Reflections of 2020 as we look ahead 

 As Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb shared in a recent Apple podcast, Masters of Scale: Rapid Responsethis crisis was a moment to rise to.”

The Airbnb story is an inspiration; the hurdles and success they faced during the last year was a moment to shine.  Airbnb really helped drive crowdsourcing to popularity and really set the stage for other start-ups to enter the scene with a crowdsourced model. We’re especially a fan of how they pivoted and scaled Airbnb experiences to meet their customer needs.

January 2020. The team here at Synack was excited for the things in store for a new year and new decade. We held our annual Sales Kickoff in wine country at the Silverado Resort. We wined, dinned, and bonded over new ideas, exciting launches and initiatives to pursue in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. 

As we moved into February, remember all that chatter surrounding the possible cancellation of the RSA Conference in San Francisco? At that time, we just had no idea what was coming our way. The show went on (with no shortage of hand sanitizer, though). Our annual series at events at Fogo de Chão was a success and was a fun time had by all.  With numerous events lined up, you can check out our recap here, little did we know it would be our last gathering for a while. We even capped it off with a Warriors game at our Chase box. The good ol’ days.

March 9, 2020. Synackers were told to work remote and we were all on standby for when in-person would resume. At first it was a nice break from commutes, lunch take outs and some downtime from travel. We even learned how to bake bread (with the latter choosing our favorite local bakeries). We pivoted. We strived. We held together virtually as best we could and built an even stronger culture among our Synack team across the various geographies. We even won awards, Synack in 2020 was named by Forbes as a AI 50: One of America’s Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies. Also a recipient of the Gold Medal for Inc.’s 2020 Best in Business awards. We had no shortage of Synack surprises and treats thanks to our People and Culture team with its Synack care packages, hacking culture indeed we did. We all became grassroots marketers with leisurely walks in our neighborhoods in our cool and stylish Synack gear. Some of us head to toe in Synack Lululemon and All Birds. 

We continued to find new and innovative ways in which our on-demand approach to crowdsourced security testing played a vital role in securing the pandemic and recovery and lessened the chances that a critical vulnerability, breach or hack could make matters even more difficult. We are proud to have helped protect many of the key players helping lead COVID-19 recovery efforts. As these organizations have needed to rush applications to the market, the ethical hackers on the Synack platform have played an incredibly important role in making sure the technology is as secure as possible. A Marketplace podcast even reinforced the need for crowdsourced ethical hackers, as they discussed how Synack’s SRT were stamping out bugs during the pandemic. 

At Synack, we were built for whatever comes next as our CEO, Jay Kaplan voiced when we announced our Series D funding last Spring and to echo Jay, the crisis had once again proven that cybersecurity remains paramount. Our $52 million Series D funding round helped us advance our crowdsourced security testing platform so all types of organizations can utilize the skills of more than 1,200 active ethical hackers from around the world. We went behind the scenes with our SRT for Fortune, with video on Synack and the ethical hackers that power our platform. 

In 2020, we also re-examined our values and our norms together collectively. Synack employees were vocal about the recent events around the Black Lives Matter movement and spearheaded a task force dedicated to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity creating Synack Stands, a platform for creating positive change. Working with numerous nonprofit organizations, Synack employees have been advocating for more awareness for underrepresented groups in cybersecurity mentoring both adults transitioning into security careers through BUiLT and the Synack Academy, a Synack program launched to provide students from under-represented minority groups access to future career pathways in technology and/or cybersecurity through a structured, support-driven training program. We launched our first ever Diversity Report in partnership with the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Synack’s mission is to make the world more secure. In 2020, we turned our attention to help secure the presidential election. Our Secure the Election initiative aimed to help those on the frontlines of U.S. elections protect themselves from foreign adversaries. Synack began new partnerships in 2020 with ES&S (mentions in Wired, WSJ, Washington Post) the country’s largest manufacturer of voting equipment, and the State of Colorado to test their election technology. Neither ES&S nor the State of Colorado reported any problems during what proved to be an incredibly challenging voting period. In fact, one U.S. official called the election “the most secure in American history.”

After all we were built for this. Our talented remote, global workforce continues to provide uninterrupted crowdsourced security testing around the clock. The Synack Red Team, our most trusted, elite crowd of ethical hacking talent have worked remote from around the world in over 85 countries. 

We’d like to look forward, not backwards. If this year has taught us anything it is compassion, resilience and striving to find light at the end of the tunnel or deciphering what red tier means in our selective county. Synack is a company of doers with passion that have found ways to come together creatively in our new virtual soon to start thinking of a hybrid environment. 

From our Courageous Women’s virtual events to CISO wine tasting and intimate customer events, and RSA and Black Hat, we are confident that we will all meet again soon. Make sure to RSVP for one of our upcoming virtual events surrounding RSA this year. We look forward to connecting and toasting you in the near future. 

We must have patience. Perseverance through the loss. Find opportunities through the noise and distractions. Have acceptance. Grow. 

Take that 2020. 2021 we’re still hopeful.

Posted by Charlie