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Arming the Builders
June 08, 2017

Our Investment in Obsidian Security

User-Centric Protection in a Cloud World

Security is a large, growing concern in our digital, connected world. As data and applications move into hybrid cloud environments, the surface area that enterprises need to protect continues to increase in both complexity and size. Employees, contractors and partners require dynamic access that keeps up with the pace of their business, and enterprises need security offerings that are more automated and require less work from defenders to fit this new reality.

Greylock has been fortunate to work closely with a distinguished list of innovative security companies over the years, including Palo Alto Networks, Okta, Imperva and OpenDNS; and more recently with Skyhigh Networks, Awake Networks, and Cato Networks. Today, we are announcing that Greylock has led the series A in Obsidian Security and both of us (Asheem Chandna and Sarah Guo) have joined the Board.

We are excited about Obsidian for a few reasons: the team, the space, and their approach.

World-Class Founding Team

The Obsidian founders are accomplished product innovators and seasoned security practitioners. Glenn Chisholm (CEO and co-founder) was previously the CTO of Cylance, where he led the company’s product management and engineering teams. Prior to Cylance, Glenn served as the first CISO of Telstra. Ben Johnson (CTO and co-founder) previously co-founded Carbon Black where he also served as CTO. Prior to Carbon Black, Ben was a practitioner at the NSA and CIA. Matt Wolff (Chief Scientist and co-founder) was previously the Chief Data Scientist at Cylance, and earlier also served at the NSA. Products that Glenn, Ben and Matt previously helped design, develop and deliver are now deployed across thousands of enterprise customers.

We’ve known Glenn for several years as an important industry innovator and more recently got to know Ben and Matt. A few whiteboard sessions, some dinners, and bunch of enterprise customer conversations deepened our already strong interest in working with the Obsidian team. We are grateful for the opportunity to go on this journey with them, as founding investors in their new company.

Large and Growing Problem Space

Global spend on IT security products and services is estimated to be ~$70B today, and is expected to double over the next five years. Obsidian will help customers address a soft belly of enterprise security — user account security. As Rob Joyce, former Chief Hacker of the NSA Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and new White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, said in a rare presentation last year, “Persistence and focus will get you in without a zero day; there are so many more vectors…such as stolen credentials…that are easier, less risky, more productive.”

Innovative Approach

After years of working on endpoint technologies and deep in the trenches with customers, Glenn, Ben and Matt each independently saw that user security was underserved. Credentials are often the keys to the kingdom — the easiest vector for attackers. And abuse is hard to detect and remediate today — there are no good existing solutions. Obsidian has three core product theses in securing users: a modern machine learning approach, an architecture that fits today’s hybrid reality, and design for operational security efficiency.

Ben moved his family from Chicago to join Glenn and Matt in Southern California, and Obsidian has set up offices in gorgeous Newport Beach. (Just check out Matt’s shorts and flip flops in the picture!) They have begun recruiting and product development, and are in conversations with prospective customer design partners. If you have interest in joining an early world-class product team looking to help solve an important area in enterprise security, please email apply@obsidiansecurity.com.

We are thrilled to back the Obsidian team and look forward to helping them on their mission to provide user protection in a hybrid cloud world.