Bringing Natural Language Understanding to Security
February 20, 2019
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A series of high-profile security breaches has catapulted cybersecurity to a board-level issue. In turn, the level of spending on cybersecurity solutions is expected to increase more than $170 billion by 2020. While much attention has been paid to the large-scale technical exploits that have left billions of computers and mobile phones attackable, it’s often good old-fashioned human vulnerability that is directly responsible for the vast majority of news-making compromises. Today, we’re welcoming a company tackling those challenges head on to the GC portfolio: Armorblox.

Welcome Armorblox

Armorblox sits at the exact intersection of two disparate areas that I’m most interested in: artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Led by DJ Sampath and Anand Raghavan, Armorblox leverages Natural Language Understanding (NLU) coupled with other technologies to identify potential threats to enterprise communications. It’s the use of broader content and context that helps us thwart phishing and other attacks, recognize data leakage, and provide a layer of insider threat detection. What’s more, Armorblox focuses on email as well as other enterprise communication channels and tools. What Armorblox is solving for is the human element that, through honest mistakes, poor security hygiene or, in rare cases, maleficence, is the driver for nearly all successful cyber attacks and data breaches.

Armorblox Team

As the Armorblox platform takes shape, what’s impressed the most is the team behind the company. DJ, beyond being a strong engineering talent himself, has built a technical team with considerable AI/NLU chops. As CPO, Anand brings a complementary skill set with extensive experience in striking/market fit for technical and infrastructure products. I had the pleasure of meeting with the broader Armorblox team ahead of our investment, sharing my experiences running VMware’s R&D team and answering some of their very thoughtful questions.

For companies like Armorblox, AI is a real driver of innovation and not — like so many — just a marketing buzzword. Before my very first interaction with the group, they shared a few of the foundational NLU research papers covering Armorblox technology with me. Not for the faint of heart!

Security is an area in which I can confidently say we’ve gone deep as investors at GC. We’ve backed many significant companies in the space — Anomali (threat detection, investigation, and response), Contrast Security (application security), Illumio (network visibility and micro-segmentation), and Menlo Security (an isolation-centric secure web gateway) — covering just about every base for protecting and containing threats. Armorblox brings a novel approach to this mix.

We believe this team’s got the potential to create a meaningful solution to increasingly sophisticated attacks. We’re excited to welcome Armorblox to the GC family today and thank them for bringing us along on the ride.

— Steve Herrod & Team GC