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October 13, 2022

Binarly Expands Leadership Team With Veteran Cybersecurity Executives

Binarly Team

New additions to the management team bring experience from BlackBerry, Cylance, Dragos and Branch.

Binarly Inc., providers of the industry’s first AI-powered firmware protection platform, today announced the addition of veteran cybersecurity executives from BlackBerry and Dragos, expanding an experienced management team to deliver enterprise firmware security solutions at scale.

The new additions include former Blackberry VP of Research and Intelligence Eric Milam, who joins Binarly as Chief Product Officer; Dave Alfaro, former principal director of field operations at Dragos Inc., who will serve as Binarly’s Head of Customer Success; and former Branch business development leader Igor Gonebnyy, who will serve as Head of Partnerships at Binarly.

Milam spent three years at BlackBerry after the company’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Cylance, where he served as VP of Research Operations and managed a threat intelligence operation that spanned the U.S., U.K., Japan and Australia.

Alfaro is also a former Cylance executive who managed the company’s ThreatZERO unit while Gonebnyy served in a technology partnership leadership role at Branch.

As Chief Product Officer, Milam will be responsible for transferring innovation and research into the Binarly platform for enterprise customers worldwide. Alfaro has joined Binarly to manage customer success operations, and Gonebnyy will take responsibility for technology partnerships.

We asked Eric, Dave and Igor to share some thoughts on joining the Binarly team and mission:

Eric Milam, Chief Product Officer, Binarly

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
- From The Alchemist

It was March of 2021, and I was at BlackBerry as the VP of Research and Intelligence. My phone rang, and Claudiu, who, at the time, was my Director of Threat Intelligence, basically said,

“Hey man, I have some news to share; I am giving you my notice because I have an opportunity to go do my own thing. I can't tell you what it is right now, but I will let you know as soon as possible.”

Two months later, Claudiu calls again, telling me he teamed up with Alex to create a company revolving around firmware vulnerability identification and ways to protect endpoints and other devices.

Fig 1

Having had the conversation with Claudiu I knew I had to meet Alex, the mad scientist who envisioned and put his incredible experience together to make his dream a reality. I had never met Alex and I was a bit nervous, however, after five minutes with Alex, I was completely sold on his ideas and initial visions on how to assist an industry in desperate need of help. He spoke with fervor and passion that sparked something inside me. I had butterflies, with every word from Alex, they fluttered and I was driven to know more.

It was a fascinating topic that I knew nothing about, so I researched to find out that there is no clear leader in the firmware security space and that the greenfield was in the multiple billions of dollars. I continued to ask questions of Alex and Claudiu, which they answered with enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge that comes only from experience. At that moment, I knew I had to be a part of it and asked them if I could invest in Binarly as an Angel investor.

What truly sold me on Binarly was when I asked the simple question, ‘where do you see yourselves in three years?’, they had very articulate answers both personally as leaders and, even more so, their goals for the company. Not just “we want to be market leaders” word-salads, but they came with detailed specifics on the “go to market” path, business projections, ARR & growth targets, research and tool releases, marketing, everything.Most folks aren't looking out 3-5 years after starting a company, as it's all crystal ball. However, I believe that if you don't have a goal (even when we know they shift with time), how do you know what to aim for? It was clear they had an idea, a goal, and, more importantly, a path laid out they hoped to walk. Belief in the company and the leaders took root in me, and it was clear that I needed to be a part of this adventure!

Fast forward to Sept 2022, I have seen Alex and Claudiu grow the company, and the business, solidify their market fit, and gain an incredible following. Once again, I went to them and asked them if they had room for me as I knew my experience at startups, team-building, operations, and strategy would be a great fit. Luckily, the timing was right for everyone and I am now part of an incredible team with huge dreams to fulfill.

The soul of this company is rooted in research and innovation, which only ensures we build products that the industry needs AND loves. As I see it, we have nothing but blue skies ahead with a ton of history to create. Every step is an eye-opening experience, and I look forward to the success and failures along the way that will help solidify this company into a worldwide sensation.

Igor Gonebnyy, Head of Partnerships and Business Development, Binarly

When Alex called me two years ago and asked if we could grab a coffee and discuss an idea he's been working on, I jumped at the opportunity. We met at Philz Coffee in Redwood City where I got really excited about Binarly’s mission to secure the firmware supply chain using the latest AI and ML technologies.

Fig 2 - Photo of Igor

We discussed the ins-and-outs of the industry and looked at the problem from all angles and after that coffee meeting, it became clear to me that I wanted to hop aboard the Binarly train. When Alex talks passionately about addressing firmware security at scale -- for the entire industry -- it generates a level of excitement to find the right technology partnerships to deliver this solution at scale.

I’m excited to be part of this Binarly mission to change the world, secure a key part of the software supply chain, and make it safer for humans everywhere. I feel part of a fantastic, unstoppable team of unique people obsessed with that idea and knowing how to do it!

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
- Steve Jobs

Dave Alfaro, Head of Technical Sales and Customer Success, Binarly

Having spent more time in cybersecurity than I care to admit, I have walked the planet and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I've come to understand that there are two essential components to true fulfillment and happiness in a professional career: culture and mission.

Early in my career, computer security was exciting and mysterious. For many, it was viewed as a burden or an extra expense, something that could always be addressed later. I remember the days when the “Melissa” and “I Love You” viruses started to raise some eyebrows and the Code Red and Slammer worms forced everyone to sit up and take security seriously.

At this point, I found myself at a small vulnerability assessment startup called eEye Digital Security and it changed my life. eEye did not feel like a job; it felt more like a military special operations team (minus the physical aspects) mixed with a fraternity. It was a culture like I had never experienced before, a bit wild and unorthodox at times, but with a mission that never felt more important.

Fig 3

eEye was a melting pot of intelligence, ‘out of the box’ thinking and incredible drive. Reflecting now, I was in the middle of an incubator for greatness. This is where I originally met a young engineer named Claudiu Teodorescu. This chapter led to acquisition and merger with BeyondTrust where I continued to learn about great culture and leadership. This was a bit of a more mature brand of culture, but still, it felt like family. Most importantly this culture bled through to our customers.

Years later, I joined the mighty Cylance just as the explosive growth began. It was an incredible journey crossing into unknown frontiers and taking them by storm. Cylance was where I took these lessons that I learned and applied them to my own team. With a simply amazing group of individuals as teammates, ThreatZERO became one of the strongest and tightest knit teams in the organization. Here again this feeling of family, culture, and mission carried over to our customers, creating raving fans of the product and company.

I cannot use the word mission without speaking to my time at Dragos, Inc. Robert M. Lee and his team have created easily the most mission-driven organization that I have ever seen. With every move the company made, the focus never shifted even slightly. Safeguarding civilization is not just a slogan, but a way of life at Dragos. It is all fun and games until the lights don't turn on and you can no longer trust your water source.

With these lessons and experiences under my belt, I began to look for my next chapter. A brief sabbatical gave me time to think about what I was looking for. What was profoundly important? What really made my teams, my customers, and myself happy? Again, it came down to mission and culture. I was looking for a place that had the right core foundation, a place where I could help build an environment that would embody these elements. Mission is built on great technology, forward thinking, and a noble, worthy cause. Culture rises from foundations of respect, passion, recognition, and camaraderie.

When I first began speaking to Alex and Claudiu, it was clear they shared my belief in mission. Understanding the reach and persistent nature of firmware vulnerabilities and attacks, coupled with the difficulties around remediation and mitigation, solidified it.

The research I was seeing come from the small, but amazingly talented Binarly team simply blew me away. It was that core technical drive from my eEye days revisited, mixed with the criticality of the Dragos mission. My previous experience with Claudiu at eEye and later Cylance gave me a good idea on where the culture might sit. Meeting Alex and witnessing a human truly in their element was what I needed. Having leadership so passionate about what they are doing is amazing. After hearing more about the company and witnessing how humble Alex and Claudiu were, the decision was an easy one. It was clear that Binarly was a place where the mission and cultural elements that are so important to me, met the technical, market, and innovation factors required to grow into something amazing.

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the Binarly team and look forward to helping build incredible culture and mission all while solving some really hard problems and changing the face and future of firmware security!

What's lurking in your firmware?