Former Carnegie Mellon professor and vice president of research at Forrester leverages industry clout and cybersecurity expertise to head a new breed of venture capital fund
Rain Capital, a new venture fund headed by security technologist and female executive Dr. Chenxi Wang, launched with the aim of providing capital, strategy, critical resources and unique insights to early-stage cybersecurity companies in Silicon Valley. The venture capital firm initiated its launch by closing the first $10 million of its $20 million goal; the second $10 million closing is anticipated later this year.
“There has never been a more exciting time for cybersecurity,” said Wang, managing general partner of Rain Capital. “The awareness of cybersecurity is finally here; demand is heightened and the urgency is palpable. What makes us different is that we have deep and direct connections to technology founders. We have daily conversations with some of the best technical talents in the security industry and are proactively working with them to found companies. As a VC, we are as much on the ground floor as anyone, and in some cases, we are discovering entrepreneurs before they know they are entrepreneurs. Rain Capital sees itself as a ‘company builder’ rather than a pure investor.”
Another goal of the new VC firm is to promote women entrepreneurs. Wang, a long-time advocate of women in technology, has an operating partner, Amena Zhang, a VC with a strong track record of funding successful startups in Asia. The firm plans to boost funding to women-led companies by proactively seeking out the best female talent in the industry. “If you wait for pitches to come to you, you will not see a great number of women entrepreneurs. We are taking the proactive route. We are going out to find the best women entrepreneurs to lead companies,” said Wang.
While the VC’s primary focus will be on early-stage cybersecurity companies, Rain Capital will also participate in later-stage funding rounds if the company is of strategic interest.
Thus far the venture fund has invested in three emerging companies:
- Altitude Networks: Founded by the former CISO of Twitter and lead data scientist of Capital One, Altitude Networks is still in stealth.
- Capsule8: Capsule8 provides real-time, zero-day attack detection capable of scaling to massive production deployments. Capsule8 delivers continuous security across containerized, virtualized and bare metal systems — to detect and disrupt attacks as they happen.
- Claroty: The leading player in industrial control systems (ICS) security, Claroty protects ICS networks from cyberattacks; ensuring the safe and reliable operation of the world’s most critical infrastructures.
“We are impressed with the Rain team’s deep knowledge of the cybersecurity market and look forward to working with them in the next phase of our company’s journey,” noted Galina Antova, co-founder and chief business development officer at Claroty. “Claroty’s mission is to protect industrial control networks running the most critical infrastructures from cyberattack, and we are happy to have Rain support us in this important global undertaking.”
To help with investment decisions and better understand the market trends, Rain has assembled an impressive advisory board, which consists of some of the leading names in the cybersecurity industry:
- Renee Guttmann: Chief information security/IT executive/ board member of Fortune 50 companies, member of the board of directors of NETSHEILD Corp., advisory board member for Cydome Security and Security Advisory Alliance
- Jim Routh: CSO of Aetna, board chair of National Health ISAC
- Richard Seiersen: SVP, CISO, Lending Club
- Scott Howitt: SVP/CISO of MGM Resorts International, member of Retail ISAC board of directors, member of the Cyber Security Committee of the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security
- Jay Leek: Managing director at ClearSky Security, member of board of directors for Capsule8, BigID and Demisto
- Joe Horowitz: Managing general partner at Icon Venture, member of board of directors for Area 1 Security, National Venture Capital Association and Thanx
SVP and GM of Splunk security markets, Haiyan Song, said, “I have enjoyed collaborating with Chenxi and other women technology leaders in cyber security, The Rain Capital team’s unique focus and deep knowledge of the cybersecurity market enables a fresh approach to cyber investing. I’m excited to see what they will do to foster emergent technologies in the security space.”
Rain Capital also gathered a number of security industry veterans as venture partners. Long-term cybersecurity executives Jamie Lewis and Charisse Castagnoli have joined the team to lend their respective expertise. Lewis, founder of the Burton Group and former president of Gartner, will lead the firm’s market-research effort, while Castagnoli will provide legal advice to the firm.