Cybersecurity startup Virtru, which developed out of NSA research, has secured $37 million funding in a Series B investment round led by ICONIQ Capital.
The US-based company, which focuses on data security and email encryption, has also announced the formation of Virtru Labs, which will be led by company co-founder and CTO Will Ackerly and will act as Virtru’s ‘innovation engine’.
They also intend to work on making Virtru’s underlying technology, Trusted Data Format (TDF), an industry standard for secure data transfers, much like the way that PDF became the standard for exchanging documents.
“My brother and I firmly believe you need an open framework in order to achieve the vision of true default security,” said CEO John Ackerly.
Our society is in crisis – a crisis of trust – and the lack of data privacy is at the center of the problem.
– John and Will Ackerly, CEO and CTO, Virtru
Virtru, founded in 2003 by Will and John Ackerly, so far has a total of $76.8 million in disclosed investment. CEO John Ackerly is a former policy director for the White House during the Bush administration, and his brother held a position at the National Security Agency (NSA) for nearly a decade as a cloud and data security architect.
“The stakes have never been higher for data privacy and Virtru has built an unmatched data protection platform, serving a multi-billion-dollar enterprise market,” said Will Griffith of ICONIQ Capital, who has joined Virtru’s board of directors as part of the deal. “In speaking with many of their customers, it’s clear that Virtru addresses an urgent need where many others have failed – namely an easy-to-use way to protect corporate data wherever it is and wherever it goes. We are excited to partner with this talented team as they continue to grow the business.”
“Our careers in government gave us insight into the foundational failure of the early internet: that you must trust third parties to “do the right thing” with your data, and that these entities were, at best, cavalier with this responsibility,” the brothers said in a recent press release. “While the company has enjoyed commercial success, the state of data privacy is worse now than ever before. Our society is in crisis – a crisis of trust – and the lack of data privacy is at the center of the problem.”
They also outlined how the company intends to use the investment. Plans for the future include building strategic relationships with partners, growing operations in the EU and APAC regions, investing in the ‘TDF ecosystem’, developing sector-specific solutions for healthcare and financial services, and expanding from email encryption to cover cloud file storage and sharing applications such as Google Drive and Dropbox, and chat applications such as Slack.
“The endless wave of massive breaches is exhibit A that many security market vendors are selling snake oil,” said John. “It’s either checkbox compliance, designed for a bygone era when all your information could be safely locked down inside your firewall, or it’s too difficult for practical use. We’ve taken a different approach – we protect corporate data wherever it travels. And we make it easy to use and manage […] Our partnership with ICONIQ and ongoing support from existing investors opens new horizons for Virtru, allowing us to make critical investments in innovation and scale, with the aim of helping many more customers around the world. We’re grateful for our investors’ support.”