IronNet Cybersecurity, a pureplay cyber security firm founded and co-led by former National Security Agency Director and the first Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Gen. Keith Alexander, on Monday said it is merging with an investment company and plans to become publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “IRNT.”
Under the arrangement, LGL Systems Acquisition Corp. [DFNS], a blank check company formed in 2019 to target businesses in the aerospace, defense and communications industries, will combine with IronNet at an enterprise value of $927 million, with IronNet’s shareholders holding about 72 percent of the common stock in the combined company.
LGL currently has $173 million cash in trust and the combined company expects to receive $267 million in net proceeds, including $125 million through a private investment in public equity that will be used to expand IronNet’s growth, including through mergers and acquisitions, and invest in research and development to accelerate product offerings.
IronNet, which is based in Northern Virginia, had $29 million in sales in its fiscal year 2021, which ended on Jan. 31, and is estimating $54 million in sales in the current fiscal year. By fiscal year 2025, the company is forecasting sales of $278 million.
Most of IronNet’s revenue, 90 percent, is from software products used for cyber security and data analytics, and a small portion is from services. In FY ’21, $4 million of sales were from services and the estimate in FY ’22 is $5 million.
Most of IronNet’s sales, 81 percent, are generated from the private sector, and government markets are largely “untapped,” Jamie Gerber, the company’s chief financial officer, said during a taped investor presentation. Business in the government sector is ramping up, he said. International customers account for 39 percent of company revenue.
IronNet’s software is based on artificial intelligence-enabled behavior analytics to detect attack patterns and also automatically share threat information in real-time at scale across companies and sectors. The company says its technology can detect previously unknown cyber threats.
Bill Welch, Co-CEO with Alexander of IronNet, said during the taped presentation that the company serves demand for network detection analysis and network detection and response.
“We dominate that space, which is growing with SolarWinds and similar attacks,” Welch said, referring to the network management company SolarWinds Inc. [SWI], whose software was used to penetrate at least nine federal agency and about 100 private sector networks in an espionage hack first disclosed in December.
However, Welch said, the larger global total addressable market that IronNet can “grow into” is currently valued at $25.3 billion and is estimated to expand to $41.1 billion in 2024. This market includes end point, web security, managed security services, and prevention of distributed denial of service attacks, he said.
Alexander, who retired from the Army in 2014, said during the presentation that IronNet first discovered the malware used in the SolarWinds hack last May and sent the analytics to the cloud. Subsequently, the Sunburst malware was detected in another customer and also sent to the cloud “and automatically correlated” by IronNet’s software, he said.
“Based on IronNet analysis and continued assessment, no customer networks were compromised by the second stage deployments of SolarWinds,” IronNet said in a slide accompanying the investor presentation. “If such an attempt had been made, it likely would have been detected and actionable.”
The transaction between IronNet and LGL is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021.
LGL’s management includes a name well known to the aerospace and defense industry, Robert LaPenta, a founder and former executive of L3Technologies, which was later acquired by Harris Corp. to create L3Harris Technologies [LHX], and the founder and CEO of L1 Identity Solutions, which was broken up and sold to Britain’s BAE Systems and Frances Safran.
Other key members of LGL’s management include John Mega, who also was a founding member of L3, LaPenta’s son Robert LaPenta Jr., who was the vice president of Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Strategy at L1, and Marc Gabelli, president of the investment firm Gabelli Group Capital Partners.
IronNet’s financial adviser on the deal is Guggenheim Securities and LGL is being advised by Barclays.