Cybersecurity start-up Darktrace raises $50 million
Cybersecurity business Darktrace has raised $50m (£38m) in new funding, bringing the company’s valuation to $1.65bn, up from a valuation of $1.25bn in May. Darktrace uses artificial intelligence software to automatically detect cyber threats to customers’ networks. The business says its Antigena product can respond automatically to cybersecurity problems within two seconds. Clients include Gatwick Airport and US insurer AIG. The new investment into the business comes mainly from Vitruvian Partners, the London-headquartered private equity firm which has also backed Farfetch, the fashion marketplace, and food delivery business Just Eat. Other funding comes from existing investors KKR and 1011 Ventures. Poppy Gustafsson, one of Darktrace's two chief executives, said that the funding would go towards international expansion and hiring globally. Darktrace was founded in Cambridge in 2013 by a group of university scientists and cybersecurity experts. The business continues to maintain an office in Cambridge, but has also expanded to 30 offices and more than 750 employees. Ms Gustafsson said that Cambridge "is the core of our organisation and will continue to be very important to us", even as the business expands overseas. "We'll be having many new hires in both Cambridge and London," she said. Many former employees of the security services are involved in the business. The company’s director of technology, Dave Palmer, previously worked at MI5 and GCHQ. The company’s board includes former MI5 director general Lord Evans and Alan Wade, the former chief information officer of the US Central Intelligence Agency. The business’ most recent accounts showed that losses more than doubled as the company went on a hiring spree. The filings also showed that annual sales had increased from £17.1m to £30.8m. Technology intelligence - newsletter promo - EOA One of the company’s most prominent backers is Invoke Capital, the venture capital fund run by Autonomy founder Mike Lynch. Mr Lynch set up his investment fund after selling his software business Autonomy to Hewlett Packard in 2011. Hewlett Packard eventually wrote down much of the cost of the acquisition and accused Mr Lynch of fraud. A lawsuit brought against Mr Lynch by HP in the UK has been delayed to next year. Mr Lynch responded by suing HP, which called his lawsuit "a laughable and desperate attempt to divert attention from the $5bn lawsuit HP has filed and the ongoing criminal investigation". Many of Darktrace’s early employees previously worked at Autonomy, including both of Darktrace’s current chief executives, Nicole Eagan and Ms Gustafsson.