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Island Raises $115M To Safeguard BYOD Use, Expand Channels

Michael Novinson

‘We have had outrageous validation that we’ve got product market fit, and it’s time to scale … The vote of confidence by the people who know us best is exciting and humbling,’ Island CEO Mike Fey tells CRN.

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Island closed its Series B funding on a $1.3 billion valuation to better protect contractors and BYOD users and hire its first dedicated channel employees.

The Dallas-based secure browser vendor said the $115 million cash infusion will allow Island to scale its sales force, customer success, and research and development divisions just seven weeks after emerging from stealth mode, said co-founder and CEO Mike Fey. The round was led by existing investor Insight Partners and brings Island’s outside funding to more than $200 million 19 months after establishment.

“We have had outrageous validation that we’ve got product market fit, and it’s time to scale,” Fey told CRN. “And that’s why we went ahead and pulled the trigger… The vote of confidence by the people who know us best is exciting and humbling all in one motion.”

[Related: Ex-Symantec COO Mike Fey Launches Island Enterprise Browser]

Island plans to use the money to strengthen its support for contractors and BYOD workers, where Island needs to ensure that corporate data stays in the working environment and isn’t left on a machine that’s neither owned nor controlled by the firm. Businesses need ways to trust these users to access critical and sensitive information on the web and in SaaS applications even though they don’t own the device.

The company wants to offer different policy options based on the state and status of the machine, addressing situations where the machine itself is patched and secure but the network is unstable. Island and its clients then need to decide if users should get full access to all data, access only to applications without sensitive information, read-only access to some or all information, or be blocked entirely.

Customers are also looking to take Island beyond its core security use cases and leverage the browser to improve productivity and IT management, Fey said. Island wants to tap into robotic process automation to auto-populate fields and redact sensitive material to make the browser more compelling for clients in places like call centers. Adding more capabilities will allow Island to have a bigger organizational impact.

From an IT management perspective, Fey said Island is looking to make the browsing experience seamless, easy, and well-supported regardless of if customers are using a PC, Mac, Chromebook, tablet, or smartphone. Island wants to be the primary browser for organizations, and Fey said displacing incumbents shouldn’t be difficult since existing browsers do little more than render websites.

As for customer success, Fey said Island will invest in high-end technical resources that will be assigned to each customer account and stay with them throughout their journey with the company. This means than Island customers won’t have to navigate a call center and will instead by supported by someone who understands why they bought the product and the unique needs of their organization, Fey said.

Assigned dedicated technical resources should help customers find additional use cases for Island, which aligns with Fey’s goal of prioritizing expanded wallet share with existing customers over signing up net new logos. The technical resources are intended to help customers with rollout and expansion of usage since the Island Enterprise Browser should be easy for customers to install themselves, according to Fey.

“The expansion opportunity is to be the primary browser in the organization,” Fey said. “And as we become the primary browser, all of a sudden, our ability to displace the complexity in customer environments of a whole host of new and old technologies is high.”

Island has already received lots of inbound inquiries from channel partners who are looking to take the company’s Enterprise Browsing technology into existing customer accounts, Fey said. In response, Fey said Island plans to hire four or five dedicated channel personnel to lead the effort in the Eastern United States, Western U.S. and EMEA, with a channel manager sitting atop to geographic-specific personnel.

“Island is something exciting and different, and something that shows that channel partners are on the cutting edge,” Fey said. “These channel partners deliver value by showing customers alternative ways to think about their future. And we fit well within that because we’re dramatically different than the current approach.”

Outside of the channel, Fey said Island is looking to hire additional sales reps and sales engineers as well as invest in the U.S. federal space and internationally. Island grew its sales team from two people to 15 people as the company came out of stealth, and Fey said the sales reps are already fully maxed up. With more salespeople, Fey said Island can increase its growth capacity and seize the available opportunity.

From a metrics standpoint, Fey said Island plans to track new customer logos, the number of browsers deployed, expansion among existing customers, and sales pipeline to ensure the company is engaging in enough demand generation activities.

“It is such an honor for them [our existing investors], after all of that access, to look at us and validate us as a unicorn,” Fey said. “When a Series B is validated as a unicorn, that’s done with the expectation of much larger outcomes down the road.”

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