Andreessen Doubles Down on Security Firm Tanium

Ben Horowitz’s Andreessen Horowitz doubled the valuation of its security startup Tanium
Tobias Hase/European Pressphoto Agency

Venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is doubling down on one of its biggest bets.

The benefactor isn’t a buzzy new app, but a nerdy computer-security company called Tanium that makes it easier for corporate tech departments to see what software is running on employees’ computers. Customers include large banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase .

Andreessen Horowitz, which invested $90 million in Tanium last year, is putting in another $52 million, a person familiar with the transaction said. At the time, it was Andreessen Horowitz’s second biggest single bet on a tech startup. The firm is the only outside investor in Tanium.

The new investment values Tanium at $1.75 billion, the person familiar with the matter said, nearly twice the $900 million at which Andreessen valued the company last year.

The big investment shows that some venture firms see money to be made in figuring out how to keep bad guys out of corporate networks.

Tanium seeks to fill an interesting niche in computer security. These days, most post-mortems on a data breach include some mention of how the victim company did not know which machines on its network had up-to-date software and which machines had software with security flaws.

That seems like a simple task, but it can consume a lot of time and processing power.

Tanium seeks to solve this problem by changing how computers talk to each other on a network. Instead of all reporting to a central hub, like spokes, they talk to each other in a chain.

Tanium says this set-up allows for faster queries, meaning a company can more quickly figure out which machines have a certain piece of malicious code or which ones are running outdated versions of Windows.

The company’s software also lets customers push out updates to individual computers.

It’s not cheap – costs frequently run into the millions of dollars annually. In a press release the company boasted that transactions over $5 million are up three-fold from last year.

In an interview, Orion Hindawi, Tanium’s chief officer, said the money was needed as the company launches an international expansion effort. Tanium says it ended 2014 cash-flow positive with $100 million in the bank. Hindawi said the funds give the company a cushion if there is a shift in security spending.

The company says half of the 10 largest U.S. banks use its software. That list includes J.P. Morgan, which has been on a security spending binge since it was hacked last summer, a person familiar with the matter said.