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Security Vendor Fixmo Gets VC Boost

Smartphone security specialist Fixmo has raised $23 million in a third rounding of funding that included Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the same venture capital firm that funded Google.

Among the VCs giving Fixmo a boost in its Series C round is Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which also backed Google, Zynga and Amazon.com. Other new investors include Horizons Ventures and Paladin Capital Group, which led the latest round announced Monday.

Fixmo's ties to the U.S. National Security Agency singles out the company from rivals, such as Good Technology. Fixmo, headquartered in Sterling, Va., and Toronto, has exclusive rights to bring to market the NSA-developed technology behind the company's products. "It gives a unique and, in some ways, exclusive product offering for the U.S. government," Tyler Lessard, chief marketing officer at Fixmo, said.

Like private corporations, the government is seeing an increasing number of employees ask to use their Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphone in place of their employer-issued BlackBerry from Research In Motion. Android use has grown the most, with sales in the third quarter doubling to reach nearly 53 percent of the new phone market, according to research firm Gartner. Apple and RIM lost share in the quarter.

As Android's popularity increases, it also is becoming a favorite target of cyber-criminals. Juniper Networks reported this month that the amount of malware written for Android has grown 472 percent since July.

Fixmo is capitalizing on the need for security and heterogeneous device support with an approach called mobile risk management. While including the more common features of mobile security, including the ability to configure passwords and remotely disable a lost or stolen device, MRM also monitors app use and whether the device has been "jailbroken," a technique used by hackers to bypass restrictions in the native operating system. IT organizations can get alerts when unauthorized changes are made to a phone.

In addition, Fixmo sells a secure container that can be deployed for accessing and editing e-mail, calendars and documents from an organization. The container includes a separate web browser for communicating with a private network. The container can be configured, so unauthorized changes to a device can lock down the container so it can't be accessed. Containers also require a separate password. "We see a huge amount of demand for (containers)," Lessard said.

Fixmo won't disclose revenue, number of customers, or whether it is profitable. The company plans to use the additional funding for new product development next year and to expand its business into Asia and Europe, Lessard said. Most of its revenue today comes from the U.S.

The company also announced Monday that Ret. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan, former director of the NSA, and Frank Meehan, founder of INQ Mobile, were appointed to the board. Minihan is a managing director at Paladin.

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