Ann Arbor security startup Censys has hired Duo West sales veteran Will Saso of San Jose, CA, to head up its worldwide sales. We take this as a positive sign that security startups in Ann Arbor are able to draw in top hires from Silicon Valley, if still not outside their Duo network of talent.
How does someone build a career in successful startup exits 5 companies deep in a smaller and still emerging tech hub like Ann Arbor? Ask Jim Simpson, who has done just that in the burgeoning security startup scene in Ann Arbor with startups including Duo Security and Arbor Networks. Now new security startup Blumira, whose alumni include people from Duo Security, Censys, Groundspeed, Deepfield by Nokia and the NSA, has just hired Ann Arbor security startup veteran Jim Simpson as VP of Product as the company heads into its next building phase. Blumira has closed on $2.6 million in funding in the last year and recently doubled its team of about a dozen to two dozen, hoping to double that again in the next year to 50. We chatted with Simpson this week about the company’s rapid growth and how Blumira is working with the dynamics created by COVID-19 instead of against it to build success.
Cybersecurity startup Censys, which offers visibility and risk assessment of businesses’ constantly evolving security vulnerabilities, recently announced that it has hired Derek Abdine as CTO, who will head up technical strategy and innovation. Abdine brings 15 years of work in security industry leadership to the role, as well as experience as an industry evangelist.
This year has seen a number of new security startups in the Ann Arbor Detroit region, as alum of Duo Security, Censys, and other security companies head off on their own entrepreneurial journey. The great news is that they’re all different, serving different markets with different solutions. They also have something to teach all of us about the tech startup journey.
Another security startup has joined the growing ranks of cybersecurity companies in Southeast Michigan, emerging from the Duo exit. This one, AaDya, targets mid-size companies that need a general security service. Founder Raffaele Mautone says this was intentional, as many security startups have novel ideas but “only solve one problem.” AaDya is located in Detroit, not nearby Ann Arbor, because Mautone says he grew up in Detroit and had “seen how the city has evolved the last 5 years. I’ve been seeing startups and founders reposition themselves in the market to overcome challenges.” Mautone says he also likes the culture and the startup ecosystem, “which is small enough to help each other.”
It’s finally here: Ann Arbor’s annual tech week, a2tech360, starts today and runs all next week with 16 online tech events highlighting the latest innovations and trends in mobility tech, Midwest investment, software, security startups, and life sciences.
“One problem people face in moving to the cloud is logistics,” says Ross Kinder of Groove.id, an Ann Arbor-Austin tech startup that has created a platform for easing the process of giving employees access to necessary systems during onboarding–and removing access during offboarding. “Managing this well keeps you secure. So we created a very simple on/off switch for access each new hire needs.” It’s not quite that simple, actually. Groove.id also prides itself on the company’s ability to predict which systems each employee role needs access to, to streamline onboarding for managers who need to bring on domain experts and might not know all the access they need. “Instead of asking which applications each job role needs, we look at other people in similar job roles and predict.”
If you’re in tech, you know something special has been happening in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the last few years. First cybersecurity startup Duo Security was acquired by Cisco for $2.3 billion, alongside 3 other Southeastern Michigan companies that became the region’s first unicorn startups, or tech startups valued at over $1 billion. Ann Arbor, with its solid tech talent pipeline from the University of Michigan and local business hubs that are home to now hundreds of software, life science and biotech, and security startups, has been ranked as an emerging tech hub by national outlets. Then the Duo team present for the exit got the startup itch. Now Blumira, founded in 2018 by tech alum of Duo Security, Censys and the NSA, just raised $2.6 million in seed round funding, is doubling its staff, and is disrupting the security SIEM (Security Incident and Event Monitoring) market to offer streamlined security services to small businesses.
For the last year, Traverse City Michigan startup incubator 20Fathoms has been running a program called tccodes, to mentor professionals moving into software development careers. Tomorrow, Program Manager Keith Kelly says, they’re kicking off phase 2 of the program, tccyber, with an event called CyberSecurity As a Career, to support people entering the growing cybersecurity industry.
Tomorrow in Grand Rapids, the Defense Innovation Drink & Think is taking place. This event, according to organizer Gregg Wildes of DornerWorks and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum of Michigan, is a networking opportunity for defense tech entrepreneurs–“companies doing AI and software for cybersecurity of ground vehicles or satellites.” Advanced materials is also in the mix, and machine vision and learning. The Defense Innovation Drink & Think is a way for these tech founders and professionals to meet each other and find ways to collaborate.