Palo Alto Networks Launches New Venture Fund, Looks To Build Security Platform Ecosystem

Palo Alto Networks is looking to boost the next-generation of security startups, announcing the launch of a new venture fund on Tuesday to further expand the company's platform with new, innovative technology.

The $20 million fund, in collaboration with Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital, will focus on early stage, seed stage and small startups that plan to build applications on the company's new Application Framework. Palo Alto Networks announced the Palo Alto Networks Application Framework, as well as its new venture fund, at its Ignite 2017 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, this week.

"We want to help bootstrap and encourage the next-generation security innovator," Scott Simkin, senior group manager, threat intelligence cloud and security subscriptions, said. "This is just an amazing opportunity to help build and scale early stage, seed stage, and smaller companies that want to build for this application framework."

[Related: Symantec Launches Symantec Ventures, CEO Says Creates New Opportunity For Partners]

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In a statement about the launch, Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Development Chad Kinzelberg said the fund will help "build on our reputation for developing innovative, next-generation security technologies," as well as expand the company's security partner ecosystem.

’It represents an essential part of our mission to help organizations prevent cyber breaches by inspiring and accelerating a ground swell of security innovation in a model that can be easily accessed and deployed by customer organizations," Kinzelberg said.

Palo Alto Networks is not the only security vendor to launch its own venture fund in recent months. Symantec also announced a fund, called Symantec Ventures, in March to focus on early-stage investments in artificial intelligence, analytics, and machine learning startups that tie into its security platform.

Simkin said Palo Alto Networks doesn't have any specific type of application it will be focusing investments on. He said it will look for categories that will provide value to customers on top of the Palo Alto Networks security platform, potentially including threat intelligence, threat analytics, orchestration, mobile security, and IoT security.

The venture fund is not only open to ISVs and application developers, but also to partners and customers, Simkin said.

"We are not constraining this in any way. If a partner or MSSP wants to get funding or apply, we will consider all equally on the criteria of delivering security value," Simkin said.

John Marler, COO at Houston, Tex.-based Set Solutions, said the new fund responds to a future of security that centers around integration, automation, and orchestration. He said it is good to see Palo Alto Networks further expand its strategy in this area.

"Any major player that is pursuing that strategy to integrate and automate third-party connections is in a winning position," Marler said. "That's one of the reasons we like Palo Alto Networks."