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Cybersecurity startup PhishMe has been acquired by an undisclosed syndicate of private equity firms and rebranded as Cofense, with the company stating that the deal valued it at around $400 million.

Leesburg, Virginia-based PhishMe provides tools that help employees recognize malicious phishing emails. This partly involves conditioning staff to identify rogue emails, and it also allows them to report suspicious emails to their internal security teams. Spear phishing tricks people into providing sensitive data by sending a request from a fake email address that resembles a real email address from someone at the target company.

PhishMe had raised nearly $60 million in outside funding, the biggest chunk of which arrived via its series C round back in 2016.

The rebrand, it seems, stems from PhishMe’s expansion beyond anti-phishing awareness to provide a more “collective, complete phishing defense.” The company wants to mark this transition with a new name, as well as a huge pot of cash to fuel this continued growth. “With our new name and branding, we’re ready to blow things out,” noted company cofounder Aaron Higbee in a blog post. “We’ve been moving in this direction for years, with solutions that accelerate incident response, fueled by employee-sourced phishing-attack intelligence.”

A $400 million exit seems like a decent outcome for a company that had raised $60 million. And now it will be better positioned financially to meet the growing demand for cybersecurity across numerous industries.

“The strategic vision is growing, while financial pressure is shrinking,” added Higbee.

The cybersecurity market is on course to become a $165 billion industry by 2023, though reports indicate there will be a huge workforce shortfall in the coming years. Big technology companies have been investing heavily in cybersecurity, with acquisitions playing a pivotal role in their growth — Amazon snapped up Sqrrl a few weeks ago, while Microsoft has also made a number of cybersecurity acquisitions over the past few years.


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