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Cloud Security Goes Skyhigh

Aaref Hilaly

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Walk into any Starbucks during business hours and you are likely to find smartly-dressed people on their phones or iPads, reviewing documents in Dropbox, looking up accounts in Salesforce.com, or pounding out messages in Gmail. It’s the kind of everyday activity that makes people much more productive – but it also gives IT departments heartburn. That, in a nutshell, is why we are thrilled to partner with Skyhigh Networks.

Many of us at Sequoia Capital spend time with CIOs and their IT security teams. We find that most are supportive of the “bring-your-own-device-to-work” movement. They also want employees to take advantage of the latest cloud applications. At the same time, CIOs feel a duty to make sure that none of this puts their companies’ data at risk, which is no small task in a world full of professional hackers and state-sponsored theft of corporate secrets.

Let’s think again about those people working at Starbucks. They are not using a corporate device, or a corporate-owned application, or the corporate network. But the information they are accessing does belong to the company, and that creates a problem that did not exist until now. If one of those people – say, a sales person – were to download her company’s entire customer database from Salesforce.com immediately before quitting to join a competitor, IT would be none the wiser. If she were to upload a file with confidential information to a file-sharing service, IT would have no way to protect that data.

What’s a company to do?

That’s where Skyhigh comes in. In the space of little over a year, the Skyhigh team has developed a service that skillfully blends analytics with security. It gives IT the visibility and selective controls it needs to provide security in a way that’s invisible to the user. There’s no app to install on personal devices, and no limits on what users can do.

As more and more applications move to the cloud, we see every company needing something like Skyhigh to help IT secure corporate information. But it’s not just the market opportunity that attracted us to the company. First and foremost, it’s the team.

Founder and CEO Rajiv Gupta, a PhD from CalTech in computer science, has that rare blend of technical depth and strong commercial instincts, married with a burning desire to build a world changing company. He’s a man who exudes urgency, inspires trust and, as we learned from the company’s T-shirts, loves Pink Floyd.

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His co-founders, Sekhar Sarukkai and Kaushik Narayan, match his passion for building great technology and a strong company culture. Concurrent with our investment, Kamal Shah, formerly an Entrepreneur-in-Action at Sequoia Capital and advisor to Dropbox, has joined to head up products and marketing, making a strong leadership team even stronger.

It’s rare to see an enterprise company that, within its first year of existence, can release a product, sign some top tier customers, and generate revenue – all on a modest amount of startup capital. Yet that’s exactly what Skyhigh has done, largely because it addresses a huge problem with meaningfully differentiated technology.

We could not be happier to partner with Rajiv and team. It’s also a pleasure to again be in business with Asheem Chandna and our friends at Greylock, who were already investors.

Needless to say, our expectations for the company are sky high.

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