Before building a cyber protection technology empire, Serguei Beloussov founded two dozen companies around the world. Meanwhile, he had been a scientist, studying physics and electronic engineering, and getting a doctorate in computer science. But since he was a student, the Russian-born entrepreneur but a Singaporean citizen had cultivated his passion for business, selling shoes in the Soviet Union, creating a platform that helps students pass university entrance tests, starting a company that assembles and sells computers. Today, he heads up IT security company Acronis, which just raised $ 147 million from Goldman Sachs.
“With this investment, we aim to grow by expanding our engineering team in the Singapore, Bulgaria and Arizona offices, and by acquiring other businesses in the industry. In particular, we want to strengthen and extend our presence on the North American market “, Serguei Beloussov explains to Business Insider Italy, also hinting at the intention of building new data centers. In a world characterized by a growing number of interconnected devices, defending against diversified and sophisticated cyber attacks is a priority for companies, public administrations and also for individual users. “More and more devices are connected to the network: they interact with humans but also with each other. And therefore the data in circulation increase, but also the threats of hackers ”, continues the scientist manager:“ Ramsonware, phishing, cryptominers are what we know. Then there are those still unknown. Therefore, software capable of detecting harmful intrusions is not enough to solve the problem ”.
The CEO of Acronis developed his IT empire with a five-point cyber protection strategy: “Safeguard first, which means providing a backup copy of your data so it’s always available even after an attack. Then again accessibility, that is to say the possibility to access them easily at any time and from any place ”, emphasizes Beloussov. He adds: “Obviously privacy, because only the owner of the data must be able to decide who can have access to it. Then again authenticity, because you must always be sure that the backup operation has not been tampered with and that the copy is an exact replica of the original data. Finally, security, which incorporates all these operations into a system that protects against any possible threat of cyber attacks ”.
More concretely, the technology developed by Acronis monitors all the activities that take place on the computer, trying to prevent malicious intrusions: if it discovers something suspicious it tries to stop it. “And if it fails to stop the threat, the program can automatically recover the data from the backup copy, allowing us to carry out a thorough analysis to understand what happened and prevent it from happening again.”
The company was founded in Singapore in 2003 and then incorporated in Switzerland in 2008: today it has over 1400 employees in 18 countries. Its products have already reached over 5 million consumers and have been used by around 500,000 companies. Thanks to the new capital injection, the valuation of the company according to Beloussov has reached one billion dollars: “The expected revenues for 2019 are between 200 and 300 million dollars”, recalls the manager, hoping to break through the milestone of a billion in turnover for 2022: “This is an ambitious goal, but I think we can do it”.
The scientist who became an entrepreneur, but the reverse is also true given that science and business have always gone hand in hand in his career, started when he was still a student: “I started my first entrepreneurial activities when I was still at university in Soviet Union. The implosion of the USSR created space for new private economic initiatives and so I continued after graduation, “he says. From selling shoes to installing floors, he did various part-time jobs during his studies, and then launched a company that built and sold PCs in Russia. In 1995 the decision to move to Singapore, where he founded several technology companies in addition to Acronis and helps to create some investment funds that focus on cloud technology, blockchain, machine learning, but also Iot, robotics and quantum computing.