Machine-learning security startup Darktrace aims $18m injection at overseas expansion

Selling security based on complex algorithms and Bayesian mathematics, Darktrace is earmarking a multimillion dollar investment for new markets, including the Asia-Pacific region.

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After a year in which it tripled its staff, machine-learning security startup Darktrace now says an $18m funding injection unveiled today will help finance expansion into Asia Pacific.

The investment round, which counts Invoke Capital, Talis Capital, Hoxton Ventures and private individuals among participants, values the company at $80m.

"Darktrace is growing at a phenomenal rate. It has been barely a year since we deployed to our first customer and now we have deployments at 75 companies and relationships with 50 partners across America, UK, continental Europe and the Middle East," Darktrace CEO Nicole Eagan said.

"Our headcount has tripled over the past year and expansion into Asia is a natural next step."

Darktrace usually provides customers with an appliance - a box of standard hardware optimised for high performance - running machine-learning algorithms and Bayesian software to examine corporate network traffic. From every piece of network data collected, it tries to extract up to 300 measurements.

The software not only logs individual behaviour but also that of classes of people doing similar jobs to help flag up security issues and potentially aberrant behaviour.

Machine-learning techniques and mathematics originally developed at the University of Cambridge have enabled Darktrace to attract customers that now include BT, Virgin Trains and Drax.

The company's advisory board consists of Lord Evans of Weardale, who spent 33 years with MI5 and is the UK domestic intelligence agency's former director general, Andrew France who had a 30-year career with UK surveillance organisation GCHQ, culminating in his tenure as its deputy director for cyber defence operations, and Mike Lynch, who sold Autonomy to HP for $11bn (£7bn) in August 2011.

Darktrace has appointed Sanjay Aurora to oversee expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. Former IBM Security executive John Muser will head operations in Australia and New Zealand, and Stanley Hsu, formerly of McAfee Intel, will be in charge of the company's south-east Asia activities.

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