interview

Chris Coleman

CEO, LookingGlass

LookingGlass Acquires Prague-based Kleissner and Associates

July 22, 2015— Mergers and acquisitions are of particular interest in a growing sector like cyber security. We spoke with LookingGlass CEO Chris Coleman about his company's acquisition of Prague-based Kleissner & Associates, and he shared his views on the importance of aligning acquisition with strategic goals.

Baltimore-founded cyber threat intelligence management company LookingGlass has announced its acquisition of Kleissner & Associates, a global botnet-monitoring firm based in Prague. Kleissner will become a wholly owned subsidiary of LookingGlass, and its VirusTracker® will become part of an expanded LookingGlass portfolio that includes ScoutVision™, CloudScout™, ScoutInterXect, and CloudShield®. VirusTracker will remain available as a standalone product; it will also be integrated into the ScoutVision line.

LookingGlass CEO Chris Coleman spoke with the CyberWire about the acquisition. He described the strong prior relationship between the two companies, the acquisition's synergistic fit with capabilities and strategic goals, and the smooth transition the company expects to make. The companies are, he believes, well aligned in terms of business goals and strategies, and Coleman looks forward to enhancing their products and services. Here's what he had to say.

The CyberWire: Tell us about the acquisition—who's LookingGlass acquiring, and what capabilities do they bring?

Coleman: We acquired a company called Kleissner & Associates. They're based in Prague, the Czech Republic. Kleissner provides a global botnet monitoring service. Basically, we've had a relationship with Kleissner for the past couple of years, and they've provided a very rich set of data on botnet-infected hosts, connecting to engineered botnet domains. We've been able to sinkhole those data and correlate them back with user information and IT information to understand the way the botnet structures are set up, how often they're checking in, and so on. So, given our overall strategy of developing and working with highly contextual data, Kleissner provides that, and they also provide some other capabilities such as click fraud detection.

The CyberWire: How do you see this fitting in with your existing products and services? You mentioned that your overall strategy, of course, involves high context data, but is there anything else you'd like to say about how the acquisition fits in with LookingGlass's plans?

Coleman: We try to be very strategic in the market. Kleissner has developed capabilities that we intend to leverage in the threat intelligence space. Kleissner's capabilities are very well adapted to large companies and government clients, but also to serving small and medium enterprises interested in improving their threat intelligence and information security. Kleissner also ties in well with the DNS protection capabilities our CloudShield acquisition has brought us, helping protect enterprises from malicious domains. So they're tied into everything that we've been putting together and developing for some time.

The CyberWire: Tell us about some of the challenges you faced in deciding the acquisition of the company.

Coleman: Deciding on the acquisition was fairly straightforward: Kleissner is very complementary to what we do. Our relationship with them was always a very positive and progressive one, so it wasn't very difficult making the decision to move forward with the acquisition. Obviously, any time you do international acquisitions, international law and employee relationships are a little bit more complicated, but other than that it was a very smooth acquisition for us.

The CyberWire: How large is Kleissner in terms of number of employees?

Coleman: They're a small organization, three people. It's very much a technology shop; they've built a very automated capability. They really leveraged their technology and engineered it well to accomplish what they've been able to put together.

The CyberWire: Do you see any particular challenges following from the acquisition?

Coleman: Not at all. We don't see any challenges at all: it's a great opportunity for us to expand our capabilities. Kleissner also brings some significant business in the European markets, and should help bring our combined capabilities and product lines to further expand our presence in the European market space. We don't really foresee any challenges. It was a very easy and smooth acquisition for us, and we expect the same going forward.

The CyberWire: We hear that there is an increased attention to a company's cyber security posture when you're doing acquisition due diligence. Did you find this to be the case? Do you have any lessons you'd like to share with others in our industry?

Coleman: Obviously, in this market space, you have to protect yourself. Especially when you're doing things to take down or interfere with the adversaries. Kleissner's done a good job in shoring up their infrastructure and making sure it's resilient. They have been—and will continue to be—targets of denial-of-service attacks, and the resilience of their architecture has enabled them to stand up against some of the larger attacks in Europe. Their architecture has been entirely resilient to protect against those types of things.

So security posture and organization as a whole have been things we evaluate in our due diligence, and we thought Kleissner's very solid, and not something that concerned us. Obviously, you know, protecting your infrastructure is always a concern, but we think that they are at a high standard, and that they'll also roll into the LookingGlass standard, even giving us the ability to further protect our overall business operations and the information that we have.

The CyberWire: Do you have any advice on acquiring companies you'd like to share with other businesses that might be thinking along the same lines? Any lessons learned?

Coleman: Well, I can tell you what's important to us is the execution of our corporate strategy as a whole, and how that fits with an organic perspective. We are very selective in our acquisitions to make sure they are contributing to us both financially and strategically. I have to say, we're not looking to bolt together a bunch of companies that don't have synergy, counting on things that can't be leveraged and trusting to some kind of cross-pollination of their capabilities. We're very focused on executing our strategy, and that strategy is to go back to our playbook on evaluating our acquisitions and how they fit into our goals moving forward.

The CyberWire: Is there any advice you'd like to offer companies who might be thinking about putting themselves up for acquisition?

Coleman: You know, I think the first thing to say would be that I'm not a big fan of companies who oversell themselves. Be careful what you ask for, as well — traditionally in an acquisition you're giving up control of your company. So make sure you're at a stage where your leadership and employees are ready to take the jump, and that there's a benefit to the acquisition besides just financial gain.

The CyberWire: Thank you, Mr. Coleman, and congratulations on your acquisition of Kleissner and Associates.