Stealthy startup Preempt Security scores $8 million Series A

Preempt Security, a startup still in stealth, came out of hiding today enough to announce an $8 million Series A round. Beyond that we know only a limited amount about what makes them worth such an investment.

The round was led by General Catalyst with participation from Mickey Boodaei and Rakesh Loonkar, the founders of Trusteer, and Paul Sagan, the former CEO of Akamai Technologies. The company launched in 2014 with a $2 million seed round. Today’s investment brings the total to $10 million.

With a glut of security startups out there, this one managed to get the attention of some well-known security investors. Without going into a lot of detail about what they do, Preempt CEO Ajit Sancheti said at a high level even large companies lack the security personnel they need to meet the number of threats a company faces on a daily basis.

One of the primary ways hackers find their way into a network is stealing credentials and coming in through the front door. While Preempt isn’t the first company to analyze credentials to ensure the person is who they say they are, Sancheti claims to have a way that is more reliable, requires less human involvement and won’t shut down access to people who are legitimately trying to do their jobs in a way that’s outside normal behavior — such as while traveling or working with a different project team.

Steve Herrod, managing director at General Catalyst, the lead investor in this deal has told me in the past he looks for companies with a unique approach to a sticky problem, a big potential market and a team that has a decent track record. Preempt checked all these boxes.

For starters, Herrod says he likes the background of the team. “The founders are from OneSecure, NetScreen, and Lacoon Mobile. Early team members have come from Microsoft, Checkpoint, and Q1. Many of the engineers have come from the elite 8200 group of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF),” he told me.

As for the product itself, he claims it’s trivial to deploy and customers can see areas to fix quickly even when they have all sorts of other security products in place.

As for what called his attention to the tool itself, “Many tools are just providing more fear and noise (not to mention several false positives). This one is very focused on spotting real problems in unique ways, but also fixing them without human interaction,” he explained.

As with any security product, it’s easy to make claims, especially when you’re in stealth and can’t explain exactly how it works. For now, we have to wait and see. Herrod and Sancheti assure me more details are coming soon.

The company has some paying customers and 15 employees with R&D offices in Tel Aviv and headquarters in San Francisco.