring startup Epsagon and Israel’s Sedona Systems, a maker of communication technologies, in 2021, and Tel Aviv-based startup Portshift, a maker of application security solutions, in 2020.

“Cisco sees Israel as a significant source of knowledge and development for innovative and groundbreaking technologies, such as Lightspin,” Sagi wrote in a LinkedIn post. “With Lightspin, Cisco will continue to provide precedent-setting cloud security solutions and lead its customers to advanced technologies and end-to-end information security.”

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