This Baltimore cybersecurity startup routs insider threats.
by Robert Hackett, Fortune.com – Jul 13, 2015 – Sure, Guy Filippelli did a stint with the National Security Agency. As a member of that spy team, he helped re-architect how the agency disseminated intelligence to military officers. But that’s not where Filippelli cut his teeth. “Actually, the army was much more formative for me,” the CEO and founder of cybersecurity startup RedOwl tells Fortune. In late 2001, Filippelli, by then a West Point grad with experience in computer science, had been gearing up for the United States’ post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan. The military’s intelligence apparatus was technologically lacking at the time, he says, and so the top brass selected a few young army officers to run software engineering teams, to boost officers’ decision-making capabilities. That’s when Filippelli got his start.
“In the army, nobody is gathering intelligence just to gather intelligence,” he says, hinting at an essential difference between the missions of his former employers. “An army intelligence team’s goal is to quickly get data together and to turn that into information that can be actioned in support of a decision on the battlefield.” The job entails gathering relevant details quickly, correctly, and serving them up to the leaders devising strategies. During conflict, lives depend on it.
Today, Filippelli is applying that insight at RedOwl, a cloud-based behavioral analytics software company he founded in 2011 after leaving the public sector. The Baltimore, Md.-based firm specializes in bringing together disparate streams of data within an organization. They could include activity on the IT network, email exchanges, and other sources of data, in order to help companies mitigate insider risk—which could manifest as a rogue, sloppy, or compromised employee, for example.
On Monday, RedOwl will announce that is has raised a $17 million Series B round of funding, bringing total funding to nearly $30 million so far. Participants in the latest round include Allegis Capital, a venture capital firm, which led the raise, as well as Blackstone Group, the private equity firm, and angel investor Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of sales-tool giant Salesforce. The company already has a relationship with In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Soon after contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked a trove of NSA internal documents in 2013, Filippelli says that RedOwl’s appeal leaped from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” among potential customers. The company’s flagship product, “reveal,” monitors users, spots anomalies, predicts malfeasance, and gives the operators a chance to stop data heists before they happen.