Netskope raises $168.7M at a $1B+ valuation for its cloud security platform

As organizations continue to grapple with security risks posed by employees using a range of apps and devices in the workplace, a startup that has built a platform to help them to this has raised a significant round of funding. Netskope, which provides a cloud security platform to help set and run policies around different apps and devices, has closed a round of $168.7 million to grow its business, expand its R&D, and bring on more global data centers.

The valuation was not disclosed in Netskope’s announcement, but the company has confirmed to us that it is now over $1 billion. This is a big jump: Netskope in its previous round last year ($100 million) was valued at $525 million post-money in what the CEO Sanjay Beri told us at the time was a significant upround. On a straight line of growth, that would have put the company’s pre-money valuation at $694 million. But the fact that security risks and the predicament that Netskope is addressing have only grown has both helped bump the company’s valuation above that.

As with the previous round, this Series F was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Accel, Geodesic Capital, Iconiq Capital, Sapphire Ventures and Social Capital — all existing investors — also participated, alongside new investor Base Partners. Fueled by the vision to tackle the toughest enterprise security challenges, the investment will enable R&D and global data center expansion of the company’s leading enterprise security cloud platform. The round brings Netskope’s total amount raised to just over $400 million.

The issue that Netskope is tackling is one that has become the norm in most businesses: people use a variety of devices at work, ranging from hardware issued by their companies through to phones, tablets and other equipment that they are bringing in themselves. On top of this, they are all also using a mix of apps, with those issued by their organizations sitting alongside apps that have been downloaded by the workers themselves, sometimes for productivity, sometimes for the exact opposite.

While some companies will try to lock down their networks and prohibit anything except what they have issued themselves, in other cases businesses might do the opposite, hoping that providing a more flexible environment will prove to be one way of attracting top talent.

But in both the cases of apps and devices “approved” by companies and those that have not, the same predicament exists: a proliferation of different services makes for a difficult security landscape, and trying to control and monitor all the data and potential leaks of it that can take place becomes a huge challenge.

Netskope aims to provide a way to do this, by creating a layer — based in the cloud — that oversees the full range of all network activity. Once Netskope is turned on by an IT department, it monitors in real time all off the apps and web sites that are visited by people on the network — currently it can ‘see’ thousands of apps and millions of web pages, it says, including all of the well-known workforce collaboration, CRM, accounting and sales apps, as well as those less well known; and also now cloud service providers such as AWS by way of a recent acquisition of Shift.

A dashboard will show to security and IT teams what information is being accessed and where, and allows them to set policies to limit usage, warn of bad practices and more.

“We look at any transactions that are happen between users and applications,” Beri has said previously. “For any activity where data traverses between you and a server, Netskope can perform data analysis on that.”

While some of this might have seemed like a useful application when Netskope launched six years ago, these days, having a tool to do this kind of monitoring has become essential. It’s not the only one addressing that, though. Competitors offering similar services include Microsoft (by way of Adallom), Blue Coat and McAfee.

“Transforming enterprise security is no longer a nice-to-have, but a requirement in order to protect and secure a company’s most important assets,” said Arif Janmohamed, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners, in a statement. “Netskope consistently leads the market and is disrupting and transforming the industry landscape through solving some of the toughest enterprise challenges today. Since its launch, the company has continued to adapt to the evolving security landscape and bring innovative solutions to market.”