Advertising / Cybersecurity / Funding / Startups / Venture capital

Baltimore cybersecurity company raises $5M Series A

The company is looking to continue growth while providing protection in digital media. CEO Matt Gillis talks about how the pandemic has affected malicious advertising, and raising venture capital. CEO Matt Gillis. (Courtesy photo), the Baltimore-based startup combatting malicious advertising, raised $5 million in its Series A funding round, the company announced on Thursday.

The funding round was led by New York-based venture firm Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from Baltimore-based venture firm Inner Loop Capital, New York and Maryland-based Grit Capital Partners and Canadian venture firm Real Ventures., which was #1 on Baltimore’s RealLIST Startups 2020, works with enterprises that protects bad actors from executing malicious JavaScript. The company gained traction in digital media, offering protection from malicious advertising that freezes displays and leave data at risk. The company draws on talent in two particularly strong areas for Baltimore in advertising technology — including veterans of Millennial Media and later Verizon Media like CEO Matt Gillis — and cybersecurity. Gillis said the company’s technology is now running across 7 million websites.

“We have a good pulse of what’s happening across the internet based on our reach,” Gillis said.

As with much of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for the malvertising threats that seeks to stamp out. A Q2 analysis released by the company showed that there were increased threat levels in the kinds of category areas that saw increased traffic during work-from-home — but verticals that saw a drop in spending on advertising like automotive and sports also saw an increase as the bad actors moved in to take other advertisers’ place. But there were declines toward the end of the quarter as there was more acclimation to the pandemic, the report states.

“Any time there’s market disruption the way we’ve seen and experienced, it creates an opportunity for bad actors,” Gillis said.

Along with last year’s seed round, the company has now raised $7.5 million. In that time, it has grown from a dozen team members to more than 35 employees, and overall it added five new team members in the months of the pandemic. The company moved its HQ from Spaces in Federal Hill to space at Natty Boh Tower in Brewers Hill, where 15 team members are now based, as well.

The news offers the latest example of a funding round closing during a pandemic, which is something that hasn’t been as rare as some observers expected. But the pandemic still made things different.

Gillis had meetings set in New York the last week of February, but those were delayed and ultimately moved to video call. In the end, raising the round took place entirely on Zoom. Still, even though the pandemic prevented the typical face-to-face that’s more the norm in venture capital, Gillis said the process still felt relatively normal, as the company and investors dug in on the business. And despite the shift there was still a selection progressing on both sides, as Gillis reminds that “it’s just as important for the entrepreneur to go through a selection process as it is for the VCs to go through their own selection process.”

“The rapid traction and product-market fit that has experienced is a testament to its superior product and commitment to customer success,” said Chip Meakem, managing partner at Tribeca Venture Partners and the lead investor in the round, in a statement.

Going forward, the funding round will help the company continue to grow in the digital media space, and move into new product areas, Gillis said.


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