Security News

Google Cloud’s Phil Venables Among Notable Members Of VC Firm’s New Security Advisory Group

Jay Fitzgerald

Ballistic Ventures launches ‘BallisticX’ to help its portfolio entrepreneurs better operate their startups

Phil Venables, vice president and chief information security officer at Google Cloud

A new venture capital firm founded by a who’s who of top tech and finance veterans has put together a new who’s who list of cybersecurity experts who will help security startups reach their full potential.

The San Francisco-based Ballistic Ventures, which was officially launched in May with the goal of exclusively investing in early-stage cybersecurity firms, announced on Monday morning that it has started ‘BallisticX,’ described as a “new platform” aimed at providing advice and services to its portfolio-company entrepreneurs.

BallisticX’s main feature is an advisory board whose members include Phil Venables, vice president and chief information security officer at Google Cloud; Nicole Perlroth, author and former lead cybersecurity reporter at the New York Times; and Derek Smith , senior vice president of security at F5.

Other members include Andy Johnson, former CFO of AT&T Cybersecurity and AlienVault and current CFO at Constella Intelligence; Holly Rollo, CEO of Surge Strategies; Sue Barsamian, former H-P Executive and board member on several private and public (Box, Five9, Norton Lifelock) tech companies; and Timothy Eades, CEO of vArmour.

Jake Seid, co-founder and general partner at Ballistic Ventures, told CRN that each advisory board member will bring specific strengths, expertise and services to the founders of the VC firm’s portfolio companies.

He noted Venables is also a former longtime top executive at Goldman Sachs, where, among other things, he served a stint as chief information security officer.

“Phil has been helping us build our community of security leaders and practitioners who can become important customers for our companies,” said Seid. “Folks like Holly and Sue are helping us build our network of go-to-market practitioners across sales and marketing.”

Meanwhile, Perlroth will use her writing and storytelling skills to help entrepreneurs shape how their companies should project themselves to the public. “She‘s phenomenal at helping companies break through all the noise,” Seid said of Perlroth.

Of the new advisory board in general, Seid said: “Each of the folks that we brought in really is on a mission to help our companies in a particular area of great importance in building their go to market.”

In a press release, Ted Schlein, chairman and general partner of Ballistic Ventures, said his VC firm always envisioned offering its entrepreneurs more than just money to get started.

“Capital alone is not enough.,” Schlein said in a statement. “Young companies with new innovations need strategic advisors, design partners and a network of people who have lived their challenges. … BallisticX is our commitment, beyond capital, to ensuring our portfolio companies have the team and resources they need to make an impact.”

Google’s Venables could not be reached for comment by CRN. But he said in a press release: “While we strive for security to be embedded in all products, we also need great security products to complement that. The team of investors and advisors at Ballistic has the depth of expertise to tackle the dual objective and invest in the solutions that will truly improve cybersecurity.”

Though Ballistic Ventures was officially launched this spring, it’s been making investments out of its initial $300 million fund since late last year. So far, it has invested in seven startups, including Talon Cyber Security, Concentric AI, Nudge, Pangea and Veza.

Seid declined to say who were the major contributors to the firm’s initial $300 million fund.

When it was formally launched in May, Ballistic Ventures boasted how it was going to create a “new model” for a venture firm within the cybersecurity space, made up of a “supergroup” of “founders backing founders.”

Its founders include Kevin Mandia, CEO of Mandiant; Barmak Meftah, former president of AT&T Cybersecurity; and Roger Thornton, managing member of Area 51 Ventures.

Meanwhile, Seid himself is the founder of Stone Bridge Ventures, while Schlein is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins and former vice president of Enterprise Solutions at Symantec.

Seid told CRN that partners at Ballistic Ventures used their collective connections to draw together its new BallisticX advisory group.

Jay Fitzgerald

Jay Fitzgerald is a senior editor covering cybersecurity for CRN. Jay previously freelanced for the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, Boston magazine, Banker & Tradesman,, Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, the National Bureau of Economic Research and other entities. He can be reached at

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