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Sources: IBM is buying Polar Security for $60M to bolster its tech in cloud data management

Sources: IBM is buying Polar Security for $60M to bolster its tech in cloud data management
May 2023

Cyber startups continue to get scooped up by bigger tech players looking to bolt on newer and better technology to address an ever-growing array of security vulnerabilities among themselves and their customers. In the latest development, TechCrunch has learned that IBM has acquired Polar Security, a startup founded in Israel that has built a platform for what Polar describes as "data security posture management" -- that is, technology to audit and track how and where cloud data is flowing and being accessed within a company's network.

A source with knowledge of the deal confirmed to TechCrunch that IBM is paying around $60 million for the startup, and that it will be announcing the deal formally this week, possibly as soon as today. (The price, it seems, is also being reported by Israeli-language news site tech12.) We have reached out to representatives for both companies to see if we can confirm any of these details.

Polar emerged from stealth a little over a year ago, armed with $8.5 million in funding from Gilot, IBI and a number of individuals. The company was co-founded by cybersecurity vet Dov Yoran (chairman); Guy Shanny (CEO); and Roey Yaacovi (CTO), and it's unclear which of them, or how much staff, will be coming over with the acquisition, nor who its current customers are. One case study on the site detailed work for Ocrolus; and two of the co-founders previously worked in cybersecurity for the Israeli government in the Prime Minister's office.

From what we understand, Polar is not selling up for lack of runway, and it was also being looked at by other acquirers -- specifically Datadog.

Coincidentally, Datadog has also been in the news as a potential acquirer of another cybersecurity startup (also focused on posture management) out of Israel, Laminar, which is reportedly getting acquired for between $200 million and $250 million (other potential buyers in the frame, according to this story from Calcalist, include Rubrik).

The growth of cloud services has opened the door to a new wave of complexity when it comes to data: the challenges include not only identifying and tracking the many places where data is stored, but how and where it gets used, who can access it, how this might shift with the introduction of new services, and how all of that works in compliance with a host of regulations that might vary country by country. Polar is far from the only startup building tools to help address all of this: others include the likes of Laminar, CrowdStrike, Checkpoint, Zscaler and more.

The business of auditing and tracking data itself is also getting more granular: Zscaler acquired another startup, Canonic, to focus on supply-chains specifically in February. Cisco in the same month also acquired Valtix for better observability in multi-cloud environments. Palo Alto Networks' acquisition of Cider Security back in November also spoke to a drive for more observability around applications in the cloud.

It's not clear if IBM is making this acquisition for internal purposes or to beef up its security portfolio: the company has extensive holdings already in the area of security, covering software, managed security and consulting, and it has made a number of acquisitions in the space to build that out.

We'll update this post as we learn more.

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