Yesterday I published a quick survey what CEOs, CISOs, and cybersecurity professionals think are the most successful VCs. The answers were somewhat surprising: There was no clear leader, and very few picked VCs that had outstanding exits over the past 15 years. So why do so many supposedly great cybersecurity VCs — the “most successful”, per my question! — come to mind? Well, for one, over 200 (!) different individual venture investors are publicly listed (per Pitchbook) having had at least one meaningful exit with an outcome greater than $500m.
Meaningful Exits With an Outcome Greater Than $500m
Over the past 10 years — since 01/01/2008 — there were 25 meaningful exits of venture-backed IT Security startups with exit valuations of more than $500m . Some were acquisitions, some IPOs, some leveraged buyouts.
I had to go through the data a bit which is — as expected — not always very clean. My company has some unique insights from their direct and fund-of-fund investment activities. That information is not always available publicly. But we have definitely more than 200 individual investors (institutional and otherwise) for these 25 meaningful exits. So, of course, many people have very different views who are great VCs in IT Security and Cybersecurity.
[EDIT 2018-03-22: I’ve gotten the good feedback that I probably should have look at 180+ days after the IPO when investors can sell their shares after the hold-off period. Maybe I add that later if it has a material impact on the point I’m trying to make.]
Distribution of Meaningful Exits
However, some had more meaningful exits than others. But the number of firms with three or more meaningful exits in the past ten years is surprisingly small: Only 12 firms.
Only 12 firms had three or more meaningful exits in the past ten years. I will dive into the data tomorrow to show these twelve firms in “Most Successful Cybersecurity VCs: The Firms. (Part III)”, and how many investments they made in IT Security and Cybersecurity.