Versa Networks plans to use new funding round to drive SASE expansion with new sales and marketing initiatives

Versa began as an SD-WAN vendor, but has been rapidly transitioning into the SASE market, will spend much of the fresh $86 million raised on sales and marketing, in a market in which many customers still don’t really know what SASE is.

Today, SD-WAN vendor Versa Networks, which started out as an SD-WAN vendor, but has been transitioning the focus of its business to the fast growing Secure Access Service Edge [SASE] market, is announcing its Series D Funding Round for $86 million. The company plans to spend the money fueling its SASE expansion further, in particular through aggressive and more globally widespread sales and marketing efforts.

“We now define ourselves as a SASE vendor,” said Mike Wood, Versa’s CMO. “SD-WAN evolved into secure SD-WAN and that’s evolving into SASE services delivered through cloud and on-prem. We provide consistent policies, all running through the same Versa system. That consistency is why partners standardize on us. They can do on-prem or cloud-based SASE and implement and deploy it immediately.”

Wood noted that Gartner projects the SASE market to grow at a CAGR of 42% by 2024, reaching almost $11 billion in Total Addressable Market [TAM], and with at least 40% of enterprises having SASE adoption strategies in place by 2024.

“SASE is one of the fastest growing categories in network and security, and we have been growing faster than the overall category,” Wood said. “The main limitation on our growing even faster was the need for additional sales and marketing. That’s where we are spending the money from the funding round. We are investing more in regions we are located strongly today, and we plan a significant expansion in LatAm and Asia Pacific, where we are not strong today.”

Wood stressed that these increased resources will make it easier for Versa to get their share of that TAM.

“This allows us to more effectively reach that, as there’s not a dollar in that TAM that we can’t address,” he said. “Because the SASE market is new, some of the responsible professionals within an organization might be teams focused on Secure Web Gateway, and in others, they might be on CASB. The added sales presence will let us find and initiate a dialogue with them all.”

SASE being new, and the fact that almost every vendor now working in it came from another area, also leads to different versions of it being articulated in the market, which tends to confuse customers.

“We commissioned a global survey that engaged customers in the U.S. and EU, and a key takeaway is that even as customers deploy SASE, they don’t know what it means,” Wood said. 69% of organizations in the survey could not correctly define SASE.

Mike Wood, Versa’s CMO

“One way we are addressing this is by dramatically increasing investment with networking professionals, connecting people within different organizations,” Wood said. “We are also being aggressive in our marketing, in particular through a massive shift back into physical in-person trade shows, events, conferences and meetings. We are also working with partners on hosted events. We have an event at TopGolf next week, for example, which is not something we could have done a year ago.”

Neary 100% of Versa’s business is channel – a combination of service provider carriers,  SIs, VARs and MSPs. Versa’s own sales reps track down new business and then introduce them to partners. So a chunk of the new money raised will go to deepening resources available to Versa’s channel.

“We launched the ACE partner program in January, which included SASE certification and SASE training and a SASE tier,” Wood said. “We will be increasing that training, increasing the assets we make available in partner portal, and working more closely on messaging with partners. We have taken our best practices and bult them into portal.”

Wood also pointed out that Versa has also made a SASE ROI calculator to both its own sales people and to partners.

“We think it’s the first of its kind in the world,” he said.

The new funding round was co-led by investors Princeville Capital and RPS Ventures, with additional participation from existing investors, including Sequoia Capital.