Stealth startup Privacy Labs raises $4M to give consumers ‘control’ of their data

Privacy Labs, a stealth-stage startup that wants to enable internet users to “regain control” of their personal data, has landed a $4 million seed funding round.

The company doesn’t have a product right now and is cagey about what it will eventually release, but nonetheless its promise has persuaded Initialized Capital to lead this round. Other investors that participated include Lemnos Labs, Liquid 2 Ventures, CrunchFund*, Fuel Capital and angel investors.

A large part of the belief in Privacy Labs is likely down to its founders’ past experience and in particular their previous exit.

Seattle-based Privacy Labs is founded by Giri Sreenivas (CEO) and Dirk Sigurdson (CTO), who sold their previous startup Mobilisafe to security firm Rapid7 in 2012. The duo left Rapid7 last May, and began working on Privacy Labs a month later, Sreenivas told TechCrunch in an interview.

“We’re not really talking about the product [right now, but] we will be disclosing more details later this year,” he explained. “We’re actively working on development and are focused on building out our team to bring our product to market.”

Broadly, Privacy Labs describes itself as developing products for individuals to “take back their data and reclaim their privacy and security.”

“The thing we learned from spending a lot of time with people is that they are increasing aware of the trade-offs made when utilizing cloud-based services,” Sreenivas explained. “The number one thing that stood out from those discussions is how powerless people feel over their personal data. That’s something we’ve been interested in working on at this time.”

That paints a picture, but doesn’t really say much about exactly what the startup is working. There’s a little more color on its plans within today’s announcement:

As mobile device usage has exploded, consumers have wanted ease and access to their data at their fingertips. Technology companies defaulted to centralized services running in the cloud as the easiest way to meet this need. As a result, consumers have unknowingly traded the privacy and security of their data for access to these free services. Subsequent leaks and reporting have made it clear that entrusting third parties with sensitive personal data opens consumers to the risk of hacking and government surveillance overreach.

Sreenivas confirmed that noted security expert H. D. Moore is an advisor to the startup while Garry Tan, Managing Partner of Initialized Capital, has joined its board of directors as part of the funding deal.

“As engineers, designers, and product makers, we have a duty to create secure, private, and easy to use ways for people to communicate, store all their information, and own it completely,” Tan said in a statement.

Finally, Sreenivas confirmed that the company plans to remain in Seattle. Their location didn’t present a problem when it came to fundraising, he said, adding that the deal was closed within one month.

“We think this is a great place to build a tech company,” Sreenivas said. “We raised money locally before and had a great experience working with [investors] — the market has only improved since we were out raising in 2011.”

*Disclosure – CrunchFund was co-founded by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.