Just six months after the public launch of its security policy platform, Illumio has raised a whopping $100 million Series C round, with CEO Andrew Rubin declaring with surprising candor that the funding round will move the startup toward an ultimate goal of going public.
“We want to build a true platform company, a standalone security platform, and ultimately build a public company,” Rubin tells SDxCentral. “This investment allows us to prove we can build that.”
The round announced Tuesday brings Illumio’s total venture backing to $142 million. New investors BlackRock Funds and Accel Partners joined the Series C, in addition to previous backers Andreessen Horowitz and Formation 8, among others.
Founded in early 2013, Illumio spent nearly two years developing its policy-based security architecture, finally unveiling it publicly in October. Simply put, the company’s software controls communication between every application on an enterprise network. The software, which sits with each workload and is controlled by a central policy engine, is agnostic to the underlying network.
The company intends to extend that architecture to partners’ products. To that end, Illumio has also announced its first partnership, with F5 Networks, which will extend Illumio’s policy enforcement through that company’s load balancers and application delivery controllers (ADCs).
The company’s previously announced customers include Morgan Stanley, Yahoo, and Plantronics, among others. Illumio claims an active customer base of roughly three dozen, but declined to comment on the number of paying customers.
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The fresh injection of VC money will go toward expanding Illumio’s R&D team, building a global sales team, and marketing efforts, says Rubin, adding that he plans to double the company’s current headcount of 100 by year’s end.
It’s that final point — marketing — where Illumio may face the steepest uphill battle. Though the company’s software-defined security approach may be revolutionary, it is difficult to understand, and arrives in the security market at a time of unprecedented competition and disruption.
“The entire infrastructure and application stack is in the middle of being turned upside -down,” says Rubin. “Security is going to get turned upside-down with it.”
Still, Rubin believes Illumio has a shot at standing out in a crowded field, and hinted at plans to make waves at the RSA security conference next week in San Francisco. “We have a different story to tell. It’s not incremental, it’s not iterative — it’s actually a different story.
“When you see us next week at RSA, you’re going to begin to see that in a meaningful way.”