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With the issue of security remaining a top priority, company executives have some important decisions to make over how to protect their businesses. As they look to improve upon their security, organizations have plenty of options before them in terms of which security company they want to hire.

They can either go with a tried-and-true large company, or take the road less traveled with a new security startup. The choice is usually not an easy one, particularly when it comes to deciding if a security startup is the best one to handle this all-important job. The big question every organization has to answer is whether the buzz surrounding startups is true or if it’s just a case of overblown hype and fascination with “the new.”

So, are security startups the real deal?

There’s little doubt that a lot of companies have taken an interest in security startups in recent years. According to research for CB Insights, businesses invested a total of $1.7 billion in startups in 2013, an impressive increase compared to the $340 million that was invested in 2009. That amount continued to grow into 2014 and will likely remain on an upward trajectory throughout this year, especially with security threats more prominent than ever.

Many businesses turn to security companies simply because managing security systems has become increasingly complex, often requiring a highly skilled staff with thorough knowledge on the threats that are out there. Supporters of startup security companies, including many investors in Silicon Valley, such as Google Ventures, say the new businesses can provide these advantages better than the larger companies.


Going with a security startup gives executives a golden opportunity to take advantage of one area that startups generally excel atinnovation. Security startups often come up with creative solutions to the security problems businesses are facing, from managing access control to improving network security measures.

This level of innovation allows startups to be more agile in solving problems and meeting the requirements established by their customers. For example, one security startup named Bitium places a focus on the growing bring your own device (BYOD) movement by ensuring apps used on personal devices within a corporate setting are compliant with the company’s existing security measures, while also making corporate apps easier for IT departments to manage. A new approach like this also has the opportunity to mature faster than those adopted from big security companies.


Security startups are also known for bringing in the best and brightest talent for their companies. This deep talent pool usually means customers are getting the top experts and most creative minds in the industry. Smaller startups may also have closer connections to the hacker community, sometimes by even hiring former hackers to work for their organizations.

By getting inside the mind of the enemy, so to speak, startups can have an upper hand in developing technologies that are most adept at detecting and frustrating current hacking attacks. Startups are also more able to evolve with the threats as those risks change.

Startup Concerns

While these benefits make security startups seem like a sure bet, there are other considerations executives need to take into account before jumping on the startup bandwagon. While it’s true that bigger security companies may not drive innovation the way startups do, they mostly innovate by acquiring those startups, effectively using the very technologies that separate startups from the rest of the pack.

Larger companies also have the edge over prices, often competing against startups by cutting prices for their products and services. A large company can compete by doing this, since its customer base is so large and diverse. Security startups also represent a potential risk, especially if the emerging technology they develop doesn’t work or has difficulty maturing.

There’s also the possibility that a startup may fail either by folding or simply missing the mark on their intended goals. Investors are well aware of this risk, with some security startups losing some of its value after going public. Choosing between truly innovative startups and those that just want a piece of a growing pie will be an important decision for executives to make.

The tradeoffs between a security startup and bigger company are pretty clear.

Benefits of Startups:

  • More innovation
  • Deeper talent pool
  • Closer connection to current hacking techniques

Benefits of Big Security Companies:

  • Innovation through acquisition
  • More affordable options
  • More stable future

It’s now up to businesses to decide if going with a startup is the best choice. Those favoring the most innovation and agility in handling ever-changing security threats will likely prefer to use a startup. Those that want a stable future and a company with an easily verifiable reputation will likely use a larger security company. As always, if caution is used, executives will be able to determine if security startups can in fact live up to all the hype.


Rick-DelgadoAbout the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelancer tech writer and commentator. He enjoys writing about new technologies and trends, and how they can help us. Rick occasionally writes for several tech companies and industry publications.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this and other guest author articles are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.