It required only one in-person meeting with Tomer Weingarten, the extraordinary CEO of SentinelOne, for me to know that I wanted Qualcomm Ventures to invest in his cybersecurity startup.
There was also a lot of due diligence, of course. But that first meeting was key. Weingarten stood out thanks to his clear vision for where his company was going and how it would become an industry leader.
A key factor in any company’s success is its founder. The very best are thoughtful, deliberate, curious, and open to feedback—while also driven, ambitious, and certain they can conquer the world. That’s Weingarten.
CEO and Co-Founder, SentinelOne
He is a talented leader who is smart but reserved, confident but intentional, and downright humble. He is clear in his vision and knows how to get there. He’s a strong salesman, but he doesn’t oversell. And he knows how to attract great talent to help him achieve his goals: He built a world-class, hand-picked management team, each member of which brought invaluable experience and highly accomplished track records.
That vision and leadership have driven the success of SentinelOne, which pioneered AI-powered autonomous endpoint security.
Finding the Red Ocean Opportunity in SentinelOne
Investors often like to find companies charting the “blue ocean”—envisioning new solutions, solving new problems, creating new markets. Blue oceans mean infinite opportunity, the chance to own a groundbreaking sector. Cybersecurity is a classic “red ocean,” with established players, barriers to entry, reasons for investors to stay away. There was Microsoft, McAfee, CrowdStrike, and Carbon Black, long-established and well-funded incumbents.
In fact, shortly after my meeting with Weingarten, I happened to bump into an old friend, with a senior role at a cybersecurity incumbent, at a coffee shop. He cautioned me against investing in startups in the space because his company would beat everyone else.
But in a red ocean there is also great opportunity—it means a huge market already exists, and thus no need for market education. There’s a real opportunity to win on a differentiated product or go-to-market strategy, or both.
Case in point, when I first met Weingarten his company had already created a leading position in this crowded market with an innovative and differentiated technology. By the time we made our investment, there was already fantastic growth and a high win rate. We saw a tremendous red-ocean opportunity.
“But in a red ocean there is also great opportunity—it means a huge market already exists, and thus no need for market education. There’s a real opportunity to win on a differentiated product or go-to-market strategy, or both.“
Cybersecurity and 5G
We also knew we could provide value beyond our investment. At the time we invested, Qualcomm was launching the Snapdragon platform for PCs (8CX and 8C). As Qualcomm continues to increase its footprint in the enterprise market, we’re eager to build on our relationship with a market leader in cybersecurity, a core offering for Qualcomm’s platform. Cybersecurity is also one of the areas that will be transformed by 5G. And Qualcomm is leading that effort by driving the development, launch, and expansion of 5G and the Internet of Things. We are looking forward to collaborating with SentinelOne on these growing domains.
Last month, SentinelOne went public as the largest cybersecurity IPO in history. The company is now worth more than $12 billion. It’s a decacorn.
We’re honored to be a part of what SentinelOne has achieved. It’s been incredible to watch their journey. Congratulations to Tomer and everyone on the SentinelOne Team. Thank you for the opportunity to work together—and we look forward to seeing what comes next.