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Infrastructure Software
Powered by Battery  |  December 18, 2020
How to Build Applications Securely and Run Them in Production, Without Really Trying

This season of the Powered by Battery podcast features portfolio executives representing companies from various geographies and technology sectors. The views expressed here are solely those of podcast guests, not Battery. If you’re interested in learning more about these companies, or others in the Battery portfolio, you can access more information here.

The volume of software code being written by companies for new and existing software applications is exploding today—and growing even more due to Covid-19. Many enterprises are speeding up digital-transformation efforts that were in the works before the pandemic, owing to the need to move more services online, improve online products for customers and connect a workforce that is, in many instances, still toiling at home.

But there’s a downside here that companies must manage, too: all the security risks that come with rapid application development. Enter Contrast Security*. The Los Altos, Calif. firm specializes in baking security into application development and extending it all the way through to production—in industry lingo, “DevSecOps”—which helps companies digitize more quickly and securely. In a recent interview with Powered by Battery, Contrast’s CEO, Alan Naumann, talks through the company’s mission as well as the special challenges, and opportunities, he’s faced as a leader this year. Have a listen.

Powered by Battery · How to Build Applications Securely and Run Them in Production, Without Really Trying

Key Takeaways:

  • When it comes to cybersecurity, “observability” is key. Forward-thinking, digital organizations are always tracking the applications they’re moving through development, testing, staging and deployment. According to Naumann, they also need to track, or observe, the security of all that technology as it moves into production. In October, Contrast launched a new security observability platform that delivers application security from the development stage all the way to production, all within one user interface and analytics engine.
  • Digital transformation is, in many ways, being driven by the peculiarities of specific industries. Companies in sectors as diverse as supply-chain management to insurance to medicine to government all have very specific software needs, which is driving the development of so many company-specific and industry-specific software applications. Naumann cites a recent CEO survey that found 75% of Fortune 500 leaders intended to accelerate spending on digital initiatives as a result of the Covid pandemic.
  • Even experienced CEOs need to learn new tricks in this environment. “I know it goes without saying, but this is unprecedented,” says Naumann, who is on his fourth CEO job. Though he’s managed through business and financial crises before, Naumann says he’s never had to run a company in a down economic environment amidst a global health crisis that severely stressed the hospital infrastructure and sickened so many people–which also forced most people to work from home, at least for a time. Still, “you have to deal with these curve balls and try to make your company stronger” no matter what the circumstances, he says.
  • B2B companies that rely on in-person marketing have to get creative right now. Contrast has traditionally used a direct sales model that leverages physical events, such as industry conferences, to generate buzz and drive leads to the top of the funnel. With that channel now largely closed, the company is working over Zoom but also doing things like sending prospects a “work from home” kit containing items like headphones and high-quality microphones.
  • It’s OK to take a break. A few times during the pandemic, Naumann has called for a “mental health day” at Contrast—a day in which employees are expected to relax and cancel most of their meetings, with the exception of dealing with any urgent customer issues. Constant video conferencing is “stress inducing”, and taking a break can actually increase productivity over the long run, Naumann believes. He’s also instituted a twice-monthly call with his executive staff and people/HR team to discuss employee challenges and brainstorm solutions. He also now hosts a monthly “Ask Me Anything” call with employees to stay in touch.

The information provided in this podcast is solely intended for the use of entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs and founders regarding Battery Ventures’ potential financing capabilities for prospective portfolio companies. The information is current as of the date it was published. The contents are not intended to be used in the investment decision making process related to any product or fund managed by Battery Ventures. Battery Ventures provides investment advisory services solely to privately offered funds. Battery Ventures neither solicits nor makes its services available to the public or other advisory clients.

*Contrast Security is a Battery portfolio company. Investments identified above are for illustrative purposes only. No assumptions should be made that any investments identified above were or will be profitable. It should not be assumed that recommendations in the future will be profitable or equal the performance of the companies identified above. For more information about Battery Ventures’ potential financing capabilities for prospective portfolio companies, please refer to our website. For a complete list of portfolio companies, please click here.

Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this podcast nor notify its audience in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.

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