Co-founder Shalev Hulio is no longer the CEO of NSO, the company behind controversial spy software Pegasus. His departure is part of a wider effort by the Israeli company to rectify its dire financial situation.
NSO Group developed Pegasus in 2014. The expensive spy software makes it possible to penetrate a smartphone and track everything, without a user having to click on anything or install anything. The software is so powerful that it is classified as a weapon.
It rained outrage all over the world. The United States blacklisted NSO, preventing American companies from trading with it without further ado. Tech giants like Apple and Meta – who saw vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities in their software exploited by the Israeli group – went to court.
NSO Group had a particularly difficult time. The company was valued at more than 1 billion dollars in 2019, but is now fighting for its survival. Before the leak, Pegasus was pouring in up to $250 million annually, but sales have plummeted in recent months.
‘Next phase in growth’
Despite this, CEO Shalev Hulio remained in post. Until now. Hulio itself speaks of ‘the next phase in the growth’ of NSO Group, which, according to Bloomberg, is also cutting 100 of the approximately 750 jobs.
NSO Group says it only wants to do business with NATO member states. And no longer with most of the more than 60 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that Amnesty International accuses of using the spyware against dissident voices and opposition members.
“NSO will ensure that the company’s groundbreaking technologies are used for righteous and dignified purposes,” said COO Yaron Shohat, who is tasked with completing the restructuring.
If that promise is true, then Hulio’s departure will certainly not come too soon. Due to the reputational damage and the absence of customers, NSO has been feverishly looking for fresh cash for months. At the end of last year, according to business newspaper Financial Times, Hulio proposed to its owners to re-engage with ‘riskier customers’ if necessary.