Evolving Abnormal from Scrappy AI Start-Up to Generational Public Company

From the beginning, we created Abnormal Security to be a generational company that protects people from cybercrime. Here’s how we’re doing it.
March 21, 2024

Abnormal Security is not a normal cybersecurity company—and it never has been. We aspire to set a new standard for what customers, employees, and shareholders can expect from a world-class cybersecurity company.

From our inception, we've been driven by an ambitious vision: to build a new, AI-powered paradigm to help protect people. This journey, from a scrappy startup to an aspiring generational public company, is not merely about scaling our operations. Rather, it’s about laying the groundwork for an enduring institution that sets a new model for cybersecurity.

Our Foundation: A Mission to Protect Humans with AI

We did not create Abnormal Security to be an email security start-up; we had aspirations of building a generational company to protect people. Our mission has always been to harness AI to autonomously fight cybercrime, and specifically to protect humans—which are the most valuable and most vulnerable endpoint in every organization.

This mission and long-term mindset are deeply ingrained in our culture and operations, influencing every strategy decision, product choice, and customer interaction. If you are a customer and you have spoken with me, you’ve probably heard me say that I want to invest in a decades-long partnership. Every time I’ve said it, I’ve meant it.

Since our first day, we’ve maintained this long-term mindset to advance our long-term mission and vision. Though most customers may only be familiar with our current products, we’ve been investing behind the scenes to develop the team and technology that will enable us to transform cybersecurity and realize our ambition of generational impact.

Reflecting on Our Early Journey

As an early stage start-up, we chose email security as our proving grounds to demonstrate how an AI-native platform can deliver 10x better protection with 10x less operational overhead than conventional security approaches. Today, our products help protect over 2,000 customers from advanced attacks like phishing, fraud, social engineering, and account takeovers.

Our trajectory is marked by unprecedented growth; we are one of the very few companies with over $100M ARR that is still growing by more than 100% year over year. But despite our remarkable growth, we’ve maintained our future-oriented perspective focused on product quality and customer success. We now have the privilege of serving more than 15% of the Fortune 500 as customers (and adding a new Fortune 500 customer every week) while retaining a 99% customer recommendation rate on Gartner Peer Insights.

While we have a world-class team, these results are only possible due to the accelerating advances of applied AI technology. We used our decade of experience with behavioral ad targeting to build Abnormal as an AI-native platform since day one—before AI was the buzzword we see everywhere today. As a result, Abnormal has now been recognized as the leader in AI for cybersecurity, recently named to the Forbes AI 50, Fortune Cyber 60, and Bloomberg's Top 10 AI Companies to Watch, among others.

The Road Ahead: Expanding Our Horizons

We are extremely proud of the initial success that we’ve experienced since we founded the company in 2018. But we still feel that we are in the early days of our generational journey and that Abnormal is just getting started in our AI transformation of cybersecurity.

As we look toward the future, our ambitions are audacious. We want to protect every person across every platform, in every organization around the world. We envision Abnormal not just as a leader in email security but as the leader in AI-powered cybersecurity and a cornerstone security platform for every organization. The next chapter of our journey requires focus on several key areas:

  1. Innovating Our Core AI Technology: Central to our evolution is the relentless advancement of our AI technology. We are committed to not only enhancing our existing solutions but also pioneering new ones that anticipate and neutralize threats before they manifest. This involves deep investment in research and development, ensuring that our AI remains at the cutting edge of cybersecurity technology.

  2. Expanding Our Product Portfolio: To address the evolving needs of our customers, we are broadening our suite of solutions. From single products, we are moving toward a holistic portfolio of AI-powered cybersecurity solutions, interconnected together across our platform. This expansion will enable us to autonomously protect against more types of threats (including AI-generated attacks) across the ever-expanding surface area of enterprise applications.

  3. Global and Market Expansion: Our vision encompasses a global footprint, extending our reach to new geographic markets and customer segments. This includes not only large enterprises and governmental agencies but also small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. Expanding our presence will require strategic partnerships, localized solutions, and a nuanced understanding of regional cybersecurity challenges.

Building an Enduring Institution for the Future

To transform our vision into reality and progress into a generational company, we are undertaking several strategic initiatives. We’re currently focused on a number of key areas:

  1. Investing in Talent and Leadership: Recognizing that our people are our greatest asset, we are significantly expanding our team. We will be adding 300+ new roles this year and have dramatically grown our leadership team over the last six months, welcoming seasoned leaders Smita Sanadhya as Chief Finance Officer and Jeff True as Chief Legal Officer. Their expertise will be pivotal as we navigate the complexities of scaling our operations and steering the company toward its long-term objectives, especially as we evolve into a global and public operating company.

  2. Investing in AI Technologies: Abnormal has already built a powerful AI platform capable of superhuman levels of detection accuracy and decision speed that outperforms trained human security analysts. However, with the rise of AI-generated attacks, we must continue to push the frontier of technology and raise the bar of AI-powered detection. As such, Abnormal will be growing our research and development team by 50%, hiring over one hundred AI, data, and systems engineers in the coming year. In addition to focusing on superior performance, we are also focused on supporting and augmenting security operations—launching new interfaces that enable both security analysts and end users to converse with Abnormal AI directly.

  3. Advancing AI + Cybersecurity Standards: With the rise of AI capabilities, an evolving threat landscape, and the growing importance of data privacy and security, Abnormal has the opportunity to help shape industry standards—which will become increasingly important in the coming years. This includes educating governments on threats and opportunities, enabling government organizations to use good AI to defend against bad AI, and advising policymakers on the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. I’m thankful to have Jeff True joining our team to help lead these new initiatives.

  4. Scaling Public Company Operations: As we evolve from a start-up and set our sights on becoming a global public operating company, we are sustainably scaling our operations. To be an enduring company, we need to invest our resources thoughtfully to achieve our product and business growth expectations while simultaneously increasing our free cash flows so that we can further invest back into company and platform development. To achieve both, we will require further optimization of our internal operations and increasing financial rigor across our global operations. I’m thankful to have Smita Sanadhya joining our team to help lead these new initiatives.

  5. Fostering Our Culture of Innovation, Excellence, and Customer Success: Abnormal was born in a culture of customer-focused innovation, and we cultivate a culture that values innovation, excellence, and customer obsession. As we scale, maintaining this culture will be crucial. It entails continuous learning, embracing challenges, and fostering an environment where every team member is enabled and empowered to contribute to our mission. Our customer-centric approach has been a key driver of our success to date, and as we evolve, we must increasingly obsess over customer problems, customer value, and customer success.

These are big initiatives, and there’s a lot to be done. But I’m confident that this is the right strategy to take Abnormal to the next stage.

A Call to Action: Join Us on Our Abnormal Mission

As Abnormal Security embarks on this next chapter in our generational journey, we need employees, customers, and shareholders who are aligned to our vision. We want people who worry about the conventional, unsustainable approach to cybersecurity, who care about our mission to protect people, and, most importantly, who believe in the opportunity for AI to defend against the next generation of attacks.

After all, we’re not just building a product or even a company. We’re building an institution that has a worldwide and generational impact as we work to raise the bar for ourselves and our industry.

I hope you’ll stay tuned—the best of Abnormal is yet to come.

Evolving Abnormal from Scrappy AI Start-Up to Generational Public Company

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