Netskope grabs $35 million to move beyond security

guy sitting in front of a bunch of monitors
Credit: UK Ministry of Defence

Netskope hopes to start offering app performance insight and recommendations.

Netskope, which helps companies manage so-called "shadow IT" -- particularly cloud services that employees have signed up for on their own -- has raised $35 million to expand beyond identifying problems and into cloud management.

Netskope helps companies identify what cloud services workers use but then gives IT tools to control the use of such services rather than just blocking them. For instance, an administrator can let workers use Box but prevent them from sharing certain documents or sharing with specified partners.

CEO Sanjay Beri shed some light on how he envisions Netskope will evolve. When he talks to customers, they say that they're looking for ways to make the best use of the cloud while retaining control over it, he said. "That's what they want now but in the future they want other things, beyond security," he said. "They want to be on offense."

He added, "When we look into the future it's not only about policing and enforcing but being their IT for the cloud. It's not just security but other areas."

For instance, already, companies are able to gain insight by using Netskope, he said. When Netskope discovers the cloud apps that workers are using, a CIO might learn that employees are using 30 marketing apps or 10 instances of a single app, Beri said. Consolidating those apps might save costs for the business.

"That's not a security question. That's an efficiency of doing business question and we enable that now," he said.

In the future, however, he envisions Netskope offering more granular information to CIOs, including about app performance in real time. CIOs would be able to find out if the apps are meeting their availability requirements, he said. Netskope could also potentially proactively offer recommendations to CIOs based on app usage by workers, he said.

Eric Wolford, a partner at venture capitalist Accel who gains a board seat with today's investment, also sees opportunity for Netskope in new security layers. Currently, a lot of data that companies manage on-premises isn't encrypted because historically the thinking was that it's stored and used privately, he said. But now that such data is moving into new kinds of apps, there's a need to do better at securing it. That's an opportunity area for Netskope, he said.

He also said that Netskope's gains represent losses for traditional enterprise vendors. Enterprises start by looking to their current vendors to help solve the problem of managing cloud usage. "In talking with many customers, they have realized they have to look outside existing vendors," he said.

Most commonly, those traditional vendors offer technologies like firewalls, that either entirely block cloud apps or require IT to poke holes in the firewall, ultimately allowing for full use of the cloud app, he said.

CEO Beri also said that Netskope will use the new funding to hire engineers, expand sales and marketing, and support a planned launch into Europe.

The round was led by Accel, with participation by Lightspeed Venture Partners and the Social + Capital Partnership.

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