Tel Aviv and Palo Alto-based Salt Security Inc. has raised a $30 million series B funding round by Sequoia Capital, the company announced Tuesday. Tenaya Capital, S Capital VC, and Y Combinator also participated in the round. In June, the company raised a $20 million round
To date, the company has raised a total of $60 million in equity financing. Other investors in Salt Security include Check Point co-founder Marius Nacht, and René Bonvanie, who serves as EVP of Strategic Accounts at Palo Alto Networks.
Founded in 2016 by Michael Nicosia and Eliyahu, Salt Security uses artificial intelligence algorithms to develops protection tools for application programming interfaces (API).
"We raised capital from Sequoia Capital’s growth fund. Sequoia is the best fund in the world, with portfolio companies whose valuations are worth 20% of the total of Nasdaq. They have invested in the past in companies like Apple, Google, Oracle, Cisco, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and many others,” Roey Eliyahu, Salt Security’s co-founder and CEO said in an interview with Calcalist. “Carl Eschenbach, the Sequoia partner who led the investment and has joined our board, is very selective and carries out very few investments in companies, and those he did are now valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. The number of boards Carl has joined, whose companies are now unicorns is second to none. Carl saw that there was a ‘Blue Ocean’ ahead, with the API field hungry for focused security solutions. He saw that we were market leaders and in possession of the best technology available. Carl is an industry leader and shaper. He invests in category-defining companies and he saw that we offered that in the developing field of API security.
"We are on course to build a giant company, with our next milestone being to reach unicorn status in the next two or three years and keep on growing from there. That is why we chose Sequoia out of all the offers we received. Sequoia is not after an exit of a few hundreds of millions of dollars, they want to build big companies,” Eliyahu added. “Our growth is evident in our sales. We see clients who were significantly harmed by the Covid-19 crisis, but have still chosen to increase their investment in protecting APIs.”
Throughout the pandemic, many companies gave up on software and applications that weren’t deemed as necessary. According to Eliyahu, Salt’s solution is critical. “They see the attacks they’re being targeted with and the value of protection. Companies, who during the crisis made a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’, all included our solution in the first category because APIs pose a major security risk to them. Our client retention rate is very high and we grew our customer base by 200% during the pandemic.
“We didn’t require the cash, all the previous round’s money is still in the bank. We are building a large company and saw this round as an opportunity to expedite our growth, strengthen our market leadership and join forces with powerful players like Sequoia and bring Carl, who brings with him an abundance of experience in building and growing companies, onto the board,” Eliyahu said. Eschenbach is a partner at Sequoia, who served in the past as President and COO of VMware for 15 years and sits on the boards of leading companies such as Zoom, Palo Alto Networks, Snowflake, and Workday.
“We are at a stage that people can join the company in leading and influential roles and grow alongside it. We are on the path to becoming a unicorn and enable our employees to gain experience in building large companies,” Eliyahu added.
Salt Security currently employs 50 people, 20 in the U.S. and 30 in its Tel Aviv development center. The company is aiming to double its personnel in the coming year, mostly recruiting for roles in Israel.
Salt Security’s solution focuses on the protection of APIs that form the core of modern microservices, IoT, SaaS, web and mobile applications. Nowadays 83% of all internet traffic, including private personal data, is channeled through APIs every day through interfaces such as banking apps, social media, and common email accounts, as well as to vehicles and smart devices that are controlled remotely by apps. Most of the apps are not designed by data security experts and their prevalence in the digital world around us creates many attack points, turning them into a threat.
Salt Security’s patented API Protection Platform is used to prevent the next generation of API attacks, using machine learning and AI to automatically and continuously identify and protect APIs. Deployed in minutes, the Salt Security platform learns the granular behavior of a company’s APIs and requires no configuration or customization to pinpoint and block API attackers.
“APIs have become a fundamental unit of software. Salt Security enables organizations to discover APIs, prevent real-time attacks, and facilitate remediation, so customers can continue to operate and innovate in an increasingly digitized world,” Eschenbach said in a statement. “In the emerging API security space, Salt Security has shown its leadership by being first to market and offering the most advanced solution—ultimately, making it the type of outlier company that Sequoia loves to partner with.”