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Israel’s cyber industry racks up all-time record exits

Israel’s cybersecurity sector racked up an all-time record of just over $7.1 billion in exits – the sale of a company’s ownership or stocks – during 2023. Though the year may have been dominated by civil unrest over judicial reforms, the October 7th massacre and the war in Gaza, geopolitical tensions are known to increase interest and investment in cybersecurity companies — which offer protection from increasingly sophisticated attacks — even as other sectors suffer.

Figures on the state of Israel’s cyber sector were released by IVC, a business information provider for Israel’s tech ecosystem, ahead of Cybertech Global Tel Aviv 2024, an international cyber event that opened on April 8.

According to the report, the total value of exits last year was up 65% from 2022 ($2.45 billion), and was up 22% from 2021 ($5.5 billion). The actual number of exits dropped from 37 in 2021 to 25 in 2023, but the average value of each exit was significantly higher.

Exits may have been the good news for 2023, but there was less to celebrate in terms of funding or initial public offerings (IPOs). Cyber companies raised a total of just $2.38 billion — the lowest figure in the past five years, and a 43% reduction compared to 2022 ($4.17 billion). No Israeli cyber companies went public or were acquired, although Israeli companies did make acquisitions themselves.

“In contrast to other sectors, geopolitical tensions increase interest and investment in cyber companies,” said Amir Rapaport, founder of the 10-year-old Cybertech conference. “Therefore, we expect to see more investments in Israeli cyber companies and new startups that address emerging threats.”

“Cyber companies represent the resilience of Israeli high-tech, and even in a tense security and political situation, they serve as a secure anchor for Israeli innovation,” he continued.

“The trend of increased mergers and acquisitions in Israeli cyber, which began last year, continues into 2024, as global cyber threats grow year by year.”

A slowdown on the horizon

Figures for 2024 so far suggest a major slowdown. Exits through IPOs and acquisitions in the first three months total $985 million. The average quarterly figure last year was $1.79 billion. Investments are, however, showing positive movement, albeit from a low base: $630 million so far, compared with a 2023 quarterly average of $595 million.

The three-day Cybertech conference, at Expo Tel Aviv (Pavilion 2), is, say organizers, the only international event being held in Israel despite the war, and is expected to attract representatives from over 60 countries.

Panels and lectures will cover a vast array of topics, including artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, deep fake, maritime cybersecurity, cybersecurity in space, cyber entrepreneurship, building innovative and international ecosystems, women in the tech industry, global cooperation in the cyber era, supply chains and cyber crisis management.

Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president is due to speak, as well as Gil Shwed, CEO of Check Point; Nadav Zafrir, CEO and Co-Founder of Team8 and the former commander of Unit 8200; Amiram Shachar, CEO and Co-Founder of Upwind; Esti Peshin, General Manager of the Cyber Division at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

John Jeffay