Lance Crosby, the man who sold SoftLayer to IBM, has re-emerged with a security-as-a-service startup that’s already raised $150 million, acquired four companies, and claims 30,000 customers.
His ambition is big enough to fit those numbers. StackPath, based in Dallas, claims to rethink security for the cloud era. It’s something many a vendor says it’s doing, but Crosby believes no one’s cracked the concept yet.
He’s basing that assertion partly on his own experience with SoftLayer. In 2013, he sold that company to IBM for $2 billion, forming the basis of what we now know as IBM Cloud.
Crosby left IBM last year and worked quickly from there. He’s short-circuited the usual startup process, bypassing the seed-money phase for the “yeah, we just acquired four companies” phase.
The $150 million came from ABRY Partners, a private equity firm, and the 30,000 customers are likely a byproduct of those four acquisitions.
StackPath announced its presence today but still isn’t talking about the specifics of what it’s doing. In general, the company is addressing what’s become a common beef in security: far too many tools, each doing tasks in its own world.
A few startups are pursuing more comprehensive approaches. Illumio keeps watch over workloads rather than the network itself, while Veriflow claims to predictively scan all possible outcomes in the network.
Others use big data tools to watch all activity in the network. Siemplify, for instance, amasses data picked up by other tools, but it’s focusing on detection tools, not on the variety of security devices being deployed.
Part of the trick is to tie security directly into applications — that is, make security an integral part of the application and not an afterthought. That would address a longtime gripe of security experts; the trick would be to make the process unobtrusive enough for developers to accept it. Crosby tells Bloomberg that he’s found a way to do just that.
StackPath’s product isn’t a single magic pill. It’s a suite of services coupled with, yes, machine learning (every security startup talks about machine learning) to apply the services’ combined knowledge. The services are distributed via points of presence (PoPs) that the company claims can scale to 96 Tb/s apiece. StackPath says it has agreements with four Tier-1 carriers to connect these PoPs.
StackPath charges for its service on a monthly basis based on bandwidth usage and the number of domains involved.
According to Forbes, two of StackPath’s acquisitions are on the network services side: MaxCDN and Cloak. The former is a content delivery network provider; the latter is a VPN company that is either very security-minded or is way too into The Lord of the Rings.
The other acquisitions, as listed by Forbes, are firewall vendor Fireblade and DDoS-protection vendor Staminus.