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Snyk raises $150 million at $1 billion valuation for AI that protects open source code

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Snyk, a cybersecurity platform that helps developers find vulnerabilities in their open source applications, has raised $150 million in a round of funding led by New York-based private equity firm Stripes, with participation from Salesforce Ventures, Coatue, Tiger Global, BoldStart, Trend Forward, and Amity.

This takes Snyk’s total funding to $250 million from backers including Alphabet’s GV and Accel, including a $22 million series B round in 2018 and a $70 million follow-on round just a few months ago. A Snyk spokesperson said that the company is now worth more than $1 billion, which is at least double the $500 million it was valued at back in September.

Founded in 2015, London-based Snyk targets developers — rather than cybersecurity personnel — to help them find and fix flaws in their source code, as well as their containers and Kubernetes applications.

The developer connects Snyk to a code repository in the likes of GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket, and Snyk then scans for vulnerabilities (or license violations), providing a description of the problem, noting where the flaw lies in the code, issuing a severity rating, and even suggesting a fix. Underpinning this is a giant vulnerability database maintained by a security team in Israel and London.

It’s worth noting that Snyk monitors source code before, during, and after an app ships. “During development, Snyk prevents vulnerabilities from reaching production and helps to fix those that were missed,” Snyk cofounder and president Guy Podjarny told VentureBeat. “Snyk continuously monitors the applications and alerts when a newly disclosed vulnerability could impact the customer.”

Above: Snyk in action

Automation for the people

AI, machine learning (ML), and automation are playing an increasingly big role in the cybersecurity sphere — just last year BlackBerry doled out $1.4 billion to acquire AI-powered security platform Cylance, while Crowdstrike hit the public markets and now claims a market capitalization of more than $12 billion. Shape Security also recently entered the much-coveted unicorn fraternity with a $1 billion-plus valuation as it prepares its own IPO.

And it’s against that backdrop that Snyk is looking to carve its niche, with a focus on using AI and and ML to help developer teams directly. The company’s data science concentrates on two key areas: vulnerability intelligence and developer insights. For the latter, Snyk’s platform observes how its users use container and application dependencies — for example, when do they roll back and when do they upgrade — and use those insights to improve its automated fixes. For vulnerability intelligence it’s a similar idea, insofar as it’s all about monitoring what is happening and garnering lessons from developers’ activities.

“For vulnerability intelligence, we use machine learning to constantly evolve our ability to determine if a source code comment, forum post, or social chatter discusses a vulnerability, and funnels that data to our analysts to verify and place into our vulnerability database,” Podjarny said. “This helps us find vulnerabilities before they’re logged anywhere — if that happens at all — as well as enrich them with information such as whether there are exploits in the wild.”

Talent

Given the much-discussed cybersecurity skills shortage, Snyk may be an appealing proposition for companies as it essentially serves as an additional, automated line of defense, helping developers swiftly prioritize more severe flaws. But more than that, it removes some of the work that cybersecurity personnel otherwise might have to cover.

“With Snyk, security teams offer guidance, policies, and expertise, but the vast majority of work is done by the development teams themselves,” Podjarny continued. “This is a core part of how we see dev-first security: security teams modelling themselves after DevOps, becoming a center of excellence building tools and practices to help developers secure applications as they build it, at their pace. We believe this is the only way to truly scale security, address the security talent shortage, and improve the security state of your applications.”

Ultimately, Snyk is looking to capitalize on the growing appetite for automated security smarts. The company already claims some 400,000 developer users globally, including those from big-name companies such as Google, Uber, Salesforce, and Intuit. With another $150 million in the bank, Snyk is now well positioned to double down on its product development and global expansion.

“This investment accelerates Snyk’s significant momentum in transforming the way application security is approached and delivered in software-driven enterprise organizations,” Snyk CEO Peter McKay said. “With rapid 2019 revenue and customer growth from both individual users and scaling development teams, we are seeing the market embrace developer-first application security to help tackle the increasing cybersecurity concerns that come with digital transformation.”

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