RSAC's 2019 edition of its Innovation Sandbox was held yesterday, with ten of the security sector's most interesting start-ups on display. The field consisted of Arkose Labs, Axonius, Capsule8, CloudKnox Security, DisruptOps, Duality Technologies, Eclypsium, Salt Security, ShiftLeft, and WireWheel. As they did last year, the selectors chose two finalists: Duality Technologies, specialists in homomorphic encryption, and Axonius, which offers an asset management solution.
Axonius was chosen as this year's winner. The company's CMO, Nathan Burke, represented Axionus on stage, and he characterized the problem they solved as "unsexy," or, as one of the selectors put it during questioning, "yesterday's problem." Unglamorous and all too familiar, Burke nonetheless made a plea for addressing it, calling the challenge of asset management "a big, nagging problem that's only getting worse." It's a familiar CISO pain point, and Axionus seeks to approach it in a way that enables its customers to adopt its solution without replacing their existing investments in security tools. As the selection panel summed it up in their explanation of their choice, Axionus solves a problem that's been around for decades, and it's interesting because of the pain enterprise security managers experience from "never having a straight answer about their assets."
As he has for several years, Dr. Hugh Thompson emceed the proceedings. A preliminary discussion between Thompson and one of the judges, RSA veteran Niloofar Razi Howe, summarized the themes that drew the judges to the ten finalists: hybrid cloud, asset discovery, container security, API security, and privacy. That's as good a list of the high-profile topics that seem to be engaging participants at RSAC 2019 as any.
The criteria the judges applied during their deliberations came down to these. They looked at the problem a candidate company sought to solve, and for whom. They assessed the originality and soundness of the company's approach. They looked at its go-to-market strategy, and the company's probable impact and reach. The quality of the candidate's leadership team was an important aspect of the judges' evaluation. And, significantly, the judges looked at market validation.
A follow-on program, RSAC's first Launch Pad for three innovative companies, will be held this afternoon.