TechBytes with Rami Essaid, Co-Founder and CEO at Distil Networks

In May, global leader in bot detection and mitigation, Distil acquired real-time human detection company Are You A Human(AYAH). The acquisition was followed by the launch of Distil Bot Discovery for Google Analytics—a product that leverages AYAH’s technology. We spoke to Rami Essaid, Co-Founder & CEO of Distil Networks to understand how bots use browser automation to interact with websites, simulating human interactions.

MTS: What was the idea behind conceiving Distil, a bot detection company?

Rami Essaid: I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. After selling my first company, I went to work at a web security company. I was struck by how many customers were asking for a solution to combat malicious bots bombarding their websites and was inspired to face this problem head on. When Distil was founded in 2011, no one was talking about bots. Now, we’re seeing bots discuss everywhere, from how they are being used in major hacks to their impact on social media. Even Congress passed the BOTS Act in December 2016 to combat the use of bots to scalp tickets online. It’s become a bigger issue than I could have ever imagined.

MTS: Distil acquired Are You A Human last week. How did Distil identify AYAH to be a part of its offering? How did you prepare for the new addition?

Rami Essaid: When we founded Distil, we aimed to build the most comprehensive solution on the market to detect and mitigate threats associated with malicious bots. Are You A Human’s technology and method for identifying bots is different, but complementary to Distil. We added their patented biometric data analysis technology to make our bot detection even better, but also added new data from millions of new sites and users. Through the acquisition, we are also excited to onboard a team of experienced software engineers and data scientists who have dedicated the past seven years to understanding how online businesses have been plagued by the bot problem.

Distil’s Are You a Human Acquisition Is Big Win for Tech Community

Detroit’s nascent tech community got a significant validation today as Silicon Valley cybersecurity company Distil Networks announced it has acquired homegrown, Dan Gilbert-backed startup Are You a Human. The specific terms and the monetary value of the deal were not disclosed, but Distil says it plans to open a new office in Detroit as a result.

As part of the announcement, Distil is today releasing a free Google Analytics tool called Distil Bot Discovery, which finds and filters a website’s bot traffic. The tool incorporates Are You a Human’s “real-time human detection technology and biometric interaction dataset,” according to Distil CEO and co-founder Rami Essaid.

Distil Networks Acquires Are You A Human

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 18, 2017 – Distil Networks, the global leader in bot detection and mitigation, today announced the acquisition of Are You A Human, experts in analyzing and understanding how real humans interact with the internet. Are You A Human’s real time human detection technology and biometric interaction dataset will be integrated into the Distil Bot Defense Platform, adding biometric and longitudinal data from millions of new sites and users. In addition, Distil has released a new free product called Distil Bot Discovery for Google Analytics, which leverages Are You A Human technology. More details on the free Google Analytics plugin, which was also announced today, can be found here.

“When we founded Distil, we sought to establish the most comprehensive solution on the market to detect and mitigate threats associated with bots, and we continue to do just that,” said Rami Essaid, CEO and co-founder of Distil Networks. “Through this acquisition of Are You A Human, we are bringing on a team of experienced software engineers and data scientists who have dedicated the past seven years to understanding the bot problem plaguing online businesses. Combine this with our purchase of ScrapeSentry in 2016, and Distil has become a braintrust of individuals with the most advanced knowledge on bots, giving us the ability to combat them more effectively than any other company in the market today.”

It’s a Tough Time for Small Start-ups, but Those with Momentum are Cashing In

Technology startups are increasingly eschewing the public markets in favor of cash infusions from private investors. Among the latest examples of this trend is Distil Networks, the Arlington-based cyber security recently raised $21M from private investors, bringing its total funding to $65M. “There’s a huge amount of extra money in the growth equity side to keep great companies private longer,” said John C. Backus Jr., managing partner at Reston-based New Atlantic Ventures.

Read the full story from The Washington Post

Distil Networks Raises $21M in Series C Funding to Build on Momentum, Expand Bot Detection and Mitigation Services

Arlington-based Distil Networks announced a $21M Series C today, with financing from Silicon Valley Bank, Bessemer Venture Partners, Foundry Group, and TechStars. The funding brings Distil’s total capital raised to $65M.

“Since I joined the board of Distil, I’ve been continually impressed by the company’s ability to develop new products, streamline deployment, and exceed sales objectives,” said David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners. “Naturally, I was eager to double down.”

Read the full press release from Distil

Majority Of Bad Bots Behave Like Humans

For the first time since 2013, humans outnumber bad bots on the internet and are responsible for 54% of all web traffic, Kelly Jackson Higgins of InformationWeek reports.

New 2015 data released by Distil Networks indicates that bad bot traffic decreased to 18.61% from 22.78% in 2014. Good bot data dropped too, from 36.32% in 2014 to 27.04% in 2015. The report credits increased internet access in the developing world as responsible for the increase in human traffic.

To evade detection, the bad bots attempt to imitate human behavior – and some do so very effectively. “What we’ve seen in the past year is bots are more sophisticated in their tactics and more focused: the bad guys are lot less likely to throw [bots] on the Web to a more focused approach of ‘we’re going to narrow down the attack to a specific aspect of a Web app,’” said Distil’s CEO Rami Essaid.

Based in Raleigh, NC, Distil Networks offers services to protect clients from malicious bots that may engage in web scraping, competitive data mining, form spam and click fraud.

Read the full story from InformationWeek

Distil Networks Gets Human Touch With ScrapeSentry Acquisition

IFP Portfolio Company Distil Networks recently acquired rival startup ScrapeSensory, which approached Distil’s business from an opposite angle: using humans to help customers understand bots rather than intelligent, automated algorithms. Distil acquired ScrapeSensory in a deal that included both cash and stock.

Distil CEO Rami Essaid sees the deal as a major win for the company. While it not only eliminated a competitor, it also allows the firm to expand its human services – a task that was previously time consuming for his engineers and data scientists. Describing the deal, Essaid noted that “Enterprise customers want an analyst they can work with to add a human element to everything we do. It just made sense to combine forces.”

Read the full story from TechCrunch

Distil Networks Raises $21M To Block Malicious Bots

Distil Networks recently announced its $21M Series B financing. The round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Foundry Group, Techstars, IDEA Fund Partners, ff Venture Capital, Correlation Ventures, and others, brings the company’s total amount raised to $38M. In conjunction with the financing, David Cowan of BVP will join the Distil Networks board of directors. Founded in 2011, Distil Networks is the leading cloud security provider that blocks malicious bots.

Read the full article from TechCrunch

Distil Networks Announces $21M in Funding Led by Bessemer Venture Partners

Distil Networks recently announced the close of its $21M Series B financing. The round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Foundry Group, Techstars, IDEA Fund Partners, ff Venture Capital, Correlation Ventures, and others, brings the company’s total amount raised to $38M. “Malicious bots have become increasingly more pervasive, sophisticated and detrimental to companies around the world, and Distil is the only solution that is purpose built to identify and stop 99.99 percent of bad bots without affecting users,” said CEO and Co-founder Rami Essaid.

Read the full article from Dark Reading