PALO ALTO, CA and FULTON, MD--(Marketwired - Jul 26, 2016) - DataTribe, an innovative new start-up studio, formally launched today with the mission of combining Silicon Valley startup expertise with cutting-edge cybersecurity, big data, and analytics technologies emerging from government research labs around the Washington DC Beltway.
The DataTribe model is unique in that it does not function as a traditional incubator or venture capital firm. Rather, DataTribe is an operating company with seasoned, in-house executives in product management, product development, marketing, and sales. These executives assume operating roles within the firms that DataTribe creates, bringing them from concept to product deployment, at which point they are ready for more traditional venture financing.
A Powerful Model for Innovation and Investment
The DataTribe model reflects a commitment to mitigate both the technological and commercial risk associated with startups. DataTribe achieves this by bringing together proven mission-based government research and development and Silicon Valley's unparalleled ability to build successful companies.
"The mid-Atlantic region has a great history of working tough cyber problems, and this has created a strong community of entrepreneurs," said Ron Gula, the founder and chairman of Tenable Network Security, a successful serial cyber entrepreneur and former NSA official. "DataTribe has tapped into this community and will be accelerating many great ideas into great businesses in the very near future."
DataTribe Founders and Managers and the Brain Trust
The three co-founders and board members of DataTribe are Mike Janke, Robert Ackerman and Steve Witt. Janke is a former member of the Navy's elite Seal Team 6 and the founder and former CEO of Silent Circle, a leading secure communications service. Ackerman is the founder and a managing director of Allegis Capital, a 20-year-old Silicon Valley seed and early-stage venture firm specializing in cybersecurity and analytics. Witt, a former CIA information technology officer, is also the founder and former CEO of Onyara, the startup based on NSA- developed NiFi, now a high-level Apache Software Foundation open source project.
Day-to-day operations at DataTribe are managed by a dedicated operating team consisting of a cadre of proven executives with significant successful start-up experience in technology, product development, product management, marketing, recruiting and team building. Witt leads DataTribe's operations team.
Complementing the founders and operating executives, DataTribe has assembled a team of seasoned and successful operating professionals, called the "Brain Trust," to assist in vetting potential startup projects and serving as advisors, mentors and board members for DataTribe companies. Brain Trust members have track records in building successful startup companies in DataTribe's areas of focus.
Why U.S. Government Cybersecurity Work Has Commercial Prowess
The increasing emergence of state-sponsored cyber warfare operations has completely changed the technology landscape. High profile cyber aggression, such as Stuxnet, the cyberattack that stymied the Iranian nuclear weapons development program, as well as the onslaught of attacks against U.S corporations such as Target, Sony and J.P. Morgan, have demonstrated the need for a suite of cyber defenses more advanced than any currently available.
As a result, governments around the world pour massive resources into developing cyber security, big data, and analytics technologies. The U.S. is a clear leader in this space, with breakthrough technologies being developed in large-scale government R&D facilities such as Fort Meade in Maryland.
In 2015, the U.S. government alone allocated nearly $70 billion to technology-related R&D driving innovation ahead of the commercial curve. Moreover, it is estimated the DC Beltway employs 3.5x more skilled cyber experts than the rest of the nation combined.
DataTribe focuses on those emerging entrepreneurs who would build commercial companies leveraging these disruptive and proven technological innovations. With massive R&D spending and a robust cyber ecosystem within the Washington D.C. area, it was inevitable that groups of elite entrepreneurial technologists would start new companies.
But as history has shown with products like TransMeta, the DEC Alpha and even the original Betamax tape format, simply having breakthrough technology -- even technology that has been implemented, tested, and validated -- does not ensure commercial success. DataTribe excels in filling that void.
Witt, Janke and Ackerman recently proved this concept with the successful commercialization and sale of Onyara to HortonWorks. Apache NiFi, the technology behind Onyara, was initially developed and open sourced by the NSA. Since NiFi was accepted by the Apache Software Foundation and Onyara's founding, the technology has gained wide adoption to securely manage the complexity of data flow from the edge of sensor networks across enterprise-class datacenters.
"The technology and the market for commercial intelligence innovation are not in doubt," Ackerman said. "The investment experience and Silicon Valley know-how are ready to go. We are launching DataTribe with the bold vision of combining the two to build the next generation of companies -- companies that are focused on where the puck is going to be."
DataTribe aims to develop two or three projects per year after they have been thoroughly vetted by the Data Tribe team.
Each project will receive up to $1.5 million in initial capital. Concurrently, the seasoned DataTribe operating team will provide day-to-day support in achieving product-market fit and ensuring efficiencies in all operational aspects -- outbound marketing, human resources, finance, legal, and more -- removing the burden for individual ventures.
At the end of 9 to 12 months, these start-ups will be ready to accept traditional venture funding.
Initial investments include Dragos, which provides industrial control systems (ICS) cyber situational awareness via a 24/7 ICS Security Operations Center (SOC) and a forthcoming software product offering. The Dragos team is comprised of former NSA intelligence officers with deep ICS security domain expertise.
A Highly Focused, Sniper-Like Approach with Seal Team 6 Strategies
DataTribe's approach and operations are heavily influenced by leadership and strategy concepts developed by the Navy's elite Seal Team 6 to conduct "asymmetric warfare". These concepts apply extremely well to commercializing technologies with the intention of disrupting large established markets with entrenched incumbents.
"In the SEAL teams, we use the motto 'never fight fair,'" Janke said. "What this means is we approach every problem looking to create an overwhelming advantage. At DataTribe, we are creating an unfair advantage by blending the most advanced cyber security, big data, and analytics thinking in the world with the best start-up practices in the world."
The Data Tribe Seal Team 6 Management Tenets can be found at:
Enabling Powerful Outcomes for Entrepreneurs
The DataTribe model is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs from the DC beltway as it allows them to access capital, talent, proven expertise and a network of relationships that would otherwise be out of reach. This has two major benefits: it increases the odds of successfully getting to market and it reduces the amount of capital required. As a result, a DataTribe company can be formed with much less dilution than a more traditional model and with a higher probability of success.
"Learning by making mistakes is very inefficient and painful," says Jay Kaplan, CEO of Synack. "DataTribe is bringing access to capital, proven entrepreneurial expertise, unparalleled talent, and strategic customers to DC Beltway entrepreneurs, making the process of building a company efficient and positive while enabling a more certain and valuable outcome."
"As home to some of the most cutting-edge government agencies and research partners, the I-95 corridor running through my district is considered the cyber capital of the world," said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a member of the House Defense Appropriations Committee and former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. "DataTribe is building a virtual bridge across the country, straight to Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs can access everything they need to get off the ground.
Backed by Deloitte, Yahoo! Japan, Strategic Investors, and Allegis Capital
For investors, DataTribe's unique, innovative approach offers the high upside of a venture investment with lower commercial risk. This has attracted traditional investors as well as public technology companies and prominent tech CEOs alike. DataTribe is financially backed by Deloitte, the prominent financial consulting firm, and Yahoo! Japan, both of which are also strategic partners, as well as additional strategic and financial investors.
"Our venture investments are crucial to driving increased industry innovation and solid returns for us," says Ed Powers, national managing principal, Deloitte Cyber Risk Services, Deloitte & Touche LLP. "DataTribe has developed a unique and innovative approach to building startups, one that we believe has tremendous potential for success."
"Data analysis and cybersecurity are Yahoo! JAPAN's strategic focus and pillar for future growth," claims Hiroki Taniguchi, Director of Corporate Strategy at Yahoo! JAPAN and Partner at YJ Capital. "We are glad to have made this partnership with Data Tribe as we highly value its unique investment model and strong team, one that we can leverage and work cohesively on various initiatives."
Allegis Capital has also been named as one of DataTribe's strategic partners.
DataTribe co-founder Steven Witt commented: "In our experience working together, the imperative of a strategic pipeline to Silicon Valley's start-up DNA, deep talent pool, strategic partnerships and early-stage investor networks has been abundantly clear. Given our start-ups focus on cyber security and analytics, leading early-stage cyber investor Allegis Capital is the perfect partner for us."
DataTribe is a start-up studio formed with the bold vision of combining breakthrough innovation in cyber security, big data and analytics technology emerging from D.C.-based government research labs with Silicon Valley startup know-how to create, define, and lead new market segments. Co-based in Fulton, Maryland and Silicon Valley, Data Tribe is an operating company with seasoned functional leadership that directly takes on the task of co-building start-ups from concept to initial customer deployment, significantly lowering risk and preserving returns. For more information: www.DataTribe.com
Allegis Capital is a seed and early-stage venture capital investor in companies building disruptive and innovative cyber security solutions for the global digital economy. Founded in 1996, the firm has more than $700 million in capital under management and has been active in cyber security investing since 2000. Allegis cybersecurity investments include Synack, CyberGRX, Platfora, Shape Security, vArmour and Red Owl, Area 1 Security, E8 Security, Bracket Computing, IronPort Systems and Solera Networks. For more information, visit www.allegiscapital.com
Yahoo Japan Corporation was founded in 1996 and operates Yahoo! JAPAN, one of the largest portal sites, in Japan. Offering more than 100 services including search, news and e-commerce via PC and smart devices, Yahoo! JAPAN serves more than 80 million daily unique browsers, and 60 billion monthly page views on average. The total number of downloads for iOS and Android applications released by Yahoo Japan Corporation exceeds 270 million. For more information, please visit http://ir.yahoo.co.jp/en/