Our Investment in Upwind - Runtime Powered Cloud Security

Today we’re announcing that Leaders Fund has led a $50M financing in Upwind with our venture colleagues at Cyberstarts, Greylock, Craft Ventures, Sheva VC, Cerca and Penny Jar. This brings the total raised in the first 12 months of operations to $80 million.

Fundraising announcements are always an exciting day, but they also represent many months—in this case years—of hard work. We have been working with the Upwind founding team since 2017 as early investors in their first company, Spotinst, and this is just the first milestone in the Upwind adventure—what we are sure will be a generational company.

Then: The Spot.io (Spotinst) Journey

In 2017 Leaders Fund was doing a deep dive into the cloud cost optimization space. AWS was a ~$10 billion ARR business (now $90 billion ARR), and our thesis was simple: enterprises are in the early innings of the transition to the cloud, and as they move more workloads to the cloud they will be required to invest in cost optimization.

After speaking with 10+ companies we came across one that stood out: Spot.io, or Spotinst as it was known at the time. By taking advantage of the excess capacity the public cloud providers offered at discounted rates and delivering it in a form factor optimized for engineers rather than FinOps (as most tools were at the time), Spot customers were able to achieve up to 80% savings on their monthly bill.

Excited to have found something differentiated in this space, we cold emailed the CEO (99/100 times this doesn’t work, but luckily, with some persistence, he responded), Amiram Schachar, and met him for a late night drink at the 2017 AWS Reinvent conference. We didn’t know it at the time but that drink shifted the course of our firm. We invested in the company, scaled it with him and the amazing team, and sold it to NetApp for $450M in 2020. In the process we generated an incredible return for the fund, but more importantly, gained lifelong business partners and friends.

Follow up email morning after first meeting

Now: eBPF and Upwind’s Founding

After Amiram left NetApp he started searching for his next opportunity. As soon as he left, we let him know that we will unconditionally back him in his next company, regardless of what it is. So we were excited when he discovered a new technology called eBPF.

Message from Amiram after discovering eBPF

We had many conversations that got us very excited about eBPF and its potential impact to upend every category of the cybersecurity field. In using runtime data extracted through an eBPF agent, they could add real time context and visibility, unifying events within a network into a single view, thereby allowing enterprises to detect and respond to threats faster.

Deep dive on eBPF

In September of 2022, Amiram and his original Spot team, Lavi Ferdman, Liran Polak and Tal Zur co-founded Upwind, and Leaders Fund financed the company with $30 million alongside Cyberstarts, Greylock, Cerca VC, Sheva VC and Penny Jar.

Leaders Fund Managing Partner Gideon Hayden with co-investor Stephen Curry

Leaders Leads a $50 million Financing

In 11 short months this incredible team moved incredibly quickly, scaling to 70 people in Tel Aviv and San Francisco and in the process of working with hundreds of CISOs to build a modern cloud security platform. In doing this work they validated that CISO’s didn’t have enough visibility into their cloud native networks and therefore could not detect and respond to threats fast enough. With so many cyber solutions in the market, they also expressed a desire to consolidate the capabilities of many into one platform.

With this insight in hand, the Upwind team built a platform leveraging runtime data to help enterprises holistically secure cloud infrastructure and applications with previously unavailable runtime context. It helps security engineers accurately assess risks, detect threats in real time and respond to them 10 times faster than existing tools in the market. The platform analyzes cloud infrastructure at all levels of an enterprise’s cloud-native environment and provides security teams with newfound visibility into their cloud applications, significantly optimizing their efficiency through automation and real-time response, all in one platform. In a word, for companies with large cloud-native deployments, Upwind’s technology is absolutely vital.

Seeing Upwind’s deep traction within the Fortune 500, we lead a subsequent $50 million financing alongside all existing investors in September 2023.

We are incredibly impressed with the speed at which this team is moving and are thrilled to be able to support them again as they write their next chapter. These multi year/multi company relationships are what you work for in venture, and we look forward to writing many more chapters with them.

As we say at the company, Up & Upwind!

Published on
September 5, 2023
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