Mobile-security software maker Fixmo Inc. raised $23 million in new financing from backers including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, banking on rising demand as the government lets employees use their own devices for work.
“We’re seeing mounting pressure now to ensure these devices are being used in proper ways,” Tyler Lessard, chief marketing officer of the Toronto-based company, said in an interview. That creates “a lot of opportunity.”
Faced with demands to cut costs, government agencies are increasingly allowing workers to use personal iPhones and other handsets for business. While it saves money that might otherwise be spent on government-issued BlackBerrys from Research In Motion Ltd., it creates a security headache that Fixmo wants to resolve with its software.
Fixmo, founded in 2009, worked with the U.S. National Security Agency to develop the technology behind its Sentinel software that it is betting will give it an edge over rivals, such as Redwood City, California-based Good Technology Inc.
Fixmo, with customers in government, defense, financial services and health care, plans to use the money to add new products and expand into Europe and Asia, Lessard said.
Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins has previously backed companies such as Google Inc., Zynga Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Other investors in Fixmo include Rho Ventures, Horizon Ventures and Paladin Capital Group, which led the latest round.
The move to personal devices means technology departments have to support a wider range of smartphones and tablets. As a result, information chiefs need to be wary of the risk of computer bugs, or malware, on devices such as those running Google Inc.’s Android software, Lessard said.
“We’re seeing a lot of headlines lately about the amount of malware being focused on the mobile space and particularly on Android,” said Lessard, who joined Fixmo in September from RIM, where he oversaw software-developer relations.
The Android operating system has had an almost sixfold increase in threats such as spyware and viruses since July, Juniper Networks Inc. said this month. Android’s market share more than doubled to 53 percent in the third quarter as RIM and Apple Inc. lost share, according to research firm Gartner Inc.
“Especially if you’re reducing budgets, you can’t afford a compliance breach where you could actually be fined,” Lessard said. “We want to help these organizations not get fined or sued.”