The Story of Axonius — Why We are Here Today

“You want to leave?” He asked me.

“Yes, there’s something I have to do,” I replied.

“Now? We are just getting started,” said my co-founder and CEO.

My former startup, Cymmetria, a Y Combinator graduate, had raised over $10m from leading investors, had many Fortune 500 clients, and was a leading company in one of the fastest growing categories in cybersecurity, deception. You couldn’t find a clearer path to success.

“I have to do it now” was my final reply.

To explain, we have to tell a story, happening inside the headquarters of an extremely large U.S. company, where others and I were attempting to win their business.

In order to work with them, we needed them to have a functioning “deployment tool” that would allow them to install software, configure settings and secure all of the computers and devices connecting to the network.

In an earlier call with them, I had asked, “What kind of deployment tools do you use? SCCM, Tanium, ePO, Puppet or Chef?”

“Yes” was their reply.

“I’m sorry, which ones of those?” I had naively asked.

“All of them, and others you haven’t mentioned.”

“Well, then which ones should we use?”

“The more you can support the better.”

Why is this so important?

Imagine starting your day going to get a cup of coffee. After you order in English, suddenly the cashier responds in Dutch. The barista speaks Japanese, and the person in charge of cleaning speaks Finnish.

While completely being unable to order your coffee, you decide to come in the next day after researching what to say to each person in their respective language in order to get your morning coffee the way you want it.

Upon valiantly re-entering the building, you realize that they’ve hired a new cashier, this one speaking Russian.

The manager walks up to you and says, “Yeah we have all these types of employees in here, you just can’t order in English only anymore!”

While organizations used to be made up of PC boxes, all running windows and hooked up with a network cable, this all changed dramatically, just like the employees at the coffee shop.

Computers became mobile, running a variety of operating systems besides windows, and then the really crazy stuff started happening, like mobile devices, the cloud, and IoT. There is a great word to describe a transformation like that, and that word is fragmentation. At the same time, the number of types and volumes of devices was exploding dramatically. This all added up to a “Cambrian Explosion” of devices and device types in enterprise environments.

I started noticing the symptoms of this in every organization big or small. Another example I like to use is a very large Asian bank that told me that once they changed their ATM machine supplier, they’ve been running their systems like two different banks, because the systems don’t overlap or communicate with each other in any way.

Fragmentation is one of the biggest birthplaces for amazingly innovative companies. Need to connect to a weird, legacy telephony system? Twilio. Need to connect to many fragmented payment interfaces? Stripe. Want to handle all your R&D efforts from one place and let it drive all of your tools? JIRA. Combine multiple funnels, pipelines and processes in your sales and marketing?

What about device security and operations?

This explosive growth of devices and device types is just started, and with it the number of needed controls is growing, and we have less and less consolidated visibility and control.

But why isn’t everyone speaking in the same language in the first place? It all boils down to personal preferences. “Yes, we know, but this department wanted to use that tool, and the people in marketing had to have Macs.”

“So how many devices do you have in your organization?” I asked.

“We have estimates, but we don’t really know.”

I was left speechless.

Why not just have one place that can handle all the different tools in one consistent and defined way? And even let people share what they’ve done on it so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel?

You want to install your R&D team’s computers with a specific software combination? It should be the click of a button. Figure out which of your machines are vulnerable to that new exploit? Click. Want to be able to update that new IoT device? Click. Your friend over on the other side of the street made something that makes sure all the machines are encrypted? Click, and you can use it too.

It is the foundation for empowering organizations with the ability and agility to move faster.

No one in IT and security operations wants to put up barriers to and speed limits on innovation. But that’s what it feels like sometimes. We started Axonius to change that. Faced with this explosive growth and fragmentation, we want to let these teams catalyze and accelerate adoption and innovation, while maintaining the necessary security and control they need protect and safeguard the organization and its assets.

So here we are. We are just beginning this exciting journey, and are thrilled to have YL Ventures, Vertex Ventures and Emerge joining us, and we hope you’ll come along too.

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