Assaf Rappaport is co-founder and CEO at Adallom. Previously, Assaf worked at McKinsey & Company overseeing project strategy management in both Israel and Australia. Prior to McKinsey & Company, he served as a Captain and project manager in the Israeli Intelligence Corps. Assaf is a Talpiot military academy graduate, with an M.Sc. in Computer Science from the Technion, where he has been recognized by both Cisco and Intel for innovations in CDN.
How did you get into the tech industry?
I’ve always has a knack for technology, and in Israel the army picks up on these skills at a pretty young age, so I was fortunate enough to be “discovered” by the army. I was enrolled in a program called “Talpiot,” a unique Israel Defense Forces (IDF) training program, for recruits who have demonstrated academic ability in the sciences and leadership potential. As a graduate of the Talpiot program I pursued my Master’s Degree while serving in the army.
Tell us about Adallom. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
I co-founded Adallom with Roy Reznik and Ami Luttwak – in the IDF we worked on technologies that were used to combat terrorism using machine intelligence and anomaly detection. While there, we often thought about how the same technologies used to fight terrorism in Israel could be repurposed to help companies mitigate attacks on their data.
What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Adallom's success?
I think the most important thing when you’re starting a company is to choose the right investors. With the support of VC powerhouses like Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures behind us, we have access to people and resources that would otherwise eat up untold resources. Other than those, it was important for us to establish partnerships with the major software as a service (SaaS) providers whose applications we protected: Salesforce, Microsoft, and Box.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
The fact that corporate IT is moving to the cloud, and that employees are using their own devices to do their jobs from anywhere – those are great productive trends. However, they also mean that all the security tools that IT has invested in until now, like antivirus and firewalls, are quickly losing their ability to protect corporate data. That’s a huge opportunity, and we are the new security stack for data in the cloud.
“Impossible” is synonymous with “opportunity.”
Security without boundaries.
Your greatest success as founder of Adallom? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Every time we protect one of our customers I consider it my greatest success. We have over a million users who depend on us to keep them safe. The most difficult moment was probably relocating to the United States to pursue my dream of founding Adallom. Leaving many of my friends and family behind was a huge emotional undertaking, but they are all incredibly supportive and they truly share my enthusiasm. My big lesson was: Always commit 100 percent – never look back.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Your two biggest assets in this game are disruption and humility. Since you’re starting something new, you’ve got no weights tying you to old rules and processes – focus on disrupting the status quo. That said, be respectful of the ground that’s been covered before you, and never assume you’re the smartest person in the room.
Favorite travel destination?
Well, now that I live in the USA, my favorite travel destination is going back to visit Israel.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Easy: The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern, and a Coke Zero.
What literature is on your bed stand?
Usually CVs. I’m always trying to find the best and the brightest security people and I like to go through everyone’s background in detail. Hiring staff is like adding to my family.
Role model - business and personal?
Zohar Zisapel (“The Bill Gates of Israel”) – He’s definitely my role model, and I’m fortunate enough to have him as a board member and investor in Adallom.
Being CEO of Adallom!
Most interesting headline you've read this week?
“How SaaS Adoption Is Changing Cloud Security.
What's next for Adallom?
Massive growth! Did I mention we’re hiring? Let’s make the cloud a safer place together.