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Dror Davidoff of Aqua Security: “Remembering that speed is an advantage so you better use it while you can”

One of the most important pieces of advice I have gotten is to stay agile in any aspect of the operation. What makes startup life unique is the fact that we are small and nimble, thus are able to move very quickly when needed. We’re given the advantage of not having to linger on key […]

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One of the most important pieces of advice I have gotten is to stay agile in any aspect of the operation. What makes startup life unique is the fact that we are small and nimble, thus are able to move very quickly when needed. We’re given the advantage of not having to linger on key decisions so we’re able to react very fast. Remembering that speed is an advantage so you better use it while you can — not everyone has that luxury!


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dror Davidoff.

Dror Davidoff is co-founder and CEO of Aqua Security. Dror has more than 20 years of experience in sales management, marketing, and business development in the enterprise software space. He has held executive positions at several emerging IT security and analytics companies. Before co-founding Aqua in 2015, he headed up global sales of Database Security Products at McAfee (Intel Security), and prior to that was EVP of Sales and Business Development at Sentrigo, where he led its fast market share increase. Dror holds an MBA in finance from City University of New York and a BA in economics. He likes to start his day with an early morning swim in the Mediterranean.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you down the cloud native security path?

I was involved with several early stage security start ups, which then were either acquired by or developed into larger leading security companies. Six years ago, when I was looking for the next big thing, I saw the transition to cloud native was in its early stages, having obvious security problems in its wake. This, in turn, led us to an opportunity to do security in a different and better way. We were at the precipice of something very exciting because when you do security for a long time, you learn that there are structural weaknesses to overcome. With cloud native, the fundamentals are changing so we saw the opportunity right at the beginning and that’s how Aqua was born.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive, so how you are changing the ecosystem?

What we’re doing at Aqua with cloud native security is disruptive in the same way that the cloud and DevOps is disruptive to modern computing infrastructure.. Even though we are in a transitional space, it has become clear that all new applications, will be done in the cloud. This includes dramatic changes in the way software is developed, maintained and run — and it’s only growing!

Applications running in the cloud are very dynamic, with new instances of the software spinning up and shutting down automatically based on demand, and the reality is that in most cases you have no idea where those systems actually are. So, securing them presents a major challenge when coming from a model where security teams built strong perimeters as the primary method to protect their environments.

At the same time, the way applications are developed and deployed now is fundamentally different. The idea that software was written, and then passed to QA, and then to security before being rolled out — taking weeks or months for this cycle — has given way to CI/CD pipelines where developers are pushing changes straight into production all the time. Security must be part of this from the earliest stages, and it has to be automated.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Although not necessarily funny, one of the earliest mistakes we made when we first started Aqua was having to change the name of the company — within the first year! As young entrepreneurs, we didn’t think the name through from all aspects, and a few months later, we had to invest another cycle in coming up with a new name and rebranding. Right now we can laugh about just wanting to start selling right away, no matter what we called ourselves, but if you asked me back then, I felt it was a mistake that could have been avoided.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had some great mentors in my life, I feel that it hasn’t been just one mentor that has made a huge impact, but rather a culmination of many coworkers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting throughout the years. If it wasn’t for good mentor’s advice, helping me make the hard decisions, Aqua would not be here right now.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean? This qus talks about how disruption can be a positive or a negative experience. Can you talk a little about how disruption can be good thing but also a bad thing in the cloud native industry?

When disruption is good, it is very exciting because means you are hopefully making life easier. But when you disrupt, things change, and they will not always change in the way that you expect them to. Not to mention that it can create a lot of resentment or objection within the organization to anything new.

I have learned to be careful when communicating disruptive messaging in order to win an open and willing ear on the other side.

Can you share best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

One of the most important pieces of advice I have gotten is to stay agile in any aspect of the operation. What makes startup life unique is the fact that we are small and nimble, thus are able to move very quickly when needed. We’re given the advantage of not having to linger on key decisions so we’re able to react very fast. Remembering that speed is an advantage so you better use it while you can — not everyone has that luxury!

How are you going to shake things up next?

The next thing for us at Aqua is to have the most advanced and complete offering for cloud native security as a standalone category within cybersecurity. Currently, cybersecurity has around six or seven categories, yet cloud native security is not one of them. In the big transformation of the Cyber market I believe it will emerge as one of the most important categories.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I am very proactive about looking for good management education in any form, one recent example is a book I enjoyed by Ben Horowitz. His experience as a manager, entrepreneur and venture capitalist gives a well-rounded view of the business. The book is called “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”- I found some very good managerial advice in it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Never stay stagnant”. This might sound quite cliché, but it has definitely stuck with me in my years of being a CEO. Through the different stages of the company you need to constantly evolve your persona to fit the stage of the company. Take a sales person, you need a certain type in the very early days when you have no customers and the product is hardly proven you need those visionaries wild characters that will take huge risk because there is no proof that the product really works and then once there is a product and it’s working, you need a very different type of sales person that knows the ins and outs of the product offering.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

In today’s world, technology is the leading engine of the world economy. Tech has opened up opportunities for the world no matter their location, age, or gender. Being part of this very successful community, I believe we have a social responsibility to spread it — everyone can work in technology! One of our missions is to break the walls and open the gates so people can access technology not only as user but also from a professional and educational perspective. At Aqua, we have worked with amazing non-profit groups aiding underprivileged young adults to bring them access to technology, and we have seen firsthand the doors it has opened up for them.

How can our readers follow you online?

Connect with me on Linkedin!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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