The Scientology Money Project

Scientologist Stu Sjouwerman Plans a $100 Million NASDAQ IPO for His Cybersecurity Firm KnowBe4

Scientologists Stu and Rebecca Sjouwerman and their $5 million Scientology Diamond Meritorious Trophy. We wonder how much of that money came from Stu’s big payday in KnowBe4’s 2017 $30 million securities offering?

Stu Sjouwerman is defying the trend for Scientologists in the past year. He has not been arrested by the FBI; fined $10 million by the FTC for running a roach motel; is not facing criminal rape charges; is not dealing with class action lawsuits; and is not awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud.

Instead of hiring criminal defense attorneys, Scientologist Stu Sjouwerman is readying his cybersecurity firm KnowBe4 for a $100 million IPO. This follows the 2019 $300 million investment in KnowBe4 made by KKR with participation by existing investors Elephant and TenEleven Ventures. This funding round rocketed KnowBe4 into the Unicorn universe. Sjouwerman (pronounced shower-man) had started KnowBe4 in 2010 and just kept the company growing.

Where Stu Sjouwerman is marching in lockstep with his fellow Scientologists — especially the monsters in Scientology’s notorious Office of Special Affairs — is in the hysterical and paranoid attacks on Clearwater Councilperson and Scientology critic Mark Bunker:

KnowBe4 and 1990’s Über-Hacker Kevin Mitnick

One of Stu Sjouwerman’s controversial moves was to hire the 1990’s ultra-hacker and convicted felon Kevin Mitnick who served five years in prison. The one-time “most wanted hacker” works for KnowBe4 as Chief Hacking Officer.

Mitnick has authored four books on cybersecurity and has made numerous appearances on television. Mitnick is also a key profit center for KnowBe4. As the firm notes on its recent SEC Form S-1 Registration Statement:

Our flagship Security Awareness Training product, Kevin Mitnick Security Awareness Training, or KMSAT, is named after our Chief Hacking Officer, Kevin Mitnick. Kevin’s history as a hacker and as a security consultant gave him unique insights into the social engineering techniques that are used by hackers to target employees and gain access to corporate networks, credentials and information. KMSAT has been recognized by independent industry research firms, including Gartner and Forrester Research, as a leader in Security Awareness Training.

According to Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, a convicted felon like Mitnick is a “Type B” and is not eligible to join the Church of Scientology. The A-J sec check performed in Scientology asks these two questions:

B-1. Do you have a criminal record?
B-2. Have you committed any crimes for which you have not been caught?

In the 1990’s when Kevin Mitnick was hacking, the Church of Scientology was on the warpath against early internet-era Scientology critics and former members like Arnie Lerma and Dennis Ehrlich and a few others who had posted parts of Scientology’s secret OT levels on the early Usenet group Alt.Religion.Scientology.

Wired Magazine’s 1995 article described Scientology’s revenge on Arnie Lerma:

Saturday, August 12, 1995. The word goes out over the Net: a raid is in progress at the Arlington, Virginia, home of Arnaldo Lerma, Usenet poster and former Scientologist. The raiding party is said to consist of ten people: two federal marshals; two computer technicians, one of whom is former FBI agent and computer-security expert James Settle; and several attorneys from the Church of Scientology. One attorney is Helena Kobrin, known to many on the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology through her postings demanding the deletion of files which she claims contain copyrighted material. Another is Earle Cooley, a church lawyer who also chairs the board of Boston University. They are taking Lerma’s computer, backups, disks, modem, and scanner. Although persistent and passionate about his anti-Scientology crusade, Lerma is distraught over the intrusion. Like many of us, Lerma keeps all his files, both business and personal, on his home computer.

In the early days of the internet, the Church of Scientology was out for blood when it came to this new and emerging technology. In its typically fascist way, Scientology demanded the power of absolute censorship when it came to anyone posting anything about Scientology.

The Church of Scientology sued ISP’s, journalists, and anyone else that posted anything negative about Scientology. OSA also engaged in Fair Game against those it deemed “internet terrorists” like Keven Mitnick.

Scientology’s lunatic in-house Freedom Magazine wrote a nasty hit piece on Stu Sjouwerman’s future All-Star employee and money-maker Kevin Mitnick (Note: here is the live link to Scientology’s webpage where the Mitnick story appears; use a VPN if you have concerns):

Kevin Mitnick, who has been called a “computer terrorist” by the Department of Justice, is perhaps the most high-profile computer criminal — and responsible for more havoc in the computer world today than virtually any other computer outlaw. Mitnick explored computers and telephone systems for more than a decade, turning complex systems into the instruments of his lawless trade. For years, he refined his skills and pushed himself up the ladder of computerized criminality…

In 1989, he was convicted of computer fraud after breaking into MCI telephone computers and accessing long distance codes, as well as doing millions of dollars in damage to Digital Equipment Corporation. Judge Mariana Pfaelzer of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ordered him to receive therapy while in prison — likening his obsessive hacking to substance abuse — and prohibited him from use of a telephone or a computer. He served one year behind bars in a minimum-security prison. But when Mitnick was released, little had changed.

In September 1992, warrant-carrying FBI agents searched Mitnick’s Calabasas, California, office on suspicion of Mitnick having violated probation by hacking. The California Department of Motor Vehicles concurrently sought him for posing as a law enforcement officer to gain classified information and possibly creating false identities.

By November 1992, Mitnick had disappeared, a wanted man — but it didn’t slow his mania for computer crime. By late 1994, he was purloining computer files, e-mail and software from a computer belonging to Tsutomu Shimomura, computational physicist and computer security expert in San Diego. Shimomura was incensed and began a crusade to find the intruder. Then technology consultant Bruce Koball in Berkeley, California, discovered strange files stored in an account which he occasionally used. After a short inspection, he found they were Shimomura’s — and Mitnick’s undoing was under way.

Koball contacted Shimomura, who confirmed that the files were his and took off on the trail of the culprit, Mitnick, accompanied by FBI agents and federal marshals. After an elaborate cyberspace chase, Mitnick was brought down. On February 15, 1995, he surrendered from his apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, surrounded by FBI agents.

Mitnick waived extradition and is now in jail in California, charged with computer fraud and illegal use of a telephone access device. The list of allegations against him include theft of many files and documents, including 20,000 credit card numbers from Netcom On-Line Services, which provides thousands with access to the Internet.

If convicted, Mitnick faces up to 35 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines. Until this most recent apprehension, the FBI had termed Mitnick “the most wanted computer criminal in the country” — and the techniques that snared Mitnick this time will help federal authorities gain an understanding of how to catch veteran computer thieves.

Stu Sjouwerman departed from Hubbard’s policy in hiring Type B convicted felon Kevin Mitnick. In any other case, OSA would call Sjouwerman in for a severe ethics handling. But money buys forgiveness in Scientology.

Scientology, which once openly crucified Mitnick, does not care anymore because Sjouwerman is donating millions of dollars to the Church. And if the KnowBe4 IPO goes big, Sjouwerman will donate even more money.

The only precaution Sjouwerman appears to have taken regarding Kevin Mitnick is to have his uber-hacker resign from KnowBe4’s Board of Directors. This was likely done to remove any investor concerns about Mitnick prior to the IPO. Big institutional investors do not like controversial people. As the firm noted in footnote 5 of its Form S-1:

(5)Mr. Mitnick resigned from our board of directors on March 19, 2021.

Alex Eckleberry also resigned from KnowBe4’s Board of Directors on August 3, 2020. Coincident with this industry veteran Kevin Klausmeyer joined the Board. Klausmeyer’s LinkedIn page shows why Sjouwerman would bring him aboard:

Independent board member and SEC “financial expert”​, with hands-on, operational focus. Substantial Audit Committee, as well as Compensation and Governance Committee, experience. Entire career spent working with rapidly growing technology companies, including partnering with senior management to create and attack the strategic plan. Subject matter expert in mergers and acquisitions, finance, IPO’s, debt financings, venture capital fund raising, SEC reporting, public company governance, technical accounting matters, internal controls and systems. Served on AICPA task force that wrote the TPA’s (technical practice aids) for revenue recognition in the software industry.

KnowBe4’s central concern is social engineering. This is ironic on so many levels inasmuch as L. Ron Hubbard created Scientology to be heavily engaged in social engineering by use of every possible form of psychological manipulation, espionage, spying, and the penetration of corporations, law enforcement agencies, and governmental departments to gain undue influence and surreptitiously gather information.

What will happen if Stu Sjouwerman’s KnowBe4 detects a Scientology Office of Special Affairs social engineering operation?

Scientologist and Earthlink founder Sky Dayton faced the same credibility problem. Many people refused to have an Earthlink e-mail account as they believed it gave the Church of Scientology a backdoor into their e-mails.

Does KnowBe4 offer a backdoor for Scientology into the many local, State, and Federal clients it serves? This includes the Department of Defense. This is what people will ask as they did with Earthlink.

KnowBe4 – SEC Form S-1. This provides details on KnowBe4’s planned IPO:

7 replies »

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Sjouwerman look like such miserable souls.
    I find it so strange that people to this day still think they can get rich using scientology to con and take advantage of their poor unsuspecting marks.

  2. I’m sure the Department of Defence would like to avoid another Solarwinds Orion debacle

    Except with KnowBe4 they’ve hired at least one known criminal, and the owner generously gives money to a known government intruding criminal org. What would Sjouwerman do if his ecclesiastic leader, the defendant Chairman of the Board Captain David Miscavige, or one of CoB’s minions, asked him to reveal state secrets?

  3. Ugh. My company uses them for monthly security training, and I cringe every time I get a new email from them since it’s helping fund Scientology.

  4. “KnowBe4 — Behaviour conditioning from The Church of Scientology. Let us audit your employees, today.”

  5. BTW KnowBe4 was acquired by Vista Equity Partners Feb 1, 2023 for $14.6 billion. For a company that just makes those mandatory data security modules that some folks need to take on-line every year, that’s some serious windfall💰 but it’s a recurring revenue stream reportedly used by “56,000 organizations around the world” — I wonder if they count their clients the same way the cherch counts attendance at Ideal Morgue openings?

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