In early 2008, Gilman Louie was flying from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco when he bumped into a long-time friend, Amit Yoran. Amit was flying to the West Coast to fundraise for a new network security startup, NetWitness.
After changing his seat to sit next to Gilman, Amit pitched the company’s technology and business plan. He wanted not just capital, but smart capital – with knowledgeable investors he could trust and work with. The two discussed the possibility of an extended seed round during the flight. When the plane landed, they had a deal. Gilman joked, “You don’t need to have any more meeting [with venture capitalists]. Why don’t you just take the next fight back home?”
NetWitness builds security appliances that allow an enterprise to record and monitor all network activities with comprehensive situational awareness.
The technology initially started as a government research project to better understand large volumes of captured network data for various criminal investigations. The product was established by CTX Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based system integrator in the mid-1990s and then acquired by ManTech International Corporation in 2002. A leading provider of mission-critical national security programs for the national intelligence community, ManTech further developed the technology as a network forensics analysis for effective incident response to threats. Customers primarily included the federal government and law enforcement to assist in criminal investigations. In 2006, the technology spun out as an independent company to bring the network analysis to a worldwide market. Shortly after the spinout, Amit was recruited as the CEO.
Amit was formerly the National Cyber Security Division director at the Department of Homeland Security and succeeded Gilman as director of In-Q- Tel. Prior to his work in government, Amit was co-founder and CEO of Riptech, a network security company which was acquired by Symantec in 2002. Other security experts such as Shawn Carpenter, a computer counter-intelligence specialist and Sandia National Laboratories whistleblower, completed the team at NetWitness.
Throughout the company’s history, NetWitness had a large number of customers and made major advancements in network security. Early on, the company received a purchase order from the Department of Defense’s Information Systems Agency (DISA) and was used as a part of DISA’s next generation sensor grid to help with the emerging cyber security crisis nationally. In 2010, the company discovered a major network infestation that impacted roughly 2,400 companies across the globe. The company named it the “Kneber ZeuS botnet” after the criminal gang involved. News of the discovery went viral and shed light on new vulnerabilities of the world’s corporate information security practices.
NetWitness was continuously cash positive and grew exponentially. The company was ranked the fastest growing privately-held enterprise security product company, and also the fastest growing company in the Washington, D.C. area. Nationally, NetWitness was named the 21st fastest growing private company in the United States in the annual Inc 500 report in 2010. It had a 7,745.8% three-year growth.
In 2011, NetWitness was acquired by EMC Corporation and integrated into EMC’s security division, RSA Security. The deal occurred shortly after RSA suffered a sophisticated data breach, and NetWitness became a part of RSA’s advanced security management lineup. Amit is president of RSA Security today, and his team continues to solve the wide variety of network and security problems we need today.
Ernestine Fu authored this post.