Australian cyber startup raises US$10 million to power US growth as former Prime Minister joins board

Australian cyber security company, Kasada, has raised US$10 million enabling it to expand global operations. Following the successful ‘Series B’ funding round, former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced that he had joined the Kasada board.

‘We are seeing unprecedented scale and rate of compromise, as tactics used by malicious actors become more sophisticated,’ said Mr Turnbull, on June 23 to the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

Kasada‘s technology offers multi-platform protection. It protects against attacks on websites and mobile apps by using complex algorithms and fingerprinting technology.

Once the platform detects a bot, it challenges the bot with increasingly difficult tasks. This burns up the bot’s resources. As attack costs escalate, the bot’s server relents and ceases the assault.

Headquartered in Sydney, the company already lists large global organisations like the hotel chain, Hyatt and REA among its clients, and has opened offices in New York and London. It will use the additional funding to power their rapid US expansion and enhance their web traffic integrity solution.

According to Kasada, its US expansion is proceeding to plan and revenue grew 200% in Quarter 1 2020 — in spite of challenges faced by all aspects of industry owing to COVID-19.

Early US interest

Operating globally since 2015, Kasada has won Australia’s prestigious AusCERT Best Security Initiative award. The company has also experienced significant growth, doubling its engineering and sales teams in 2019.

In late 2019, the company raised US$7 million in a ‘Series A’ funding round, led by In-Q-Tel, Inc (IQT) –the strategic investor for the US intelligence and defence communities.

Peter Taque, Executive Vice President, IQT, was impressed by the quality of Kasada’s technology. He also noted the technology’s potential for helping government agencies to secure their systems.

‘Governments, just like large enterprises and small businesses, are challenged by cyber threats every day,’ he commented when announcing IQT’s initial investment. At the time, Kasada was IQT’s first tech investment in Australia.

Kasada’s 2020 investors were led by US cybersecurity specialist firm, Ten Eleven Ventures, whose managing partner, Alex Doll also joins the Kasada board. This means that Kasada has now secured investment from two of the leading US cyber security specialist firms.

‘When we met the Kasada team, we immediately understood the potential in their elegant new approach, dedicated to defending enterprises against hostile synthetic traffic and continuously protecting the most critical assets of businesses,’ said Alex Doll on June 16 to the AFR.

Kasada’s existing Australian investors, Main Sequence Ventures and Westpac’s venture capital arm, Reinventure, also participated in the 2019 and 2020 rounds.

Protection against bots and API weak points

According to executives, Kasada technology has evolved to meet some of today’s biggest online security threats. Besides data scraping, these include the vulnerabilities that exist when two systems or databases are connected via application programing interfaces, or APIs. These interconnection points have created dangerous vulnerabilities for companies in a variety of sectors, including commerce, hospitality and financial services.

‘The Kasada solution not only strengthens website security, it dramatically shifts the economics of security in favour of website owners,’ says Co-Managing Director of IQT Australia, Brigid O’Brien.

Austrade has taken an active role in helping Kasada expand overseas. In 2018 and 2020, Kasada took part in the Austrade-AustCyber cyber security trade missions to the US, pitching to key firms, investors and customers across the country.

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