Raaz Herzberg: From a safe job at Microsoft to Israel's fastest growing startup

Raaz Herzberg credit: Eyal Itzhar
Raaz Herzberg credit: Eyal Itzhar

"What frightened me wasn’t that the company wouldn’t succeed, but that I wouldn’t be able to fulfil the responsibility placed on me. But I decided not to let fear control me."

Raaz Herzberg (30), Head of Product at Wiz

Personal: Married. Lives in Tel Aviv

Education: BA in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Previous positions: Software Engineer at Google, Senior Product Management Lead, Azure Sentinel, Microsoft

One more thing: "My real talent is painting"

Two years ago, Raaz Herzberg had a comfortable, interesting position as Senior Product Management Lead for the cyber group at Microsoft Israel. The team was working on a new Microsoft product, Azure Sentinel, software that allows organizations to connect the information and alerts coming from different security systems to a single response solution. This is a relatively new competitive front between the global cloud giants, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, all three of which offer solutions in this area.

But then Herzberg received an offer she couldn’t refuse: to join four former Microsoft employees headed by Assaf Rapaport, the former General Manager of Microsoft Israel’s R&D center, to found a new startup. Herzberg was one of the first ten employees at Wiz, established in March 2020.

"There was an element of risk here because I really liked my role at Microsoft," she says. "When I joined Wiz, we still didn't have an idea, or even a name. It was the beginning of the pandemic, an uncertain period that seemed like the worst time to found a startup," Herzberg recalls. "But when people like [Wiz founders] Assaf, Roy, Ami, and Yinon, people I admire and trust, asked me to join - I followed. The truth is that what really frightened me wasn’t that the company wouldn’t succeed, but that I wouldn’t be able to fulfil the responsibility that would be placed on me. But I decided not to let fear control me. "

Today, it can definitely be said that Herzberg's decision paid off. Wiz, developer of a system for securing cloud-based enterprise activity, became the fastest startup in the history of Israeli high-tech to reach unicorn status, that is, a valuation of over $1 billion. In its last funding round, in October, young Wiz was already valued at $6 billion.

Herzberg grew up in the Ramat Ef'al neighborhood of Ramat Gan, served in the IDF’s Human Intelligence Division Unit 504, and after demobilization worked as an analyst at startup Ginger Software, which dealt with natural language processing (NLP). She later completed a double major program that provided a BSc degree in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a BDes diploma from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.

"My real talent in life is painting, and I’ve drawn and sketched since I was young," laughs Herzberg. "In painting, you start from scratch and create something, and that's also what I like about being a product manager, especially a product manager at a startup - building things from the ground up. In art, you often start something with no idea how you’ll manage to finish it. I remember at Bezalel they asked us to draw a realistic picture with colored pencils, and I had no idea how. The same thing happens when you’re building a product. At first, you feel helpless and, in the end, everything somehow comes together."

After a period as a developer at Google and product manager at Microsoft, Herzberg landed, as mentioned, at Wiz, where she serves as Head of Product and manages a staff of four. The company’s initial phase, she says, was practically chaotic. "One of the amazing things about Wiz was that we started selling to customers very early, even before the company had any salespeople. So, as product manager, I had to do the whole process, including negotiating with giant companies, which isn’t something that usually happens. For me, it really was stepping out of my comfort zone."

Wiz is also one of the most talked-about start-ups in the industry and everything that goes on there attracts attention, like the Survivor-style company trip to Mauritius, which was perceived by some in the industry as excessively wasteful. So, how does it look from the inside? "We’re a bunch of people who work hard, try to stay grounded, and not show off. Also, we never imagined the pace would be so fast, but it happened thanks to hard work, and also thanks to the fact that our market has grown a lot," says Herzberg.

Herzberg declines to predict where she will be in another five or ten years. "Two years ago, I couldn’t even imagine that I would be product manager at a company worth $6 billion. So it seems that anything is possible."

Executive Recommendation

Gili Raanan, founder of venture fund Cyberstarts, the first investor in Wiz:

"Raaz is a rising talent, who combines understanding of technology and product with exceptional perception about customers. Together, these enable her to persuade large and complex enterprises to implement groundbreaking solutions. Raaz is an excellent listener, and so manages to convey a complex technological vision to customers clearly and efficiently."

 This article is part of a larger project, "40 under 40", published by "Globes" in Hebrew.  

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 27, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Raaz Herzberg credit: Eyal Itzhar
Raaz Herzberg credit: Eyal Itzhar
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