Last Updated on February 23, 2023
On a recent episode of The Virtual CISO Podcast, guest Ron Gula, President at Gula Tech Adventures and formerly co-founder and CEO of Tenable Network Security, explained his investment firm’s goal of “protecting our nation’s cyberspace.” How does that influence the companies they invest in?
Fixing grand-scale problems
Gula Tech Adventures always asks this fundamental question about a company’s value proposition: Does this address a fundamental problem? And can it be applied on a grand scale?
As an example, Ron cites a company in his portfolio called Halcyon, which has created an AI-trained agent that stops ransomware specifically: “It just focuses on ransomware and that’s a very niche problem. But that’s the kind of problem that’s scaring the bejesus out of boards and CISOs.”
Another of Ron’s investments is ThreatBlockr, a network device that can block a wide range of threats at the endpoints or the network edge, both on-premises and on cloud. Again, it’s about a new advance in technology that tackles a fundamental problem in a new and better way. Ron’s group has made similar investments in other cybersecurity market spaces, like authentication and breach prevention.
Not just a big market
Besides appealing to a large addressable market and solving widespread problems, Gula Tech Adventures looks for solutions that help make security teams’ lives easier while doing their jobs better.
Ron considers the SOC analyst: “A typical SOC analyst is … overworked. We’re interested in tools that can help them. One of them is Polarity. Polarity just makes their job of chasing down IOCs and threat information and what do we know about this stuff almost an instantaneous type of activity because it’s a visual overlay on their desktop.”
“I always kind of hesitate a little bit because I’m not about pitching all the portfolio and whatnot,” reiterates Ron. “But almost everything we invest in, we really, really have some conviction that this is solving some sort of problem that I think is critical for a variety of reasons.”
Moving the needle
Gula Tech Adventures is keen to invest in companies whose solutions target SMBs. This is in keeping with their conviction that SMBs are on the front lines of our national cyber-defense. They also aren’t afraid to be one of the first to support an emerging area that can help improve security.
“We’ve got a great team of people working here and we can really look at a pitch and know, maybe it’s a great team and maybe it’s even a great deal financially,” Ron amplifies. “But do we want to be the tenth venture capital firm investing in this space? I’d rather be the first person in an industry that doesn’t take off and we maybe lose a little money than be the second or third and maximize our return or something like that. Almost everything we’re doing is trying to move the needle in a direction that people should be doing things.”
To listen to the full episode with Ron Gula, click here.
Want another venture capitalist’s take on how to size up investment options? Try this blog post: 5 Top Criteria for Venture Capitalists Evaluating Tech Companies