As of last week, it became official, that KnowBe4 became the latest Infosec unicorn.
A Unicorn is a term given to a private company that is valued at a billion dollars.
An investment of $300m led by KKR, with participation from exiting investors, Elephant, and TenEleven Ventures boosted the company valuation to over a billion and hence a unicorn.
But that’s perhaps the wrong question to ask. For many companies, there comes a point where the valuation is only a means of keeping score. I’m reminded of an Arnold Schwarzenegger quote, “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”
The point being is that a billion is a large valuation, but there are probably two fundamental principles that underpin the success of most tech companies.
1. Having the Right Product
First off, it’s important to have an offering that is actually usable and solves a need that keeps people happy customers. The term ‘disruptive’ is thrown around a lot in that regard, but in my opinion, it’s not necessary for many companies to come up with a way to entirely revolutionise a particular space, rather it’s about having the right product at the right time that solves the right problem.
But that doesn’t just mean building an “Uber for x”, it’s about having a product that consumers are willing to pay for and it serves a broad global market.
In todays day and age, growth is everything. It’s all about moving forward and keeping things fresh. Marvel had an amazing run with the Avengers story arc that cumulated in Endgame. But does that mean the producers can high-five each other and sit back?
A company that is stale, with a stale product falls out of favour very quickly. KnowBe4 has been mindful of this, growing its customer base to over $100 million in recurring revenue, over 25,000 customers, and 23 continuous quarters of growth.
It can’t be all about money!
It’s great to be part of a company that is a unicorn, with investors that believe in the company, and exceptional growth.
But for me, the real ‘unicorn’ aspect of all of this transcends money. It’s about far more than that. I want to work in a place which has a fun culture, a place where employees are valued, a place that works to delight its customers. And for those things, you don’t need money, you just need the right attitude, and have the right team.
For me, that is the essence of what being a unicorn is all about.