Hack the Box, a gamified cybersecurity training platform with 1.7M users, raises $55M • TechCrunch
There has long been a divide in the world of computer hacking between those who take a malicious approach to cracking a system, and those who use the same techniques to understand the system’s vulnerabilities, help fix them, and at the same time fight against the malicious actors. Today, Hack the Box, one of the startups that has built a platform to help cultivate more of the latter group with a gamified approach, is announcing $55 million in funding to expand its business after gaining 1.7 million users .
The financing is led by Carlyle, with Paladin Capital Group, Osage University Partners, Marathon Venture Capital, Brighteye Ventures and Endeavor Catalyst Fund also participating. The UK startup does not currently disclose valuation. But for some reason, according to PitchBook, the startup, based out of England but with offices in New York and with founding roots in Greece — where it also has an office — had raised just over $24 million since it was founded in 2017 ( with about $15 million of that in equity: the company says it has now raised about $70 million). The latest valuation, previously updated in 2021 after it raised $10.6 million, was a very modest $52 million.
“The message” because the scale of what the company has achieved is quite impressive. The 1.7 million community members using the platform cover both individuals who have joined HTB on their own to learn skills and gain certifications, as well as around 1,500 businesses, universities, governments and other organizations who have sent their teams to HTB to become sat up. through their steps.
The company says it currently operates about 450 “hacking labs” on more than 300 machines. Like companies like Kahoot (which work in a completely different environment to be clear, K-12 education and corporate training) the idea of HTB is that its learning environment is built around gamification, simulations with avatars and narrative scenarios that are designed to throwing users into what is built to mimic classic cyber hacks of varying and increasing sophistication. It also has a “pro lab” level that takes on typical network configurations, such as Active Directory or fully patched environments, to test and train people on different attacks and approaches around common enterprise tools and scenarios. Penetration testing, misconfigurations and evasive endpoint protection are among the situations thrown at users.
On top of this, in addition to the training platform for individuals and teams, it offers a career platform, where those looking to hire ethical hackers, or ethical hackers looking for work, can connect.
HTB is not the first or only company to build cyber training around a gamified environment. US Cyber Games, built in cooperation with US government organizations, is built as a mass player environment used to identify and train white hat hackers. (It also has a career service.) HTB is actually one of US Cyber Games’ sponsors and supporters. Others such as SafeTitan, Phished and Immersive Labs offer a variety of approaches for both technical teams and employees to raise awareness. The latter is not a category currently addressed by HTB, although it is an obvious area it could grow into.
“Our mission is to create and connect cyber-savvy people and organizations through highly engaging hacking experiences that cultivate out-of-the-box thinking,” Haris Pylarinos, CEO and co-founder, said in a statement. “The game in cyber has changed with defensive, reactive and recovery postures not fit for purpose in the face of an ever-increasing and ever-evolving wave of sophisticated attacks. A new proactive offensive and 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 we cultivate through Hack The Box.”
Something we’ve been coming back to regularly at TC at the moment is the fact that funding has become much harder to come by in certain segments of technology. HTB is in one of the categories that continues to receive attention, not least because security breaches have certainly not slowed down with the rest of the economy. There is a reason why investors will support those in the field who are scaling and have so far done so with relatively little external capital.
“The demands on security and IT professionals have never been greater. A shortage of talent across the industry and an exponentially increasing number of cyber threats places great emphasis on professionals and organizations maintaining best-in-class security practices, Carlyle director Constantin Boye said in a statement. “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 challenges. We’re excited for the next phase of Hack The Box’s development and are proud to be a part of this journey.”