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Startup Tanium to Start Selling Security Software to Investigate Hacking Attacks

The first of a series of expansions into adjacent lines of business.


Announcing the first of what it says will be many extensions of its business software, startup Tanium today said it will expand into the business of offering security software, as U.S. companies and government agencies continue to face mounting cyber attacks.

The move is the first of what founder Orion Hindawi says will be several extensions from Tanium’s core business of building software for managing huge networks of computers into adjacent businesses like security. With a product called Trace, Tanium aims to give companies the ability to quickly gather and sort information related to hacking attacks.

The closely watched startup signaled a more aggressive move into security when it named David Damato, a former FireEye executive, as its chief security officer.

The company is also notable for its funding. It has raised $142 million in investments from only one outside venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, which in March valued Tanium at $1.75 billion. The investments were led by Steven Sinofsky, a former Microsoft executive and onetime head of its Windows unit. It is the firm’s second-largest investment after Zenefits.

Forensic investigations after a cyber attack are usually time-consuming and expensive, often taking weeks or months before achieving any meaningful results. Tanium’s core software executes fast checks on the status of any computer connected to a corporate network and can be used to install patches or update software quickly. Its capacity to carry out quick checks, Hindawi says, makes it a natural fit for gathering the kind of historic information that’s crucial in investigating a hacking attack. “You end up with a deep history of what happened on a machine quickly, and that’s the first step to either repairing the damage or stopping an attack that’s still going on,” he said.

A quick glance at the news headlines suggests it’s a good time to get into the business of security software. Just today there’s news that the hacking attack said to have originated in China against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may have led to the theft of Social Security numbers of as many as 18 million current and former federal employees, confirming earlier reports.

There will be more extensions of Tanium’s capabilities. Hindawi said he expects more services to come at a rate of at least one per quarter if not faster. “We expect there to be a steady drumbeat of functions we can absorb into the platform,” he said.

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