tCell: Security for the Application Generation

Menlo Ventures is excited to be leading an $9.4m series A financing in tCell, a next-generation application security company founded by Michael Feiertag, previously head of product at Okta, and Boris Chen, a formerly VP of Engineering at Splunk.

tCell was originally a seed investment for Menlo. We are excited to be doubling down for the A and officially joining the board with the founders and Steve Mullaney, previously CEO of Nicira Networks. Michael and Boris have been terrific to work with, and we believe they have what it takes to build the next big company in security.

Michael and Boris originally came to us a year ago with a thesis that application security had to be re-built from the ground up with an architecture suited to “DevOps” pace and modern application environments. In this “new” world, applications ran in the public cloud, were subject to daily, if not hourly code releases, and interacted with a slew of other applications, microservices, APIs, and 3rd party libraries. Security operations had little visibility or control over where their applications ran or what they interacted with, and existing security solutions, like web app firewalls, provided insufficient protection.

To solve these problems, the founders believed that the “core” of security in modern environments would have to be built into the application itself. If executed correctly, an application-centric approach could have implications far beyond “traditional” application security tools, taking budget from infrastructure security providers and ultimately changing the focal point of security in most organizations.

Their proposed solution involved an architecture where agents, deployed within applications, would work in tandem with a cloud service to provide “immunity” to apps, wherever they were being run. The name of the company came from this idea of agents working internally, like t-cells, as the core of the immune system.

Internally, we analogize tCell tech to New Relic or AppDynamics tech, two companies that have become very successful helping DevOps teams manage their apps in the cloud era.  Both New Relic and AppDynamics disrupted APM with easy to deploy, lightweight agents that feed application data to cloud based management services. In doing so, they became defacto tools for DevOps.

Similar to DevOps, we are seeing signs of the rise of “SecOps” or “Appsec” within organizations: teams devoted specifically to application security. The function bridges the fast paced tempo of development teams with the demands of traditional security oversight. And like DevOps, the function needs to be empowered with its own platform and tools. tCell is ideally positioned to fill this role, and in doing so, define a new and important market within security. And in time, it could be much more.

With a series A in the tank, tCell is now embarking on the second leg of its journey –  building out a go to market team and showing the world what it can do. Mark and I are thrilled to be part of the process.