Industry veterans unite to form Obsidian Security

New company raises $9.5m Series A funding, establishes Southern California HQ
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Security industry veterans recently joined forces to form Obsidian Security, raising $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners and establishing its headquarters here.

The Obsidian founding team includes Glenn Chisholm, former EVP product organization and CTO at Cylance and CISO at Telstra; Ben Johnson, former co-founder and CTO at Carbon Black, and computer scientist at the National Security Agency; and Matt Wolff, former chief data scientist at Cylance and computer scientist, also at the NSA.

Chisholm said the company will use the funding to grow its product team, working at the intersection of security, artificial intelligence and hybrid-cloud technology.

“We feel that there is tremendous thrill in building product—it is an enjoyable challenge,” Chisholm told Security Systems News. “Ben and I had specifically spent the last five years talking to a lot of different customers in the end point space and we saw many areas where customers were having problems that we could provide solutions for, and felt that together this was a great opportunity to get back to building a company.”

He noted that the Series A financing and partnership with Greylock “allows us to start building a world-class engineering and data science team, focused on user security for hybrid environments, so recruiting is a big priority for us.”

Asheem Chandna and Sarah Guo from Greylock Partners will join Obsidian Security CEO Chisholm and CTO Johnson on the company’s board of directors.

“Glenn, Ben and Matt are accomplished product innovators and executives, with strong industry backgrounds in security,” Chandna said in the announcement. “We are excited to closely partner with them on their mission, and help build an important new company.”

As the Obsidian Security team starts to develop products, two important areas of focus are the cloud and artificial intelligence—or AI.

“We think that there are very specific areas where AI can help humans in their work and make a difference in the way in which people perform tasks and the accuracy with which they perform tasks as well as the ability of corporations to enable their teams,” said Chisholm. “AI and machine learning … is something that we believe, when applied in a very focused and creative way, is incredibly effective. And, of course, the inverse applies: When you apply off-the-shelf tools, you get less-than-desirable outcomes. So this is very much about providing this capability in a security sense to customers.”

In regard to providing cloud-based products, Chisholm said the company is looking to work with customers with a strong security focus who are adopting modern hybrid architectures. “It is probably not that anyone is going to be all in the cloud or all on premises; it is going to be a mix of all these things and that is the target space we are looking at right now,” he said.

The strategy, he pointed out, is to work with several customers across different verticals, “focusing on a design-partner model, making sure the product is providing the right solution and that will translate into releasing the product next year and continuing to grow the organization.”