Back when Stairwell emerged from stealth in 2020, the startup was shrouded in secrecy. Now with $20 million in Series A funding, its founder and CEO Mike Wiacek — who previously served as chief security officer at Chronicle, Google’s moonshot cybersecurity company — is ready to talk.
As well as raising $20 million, an investment round co-led by Sequoia Capital and Accel, Stairwell is launching Inception, a threat-hunting platform that aims to help organizations determine if they were compromised now or in the past. Unlike other threat-detection platforms, Inception takes an "inside out" approach to cybersecurity, which starts by looking inwards at a company’s data.
“This helps you study what's in your environment first before you start thinking about what's happening in the outside world,” Wiacek tells TechCrunch. “The beautiful thing about that approach is that's not information that outside parties, a.k.a. the bad guys, are privy to.”
This data, all of which is treated as suspicious, is continuously evaluated in light of new indicators and new threat intelligence. Stairwell claims this enables organizations to detect anomalies within just days, rather than the industry average of 280 days, as well as to “bootstrap” future detections.
“If you go and buy a threat intelligence feed from Vendor X, do you really think that someone who's spending hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars to conduct an offensive campaign isn't going to make sure that whatever they're using isn't in that field?,” said Wiacek. “They know what McAfee knows and they know other antivirus engines know, but they don't know what you know and that's a very powerful advantage that you have there.”
Stairwell’s $20 million in Series A funding, which comes less than 12 months after it secured $4.5 million in seed funding, will be used to further advance the Inception platform and to increase the startup’s headcount; the Palo Alto-based firm currently has a modest headcount of 21.
The Inception platform, which the startup claims finally enables enterprises to “outsmart the bad guys”, is launching in early release for a limited number of customers, with full general availability scheduled for 2022.
“I just wish we had a product to market when SolarWinds happened,” Wiacek added.