August 1, 2021

Devo, the Spanish company valued at tens of millions of dollars that claims to have the US Air Force among its clients

In less than a decade, the Spanish cloud security and data analysis company Devo has gone from developing its activity in the garage of one of its founders, in Madrid, to opening offices in London and Cambridge (Massachusetts), achieving the financial backing from the venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners – an investor in large technology companies such as Twitter, Wix, Shopify or Trivago, among many others – and sign a contract worth $ 9.5 million with the United States Air Force.

This upward trajectory, with the odd bump in the road, has been possible thanks to good operation and intuitive handling offered by your tool, says Pedro Castillo, founder and current CTO of Devo. “Our platform allows us to have performance, scalability and differentials that our competitors simply do not have,” he says.

Devo’s solution consists of a cloud real-time data analytics platform that companies use for various purposes, such as monitoring the performance of their services to ensure their quality. Although the main segment of activity of the Spanish company is cybersecurity, since its tool allows to identify and investigate the attempts to violate the systems of its clients through analysis and information cross-checking, with which it can identify the entire cycle of threat life.

“Our clients send data to the platform such as the response time of their systems, usage metrics or KPIs, that data is processed, reports are generated and they can configure alerts. And the information they get is related to who is trying to do what in their systems, when, how, what are the attack vectors, the enrichment they make of the data, cyberattacks or indicators of compromised network, among others, ”says Castillo.

All these characteristics and the little competition that exists in this segment of data analysis -Castillo recognizes that they only have two major rivals at a global level-, have enabled them to achieve important contracts with companies such as Telefónica or Accenture and with the United States Department of Defense to help protect the digital systems of the US Air Force.

They have also managed to create enough interest among investors that they decide to contribute large amounts of money in successive rounds of financing. In one of them they obtained the important support of Insight Venture Partners, and in the last one, in September 2020, they obtained 50 million euros to continue their expansion.

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Devo’s opacity

Devo’s international expansion, the contracts it has signed and the funding it has obtained in recent years demonstrate that Devo is a rising asset in the data analytics and cybersecurity industry, but the little information they share about their clients and its economic figures make it almost impossible to determine the actual extent of your progression.

For example, The company recently disclosed that they had achieved year-on-year growth of more than 100% in the third quarter of 2020, but without sharing figures. “I cannot tell the numbers. As a private company we cannot give all the data ”, the Devo CTO apologizes.

Similarly, they claim that they have contracts with a North American professional sports league, a major European bank, a global insurance group, and a textile manufacturer that is among the top five in the world. but they don’t share their names.

The client that they did report was the United States Air Force, with whom Devo communicated in July this year that it had signed a contract to optimize its cyber defenses valued at 9.5 million dollars. Information that could not be verified by Engadget, since the United States Department of Defense has not released the details of that operation, despite the fact that it has a space on its website in which it is specified that “contracts valued at 7.5 million dollars or more are announced every business day at 5 pm”.

“Public for its part there is nothing, but it would be quite absurd and suicidal on our part to say that we have signed something like that and that it was not true. We had to go through a lot of signatures just to let us tell it, ”says Castillo.

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Growth in the United States

Although the billing, its income or some of its clients are unknown, the truth is that Devo has had an upward trajectory in recent years, especially since the increase in its activity in the United States starting in 2017.. The Spanish company decided to make the Americas in 2015, and for two years it did not quite take off. Then in 2017, after a funding round that Insight Venture Partners entered, things did start to work.

“In 2015 we did a financing round in Spain and we opened an office in Boston. At that time I was the CEO and I spent two years in which I was two weeks in the United States and another two here, and we got very mediocre results. So we decided to focus on continuing to grow in Spain and in 2017 we already did a much bigger round and we really landed ”, says the founder of Devo.

“In the United States they are very pragmatic. If something works they don’t care where you come from “

That year, in addition to obtaining that important financing, Castillo stepped aside and Devo named Walter Scott CEO, an American who knew the North American market better, to face the expansion in that country with greater guarantees. In September this year Marc van Zadelhoff, former CEO of IBM Security, succeeded Scott at the helm of the company.

The decision to open a headquarters in the United States, first, and move its headquarters to Cambridge, Massachusetts, later, was a “natural” step, explains the CTO of Devo, since the North American country is the one that spends the most in technologies of the information and communication (ICT), so it was “the right space in which to grow up”.

And, he adds, this opening to the US market is already noticeable in its clientele and in its accounts, since a few years ago 90% of their contracts were signed with Spanish or European companies and only 10% with North American companies. and in 2020 most of its clients are already from the United States.

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Good reception in the United States

The reception of the US market for this Spanish company was good, says Castillo, after the first two years: “They are very pragmatic there. If something works they don’t care where you come from. To such an extent that from the time we started talking with the Air Force until we signed the contract, only 3 or 4 months passed ”.

And he points out that in Spain and Europe it cost them more to start because here we see better what comes from abroad, and more in the technological field, and many do not trust that national solutions can be as good, or better, than foreign ones. However, he also attributes these initial difficulties to the fact that in the early years they were a much smaller company and with a shorter journey than they had when they started working in the United States.

“It is true that in the US they have a lot of experience in working with companies that come from abroad, especially from Israel, but in any case they are more open minded than here. It is something that in Spain should change, although there are exceptions. We started working with Telefónica when we were still little, to monitor Imagenio and Movistar TV. They gave us the opportunity, they saw that the solution met their needs and they chose us, despite the fact that there were more reputable competitors ”, he says.