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Acquisitions / Cybersecurity / Startups

McAfee to acquire browser isolation company Light Point Security

Catonsville-based Light Point was founded by former NSAers in 2012. Here's a look at the road to exit.

Light Point Security cofounders Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins. (Courtesy photo)

Some news out of this week’s RSA conference in San Francisco caught our attention back east: Iconic cybersecurity company McAfee announced plans to acquire Catonsville-based Light Point Security.

When the deal finalizes, Light Point Security cofounders Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins are slated to move to California and join Santa Clara-based McAfee, the companies said. Terms were not disclosed.

Light Point Security, which has long been based at bwtech@UMBC, specializes in browser isolation. To prevent malware from getting in via web browser, Light Point’s technology can isolate browser sessions in a remote environment, which exists outside of a company’s network.

Now Light Point Security’s technology will be integrated into McAfee’s cloud security products, including the McAfee Secure Web Gateway and MVISION UCE. McAfee may be familiar for its antivirus software for consumers. These offerings are part of McAfee’s cybersecurity product line for large businesses and organizations.

“Web browsing is one of the most common threat vectors for endpoints to get infected. Adding Light Point Security’s capabilities into our products will create solutions that enable our customers to mitigate web-based threats without impacting user experience,” said Ash Kulkarni, EVP and chief product officer in McAfee’s enterprise business group, in a statement.

From Light Point’s perspective, Gonzalez called McAfee a “good match” for the company as it sought to make its technology available as part of a solution that encompassed different kinds of cybersecurity protections, and add sales and marketing might. In McAfee, they found an acquiring company that “valued innovation and was forward thinking,” Gonzalez said, and had a culture that valued customers.

“We knew that all along we wanted a buyer that was going to take our technology and incorporate it into their stack and provide customers with more value. … McAfee has a really strong vision when it comes to integrating our solution into their security stack,” said Gonzalez, who will help lead the integration in the new role.

Gonzalez and Adkins applied cybersecurity talents honed inside the Fort Meade-based National Security Agency to form the startup in 2012. At the time, there were just a few product companies in Maryland being built by former workers at the agency that’s known for working on the most advanced technology, but their ranks have since grown.

They soon joined bwtech@UMBC’s cyber incubator, which offered the entrepreneurs resources and the chance to talk with other mentors and founders. It helped them shape how the cutting-edge technology could move to market.

“If we had not done that we wouldn’t be where we are today. That was the first step in the right direction from a business perspective,” Gonzalez said.

The company also received funding in the form of loans from the Baltimore County Boost Fund and the VOLT Fund, the latter of which provides funding for small and minority, women and veteran owned businesses from funds collected at video lottery terminals. TEDCO also invested, and Gonzalez said the Maryland agency went “above and beyond” to provide additional support beyond the funding, crediting its loaned executive program.

The company built traction in industries such as finance, as well as media and entertainment. It was a road of steady growth, creating a company that could bring consistent value and building toward an exit.

Along the way, it’s informed how Gonzalez thinks about entrepreneurship. For instance, she said, Light Point could’ve sought more venture capital, but followed its own path and ended up growing in a way that led to acquisition by an industry leader.

“Don’t necessarily think you have to do something just because everyone else has done it that way,” she said.

Companies: Light Point Security

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