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About the Author:
Howard Smith
Managing Director
Howard Smith has nearly three decades of experience at First Analysis, working with entrepreneurs as an investor and as an advisor on growth transactions to help build leading technology businesses. He leads the firm’s work in the Internet of Things, cybersecurity, and internet infrastructure sectors. He also built the firm's historical franchises in call centers and computer telephony. His thought-leading research in these areas has been cited for excellence by the Wall Street Journal and other publications. He serves on the boards of AppDetex, VisiQuate and ObservIQ. Prior to joining First Analysis in 1994, he was a senior tax consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. He earned an MBA with honors from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in accounting with highest honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a certified public accountant.
First Analysis Cybersecurity Team
Howard Smith
Managing Director
Matthew Nicklin
Managing Director
First Analysis Quarterly Insights
Takeaways from RSA 2022
June 21, 2022
  • At the first in-person RSA show since February 2020, we identified several takeaways that reflect how cybersecurity has both changed and stayed the same over the past two years.
  • The complexity of the cybersecurity environment and cybersecurity threats have increased since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The cybersecurity market grew through the pandemic, and growth probably accelerated. While the outlook is positive, the mood of the conference was that the sector is recession-proof. We think of the market as more recession-resistant and are concerned sentiment will be too bullish should the economy continue to weaken.
  • The shortage of cybersecurity talent continues, leading to weakened security and demand for cybersecurity solutions that enable companies to achieve adequate cybersecurity with fewer internal personnel.
  • The cybersecurity market has become more concentrated among a handful of large players.
  • Software bill of materials (SBOM) is an emerging, interesting area that helps organizations deal with the increasing interdependence of software products and systems.


Includes discussion of CSCO, FTNT, MSFT and PANW

Change and continuity

Complexity of security environment increased; threats increasing

Growth and the outlook: Recession-proof or recession-resistant?

Cybersecurity talent shortage continues

Increased market concentration

Software bill of materials

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Cybersecurity index declines over past year, still ahead of Nasdaq

Q2 cybersecurity M&A activity steady

Q2 cybersecurity private placement pace in line with recent levels

Change and continuity

For us and many others, the resumption of the RSA conference as an in-person event earlier this month marked the end of the pandemic's trade-show hiatus, and it was great to be back. When we attended the February 2020 RSA conference in San Francisco, little did we know the emerging coronavirus meant it would be the last conference of any type we'd attend in person for more than two years. While this year's show did not feel nearly as crowded or chaotic as some of the RSA shows we've attended in the past, the exhibit floor and related surroundings were busy enough, and masks on attendees rare enough, that there was a relatively normal RSA-show vibe.

We did not find any single underlying theme or emerging technology that dominated the conference, but we did identify several takeaways that reflect how cybersecurity has both changed and stayed the same over the past two years. Some takeaways reflected a continuation of historical challenges. Some reflected how certain ongoing challenges became more acute during the pandemic. A few reflected new challenges that emerged during the pandemic.

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