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UK startup HackTheBox snaps $55M to help win the war against cyber criminals

Photo Credit: HackTheBox

In the world of computer hacking, there has long been a division between those who use malicious methods to break a system and those who use the same methods to identify the system’s vulnerabilities, assist in fixing them, and combat the malicious actors at the same time.

Hack The Box, a gamified continuous cybersecurity upskilling and talent assessment platform raised $55M led by Carlyle, alongside Paladin Capital Group, Osage University Partners, Marathon Venture Capital, Brighteye Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst Fund.

With this Series B funding, Hack The Box has now raised a total of $70M, strengthening its position within the international cybersecurity ecosystem.

The new investment will quicken Hack The Box’s growth trajectory with a focus on expanding its “gamer-first” solutions portfolio, which the company already leads the market in. Hack The Box will also improve its go-to-market function, doubling down on the company’s ongoing international expansion, which has seen strong commercial traction in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

The 1.7M users of the platform are made up of 1,500 businesses, universities, governments, and other organisations that have sent teams to HTB to be put through their paces as well as individuals who joined HTB on their own initiative to learn skills and earn certifications.

Hack The Box will keep making significant R&D investments. This will enable them to keep up with the rapidly changing cyber technology and threat landscape.

Founded in 2017 by Aris Zikopoulos, Haris Pylarinos, James Hooke, Hack The Box provides a superior 360-degree platform that not only enables people, companies, government agencies, and universities to improve their offensive and defensive security capabilities, but also gives access to job opportunities in cybersecurity, thereby addressing the critical talent shortage in the sector.

With HTB, the idea is to immerse users in learning environments that are built around gamification, simulations with avatars, and narrative scenarios that are intended to mimic old-school cyberhacks of varying and rising levels of sophistication.

The company has more than 180 employees worldwide and half of the team members are based in Greece, and the rest across the world. Further, there are over 20 different ethnic groups and over 20 countries represented at the company. Of 180 people working for HTB, 22% are female, 76% are male and, 2% are not specified.  

“Our mission is to create and connect cyber-ready humans and organizations through highly engaging hacking experiences that cultivate out-of-the-box thinking. The game in cyber has changed with defensive, reactive and recovery postures not being fit-for-purpose in the face of an ever-increasing and ever-evolving wave of sophisticated attacks. A new proactive offensive & defensive approach is needed to take the fight to cybercriminals rather than waiting to be hit. From individual security professionals to companies, this means adopting a ‘hacker mindset’, learning to think and act like an attacker. This is the kind of mindset that we cultivate through Hack The Box”, highlights Haris Pylarinos, Founder and CEO at Hack The Box. 

Constantin Boye, a Director at Carlyle, comments, “The demands on security and IT professionals have never been greater. An industry-wide talent shortage and an exponentially growing number of cyber threats place great importance on professionals and organizations to maintain best-in-class security practices. Hack The Box is a pioneer in constantly providing fresh and curated training and upskilling content, in a fully gamified and intuitive environment, enabling individuals and organizations to tackle real-world hacking problems. We are excited for the next stage of Hack The Box’s evolution and are proud to be part of this journey.”

Gibb Witham, Senior Vice President at Paladin Capital Group, adds, “With a vibrant community of 1.7M registered security professionals and enthusiasts, Hack The Box is setting the bar for a new generation of product-led growth companies in the cybersecurity industry. We are thrilled to see Hack The Box becoming a vital partner for enterprises and governments in crafting security teams prepared for cyber attacks.”

Founders’ journey

All of the co-founders of the HTB platform held different jobs in the very beginning. Haris’ side project was HTB. Then, he was a cybersecurity consultant for a shipping company. James was a devoted player of HTB and a member of the HTB community. Despite having overcome all HTB challenges, he continued to provide feedback.

One day, James contacted Haris to let him know that he had unintentionally compromised a portion of the HTB platform that was not intended to be compromised. As a result, James had informed Haris of this vulnerability. They met in this manner. Previously, Aris Zikopoulos provided cybersecurity services to the same shipping firm where Haris was employed. James Hooker and Aris Zikopoulos were both invited to co-found the business with Haris.

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