San Antonio’s cybersecurity sector is strong but lopsided, said local industry leaders who participated in a Geekdom download lagu panel.
While many companies in the city’s defense sector and beyond provide cybersecurity services — investigators, auditors and consultants — relatively few actually build software, which is where the big money is. And those that do often get whisked away to Austin.
“The ability to build product and have people building product … is going to be extremely important for longevity in the industry,” said Nicholas Hollis, president and CEO of Coherent Cyber, a San Antonio-based cybersecurity services firm. “The challenge for us is to keep those product companies and developers here.”
The Wednesday panel, coordinated by the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, was moderated by Charles Woodin, CEO of Geekdom. Thomas Ervin, a UTSA lecturer and cybersecurity specialist at the FBI’s San Antonio office, and Jeff Fair, vice president of cybersecurity at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, also took part in the discussion.
Hollis brought up the example of Infocyte, a malware-hunting software startup founded by U.S. Air Force veterans that Hollis was a major investor in. The company was founded in San Antonio, where it also participated in the Build Sec Foundry, a former San Antonio-based incubator for cybersecurity software startups. Sometime after Infocyte raised $3.4 million from Austin investors in 2017, it moved to Austin.
The only other company that graduated out of the Build Sec Foundry incubator also moved out of San Antonio after being bought, Hollis said. “We lost those high-quality jobs.”
Woodin echoed the point: “The problem is not building products in San Antonio, it’s finding the funding to keep it here.” Companies end up being pulled to Austin by the many investors who live there and want the ventures they fund to be closer to them.