Led by a former employee of Google’s Chronicle and Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), LimaCharlie has set its sights on providing security professionals with the infrastructure they need to deliver custom cybersecurity strategies.
The Vancouver and Mountain View, California-based software startup has closed $7 million CAD ($5.45 million USD) in seed financing, led by San Francisco’s Susa Ventures, to bring “an engineering approach to cybersecurity” through its “security-infrastructure-as-a-service” model.
“I used to joke that we had gotten where we were without really trying to sell, and that now we’re going to start trying.”
LimaCharlie provides security engineering teams (at companies like Carta and Snap) with the tools and infrastructure to build and run their own security postures.
To date, LimaCharlie’s growth has been achieved via word-of-mouth. Armed with fresh capital, the company has begun to ramp up its go-to-market efforts with the addition of its first sales and marketing employees.
“I used to joke that we had gotten where we were without really trying to sell, and that now we’re going to start trying,” LimaCharlie co-founder and CEO Maxime Lamothe-Brassard told BetaKit in an interview. Prior to launching LimaCharlie, Lamothe-Brassard spent time working for Google’s security operations team, Chronicle, and CSE, the federal agency that provides information technology security and foreign signals intelligence.
LimaCharlie offers cybersecurity tools and infrastructure that can be used to develop and manage security operations at scale, covering a variety of use cases from log aggregation, detection, automation and response, to file and integrity monitoring, and Yara scanning.
According to Lamothe-Brassard, LimaCharlie takes a transparent, self-serve, flexible, and API-focused approach that he claims is unique within the cybersecurity industry, but familiar to people with an engineering background.
LimaCharlie’s all-equity seed financing closed a couple of weeks ago, and saw participation from Xerox Ventures, New York-based CoFound Partners, San Francisco’s Long Journey Ventures, Arlington, Virginia-based Sands Capital and StoneMill Ventures, as well as existing investor, New York’s Lytical Ventures.
Lytical Ventures previously backed LimaCharlie’s unpriced $500,000 USD September 2020 seed round, which the company retroactively classified as a pre-seed “in order to better align with common industry expectations.” According to LimaCharlie, the startup’s valuation has roughly octupled since then.
The startup’s latest financing brings LimaCharlie’s total funding to $8.1 million CAD, and valuation to $30.7 million CAD.
“We’ve raised this funding to really accelerate the type of growth that we had. We have very significant revenue, significant customers, like Carta and Snapchat … but so far, we have been 100 percent inbound,” said Lamothe-Brassard. “Now, we want to go on the offensive.”
Lamothe-Brassard said LimaCharlie aims to “bring maturity” to the cybersecurity industry.
“As a whole, the IT space is realizing security is important and wants to leverage this in a structured way, whereas historically, security was this very arcane practice … where you would buy a product because only the vendor knew the secret sauce,” he said.
Now, Lamothe-Brassard said there are more security professionals that “really know what they’re doing” and want to implement specific security practices at their companies, including across different teams, and have governance over them. LimaCharlie aims to meet that need.
LimaCharlie was founded in 2018 by Lamothe-Brassard and Chief Creative Officer Christopher Luft—a pair of University of Victoria computer science grads who joined forces with co-founder and Head of Research Gio Pecora, who brings a background in security and law enforcement, including with the Italian National Security Technology Center.
For his part, Luft has been working for early-stage startups for some time, including as an early employee at Vancouver-based cloud accounting firm Kashoo. While at Kashoo, he also founded Vancouver’s Startups Care, which has raised over $200,000 dollars and 12,000 lbs of food for people in need in and around the city through a relationship with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
After graduation, Lamothe-Brassard spent about six years working for the Canadian government at the CSE—or Canada’s equivalent to the American National Security Agency (NSA). Housed within the country’s Department of National Defense, the CSE is Canada’s cryptologic agency. While there, Lamothe-Brassard served in positions ranging from the development of cyber defense technologies, counter computer network exploitation, and counter intelligence.
Later in his career, Lamothe-Brassard joined Google, where he focused on the company’s internal security before pivoting to Google X, the company’s secretive R&D arm. While there, he worked for about two years as an early employee and senior software engineer at what eventually became Chronicle—an Alphabet-owned enterprise cybersecurity company that is now part of Google Cloud.
Ultimately, Lamothe-Brassard wanted to launch his own venture and founded LimaCharlie in California after leaving Google. Although it is officially an American firm with United States-based investors, seven of LimaCharlie’s nine employees currently call Canada home, and the startup’s team is “centred” in Vancouver—owing largely to Luft’s network and past connections in the area, which LimaCharlie has leaned on during its early days.
According to Susa Ventures General Partner Leo Polovets, the cybersecurity industry today looks “very similar” to the information technology (IT) sector in 2002, with its “black box tools, heavyweight contracts, and low transparency.”
“LimaCharlie is bringing security tools and infrastructure into the 21st century, in the same way that Amazon modernized IT over the past decade,” argued Polovets. “LimaCharlie’s platform elegantly combines top-of-the-line security products with friendly APIs, easy configurability, usage-based pricing, and white box transparency.”
Over the next year, LimaCharlie plans to add 10 new employees. In addition to building out its go-to-market capabilities, LimaCharlie intends to expand its engineering team and invest in product development. In the short-term, this will involve increasing the accessibility of its current products, streamlining its onboarding and external data ingestion processes. Over the medium to longer-term, the company aims to look “at all aspects of cybersecurity.”
Feature image of Maxime Lamothe-Brassard and Christopher Luft, courtesy LimaCharlie.