(The Indus Entrepreneurs) TIE Pittsburgh Keynote Speaker

  • Tepper Quad
  • Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Floor
  • Founding CEO, Wombat Security Technologies
  • Professor, CyLab Security and Privacy Institute, and School of Computer Science
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Wombat Security Technologies: How We Got to a $225M Exit By Phishing Our Customers

By 2008, phishing had become a major scourge, costing companies several billion dollars a year. Products  offered by cybersecurity vendors failed to recognize the crux of the problem, namely all those users who were falling for phishing attacks. Over the previous few years, my co-founders and I had embarked on a research project at Carnegie Mellon University to develop more effective solutions, namely solutions that addressed the human element in these social engineering attacks. Our approach involved training users by sending them fake phishing emails. We incorporated Wombat Security Technologies in June 2008. Over the following ten years, our solutions became the de facto standard for training users to not fall for phishing attacks and also formed the basis for a comprehensive line of anti-phishing and cybersecurity training products. By late 2017, the company had well over 2,000 corporate customers around the world, including many global Fortune 1000 companies. In February 2018, we sold Wombat for $225M in cash to Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT). This presentation will go over the company’s history, its growth over the years, and some lessons learned.

Dr. Norman Sadeh served as founding CEO of Wombat Security Technologies and continued as Chairman and Chief Scientist until the company’s acquisition. Together with his collaborators, he grew Wombat to become a leading provider of anti-phishing and cybersecurity awareness training technologies. Wombat was acquired for $225M by Proofpoint (NASDAQ: PFPT) in February 2018. By the time of its acquisition Wombat had well over 2,000 corporate customers, and had been named a clear leader in the Gartner Group’s Magic Quadrant in Security Awareness Computer-Based Training for 4 years in a row (since the inception of Gartner’s Quadrant in this sector). It had also been identified as one of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in North America for three consecutive years in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500. In May 2018, Norman was honored with the 2018 Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association.

Norman is also a professor in the School of Computer Science and the CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He is director of CMU’s Mobile Commerce Laboratory and co-Director of the Master's Program in Privacy Engineering. He also co-founded and for 12 years co-directed the MBA track in Technology Leadership launched jointly by the Tepper School of Business and the School of Computer Science to train product managers for the tech industry. Norman received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at CMU with a major in Artificial Intelligence, a MS degree in computer science from the University of Southern California and a BS/MS degree in electrical engineering and applied physics from the Free University of Brussels (Belgium).

Admission is Free for CMU Faculty and Students: use the code CMU


Hosted by: TIE Pittsburgh

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