Xage (pronounced Zage) is a startup working to keep critical infrastructure like oil and gas pipelines, water supplies and electrical grids up and running securely. Today, the company announced a $30 million Series B.
Piva led the round with participation from Momenta, Valor Equity Partners and OurCrowd, along with existing investors March Capital, City Light Capital, Saints Capital and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures. The startup said it has raised $54 million to date.
Xage uses a bunch of complex technology to help keep critical infrastructure safe. Industrial infrastructure tends to be older and relies on fairly brittle security. Xage was designed to be a modern layer on top of that, which the company refers to as a fabric, CEO Duncan Greatwood said.
"The fabric is a mesh of software nodes that overlays the operation to provide granular control of every digital interaction. It provides zero trust protection that spans operations, IT and the cloud, underpinning both cybersecurity and digital transformation," he said.
The solution uses digital ledger technology organized in nodes on a blockchain to limit the impact of an attack, so that getting control of one or two nodes would not compromise the entire network. But the company did not just jump on the blockchain bandwagon with the growing popularity of web3 in 2021. It has been using this technology as a way to control access since its earliest days.
"The distributed ledger is still an important part of our software stack. It's part of how we achieve this no single point of failure in the Xage fabric, which is so important for protecting these exposed operational situations," Greatwood told me.
Over the last year, he said that companies have begun to come around to a solution like Xage, driven by the increase in ransomware attacks and growing government regulations around critical infrastructure. This was also driven home by the attack last year on a Florida water supply.
Those factors, along with an increase in its partner network, fueled a big rise in interest in Xage, and that drove the need to seek additional funds to staff up. "Even with the right partners, which we have now, we still need staff to help support all of this rollout and the work that we're doing, both bringing the customers on and the deployments, as well," he said.
Today, the company has over 40 employees, a number that he said is increasing by the week. Greatwood expects to be close to 90 or more by the end of 2022. He said that from the earliest days, diversity and inclusion have been top of mind for the company. While it's easy to look at the obvious places like MIT and Stanford for new staff, he said the key is looking beyond that pool to find hidden gems.
"What we found is that we find superstars and people with superstar potential with much less obvious backgrounds from their resumes, and we kind of grow them and help them fulfill their potential. Very often, frankly, that's the key to finding the right recruits who come from all kinds of different diverse backgrounds and situations," he said.
The other key is creating a welcoming culture, and he said that he and his team work consciously on creating a cooperative, collaborative and welcoming workplace.
"We spend time with the team talking about how we work together, and that goes above and beyond just the task-oriented work of the day, making sure that everybody is included and supported as they develop at Xage. The first step is to recruit a diverse workforce, and the second step is to enable the diverse workforce to succeed," he said.
The company intends to take a hybrid approach to work as they enter 2022, with some people in the office and some fully or partially remote, depending on their needs, but he believes some work requires people sometimes being together in the same room to build software this complex.