Maryland cyber roundup: An acquisition, an international expansion and a SPAC

News from Sonatype, Dragos and IronNet Cybersecurity.

A Sonatype welcome.

(Courtesy image)

Just south of Baltimore, there’s a hotbed of cyber talent around the headquarters of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade. Outside its walls, there are plenty of businesses working on new tools to protect software and network systems. A concentration of growing companies means there can be weeks with a flurry of news.

Here’s a quick roundup from this week:

Sonatype finds a Muse

Fulton-based software supply chain management company Sonatype acquired code analysis platform MuseDev.

Sonatype is adding MuseDev to its Nexus platform, which is designed to help developers manage the pieces of open-source code that form the building blocks of software. While the open source code is freely available, it could have bugs. Sonatype’s technology scans this open source code for potential security vulnerabilities, and providing info to help developers avoid code with these issues.

MuseDev’s platform, in turn, provides analysis and feedback on a pull request. This can help find security, performance, and reliability bugs. The company says these comments are provided within a developer’s workflow.

“We built Muse to provide developers feedback in the same way their teammates do — as comments in code review,” said MuseDev CEO Dr. Stephen Magill, who will join Sontaype along with the company’s team of software developers.

Based in Portland, MuseDev in 2019 spun out of tech R&D firm Galois.

Along with Muse, Sonatype also said it is introducing tools for container and infrastructure-as-code to its platform. The additions are designed to offer management tools for all of the components of software, beyond open source.

The company said it had a 118% rise in ARR from 2018 to 2020, and counts 70% of the Fortune 100 as customers.

“We are now delivering a developer-friendly and full-spectrum software supply chain management platform and serving clear notice that Sonatype remains the incumbent market leader compared to emergent players,” CEO Wayne Jackson said in a statement.

Dragos dials Aussie PM

Hanover-based Dragos is expanding in Australia and New Zealand with a new office and an investor from the country’s political leadership.

The company, which specializes in industrial cybersecurity that protects critical infrastructure like power, water and energy systems, is adding an investor to its $110 million Series C round: Turnbull & Partners, the investment firm of former Australian prime minster Malcolm Turnbull. Drawing on experience facing cyber threats while leading the government from 2015 to 2018, the company said Turnbull will help Dragos to expand in the region.

Malcolm Turnbull is the former prime minister of Australia. (Courtesy photo)

“The cyber threat to operational technology has never been greater than it is today,” Turnbull said in a statement. “We face many challenges in defending Australia and New Zealand’s large, complex industries from these threats. We chose to invest in Dragos because it is providing world-leading industrial cybersecurity expertise and technology at a time when vital industries are being challenged more than ever.”

Dragos opened a regional HQ in Melbourne, and plans to continue to hire in 2021.

It disclosed an existing customer in the region, as well: Dragos has worked with energy infrastructure company Jemena since 2020.

IronNet cybersecurity SPAC

For the second time in as many weeks, a growing tech company out of Maryland is confirming plans to go public through a merger with a blank check company.

IronNet Cybersecurity plans to merge with LGL Systems Acquisition Corp, which is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. It will create a company valued at $1.2 billion, which trades under the New York Stock Exchange symbol IRNT.

Keith Alexander. (Courtesy photo)

It’s the latest merger involving a SPAC, which is a company formed solely to take an existing company public without having to go through the typical IPO process. The $267 million deal is being financed in part through a $125 million PIPE, which is an investment vehicle that allows private investors to help become shareholders amid the merger in a SPAC deal. Investors in the PIPE who were disclosed include Emles Advisors, Weiss Asset Management and The Phoenix Insurance Company, as well as existing IronNet investors Bridgewater Associates, ForgePoint Capital and Kleiner Perkins.

Founded in 2014 by former National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander (ret.), the company has a team that includes several former NSAers. IronNet was initially based in Fulton before moving to McLean, Virginia, the Baltimore Business Journal reported. It also lists offices in Raleigh, London and Singapore. The company has turned heads in the region before with splashes like a $78 million Series B in 2018.

The company’s platform, called Collective Defense, includes two components: One is called IronDefense, which is a network detection and response platform, which uses “AI-driven behavioral analytics” to identify and prioritize threats at individual companies. The other, called IronDome, automatically and anonymously shares the findings from IronDefense with others who are in a group so they know about the threat and can further analyze it, per the company. These domes can be created between companies who work together, industry sectors or nations.

The company is planning to use the proceeds from the merger to expand sales and marketing, as well as research and development. It reported $29 million revenue in its last fiscal year ending in January, and projects to make about $54 million this year.

Companies: Dragos
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