Gur Shatz quits as Cato COO after row with Kramer

Gur Shatz and Shlomo Kramer credit: Photoset and Shlomi Yosef
Gur Shatz and Shlomo Kramer credit: Photoset and Shlomi Yosef

Two of the foremost figures in Israel's cybersecurity industry have ended their 20 year partnership amid acrimony, sources tell "Globes."

They founded companies together, were business partners for many years and are two of the world's foremost cybersecurity entrepreneurs. Sources have informed "Globes" that the longstanding partnership between Shlomo Kramer, the cofounder of Check Point Software (TASE: CHKP), and Imperva, and Gur Shatz, who together with Kramer cofounded Cato Networks, which became a unicorn last summer, has ended amid acrimony after a dispute between the two entrepreneurs, less than a year before an expected IPO.

Last year Kramer told "Globes" that Cato Networks was planning an IPO in the fourth quarter of 2024, if market conditions allowed.

Shatz, who was number two at Cato and served as COO left the company in order to found a new startup called Cortanix, sources familiar with the matter have told "Globes." As far as is known, the company is currently being set up and has already raised $21 million from prominent investors including Mickey Boodaei, Dan Amiga, Rakesh Loonkar, Mike Fey and Gili Ra'anan's Cyberstarts. Shatz has already updated his LinkedIn page with details of the new company he has founded without specifying its name, while Cato has removed Shatz's picture as COO on the management of Cato, although he still serves on the board of directors.

Shatz, Kramer and Boodaei were the three most senior figures in Imperva, the previous company founded by Kramer, which held an IPO on Nasdaq before being sold twice - first to private equity firm Thoma Bravo and then French company Thales at a company valuation of $3.6 billion.

The departure of Shatz has raised eyebrows in the industry. He was the first salaried employee at Imperva more than 20 years ago before leaving to set up cloud data security company Incapsula as a spinoff, and then returned when it was fully acquired by Imperva and was integrated into it.

Incapsula became one of the growth engines of Imperva by connecting it to the next generation of cybersecurity technology - protecting an enterprises' data in the cloud and on the Internet and not only through communications networks and databases.

The partnership with Kramer became so close that the two left Imperva at different stages and decided to team up together to found Cato Networks, a company that has established secure corporate communications networks in the data cloud.

Mickey Boodaei developed his own independent career after leaving Imperva in 2013. With the assistance of Kramer he founded cybersecurity company Trusteer, which was sold to IBM. Subsequently he founded Transmit Security, another cybersecurity company that he still manages today. Boodaei together with other investors decided to support Shatz's new startup.

Boodaei and Shatz's acquaintance goes back 20 years. The pair knew each other at the company iDecide, which strove to protect user privacy but closed down after 9/11 when there were regulatory changes in the US that allowed the government to gather more information about citizens. Boodaei brought Shatz to work at Imperva.

Cato Networks is one of the fastest growing and most successful privately held cybersecurity companies in Israel. Last September the company announced the completion of a $238 million financing round at a company valuation of $3 billion. Investors included Lightspeed and the round was led by SoftBank, headed in Israel by former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. In an interview with the "30 Minutes or Less" podcast, Schatz said at the end of 2022 that Cato's aims are to become "a large company, an IPO, continued growth and expansion - an Israeli company, but with a global impact, this is the vision and we are on our way there."

Leaving before a company goes public is not something that should be taken lightly, even though many entrepreneurs do leave management teams to found new companies. However, Imperva's founders - Shlomo Kramer, Miki Boodaei and Amichai Shulman, only left in the years after the IPO.

Cato Networks said, "We congratulate Gur and wish him success in his new path as CEO and entrepreneur. We are sure that he will continue to contribute to Cato too as a member of the company's board of directors with his many abilities and talents."

No response was forthcoming from Gur Shatz himself.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 21, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Gur Shatz and Shlomo Kramer credit: Photoset and Shlomi Yosef
Gur Shatz and Shlomo Kramer credit: Photoset and Shlomi Yosef
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