21. Synack

Using hackers to fight cybercrime

Founders: Jay Kaplan, Mark Kuhr
Date launched: 2013
Funding: 34 million
Industries disrupted: Penetration testing, automated tools

It seems that nearly every week another company makes headlines because its customer information or Internal emails are hacked. Synack was started in 2013 to help fight these cyberthreats. The Redwood City, California-based company is the brainchild of former National Security Agency agents Jay Kaplan, CEO, and Mark Kuhr, CTO, who worked on counterterrorism before founding the company. The Synack platform combines the best of human knowledge and technology to give companies in any industry ongoing and on-demand vulnerability intelligence.


Synack's goal is to take the concept of bug-bounty programs at companies like Google and make them accessible to companies that can't afford to hire security experts in-house.

One of the company's most potent tools is its Red Team—a private crowd of highly skilled security hackers from all over the world who are able to go in and prove exactly where a client's security vulnerabilities are located.

In the last nine months alone, Synack said it has increased revenue by 90 percent, customers by 60 percent and its Red Team members by 40 percent. Investors have taken note. The company has raised $34 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures and Greylock Partners.

Synack founders Mark Kuhr (left) and Jay Kaplan
Source: Synack
Synack founders Mark Kuhr (left) and Jay Kaplan
"During our time in the NSA, we became keenly aware of the degree to which a typical enterprise was vulnerable to a cyberattack, and worse, the most commonly chosen protection methods could not keep pace with the evolving cybercriminal. We knew if applied correctly, the NSA’s proactive Red Team model and hacker mind-set could dramatically improve the enterprise’s security stance and defense against future attacks." -Jay Kaplan, co-founder and CEO, Synack

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