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Safety first: VCs set for record-breaking year in US cybersecurity space

Cybersecurity—or lack thereof—has been at the forefront of the news cycle in recent years. Meanwhile, venture investment in cybersecurity startups is on pace to match or eclipse record highs.

Cybersecurity—or lack thereof—has been at the forefront of the news cycle in recent years. From the WannaCry ransomware attack to leaked emails to hackers stealing credit card information at places like Chipotle, the number of events that highlight the need for online security seems unabating.

As online threats increase, so does the amount of money VCs are pouring into the cybersecurity industry. To examine the trend, we took a look at venture funding for startups in the space over the last several years, along with information on the most active investors and a spotlight on several cybersecurity companies that have recently scored major deals.

The latest trends in cybersecurity investment

Venture investment in US cybersecurity startups is on pace for an all-time high this year. Capital invested has increased steadily from 2010 to 2015, topping out at $3.46 billion, per the PitchBook Platform. It dropped to $2.31 billion in 2016, but VC funding in the industry appears set to shoot back up to record numbers by the end of the year.

If investment in the space were to continue at the pace we’ve seen over the last five months and change, cybersecurity companies in the US would pick up a total of around $3.6 billion this year, edging out the 2015 record.

The drop in cybersecurity funding between 2015 and 2016 echoed the VC landscape in general. But VC funding for all US-based companies, irrespective of industry, is potentially facing another decline this year, while cybersecurity is likely to experience a banner year.

Here’s a closer look at VC investment in the cybersecurity space for US-based startups:

Cybersecurity’s top VC backers

The most active VC investors in US cybersecurity deals are largely the usual suspects, with more than half of the top 10 investors in the space over the last seven years also on the list of the 10 most active overall VC investors.

Here are the most active investors in cybersecurity in the US since the beginning of 2010, along with the number of deals they’ve participated in:

Notable deals of 2017

Several cybersecurity startups have raised big rounds over the last month, something that’s at least partly responsible for the recent uptick in funding within the industry. Both Illumio and Netskope have secured $100 million+ financings since the beginning of June, and CrowdStrike joined the unicorn club in mid-May.

Illumio is the latest cybersecurity startup to bring in significant funding. In early June, the company announced a $125 million Series D led by JP Morgan Asset Management. With the financing, Illumio is valued at an estimated $1.18 billion, making it one of the most highly-valued VC-backed cybersecurity businesses. The startup develops adaptive segmentation technology that helps businesses protect their data centers against threats, with a list of clients that includes Salesforce and Morgan Stanley.

Netskope raised a $100 million Series E at a $525 million valuation during the first week of June. The company also hinted that it may hit the public markets soon. The funding was led by Accel, one of the most active cybersecurity investors, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Netskope is a provider of a cloud-scale security platform that monitors apps and devices, whether accessed from within the corporate network or remotely. The company also sets security policies to protect data and prevent breaches.

In May, CrowdStrike became the newest cybersecurity unicorn when it announced a $100 million Series D at a $1 billion valuation. The round was led by existing investor Accel. CrowdStrike, a provider of cloud-based endpoint protection, is perhaps one of the more well-known companies in the industry. It made a name for itself last year when the Democratic National Committee used its services to investigate interference on its servers from parties believed to be Russian hackers.

Data management company Rubrik also surpassed the unicorn mark this year, with a $180 million round in April that generated a valuation of $1.3 billion. Rubrik emerged from stealth with a $42.5 million valuation in 2015 and quickly grew its value, reaching $610 million in August 2016 with a funding led by Khosla Ventures, another one of the top cybersecurity backers. The startup provides a platform designed to recover, manage and secure data.

In January, SentinelOne raised $70 million in a Series C led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from several other backers, including Third Point Ventures and Data Collective. The round more than doubled the startup’s valuation, from $98 million to $210 million. SentinelOne offers a machine learning-powered endpoint security platform meant to detect and protect against threats across multiple vectors.

Check out our previous cybersecurity coverage, including an examination of five startups in the industry that are on the verge of exit.

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