INVESTMENT FIRM TO FUSE STARTUP CULTURE WITH U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMPLEX

INVESTMENT FIRM TO FUSE STARTUP CULTURE WITH U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMPLEX

Technology | Tue Jul 26, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO | BY HEATHER SOMERVILLE

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist, an ex-Navy SEAL and a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officer have banded together to form a company to fund and incubate startups that can break ground on cyber security and intelligence gathering.

The company, DataTribe, seeks to fuse aspects of a venture capital firm and startup incubator, with leaders who are well-connected to the nation’s intelligence complex. It was launched on Tuesday, with offices in both Silicon Valley and Maryland, outside the nation’s capital.

While DataTribe is as yet untested, it launches at a critical time. New and more sophisticated attacks continue to threaten businesses and government agencies, but funding for early-stage cyber startups from traditional venture capital sources is challenging.

Finding sufficient cyber security expertise – in both company investors and founders – in Silicon Valley has also been difficult.

DataTribe will license technology created by the national laboratories or government intelligence agencies and build new startups around that technology. It will also provide those startups with an operating team of executives and an initial investment of up to $1.5 million.

According to DataTribe co-founder Robert Ackerman, the federal government has some of the most sophisticated cyber security and intelligence gathering technology, and Washington is home to some of the most skilled cyber experts.

But the startup culture, he said, can do a more efficient job of scaling that technology and selling it for commercial use.

“(Cyber security) is an arms race,” Ackerman said in an interview. “And when you are in an arms race, you are looking for any kind of competitive advantage you can get.”

Ackerman is founder and a managing director of Allegis Capital, a 20-year-old Silicon Valley venture firm that invests in cyber security startups. He cofounded DataTribe with Mike Janke, a former member of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and co-founder of mobile security company Silent Circle; and Steven Witt, who worked for the CIA and co-founded Onyara, a startup based on technology developed by the National Security Agency.

DataTribe aims to take advantage of technology already developed, tested and used by the government. It will use open-source technology or license it from the national labs, the NSA, law enforcement and even foreign intelligence agencies, Ackerman said.

Among the first to receive funding is Dragos, a cyber security startup comprised of former NSA intelligence officers that offers security solutions for the control systems of critical infrastructure, such as a power grid.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

ALLEGIS CAPITAL LEADER CO-FOUNDS DATATRIBE TO TAP GOVERNMENT RESEARCH

ALLEGIS CAPITAL LEADER CO-FOUNDS DATATRIBE TO TAP GOVERNMENT RESEARCH

In 2015, Silicon Valley venture firm founder Robert Ackerman was helping the founders of Maryland startup Onyara to prepare for a fundraising round that would allow them to mine the commercial potential of advanced data processing technology developed at the National Security Agency.

“I just found my next billion-dollar idea,” Ackerman says he was thinking at the time.

But then, Santa Clara, CA-based data management software company Hortonworks (NASDAQ: HDP) swept in and offered to buy Onyara for “north of $40 million,” Ackerman recalls. And his venture firm, Allegis Capital, missed the chance to lead the Series A fundraising round for a company that might have yielded a much bigger payoff for both founders and investors, Ackerman says.

STARTUP STUDIO DATATRIBE ATTRACTS INVESTMENT FROM ALLEGIS, DELOITTE, YAHOO JAPAN

STARTUP STUDIO DATATRIBE ATTRACTS INVESTMENT FROM ALLEGIS, DELOITTE, YAHOO JAPAN

July 26, 2016 By Mark Boslet

A startup studio focused on incubating cyber-security companies from the concentration of government research labs in the Washington D.C. area has attracted investment capital from Allegis Capital, Deloitte and Yahoo Japan.

The organization, DataTribe, which formally launches on Monday, opened its doors last fall and already has two companies in house, including Dragos in the industrial-controls space.

The plan is to hunt for engineering teams within government that have developed products for internal use, and then apply Silicon Valley company-building expertise to turn the initiatives commercial. Each project will receive up to $1.5 million in capital and assistance from DataTribe on product-market-fit and achieving operational efficiencies in marketing, human resources, and finance and legal functions.

DataTribe, which plans to incubate two to three companies a year, then plans to be part of a Series A.

The organization, which will focus on cyber security and big data and analytics efforts that have cyber-security components, declined to say how much capital it has attracted. Its founders include Robert Ackerman, a managing director of Allegis Capital; Mike Janke, chairman of Silent Circle and a former Navy SEAL; and Steven Witt, co-founder of Onyara.

Other investors in the effort include tech CEOs.

DataTribe could prove to be a source of deal flow for Allegis, the firm said. The firm is likely to become a Series A investor in its startups.

“This is a studio that builds companies with founders and engineers coming out of government,” said Janke. “To the best of our knowledge, nobody has really tried this.”

 


HERE’S WHY SILICON VALLEY CYBERSECURITY VC WENT EAST WITH STARTUP STUDIO

SILICON VALLEY TECHFLASH | ByCROMWELL SCHUBARTH
Jul 26, 2016, 11:52am PDT

Veteran cybersecurity investor Bob Ackerman has joined forces with a SEAL Team Six veteran and a CIA alumnus for a new startup studio they are launching.

But its main location will be near the national’s capital, in Fulton, Maryland, rather than in Silicon Valley.

“We believe it’s better right now to build the engineering corps in Maryland because, frankly, we can’t afford to relocate those people to Silicon Valley. They can’t afford to live here, to be brutally honest,” said Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital, who alluded to the new venture in a Business Journal panel I hosted at Google earlier this month.

The startup studio is called DataTribe and Ackerman is joined by co-founders Mike Janke, who founded encrypted communications business Silent Circle after leaving the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, and Steve Witt, a former CIA officer and entrepreneur.

Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital and TechFlash Editor Cromwell Schubarth share a laugh during the Business Journal’s panel discussion earlier this month at Google about the state of startupland. Ackerman launched a cybersecurity startup studio on Tuesday that he alluded to in that session.

Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital and TechFlash Editor Cromwell Schubarth share a laugh during the Business Journal’s panel discussion earlier this month at Google about the state of startupland. Ackerman launched a cybersecurity startup studio on Tuesday that he alluded to in that session.