Deep Debt, Cloud Slowdowns and Ransomware: Trending Topics and Clients in the News

We work with companies on the cutting edge of today’s business and technology trends — and at the forefront of issues in the news. In the past month, our clients commented on topics such as the consumer debt crisis, the IPO market, election hacks and high-profile security flaws. Here are the highlights, which include advice for retirement savings, expert insight into the state of startup acquisitions, and an analysis of the risk profiles of election campaigns. 

Balancing Debt with Retirement Savings

The average personal debt load is about $38,000, and many people are struggling to pay down their debt while also saving for retirement. Amy Ouellette, director of retirement services at Betterment for Business, told MarketWatch that retirement funds should continue to grow steadily, even if someone has to take a pause from saving altogether. 

“Saving money for retirement is incredibly important, but between your savings to date and your company’s 10% contribution, your retirement fund should continue to grow steadily — even if you take a pause from saving all together and drop your contribution rate down to 0%,” Ouellette said.

Shades of Gray in Startup Acquisitions

Companies today are waiting longer to go public than they did in years past, and instead are turning to acquisitions to expand. But selling a startup is not a black-and-white issue, notes Jyoti Bansal, founder of AppDynamics, Harness, BIG Labs and Unusual Ventures. Selling your startup “doesn’t have to be binary,” where either someone else holds complete control over the business or you do, said Bansal, who sold AppDynamics to Cisco for $3.7B.

The Brink of a Cloud Slowdown

As the SaaS and cloud market matures, incumbents are squeezing startups out of parts of the market. Alex Niehenke, partner at Scale Venture Partners, spoke with TechCrunch about why this is a sign that the industry may be headed toward a cloud slowdown and what that would mean for startups.

“Twenty to 25 years into these trends, we have seen a maturation and we’ve seen the emergence of large category leaders,” Niehenke said. And with the arrival of large players, “there is increasingly a shortage of room throughout the ecosystem. The leaders of scale and substance” are impacting the ability of startups to grow.

Election Hacks, Ransomware and NSA Vulnerabilities

From the country’s worst ransomware attacks to election security fears and high-profile security flaws, January was a busy month for the cybersecurity industry. Mission North clients are leading the conversation around these groundbreaking topics in cybersecurity.

  • The NSA made an unprecedented move when it disclosed a critical vulnerability in Windows 10 to Microsoft, something Tenable CEO Amit Yoran told Reuters he had never seen in his 30 years working in cybersecurity. “I cannot think of a single instance where government shared a zero-day with a vendor and took credit for it,” he said.
  • Communication is the lifeblood of any political campaign, but it can also be a campaign’s demise if messages get hacked or manipulated. Mark Risher, who works on account security at Google, told NPR that campaigns are similar to startups, but their risk profiles should be treated like that of an established business. Phishing is “very cheap to perpetrate and very easy to scale,” Risher said. “The attackers get to keep trying again and again until they succeed, and the target only has to make a mistake once.”
  • Experts predict that ransomware will be as destructive as ever in 2020. In Fox News’ lookback on the five most damaging ransomware attacks in the U.S., ReliaQuest Enterprise Architect Marcus Carey describes ransomware strain Maze as one of the worst. “Compared to other ransomware, Maze has unique infection methods, aiming to dupe a victim by creating lookalike websites, even imitating trusted government sites and cybersecurity websites to execute its attack,” Carey said.

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