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Startup Snyk raises $70 in new funding to push forward its ‘fanatical focus’ on developers and unique approach to cybersecurity in open source software

Startup Snyk raises $70 in new funding to push forward its ‘fanatical focus’ on developers and unique approach to cybersecurity in open source software

The first thing that Snyk, the open source security company, wants to clear up for its users is how to say its name: Pronounced "sneak," it's short for "so now you know."

But one thing that hasn't confused users is its strategy of focusing on developers, says Snyk co-founder and president Guy Podjarny. He says its investors were on the same page about this vision as well — and on Tuesday, Snyk announced it closed $70 million in funding, led by Accel and existing investors GV and Boldstart Ventures.

"We have to expect and understand how we're building the right product," Podjarny told Business Insider. "We want to build the best developer experience and continue to grow the product to make sure it meets the commercial needs of customers…I think you're always in existential mode when you're a startup, but we've never lost conviction around the path."

Snyk creates open source security tools, which are free for anyone to use, download, or modify. For more advanced features, Snyk also offers paid versions, but the free tools make it easier for its community of developers to try out.

With the funding, Snyk plans to further expand internationally, develop more products, and generally reach more customers. But first and foremost, Snyk CEO Peter McKay says he wants to make sure Snyk doesn't lose the "fanatical focus" it has on customers, and that it continues to recruit top talent.

"As you grow and people have been with you for three to four years, you want to make sure the culture of your company stays strong," McKay told Business Insider. "You don't want to be in a situation where your growth outstretches your talent."

'We don't just find security problems; we fix them'

When Podjarny co-founded Snyk in 2015, he wanted to start a company that made it easier for developers to secure the software they were building.

"That's the driver for it," Podjarny said. "I think the desire and the appreciation that you want developers to embrace security is an old one. We've known it for a long time."

It settled on a very particular niche: The Snyk tool automatically finds and fixes known security flaws in the open-source software that forms the core of many modern apps. Open source software, which is traditionally developed by armies of unpaid, volunteer developers, is at the heart of the modern software industry — but popular open source packages can sometimes have security flaws that could hypothetically give attackers a way in.

"For many customers we are the first solution they embrace," Podjarny said. "We don't just find security problems; we fix them…That really is a unique property of what we build."

Now, Snyk's reputation in the security world, and its very specific solution, helped Snyk quickly attract investors, McKay says. In fact, investors proactively reached out to the company and said that they were looking to invest.

"They sought us out because they liked the developer-first model," McKay said. "They liked the focus on tools for developers to be more secure."

What's more, Podjarny says security has become more necessary as developers release code, both faster and been a wave of developer focused companies that have either gone public or will soon, like PagerDuty, CrowdStrike, and Datadog.

A 'bottom-up business'

Just July, Snyk acquired DevSecCon, a conference dedicated to development, security, and operations. Podjarmy says that with DevSecCon, Snyk wants to provide more support for developer teams and help them understand the key issues in cybersecurity better.

"We want to help share our knowledge as well as facilitate collaboration and case studies amidst that community, so we continue to invest there," Podjarmy said.

Read more: 7 cybersecurity startups to bet your career on in 2019

Podjarny says that it's thanks to its community that Snyk has been able to expand quickly, and over the last year, he has seen lots of growth in its projects.

"I think the key thing to highlight is the community mobility and adoption," Podjarny said. "In the last year we've seen a big surge. Snyk has been a bottom-up business."