KPCB’s Ted Schlein on cybersecurity: We’ve all been breached

All of these organizations revealed hacking incidents in 2015. There have been so many that Dow Jones chief executive William Lewis remarked that “no company is immune” to an attack.

Companies trying to figure out how to defend themselves against hackers are looking to new-age startups that promise the tools necessary to offer more peace of mind. We talked to Ted Schlein, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and an investor in the cybersecurity space, about the industry’s future, what companies can do to shore up their defenses, and more.

“There are only two types of companies in the world: those that have been breached and know it, and those that don’t,” Schlein said. “There’s not a company around that if a bad guy wants to get in, they won’t. You can try and make a high and mighty argument that ‘you can’t touch me,’ but it won’t happen. You have to change the method and make the breaches irrelevant.”

On being a cybersecurity startup

As more cyberattacks take place, government officials, companies, and investors are looking to startups for answers. Earlier this year, CB Insights reported that in the past five years, 1,028 investments were made in private cybersecurity startups, totaling $7.3 billion, an amount that didn’t seem to surprise Schlein.

“No one wants to be less secure,” he said. “The innovation of the bad guys is rapid. They have unlimited amounts of time and capital. Our ability to combat is lacking.” Investors of all sorts have funded companies looking to be the next big thing in protecting infrastructure. “It’s where a lot of IT budgets get spent, or it’s one of the areas that doesn’t get cut, and for good reason,” Schlein reasoned, but added a note of caution: “I don’t think that means more cybersecurity startups will be successful.”