Cloud security startup Valtix secures funding round from Cisco and The Syndicate Group to drive channel Go-to-Market

While the focus is the new $12.5 million in  investment from organizations who will be strategic partners in Valtix’s Go-to-Market, the company is also highlighting its recent executive additions, including new CEO Douglas Murray.

Douglas Murray, Valtix’s CEO

Cloud-native network security platform provider Valtix has announced the securing of a new funding round of $12.5 million from Cisco Investments, Northgate Capital and The Syndicate Group. This funding round is dominated by strategic investors who will play key roles in expanding Valtix’s Go-to-Market, particularly through the channel. This round comes on the heels of $14 million in initial funding from Trinity Ventures, Vertex Ventures and Wing Venture Capital at the time the company launched in 2019.

Valtix is also calling attention in this announcement to major changes in its senior executive ranks in the last quarter of 2020. Douglas Murray, former Big Switch CEO, became the Valtix CEO. Anthony Narducci came on board as VP of Worldwide Sales, while Joe Palazola joined as VP of Worldwide Operations.

“The new funding and the strategic investment from both Cisco and The Syndicate Group as we build out our core Go-to-Market strategy is the primary news, yet at the same time we wanted to highlight three recent executive hires,” Murray told ChannelBuzz. “It was announced in a blog earlier, but it wasn’t broadly distributed.”

Murray said that he was drawn to the company by its technology.

“I had been in networking and security for many years, including running the security division of Juniper and then being CEO of Big Switch for six and a half years,” he said. “After Big Switch was sold to Arista, I thought about what I wanted to be next. I loved being a CEO, and being in a disruptive early stage company. I was impressed by this team and what they were building relative to the platform. It’s about creating a comprehensive services platform. Security is a very fragmented market, and the network and application part of this world was underserved. There’s not another early stage company trying to solve this issue across multi-cloud.”

The space is dominated by two types of incumbent vendors, and Murray said that they both have weaknesses.

“You have vendors like Palo Alto Networks who built a great business around a new threat vector, but their natural bias is to think around box-based architectures,” he stated. “Then you have Cloud Service Providers like AWS and Azure, who have cloud-native services, but are fairly lightweight. They work well for many customers, but don’t have full suite with a lot of advanced services for those who need that.

“What I loved about Valtix platform was they really envisioned it as a platform,” Murray emphasized. “It’s based on a Discover-Deploy-Defend philosophy, which begins with determining where the apps sit, how they are connected, and what their security disposition is. We believe this third model will provide a true cloud-native platform-as-a service capability, on a pay-as you-grow model.”

Initial market response has been good. Murray noted that  Valtix’s platform went live in 2020 at about the time the pandemic started to take hold, and that they had done well in this environment.

Bringing in a CEO with a past record of success in leading a company to the next stage of growth is a common enough strategy. Valtix is doing it a little earlier than most however, with original CEO and co-founder Vishal Jain moving from the CEO to the CTO role.

“That change relates to the inflection point relative to the Go-to-Market, and the opportunities that are there today,” Murray said. “The founders have three brilliant engineering minds, and a lot of Vishal’s focus has been on the development of the platform. He will continue to advance that as CTO.”

Murray noted that when he originally began talking with Valtix, the idea was that he would come in as a board member and advisor, but that this quickly changed.

“They wanted to bring someone in as CEO sooner rather than later,” he said.

The $12.5 million in strategic funding from Cisco Investments, Northgate Capital and The Syndicate Group can best be described as a ‘1A’ round, Murray indicated.

“I wanted to bring on some more Go-to-Market leaders, additional sales leaders, before we do a proper B round,” he said. “The founders had had initial discussions with Cisco and The Syndicate Group, and we wanted to focus on these firms that can provide direct value as we build out our Go-to-Market functions.

Cisco Investments’ role in providing venture funding to startups is well-known, but the plan here is to leverage the broader Cisco relationship deeply.

“We are working on integrations with Cisco as a strategic partner as well,” Murray said.

The Syndicate Group, which is run by Chad Cardenas, a co-founder of California-based reseller Trace3, will also provide key Go-to-Market assistance beyond the venture capital.

“They liase between entrepreneurs and the resell community, and allow interested members of the resell community to invest in the company,” Murray said. “It’s great for us. It provides capital, but also provides reseller tie-ins and introductions to that community. We have about a dozen sell-with partners, and they have connectivity to dozens more, both resellers and SIs, in the U.S. and abroad. They run the process and take us out to that ecosystem. Even if a reseller doesn’t invest, they learn more about us.

“Between Cisco and The Syndicate Group, we expect to significantly accelerate our Go-to-Market over the next 12-18 months,” Murray said.

Much of this growth will be channel, and Murray emphasized that focus existed before his arrival.

“We are incredibly partner focused, and that was the case prior to me joining,” he said. “The sell-with partners we have includes CSPs, and we have lead sharing with AWS. We have started the process of building out an ecosystem of national VARs and boutique cloud security VARs. The Syndicate Group and our deep relationship with Cisco will build out more.” Valtix has customers on all three major public clouds – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

The money from the new funding round will go primarily to building out Valtix’s Go-to-Market capabilities.

“We have a very robust engineering team, and we will invest more there, of course, but the focus for the next 12-18 months will be putting the foundation in place for the Go-to-Market, putting an appropriate process and team in place to build out the next chapter of the company,” Murray said. “The next year will be about refining and building out at greater scale the sales reps who will work with our channel, and our relationships with CSPs.”