Naftali Bennett, elected yesterday as Prime Minister of Israel, appears to be the first entrepreneur and executive from the cybersecurity industry to have become the head of a national government.
Bennett, who is also the first Prime Minister to emerge from Israel’s high-tech industry, co-founded what would eventually become the cybersecurity firm, Cyota, in 1999. Bennett spent several years as the New York-based CEO of the firm, before he and his partners sold Cyota to RSA Security in 2005 for $145 Million. Bennet has spoken publicly about his experience leading Cyota through challenging times, and of the need to adapt; Cyota floundered in its initial iteration as a provider of payment solutions, but, after a series of significant pivots, evolved into a major player in the world of financial-institution anti-fraud technology.
Most of the media personalities who have been discussing Bennett’s ascension to the Prime Minister’s office have focused their attention on his ousting of Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and on various related political issues. Yet, society in general, and those of us who work in cybersecurity and related fields in particular, should not discount the significance of the arrival of an era in which cybersecurity-industry personalities become national leaders; it should be of no surprise to anyone in our field that such an era first dawned in Israel, a country that sports a disproportionately high number of successful cybersecurity companies.
As cybersecurity, privacy, and related fields continue to increasingly impact the lives of people around the globe, and as free markets reward those who invent and deliver technologies that help society address related challenges, there is little doubt that cybersecurity personalities will emerge as leaders of other nations; Bennett is likely the first cybersecurity-industry veteran to ascend into a position of national leadership, but, he will certainly not be the last.