July 18, 2022

Last Updated on January 19, 2024

On a recent episode of The Virtual CISO Podcast, guest Ron Gula, President at Gula Tech Adventures and former co-founder and CEO at Tenable Network Security, talked about the nonprofit, philanthropic aspect of his vision, Gula Tech Foundation.

What should the role of nonprofits be in cybersecurity? What are the efforts most worth funding?

Getting to the next level

Ron notes that the need for philanthropy with various programs in cyber is like some cyber venture funding situations: a comparatively small investment can enable something good to leapfrog to the next level of viability.

“When I say nonprofits in cyber, I’m not talking about cybersecurity for churches and schools,” explains Ron. “I’m talking about actual organizations that have a mission to do something in cybersecurity, such as bring in more minorities, women, African Americans; or try to bring more awareness of cyber. When we started out, we met the Hewlett Foundation, talked to the Craig Newmark Organization. We talked to a lot of different folks out there. And what we found was that the need for philanthropy in those kinds of programs was almost identical to venture cyber, where if you gave a small investment, they could get to that next level.

Ron continues: “Maybe that next level, they need a bigger investment. And maybe as a venture capitalist, you reach a point where you’re not going to write a $100 million check. But there are organizations out there that will write those kinds of checks. It’s the same thing in cyber for nonprofits. Maybe we wrote a check for $50,000, that kind of thing. And maybe that got them the attention of DHS. DHS writes them a check for half a million dollars, that sort of thing. What we wanted to do is, most of our energy is focused into investing in commercial companies. But we really feel that cybersecurity nonprofits are very important, and we thought [investing in them] was a really interesting way to kind of motivate people and raise awareness.

Grant competitions

To energize philanthropy in cybersecurity, Gula Tech Foundation started doing grant competitions. They are currently on their fourth grant round.

“We do a million-dollar grant that is topic-based,” states Ron. “We have the community come to us. We ask the questions about what problems are they solving? What are they going to do with the money? How do they measure success? That sort of thing. And we actually try to publicize all this. We publicize our finalists. We publicize the winners. We’ve got a partnership, if you will, with the RSA Conference where we’ve done previous grants with an award ceremony with them and we’re going to do it again in June 2022.”

If you’re at RSA, you’ll be able to see the fourth Gula Tech Foundation grant ceremony. This time the grant is focused on increasing the level of cyber expertise in business governance. That is, teaching people who are on boards about IT and the technology risks associated with that.

What’s next?

To hear this podcast episode with venture investor Ron Gula, click here.

What really drives innovation in cybersecurity? Funny you should ask: What Really Drives Innovation in Cybersecurity?



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