YL Ventures, the prominent seed-stage global venture capital firm investing in Israeli cybersecurity startups, today announced significant expansion of its industry-leading Venture Advisory Board. Its membership now exceeds 85 global CISOs and cybersecurity executives from Fortune 100 and high-growth companies. New Venture Advisors include Edna Conway, VP & GM, Global Security, Risk & Compliance, Azure at Microsoft; Ricardo Lafosse, CISO at The Kraft Heinz Company; Stan Lowe, Global CISO at Zscaler; Patricia Titus, Chief Privacy & Information Security Officer at Markel Corporation, Elwin Wong, Group VP & CISO at Ross Stores and other executives hailing from HPE, Optiv, GSK, HashiCorp, Atlassian, Burberry, Campbell Soup Company, the NHL, Nielsen and more.
Determined to diversify its talent pool of experts, YL Ventures is especially committed to increasing its representation of women. While a lack of gender diversity plagues STEM fields in general, it is especially pronounced wherever computer science and security are concerned and has only been compounded by the industry’s long-standing human capital shortage. In addition to those mentioned above, the firm has added to its advisory ranks women who are leading the charge for cybersecurity innovation. Foremost among them are Roota Almeida, CISO at Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut; Stacey Halota, VP, Information Security & Privacy at Graham Holdings; Dawn-Marie Hutchinson, Security Transformation Executive at GSK; Shannon Lietz, Leader & Director, DevSecOps at Intuit; Tammy Moskites, CEO & Founder of CyAlliance (former Managing Director at Accenture); Sherry Ryan, VP, CISO at Juniper Networks; and others.
The Venture Advisory Board, launched in 2018, reflects YL Ventures’ unique focus on bridging the gap between Israeli innovation and U.S. end markets. It provides Israeli cybersecurity entrepreneurs with the tools for success in a competitive global market and helps shape cybersecurity technology that tackles market-critical needs. In return, CISOs gain an early look into the latest advancements in cybersecurity innovation. These meaningful relationships often develop into sales and long-lasting partnerships. In the case of Sounil Yu, former Chief Security Scientist at Bank of America, it resulted in him joining YL Ventures as its full-time CISO-in-Residence, providing the firm’s portfolio companies with hands-on support and an in-house lens into their customers’ needs.
Venture Advisors help the firm vet investments and help YL Ventures portfolio founders define their strategy to resonate with customer needs and navigate the dynamic cybersecurity market landscape. Venture Advisors are leveraged to enrich entrepreneurs’ ideation processes before investment, share essential insights and guide the firm’s portfolio companies on product development, product-market fit and go-to-market strategies, as well as provide continuous support throughout the companies’ lifecycle. These advisors often sign on as official company advisors, design partners or future customers.
“Security and privacy remain top of mind for businesses, especially in today’s global remote work environment. I continue to be impressed by the talent and ingenuity that comes out of the Israeli cybersecurity sector—especially those that have been vetted by industry veterans like YL Ventures,” says Lakshmi Hanspal, Global CISO of Box. “It’s a real privilege to have the opportunity to help such promising founders shape their visions into reality. There’s a symbiotic learning relationship that takes place in such engagements.”
“CISOs are approached hundreds of times a day by cybersecurity vendors and it’s a job in and of itself to sort through what can be an overwhelming amount of noise. Working with YL Ventures and companies in their pipeline allows me to help the next generation of solutions learn how to really address my needs, rise above the competition and ultimately have the privilege of speaking with some really brilliant teams,” says Justinian Fortenberry, CISO at GrubHub.
Having experienced cybersecurity leaders provides entrepreneurs with a strategic advantage for navigating these uncertain times, given the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the global market and ensuing changes in customer behavior. Despite these changes, the cybersecurity industry continues its steady rise of the past decade and has entrenched itself as an essential part of C-Suite discourse. YL Ventures’ early identification of this promising trend led them to refocus its entire investment strategy towards the cybersecurity market space—a strategy that has proven wise as the cybersecurity industry not only quickly bounced back from the recent market slump, but also consistently outperformed the S&P 500.
Commenting on this trend, Avi Shua, CEO & Co-founder of YL Ventures’ portfolio company Orca Security, points out that “The world of cybersecurity is growing more competitive and unfamiliar given recent events, placing the onus on investors to go the extra mile for their portfolio companies. YL Ventures’ real-world multidisciplinary team and extensive advisors network of industry experts guide their entrepreneurs through every step of company-building and provide assurance that the firm is fully committed to getting their hands dirty alongside us.”
YL Ventures Partner John Brennan, who oversees portfolio business development from the firm’s San Francisco offices, says “YL Ventures-funded companies have seen immense success with this program, where engagement starts as early as their ideation phases. Our advisors’ expert input leads to stronger messaging, accelerates product development and creates a steady stream of feedback from the people actually responsible for protecting their organizations. The size and versatility of our advisory board ensures that we can provide actionable advice for entrepreneurs, regardless of stage or focus within the cybersecurity space — and it all starts pre-investment.”
About YL Ventures
YL Ventures funds and supports brilliant Israeli tech entrepreneurs from seed to lead. With headquarters in Silicon Valley and satellite offices in Tel Aviv, YL Ventures manages $270 million and specializes in cybersecurity. YL Ventures accelerates the evolution of portfolio companies via strategic advice and U.S.-based operational execution, leveraging a powerful network of CISOs and global industry leaders. The firm’s track record includes successful, high-profile portfolio company acquisitions by major corporations including Palo Alto Networks, Microsoft, CA and Proofpoint.
Heading the fund is Silicon Valley-based Managing Partner Yoav Andrew Leitersdorf, a serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor for over 25 years. Yoav works alongside Partner John Brennan in the U.S., while Partner & Head of Israeli Office Ofer Schreiber leads the Tel Aviv office together with CMO, Sharon Seemann. With a multidisciplinary team of 15 spread across two offices, YL Ventures has engrained itself in both the U.S. and Israeli cybersecurity ecosystems.