Security specialist UpGuard returns to Australia

Australian-born, now US-based IT security company UpGuard (formerly ScriptRock) is ramping up its presence in ANZ.

Australian-born, now US-based IT security company UpGuard (formerly ScriptRock) is ramping up its presence in ANZ.

It has opened an Australian office, appointed ACA Pacific as its exclusive distributor in Australia and South East Asia, Nextgen as its New Zealand distributor and is signing up Insentra to provide deployment and consultancy services to UpGuard channel partners in Australia and New Zealand.

UpGuard was founded in 2012 in the StartMate accelerator at ATP Innovations in the Australian Technology Park in Redfern, Sydney by its now co-CEOs, Mike Baukes and Alan Sharp-Paul.

UpGuard’s VP APAC Gerry Sillars told Computerworld that UpGuard’s founders had chosen the company’s birthplace for its initial overseas foray. “It was always the founders’ intent that the first international investment would be in Australia,” he said.

US$17m series B funding in 2016

UpGuard moved to Silicon Valley in 2012 after raising US$1.25m in seed capital from Valar Ventures, the investment vehicle of PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel and others.

In 2014 it raised US$8.7m in a series A funding round lead by Vivek Mehra of August Capital that included Valar Ventures and Australian investor Square Peg Capital. In August 2016 ScriptRock raised US$17m in a series B funding round co-led by new investor Pellion that included August Capital and Square Peg Capital.

Australia's largest general insurer, IAG, also took what UpGuard described at the time as a “strategic stake”, reported to be 2 per cent, and UpGuard’s Australian office is now in IAG’s premises at 388 George Street Sydney.

Ron Arnold, general manager of IAG’s venturing team, said IAG had been drawn to UpGuard “primarily because it has developed a unique response to the growing need for organisations to mitigate cyber risk. … It also has the potential to help insurance companies like IAG better assess — and therefore price — customers' cyber risk.”

Wanted: 30 developers

Sillars said that UpGuard was building a development group in Sydney. “We have recruited Daniel Bradbury who used to run the payment platforms at the Commonwealth Bank. He is building out a group that should by the end of the year have about 30 developers focussing on the AI and machine learning component of our product.”

Sillars added: “This is not just a sales and marketing investment, it is a strategic investment for us back into our home base. We are looking for the best talent we can find to build the best products we can.”

Total discovery

Sillars said there were three components to the UpGuard technology designed, respectively, to discover IT assets, control those assets and predict possible cyber security risks.

“We can discover anything in an environment with an IP address: servers, AS400, storage devices, switches routers, databases etc,” Sillars said. “Once we understand the environment we take that information into our platform and start applying control measures. If we flag an issue we will integrate with products like ServiceNow or Cherwell or [Atlassian’s] Jira.

“The third component is prediction. We do a vulnerability assessment across the environment.”

He said its founders’ impetus to develop UpGuard had been the visibility problem large organisations face with their IT resources. “Businesses do not trust the technology. They are unsure of what they have; they have little control over it and cannot predict which parts of it might cause them problems in the future. There biggest challenge is visibility into what they have, so they cannot properly assess risk.”

Distributors appointed

On the sales and marketing front, UpGuard announced on 6 March the appointment of ACA Pacific as its exclusive distributor in Australia and South East Asia (excluding New Zealand) saying it had already grown a large customer base in the Asia Pacific region.

“UpGuard's products and services will now be available to more than 15,000 resellers across Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia,” the company said.

This was followed on 22 March by an announcement appointing NextGen as UpGuard’s exclusive NZ distributor. Sillars told Computerworld that UpGuard already had a couple of enterprise customers in New Zealand.

He described NextGen as “a true value-added distributor” that “looks for technologies they can align with other products and add value to their channel partners.”

Sillars told Computerworld that UpGuard was also in the process of signing up Australian firm Insentra to provide professional services deployment and consultancy across Australia and New Zealand. “We have a 100 per cent channel play so they will work with and the channel,” he said.

“They will also help with proof of value and with presales and we will use them on larger accounts to do local technical account management.”

He said Insentra had close to 100 people in Australia and two or three in New Zealand. The company describes itself as “a collaborative IT services partner delivering a range of specialised professional and managed services transacting exclusively through the IT channel,” saying it “focuses on attaining knowledge and skills in solutions that will best empower the channel.”

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