Congratulations to Awake Security and Arista Networks, on their merger announced today. Arista’s acquisition of Awake combines Awake’s network detection and response (NDR) with Arista’s cognitive cloud networking solutions. This combination brings together some of the most sophisticated talent in cloud networking and security, with an ambitious vision for the future.
Awake was initiated and incubated at Greylock offices in 2014, by founders Michael Callahan (EIR at Greylock, previously co-founded Greylock-backed PolyServe), Keth Amidon, Gary Golomb, and Debabrata Dash. The company was founded on the premise that “the truth is in the network” and a view that existing solutions and industry standards were limited in their ability to fully parse and analyze traffic. It also appeared that new AI/ML techniques on the horizon could be of high value. We believed that there was a large market opportunity to provide customers with a new product line that would examine all network traffic both real-time and historical (DVR-like), and apply state of the art AI/ML to deliver new insights. The founders explained their company mission to our curious front-desk receptionist at Greylock, leading our receptionist to proclaim, “I think you should call the company Awake!”
The company attracted a top-notch team inspired by the mission to provide customers with the industry’s next generation of network traffic analytics. As the initial product was getting ready for beta release, we were joined by Enrique Salem from Bain Ventures who led the company’s Series B. Within Greylock, our focused team of specialists across engineering recruiting, executive recruiting, customer development and marketing worked closely and tirelessly with Awake – helping bootstrap from initial concept to a growing startup business. The initial product re-invented key dimensions across the entire stack – all the way from low-level network parsers to scalable data stores to applied AI/ML and advanced visual analytics.
Rahul Kashyap, an industry veteran and security innovator, joined Awake as CEO in the summer of 2018. We met Rahul in the hallway at an industry conference and were struck by his thoughtfulness combined with fierce underlying competitive spirit. Under Rahul’s leadership, the company built out the executive team, accelerated product velocity, and advanced growth with leading enterprise customers. Rahul’s vision nudged the team to layer on automation that made Awake not just the most powerful tool for experts, but useful out of the box to even novice security and IT analysts. Later we were fortunate to have industry luminary and FireEye CEO, Kevin Mandia, join the board. Earlier this year, the company raised an additional round of financing led by Evolution, Energize and Liberty Global Ventures.
It has been a fascinating journey to watch Awake advance. At board meetings, we heard confidential updates about what the team was uncovering in proof of value (POV) deployments at leading enterprises – 100% of POV deployments exposed security issues that customers were previously unaware of. The Awake customer network “X-rays” ranged from discovering the more mundane unknown devices and users that created varying security risks, to James Bond movie-like advanced exploits planted by foreign nation-state actors that could be remotely controlled and detonated. Awake’s AI/ML combined with network truth turned out to be even more potent than originally envisioned. The technology is uniquely powerful.
A few weeks ago Awake and Arista (we were fortunate at Greylock to also previously be investors in Arista) met over an introductory Zoom call to explore potential partnering. The initial conversation quickly advanced to additional Zoom calls with the product teams, with Arista COO Anshul Sadana, and into socially distanced hikes between Arista CEO Jayshree and Rahul. It became clear that there was a strong advantage in combining forces.
It has been a privilege to be involved with Awake right from early starting concept on a whiteboard, and we will miss working with the team. We are excited for the strong strategic combination with Arista. We will be cheering from the sidelines as Arista + Awake provide customers with new important insights based on network ground truth.