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Interview: Silicon Valley’s Matt Cohler on Investing in the Security Market

Recently, the Duo Creative team interviewed one of our favorite investors, Matt Cohler of Benchmark, a venture capital firm known for early stage funding of several high-growth Silicon Valley startups, including Uber, Instagram, Dropbox - and, of course, Duo Security.

Benchmark focuses on ventures in mobile, social and cloud computing. Late last year, the firm led Duo Security’s $12 million Series B funding round, and also backed Duo in the most recent $30 million Series C. The funding has led to rapid growth and expansion not only within Michigan, but also extending to both the West and East coasts - as well as internationally. And unsurprisingly, that means we’re definitely hiring.

The addition of Duo Platform Edition earlier this year has also expanded Duo Security’s product portfolio to more than just two-factor authentication to include advanced access security features, such as policies and controls, device insight, and greater support for enterprise cloud applications.

Matt stopped by our Ann Arbor headquarters to talk about why his company chose to invest in Duo, and where he sees the security and enterprise software markets heading. View the video below, or if you're a literary learner, read on:

Consumerization of the IT and Security Market

According to Matt, consumerization is one of the most exciting and important shifts in the enterprise software industry. Duo’s focus on the end-user experience is what excites Matt and his partners the most.

Duo combines enterprise technology with consumer-grade usability.

The simplicity of Duo is what draws Matt to the company. Duo provides an intuitive, easy-to-use product for end-users, which is critical to making security effective. Learn more about the benefits and features of Duo’s User Experience and how we make it easy for your admins to manage Users & Devices.

[Duo] is a very simple, intuitive, easy-to-use product for the end-users within an organization - the depth and breadth of adoption that we’ve gotten across all manners of organizations speaks to that.

Duo’s growing roster of clients include organizations in every type of industry, such as fast-growing technology companies, healthcare providers, top universities, major media and entertainment firms, retail businesses and more. Check out our Success Stories for specific use cases featuring Facebook, Threadless, Etsy and many others.

Shifting to a Mobile, Cloud, BYOD and User-Centric World

The shift from on-premises to the cloud affects devices, apps and services - while many are standing up their own apps and services, all of these things need to integrate with security too.

Duo is architected from the ground up to secure a heterogenous environment comprised of devices, apps and services.

According to Matt, there are three major changes that Duo’s speaking to -

  1. The shift to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the mobile-centric world.
  2. The shift to a cloud-centric world. Systems are now moving to the cloud, both for employee and end-user apps and services, also for IT security and administration.
  3. The shift toward the user as the focal point - not just for consumer products, but within enterprises and organizations as well.

Starting Simple: Reshaping and Growing the Security Market

Matt compared Duo to other global, complex companies he works with that started from a simple place.

Facebook started as simple, but powerful system that worked for Harvard undergrads; Yelp started as a simple, yet effective way to review and recommend San Francisco bars and nightlife; and Uber started as a better alternative to transportation in a single city.

All of these big companies must start with the engineering mentality of solving a simple problem well - then building upon that to develop a better solution. Matt heard about Duo from many of their other portfolio companies:

It’s a rare thing to hear an entrepreneur or CEO talk about their security product.

According to Matt, Benchmark gets excited about companies that aren’t necessarily operating in the biggest market, but more so excited about opportunities to grow a market and demand, or reshape a market or demand.

One example is Uber - a company that is very different, growing new demand in the market, and a lot more compelling than older legacy markets, such as taxis or limos.

Similarly, Duo has an opportunity to reshape and grow demand for security, as opposed to older security solutions that have been in the market for years that were originally architected to address environments that are becoming increasingly obsolete.

It’s important to start with something sharp, angular, different and compelling - that also provides an amazing user experience.

Note: Duo's Platform Edition is now known as Duo Access - with even more features. Please visit our Pricing page to view our latest editions.