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In The Boardroom With...

Bruce K. Taragin
Managing Director
Blumberg Capital

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, Bruce. Before discussing Blumberg Capital in greater detail, please give us a brief overview of your background.

Bruce Taragin: I’m a managing director at Blumberg Capital and have been a part of the team here since 1998 (David Blumberg started the firm in 1991). I’m a native New Yorker, and after many years of working in San Francisco, moved back here in 2016. I spend a lot of time in both our San Francisco and Tel Aviv offices and with our portfolio companies in those markets. I feel lucky every day to be in venture capital and to spend time working with entrepreneurs to help them build their companies and change the world.  

Before Blumberg Capital, I co-founded and held several senior management positions with technology companies, including Charles River Computers. I also structured and managed early-stage technology transactions at Hambrecht & Quist, Mayer Brown & Platt and Bankers Trust Company.  

I’m a lawyer by trade, and earned my B.A. in finance and communications from Yeshiva University and my MBA and J.D. from Fordham University.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: One will read at Blumberg Capital that, “We specialize in leading Seed and Series A rounds as active investors – operating as an extension of the entrepreneurs’ network.  Care to elaborate?

Bruce Taragin: Blumberg Capital is a classic early stage firm. We’ve been investing in startups since 1991 and we have a disciplined strategy of leading early rounds (Seed and A) as active investors. Our typical first investments range from $500k to $5m with additional funding reserved for follow on rounds. When we say we’re active investors, we believe being a strong partner means more than providing capital. It’s doing everything we can to support our portfolio companies, including business development, recruiting, marketing and operations support.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Congratulations to your team on this very timely and useful read: MAPPING THE AI TOOLCHAIN - Bringing AI to the next wave of developers. Please tell us more about AI tooling.

Bruce Taragin: Thank you. My colleague, Matt Bornstein developed the AI Toolchain map as an alpha landscape of this emerging space. He defines AI tooling as software that helps AI and machine learning practitioners do their jobs better. A relatively small number of organizations do sophisticated AI/ML today: tech companies, hedge funds, gov't intelligence groups, etc. We think this group will expand dramatically - access to the technology will be democratized - and better tools are one key to making that happen.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: The Blumberg Capital Portfolio is indeed quite impressive with some very well known brands and some lesser known brands. We’ve got plenty of time and plenty of ink…want to give us a brief thumbnail of each company? 

Bruce Taragin: Why don’t I start with 10 or so, and then I recommend visiting blumbergcapital.com/companies if anyone wishes to learn more about our full portfolio. 

Nutanix: Nutanix enables IT teams to build and operate powerful multi-cloud architectures. It melds private, public and distributed cloud operating environments and provides a single point of control to manage IT infrastructure and applications at any scale. We were the first investors in 2009, helped introduce the company to some of its earliest customers through our CIO Council and we remained one of the largest shareholders through the company’s IPO in 2016. 

DoubleVerify: DoubleVerify provides digital media verification and anti-fraud protection for advertisers, programmatic platforms and publishers. We led the company’s Series A investment in 2009, and have seen the company grow from an Israeli startup to one of the leading independent provider of digital media measurement software and analytics. Now based in NYC with global operations, Providence Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in the company in 2017, and we remain on the Board and active investors.

Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media management platform that empowers enterprise, SMB and individual users to execute social media strategies across their organizations. We led the company’s first round in December 2009 and are proud to see their continued growth and success over the years.

Addepar: Addepar’s investment management solution simplifies complex portfolio analysis and provides high impact investment insight with comprehensive data modeling, reconciliation, powerful analytics and customizable communication tools. 

Braze: Braze, formerly Appboy, is a customer engagement platform that delivers messaging experiences across push, email, apps and more, resulting in better experiences and increased retention, lifetime value, and ROI. Teams use Braze to deliver highly personalized messaging experiences that span across channels, platforms, and devices. We were the lead seed investor and still remain an active Board member.

Credorax: Credorax offers the only unified digital smart acquiring platform combined with dozens of international banking licenses. It is designed for international e-commerce and provides a secure data management solution that is efficient, scalable and cost effective.

BioCatch: BioCatch uses behavior biometrics to protect online businesses with more than 50 granted or pending patents that proactively collect and analyze more than 2,000 cognitive parameters to generate a unique user profile that fraudsters cannot steal or replicate.

Fundbox: Fundbox offers business owners and financial managers a simple, fully automated way to improve cash flow by advancing payments for outstanding invoices.

Trulioo: Trulioo is a global Internet identify bureau providing automated, real-time Know Your Customer (KYC), Know Your Business (KYB) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) verification services. 

Yotpo: Yotpo is a user-generated content (UGC) content marketing platform with the most advanced solutions for user-generated content marketing, referrals, and loyalty programs. Yotpo helps brands accelerate growth by enabling advocacy and maximizing customer lifetime value. Yotpo helps brands build trust and sales, cultivate loyal customer advocates, and make better business decisions based on customer feedback.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com We’re all familiar with the headlines about Cryptolocker - NotPetya - WannaCry, Equifax, Ticketmaster, Uber, My Heritage, Orbitz, ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta.  What is your perspective, please, regarding best IT & cyber practices that should be followed by the public and private sector in this environment?

Bruce Taragin: At a macro level, the simple yet optimal way to start is really with some basic fundamental security controls. The NIST core framework is ideal in terms of mapping out best practices.

On a more micro level, one should think about security under the following framework: 

- Continuous authentication: 100% of fraud occurs inside authenticated sessions. This means that the login function is not really relevant anymore because fraudsters have found ways to bypass it, whether it is password, token or even a physical biometrics. 

- Dynamic authentication: Most methods of authentication are static. Behavior by definition changes over time so one needs to deploy techniques that cannot be copied, stolen or otherwise used in a replay attack.

- Go beyond the endpoint. Applications and active sessions are incredibly vulnerable as fraudsters use social engineering scams and even phishing scams (where the legitimate person defrauds themselves under the influence of a fraudster).

- Recognize that humans are the weakest link and design systems accordingly.  Thirty percent of participants will still open malicious emails within 30 minutes of phishing training. It only takes one person (the weakest link) to bring down an entire enterprise.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: May we ask you, Bruce…what does your crystal ball reveal regarding cybersecurity headlines in the coming year? 

Bruce Taragin:  Both medical device manufacturers and healthcare systems will be in the headlines as more and more of the aforementioned continue to connect to networks as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) evolves.

The modern mobile ecosystem (mobile, IOT and 5G) is absolutely vulnerable to sophisticated cyber criminals. There is an unprecedented amount of personal, enterprise and financial data that is now accessible thru these connected devices.

Autonomous systems and deep learning represent a new kind of threat that will target the “brain” and mislead AI systems creating digital versions of “fake news”.

Finally, 2019 will be the year of passwordless authentication. Advances in digital user identity analysis, behavioral biometrics and machine learning will enable highly accurate, frictionless access to websites and mobile applications where user sessions are verified behind the scenes with no visible authentication control

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thanks again for joining us today, Bruce.  Any other subjects you’d like to discuss? 

Bruce Taragin: On a personal note, I’ve been married for 23 years and am the proud father of three beautiful, intelligent, accomplished children.  My wife Michelle is a doctor and currently pursuing another graduate degree at Columbia University. I mention this because as passionate as I am about working with incredible entrepreneurs, I try to spend as much time as is humanly possible being a father and husband. Lastly, in my spare time, I try to give back by teaching in the graduate school at Columbia University and at my alumni Yeshiva University, as an Adjunct Professor, various classes on technology and venture capital.

 

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