eSentire strengthens threat hunting capabilities in MDR platform with acquisition of AI-focused Versive

Versive had been selling direct, so their technology is not well known in the channel, but eSentire thinks that it will further enhance their already strong threat hunting capabilities.

Dustin Rigg Hillard, eSentire’s CTO, who had had the same role at Versive

Cambridge ON-based Managed Detection and Response [MDR] provider eSentire has enhanced their capabilities with the acquisition of Seattle-based Versive AI-based cybersecurity company Versive. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Dustin Rigg Hillard, who had been Versive’s Chief Technology Officer, becomes the CTO at Versive, a role which had been vacant since February when a number of senior leadership changes took place at eSentire, including the arrival of Kerry Bailey as CEO.  Matthew Vanderzee, Versive’s Vice President, Engineering, takes over the same role at eSentire.

“We were building an AI platform targeted at security use cases,” Hillard said. “Putting it together with eSentire’s MDR enhances the ability to adapt and respond, which is what we are aiming to do together.”

Versive has honed its security focus recently, after starting out with a broader AI focus.

“Versive has been in business for over six years, and our history has been somewhat non-traditional,” Hillard said. “We started out with a more general machine learning and artificial intelligence platform, and those first few years, we built out our platform and served a broad variety of use cases. The last two years, we focused specifically on security use cases, especially in threat hunting.”

Most of Versive’s customers aren’t public, but they include a good selection of larger financial services companies who don’t like to advertise which vendors provide their security.

“Financial services are a focus, but our overall customer base matches up well with eSentire,” Hillard said. “The customers for our initial platform was often larger enterprises, but as we focused in on security it broadened out somewhat downmarket, particularly in media, and retail.”

Versive is not well-known in the channel, because they sold primarily direct.

“We were just starting to develop channel relationships,” Hillard said. “eSentire gives us the ability to work with channel partners. This is an opportunity to take our technology to market much faster, with partners.” eSentire also began by selling direct, and a majority of their sales are still direct, but they have been developing their channel for several years and the plan is to continue to grow the share of the business that it generates.

“Because eSentire has already had a strong start in growing their channel, this will accelerate the adoption of our technology there,” Hillard said.

Hillard said that several companies had expressed interest in acquiring Versive.

“As we were going into the process of our next round of growth we had inbound interest,” he indicated. “As we learned about the capabilities of each of these companies, eSentire became an obvious fit. Both companies have a belief that security needs to rapidly change, and have developed a lot of the scale and automation needed to do that.”

As an MDR vendor, eSentire had a strong threat hunting capability previously, but Hillard said that Versive’s focus upgrades their capabilities.

“We add a large technical team, but in addition, there a lot of ways AI can be delivered in the market today,” he said. “Some are opaque and can increase the noise. As a result, we have focused on a different way of doing this, which focuses on a few key behaviours. As a result, we are extremely easy to use, because we aren’t putting out a lot of statistics that can be difficult to interpret.”

Hillard also noted that while Versive’s customers had SOCs, Versive did not, so the combined value of their technology within the eSentire SOC will allow it to be disseminated more broadly.

Detailed integration plans around product have not been worked out.

“At this stage, we know that the platform and the threat hunting capability we developed will become a key part of their offering,” Hillard indicated. “We are still working through the details as far as specific product offerings go.”

The Versive team will remain based in their Seattle offices.

“This coming together is all about bringing our AI together with their MDR, and accelerating the value the solution will being,” Hillard concluded.