Bluebox Security has emerged from stealth mode with a mobile security solution that prioritizes securing data over devices or applications. In this, the company diverges from traditional mobile device and application managers.
The San Francisco startup, which has been innovating under cover since 2012, just raised an $18 million Series B funding round this January from Andreessen Horowitz, Tenaya Capital, SV Angel and Andreas Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. That investment brings the company’s total backing to $27.5 million.
Bluebox sells its product on a per-user basis via a subscription model to SMEs on up, according to its co-founder and CEO Caleb Sima. The company operates in a rapidly expanding market. Visiongain forecasted revenues for the worldwide mobile security market would come to $3.49 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, a study by Cisco partner firms reported 9 out of 10 full-time American employees use smartphones for work. That’s an overwhelming majority of workers that could be accessing corporate data in a way that compromises its safety. The same study said almost 40 percent of those that bring their own device (BYODers) don’t have a password on their phones.
Right now, Bluebox’s challengers include Mobile Device Managers (MDMs) and Mobile Application Managers (MAMs). Predictably, the former concentrates on serving up security solutions at the device level, while the latter usually deals with protecting apps and the data within them. Among Bluebox’s competitors are companies like AirWatch (acquired by VMware), MobileIron, Cisco and Citrix. All of these companies leverage both MDM and MAM solutions.
According to Sima, he and co-founder Adam Ely decided there had to be a better way to approach mobile security. He says enterprises need to be able to see, control and secure corporate data, while workers want freedom, a non-disruptive experience, and privacy. “It’s evolution,” Sima says. “[It’s] not, ‘How do I secure the devices?’ That’s done and over with now. It’s, ‘How do I secure the data on these devices?’ I think that’s the target Bluebox is hitting.”
As legacy vendors have entered the overpopulated industry, the mobile security space has condensed. Citrix forecasted 2013 would see MDM consolidation, and it did: Citrix itself acquired Zenprise, IBM picked up Fiberlink, and continuing on a trend, VMware made a play for AirWatch in early 2014. As the new kid on the block, Bluebox will have to build a reputation, battle incumbents and pick up customers.
The company already works with beta customers including Zions Bank and Netflix. The product has been built, vetted, tested and deployed, Sima says. With $18 million in new funding, Bluebox will head to market. Its fresh take on security could make a major impact on the way enterprises think about protecting their information on mobile. A Bluebox blog post citing Gartner said that by 2016, 2 of 10 enterprise BYOD programs will die due to deployment of overly-restrictive MDM measures. Focusing on data, rather than devices or apps, may make for a more pliable solution –– one that employees won’t have to work around.