Varonis Goes Public, Seeks Better Ways to Understand Metadata

E-mails, spreadsheets, and text files can gang up on businesses if they are not careful.

As more companies rely on digital information to get things done, the data their employees create may pile up into a foreboding mountain. New York-based Varonis Systems believes its software is the answer to sorting out how, and with whom, all that information should be shared.

Armed with a platform for understanding metadata—data that offers insights about other data—Varonis went public on Friday and saw its shares double in value by day’s end (NASDAQ: VRNS). The company offered up 4.8 million shares at an opening price of $22 per, then later closed at $44 per share. On Monday its shares rose to nearly $50 per in morning trading, and then eased back to the $44 to $45 range in the afternoon.

Expansion in Varonis’s engineering and sales teams may follow this year, says vice president of marketing David Gibson. The need for the company’s services, he says, will escalate as the business-data problem gets bigger and more complex. “The volume of metadata dwarfs the data itself,” he says.

Varonis takes what is called unstructured data that people create on the job and turns it into something businesses can use. Unstructured data can include written digital messages sent amongst the staff or media files, such as audio clips, that relate to the business. Gibson considers this shared data to be a big asset that companies need to focus on. “It contains intellectual property, medical records, financial records,” he says. “Almost every business process revolves around human-generated data.”

Clumps of information may seem innocuous at first, but that can change if a third party gets a hold of it. Gibson believes businesses were roused to the need to protect their data after last year’s various exposés by Wikileaks of files from the National Security Agency.

But the solution is not to simply lock all the information away, he says. Data must be shared in order to get value from it, Gibson says, otherwise it is like a frozen asset. The key to unlocking human-created data, he says, is software that gives context to the connections among staff, data, and how content is used. To that end, his company’s software creates maps and other structures to visualize and analyze the information. That includes figuring out what people are doing with the data and who they share it with.

However, if too many people have access to that data, it becomes a liability. So Varonis’s software also monitors for unauthorized access of the information.

Varonis was co-founded in 2004 by CEO Yakov Faitelson and chief technology officer Ohad Korkus. Its early backers include Accel Partners, Evergreen Venture Partners, and Pitango Venture Capital. In addition to its U.S. presence, Varonis also has offices abroad in Britain, France, Germany, Israel, and other parts of the world.

Gibson says the software is not just for big enterprises. Companies with more than 20 employees, who share files and e-mail, could make use of Varonis. Its clientele includes companies in archiving, mobile data access, and data security. “Data growth is so universal, whether you’re a 100-person shop or a 500-person shop, it’s very difficult to manage and protect the data you’ve got,” he says.

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