May 11, 2022 · 6m read

Announcing Our Series C

Ryan Noon 

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Technology, at its core, is supposed to be about solving problems. What makes many of our society’s most pernicious problems so hard, of course, is that technology is also their source. Nowhere is this more definitionally true than in cybersecurity.

When we first announced Material Security two years ago, we published Why Security Is Hard as a manifesto to explain our decision. Our goal was to start a software company whose mission would be to channel the same creativity that exists when pioneering a new technology into disarming the occasionally catastrophic side-effects of technological change itself. This gave us our motto: It takes at least as much creativity to make a technology safe as it does to invent it.

Our goal was to start a software company whose mission would be to channel the same creativity that exists when pioneering a new technology into disarming the occasionally catastrophic side-effects of technological change itself.

Spurred by the 2016 Election Hacks, we decided to focus our initial efforts on email. Email is the quintessential poster child of an indispensable and ubiquitous “old” technology and its shambolic evolution over the last 40 years had just brought democracy to its knees along with billions in financial losses and stolen data for countless ordinary people and businesses. Your email is your username online, your biggest vault of sensitive information, and your passport to the modern world and we noticed that it was the target, vector, and/or escalation point in almost every security incident (which are increasing in frequency and severity). Lastly, we bemoaned that our loved ones were forced to care about all of this (at their peril) instead of all the other problems and opportunities in their lives.

We also saw that email’s story is the broader story of the Internet: democratizing and decentralized (anyone can email anyone and nobody owns it), but innocently conceived and haphazardly maladapted to the level of trust placed in it by contemporary human civilization. Most importantly: we saw that we could make a difference by leveraging Microsoft and Google’s recent consolidation of email (and related applications) into cloud platforms with unintentionally powerful APIs alongside the widespread adoption of new authentication technologies. In a cybersecurity industry infamous for bullshit, chicanery, next-generationism, and fear-mongering, we saw an opening to build a strong and independent business dripping with ingenuity, authenticity, and fanatical customer support.

In a cybersecurity industry infamous for bullshit, chicanery, next-generationism, and fear-mongering, we saw an opening to build a strong and independent business dripping with ingenuity, authenticity, and fanatical customer support.

What Happened

So how did that go? Pretty well.

In the midst of a global pandemic we launched a completely new kind of product and saw wall-to-wall adoption by dozens and dozens of household names and some of the strongest security teams in the world. We’ve built our company from the ground up to collaborate closely with our customers (especially when they need it most), and in turn our business has been fueled by referrals and evangelism from the security community. When I go for a walk somewhere I usually see a half-dozen customer logos in various places and I feel so proud of our team and what it took to get here.

Today, however, marks another noteworthy milestone. We’re announcing $100M of new funding led by Trae Stephens at Founders Fund that values Material at $1.1B. Trae was an early believer in Material and most importantly has built companies of like-minded society-wide ambition. Joining him in this round are existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Elad Gil, as well as new individual investors drawn broadly from the economic and creative firmament of the United States. Along with their experience, this funding gives Material the resources to expand more internationally, further extend our core technology to new applications, and rise to the needs of our customers as an independent entity capable of weathering macroeconomic disruption.

This funding gives Material the resources to expand more internationally, further extend our core technology to new applications, and rise to the needs of our customers as an independent entity capable of weathering macroeconomic disruption.

Gratitude

Every great startup is a beautiful and productive conspiracy. A few founders quietly believe in the creative possibilities of their abject unemployment. The early customers see the potential of the technology and patiently help shape it while weathering its messy toddlerhood. The pioneer employees choose each other over sensible career progression and stability at a titanic trillion-dollar public tech company. Advisors and mentors teach the same lessons over and over again to teams addled by stress and the distant dream of a comfort zone.

As we’ve said before: the future is built by people and not capital. These people. This future. Nevertheless, on behalf of everyone at Material, what a great opportunity this is to repeat my undying gratitude for all of you.

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