Former Top Execs From Cylance, Carbon Black Launch New Startup, Land $9.5M In Funding

Three former top executives from competitors Carbon Black and Cylance have come together, announcing Thursday the launch of Obsidian Security, a new startup targeting the next wave of enterprise security challenges.

The company, based in Newport Beach, Calif., was founded by Carbon Black co-founder and former CTO Ben Johnson; former Cylance CTO and product organization executive vice president Glenn Chisholm, and ex-Cylance Chief Data Scientist Matt Wolff.

The company is launching with $9.5 million in venture capital funding in pocket, a Series A round led by Greylock Partners. Greylock's Asheem Chandna and Sarah Guo will join the new company's board of directors.

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More specific details on what the startup will be doing are vague. In an interview with CRN, Johnson, who will serve as CTO of Obsidian, said the company is "still a little bit in stealth," looking to recruit talent, start building its brand, and begin product development.

"We really just wanted to get back to building something from scratch again and doing something different. We all have huge advantage from our former employers, but we wanted to do something different," Johnson said.

What is clear, Johnson said, is that Obsidian will look to bring a new approach to the security stack, with technology to attack the challenges posed by an expanding enterprise infrastructure. As that infrastructure expands, particularly with the hybrid cloud, Johnson said security professionals are challenged by disparate security systems, a general overload of security information, and a lack of visibility.

Johnson said Obsidian will look to take its executive experience in data telemetry and threat detection from Carbon Black and artificial intelligence and machine learning from Cylance to provide a "more uniform view of what you're defending and what is going on in terms of activity across all of those different environments."

"We are building something from the ground up," Johnson said. "We are going to do it right." Johnson said the company has already started early stages of product development, and will look to partner with other technology vendors, as well as VARs, to develop its technology.

Johnson said Obsidian will look to involve channel partners through all stages of the company's development, with strong channel roots coming from both Carbon Black and Cylance. He said Obsidian will look to engage partners as it develops its products to get their perspectives, as well as leverage them for the company's go-to-market strategy down the road. However, Johnson said Obsidian plans to "do security sales a little bit differently" than other companies, saying current models are too expensive.

"We are trying to be disruptive in certain ways," Johnson said, citing the technology, go-to-market model, and headquarters outside Silicon Valley as examples. "It's just exciting and we're really just excited to build something new."

Johnson said the company is currently in recruitment mode, with most of 2017 focused on building the company's staff and product. He said the company hopes to start putting its products in the hands of some enterprise customers in early 2018 and focus more on go-to-market strategy at that time.