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Darktrace: World’s Best Digital Security System


Welcome to the era where almost every piece of valuable information is digitized. Just like any other goods or belongings, digital information needs to be protected, too. With the advance of technology, there is an advance in cyberattacks, too. Companies, organizations, and even governments have been looking for ways to defend and protect themselves.

Understanding the importance of cyber security, Poppy Gustafsson created an effective system for defending against cyber threats. The best thing about it, you ask? Well, It does everything on its own, without the need for human interference or supervision. Neat, right?

Poppy Gustafson is a brilliant, confident girl who defied stereotypes, entered the man-dominated tech world, and created Darktrace, a cyber-security system that became a game-changer in the fast-growing world of internet technology.

If you want to know more about the story of a rule-defying female that tackled the tech realm overpowered by masculine energy, continue reading about Poppy Gustafson.

Budding Years

Born in 1982, in Cambridgeshire, England, Poppy Gustafsson - the founder and CEO of Darktrace- had an interesting childhood. Her family was occupied with agriculture and farming. Her father owned his own business, selling agriculture items for farmers.

Poppy was a very curious young girl, often spending time with her father. Constantly asking questions and showing interest in what he does, was a bit unusual for a young girl, but Poppy was never your stereotypical, role-accepting person.

Her mother was also somewhat connected to agriculture since she was a journalist for Farmers Weekly, a magazine that covered all about the farming and agriculture industry in England. So, all of her childhood, Poppy was hearing things about farming and learning a lot about it. But as she was growing, she developed different interests ended up following her own path.

She attended Hinchingbrooke secondary school and was a very successful student. Her intelligence and desire to learn helped her accomplish good results in all the subjects, but she was especially good at math and was showing huge interest in this subject. This interest will define her future career and life.

Tracing a Career Path

After finishing her education in Hinchingbrooke school, she left her agricultural surroundings and went to study at the University of Sheffield. While she was studying, young Poppy was also working. Building kitchen cabinets was her first job. She got a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the university when she was only 21.

One of her biggest passions was playing the piano. She learned how to play, but never gave up on perfecting the skill. Poppy wanted to make piano playing highly enjoyable for her, so she wanted to learn all the tips and tricks for hitting the perfect note. But, mastering a skill like that takes a lot of time to practice, a time that Poppy could not find with her studies and later, her work. So she put this passion aside and focused on professional development and success.

A year after finishing college, Poppy started working in Deloitte, a multinational brand of a company, as an assistant manager. She stayed there for 4 years before going to Amadeus Capital Partners to work as a fund accountant. Another job switch happened after a year when she got an offer to work for HP Autonomy, a successful software company founded in Cambridge.

This is where Poppy got more familiar with technology and started to learn a lot. HP autonomy was the most successful software company in the UK. They worked on building software for processing information and data. Time spent in this company got her more and more interested in digital data and information. She was fascinated by all the ongoing processes and got eager to learn more.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...and Be Successful

A subject that really caught Poppy’s interest was cyber security. She had endless conversations with her colleagues on this subject. Poppy started realizing the importance of this matter in the world that we live in. Cyber attacks happened often and had the potential to do real damage. Even though cyber security systems already existed, she thought a lot about their efficiency, and how and if they could be improved.

Poppy came to the conclusion that using self-learning AI could revolutionize defending against cyber threats. With the help of some of her colleague experts from HP Autonomy, she started developing a new cyber-security system called Darktrace. She called it a digital immune system because it worked on the same principles as the human immune system does.

What Darktrace is essentially doing, is learning how one digital system operates. By learning its modus operandi, it defines what’s normal for that system. Additionally, it detects anything outside this normal functioning and attacks it with the intent to keep things functioning. With the application of self-learning AI technology, all these processes are happening independently, without the need of a human. You don’t have to show it how a system works, you don’t have to teach it what a threat is and you don’t have to command it to fight against the threat.

In 2013, Darktrace was officially plugged in in the digital realm of cyber security. Poppy gathered a multidisciplinary team to work on it, from mathematicians like herself to AI experts. Perfecting the system was not an easy task, it took a lot of hard work and determination. Also, the company needed a lot of funding to be able to achieve its goal - to spread around the world, defending cyberspaces.

You Go, Girl!

Soon after its founding, Darktrace started gaining huge attention. It felt like it was that one particular product the companies were waiting for. Darktrace was running up hills, expanding, and attracting more and more curious eyes. Poppy and her team could finally feel a gust of great satisfaction. As her parents would say - she planted the seeds, worked hard on them and now it was time to harvest the fruits of success.

Big investments in the company started pouring in two years after it got started, following the interest from customers, and the results Darktrace was providing. In 2015, the company got two big investments from Invoke Capital and Summit Partners, when it garnered a total of $40M. More investments followed in the next years, from Kohlbert Kravis Roberts, Insight Partners, and Vitruvian Partners, amounting to a total sum of $230.5 M invested in Darktrace.

Listing all of the awards Darktrace and its founder Poppy Gustafsson have received would be unreasonable in an article like this since there are just too many of them. We’ll mention some of them though.

Poppy was chosen as Vodafone’s Woman of the Year for Technology and Innovation in 2020. She was also awarded by the UK Tech Awards as the Tech Businesswoman of the Year in 2019, besides many others. Darktrace was named in the 100 most influential companies in 2021 by TIME magazine, besides countless other awards in the category of tech companies and cybersecurity.

Cyber Security Leader

Darktrace is a company based in Cambridge, UK, but also holds offices in London, San Francisco, and Singapore. The CEO of the company is its founder, Poppy Gustafsson. More than 5000 companies use their services in more than 100 countries around the world. Some well-known names using Darktrace are PizzaHut, F1 team McLaren, football clubs Tottenham and Everton, CBS Interactive, Hexagon, and others.

Before attracting all the high-end names from different industries, Poppy’s Darktrace didn’t have it easy. The digital world had already seen similar defense systems, so Darktrace wasn’t anything new and never-before-seen, so to speak. Big players like Kaspersky, FireEye, and Crowdstrike, among others, were already healing the wounds of cyber attacks on users. However, Darktrace did stand from the crowd thanks to its AI-based features.

Darktrace has more than 1500 employees, a strong company structure divided into an executive team, board of directors, advisory council, and science and technology committee. It is notable to mention that 40% of the Darktrace employees are women, while the average in tech companies is around 15%. So just like Poppy herself, the company is breaking gender stereotypes, too.

Poppy is a real inspiration. From the small Cambridgeshire to world recognition. A successful woman in a man-dominated profession can serve as a motivation for many young girls that they can make it, too, if they work hard and believe in themselves.

So if you want to explore the cyber world without being exposed to cyber threats, treat your machine to a taste of Darktrace. Give your device the vaccine that will provide it with cyber antibodies ready to fight off cyber viruses. With Darktrace, no cyber pandemic is possible.