Cybersecurity startup scene in Boston is 'frothy,' RSA exec says

January 12, 2015

Sara Castellanos

The cybersecurity startup scene in the Boston area could be summed up in one word: "frothy."

That's according to Arthur W. Coviello Jr., executive vice president at Hopkinton-based data storage giant EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and executive chairman at Bedford-based RSA, EMC's security division, who chatted with journalists at an informal meeting last week.

It's frothy, to put it mildly, Coviello said. Massachusetts is home to several startups related to cybersecurity, ranging from Cambridge-based BitSight Technologies founded in 2011, to four-year-old Israeli security software firm Sentrix, whose North American headquarters is in Waltham.

The number of larger cybersecurity firms headquartered that are big enough to consider going public is also growing, and those range from Burlington-based Veracode to Waltham-based Bit9 + Carbon Black.

The latest cybersecurity firm in the Boston area to go public was Newton-based CyberArk Software, which raised $92.5 million in its IPO last September.

"The reason the market is hot is because the problem is so severe," Coviello said.

With high-profile data breaches at major companies such as Target and Home Depot, it's evident that companies both large and small are starting to worry about the financial and intellectual property implications of cyber threats. Government institutions are also seeing massive demand for cybersecurity initiatives. Earlier today, the Twitter handle for the military's U.S. Central Command was taken over by hackers claiming to be working on behalf of Islamic State militants.

"People want better and better solutions," said Coviello, who joined RSA in 1995. "We believe we're providing some of those, and we will be providing more, and that's the high growth part of our business. But we're not doing everything."