Symantec Buys Israel’s Fireglass for an Estimated $250 Million

Company specializes in browser isolation and attracted many high-profile investors since its founding in 2013

Eliran Rubin and Reuters
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Eliran Rubin and Reuters

Fireglass, an Israeli cybersecurity startup that has developed browser isolation technology, is being acquired by U.S. technology giant Symantec. The purchase price was not disclosed, but it is thought to be around $250 million.

Since it was founded in 2013, Fireglass, which is based in Tel Aviv, has raised about $22 million.

The company was established by its CEO, Guy Guzner, a former senior executive at Check Point Software Technologies, and Dan Amiga, the company’s chief technology officer, who did his Israeli army service with Intelligence Corps’ 8200 technology unit. He then worked in a number of positions in the high-tech sector and also taught computer science at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

Fireglass, which has attracted little media attention, has several dozen employees in Israel and the United States. Despite its low profile, it has managed to attract prominent investors, including Mickey Boodaei, one of the founders of Imperva and the founder of Trusteer, which was sold to IBM for more than $700 million. Other investors have included Lightspeed Venture Partners, Rakesh Loonkar – a major investor in the cybersecurity field – Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Singtel Innov8.

The product the company developed is, figuratively, a glass wall of sorts that permits web users at a business to be isolated, to ensure that websites they visit are free of malware and viruses of various kinds. This browser isolation technology creates virtual websites, allowing users to browse any content without permitting viruses to affect the business’ network.

Browser isolation is an area that Symantec has been looking to enter for some time, Chief Executive Greg Clark said in an interview. He cited a report from the Gartner consulting and research firm that projected that 50% of enterprises would adopt browser isolation by 2021. Health care companies, financial institutions, government and telecommunications firms have been early adopters of the technology, he said. “While it’s what I would call a ‘tuck-in’ acquisition, it will be very valuable to us as we bring it to our customers,” Clark added.

Among the products featured on Fireglass’ website is technology that provides isolation protection for email and documents. Despite being a relatively new company, it has paying customers and in 2016 was featured on Gartner’s list of Cool Vendors.

Symantec has been a leading serial acquirer of security companies in recent years, gobbling up Lifelock for $2.3 billion earlier this year and Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in 2015.

The purchase of Fireglass, which is expected to close in the third quarter of the year, will also increase Symantec’s footprint in Israel, a leader in the cybersecurity field, where Clark said Symantec has been looking to expand.

“The acquisition [of Fireglass] shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said Guy Horwitz, a partner in Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, who has been a board observer at Fireglass. It is widely known, he said, that cybersecurity products from the past no longer provide adequate protection, and Fireglass provides protection without interfering with the user experience.

“When we invested in Fireglass a year ago, we knew the company had millions of dollars a year in potential sales, and maybe even more. But for a small company in Israel, it’s hard to do that without cooperating with very large global players,” Horwitz said.

Symantec is considered a world leader in the field of information security and is known as one of the largest anti-virus product suppliers in the world in both the corporate and consumer market. As the cybersecurity field has attracted increased attention, and with the increase in the number of cyberattacks around the world, Symantec has been facing increasing challenges and has seen the need to constantly adapt its technology. As part of that effort, it is acquiring companies.

Symantec, which is traded on the Nasdaq exchange at a value of $16.4 billion, said it expects to be able to offer Fireglass’ technology shortly after the purchase of the company closes.

Israel, which has more than 400 cybersecurity startups, attracts about 20% of private global cybersecurity investment, Reuters reported, but Symantec has not had a major presence in the country up to now.

The acquisition of Fireglass will give it a foot in the door in the local market, making it easier for Symantec to open a research and development center in Israel. Symantec company executives were recently in the country, apparently in connection with the acquisition of Fireglass. Symantec is also considering other investments in Israel, The Marker has learned.



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