OpenDNS, a hybrid cloud security firm, lands $35M in Series C funding

Internet security and DNS services company OpenDNS pulled in $35 million in Series C funding, taking the San Francisco firm to a grand total of $53 million since its 2006 inception.

With this influx of cash, CEO David Ulevitch said that the company will be going on a hiring spree as it hunts for new engineers, security researchers, and sales and marketing staff to add to its current count of 162 employees.

In 2012, the San Francisco-based company started to morph from simply being a domain name service provider into a hybrid firm that also deals with security issues in the cloud. It is this symbiotic nature between OpenDNS’s domain name service and its security work that drives the company, Ulevitch said.

Starting out as a consumer-oriented firm focussed on DNS servers—which allow internet domain names to be found and converted into IP addresses so people can navigate the web—OpenDNS amassed a networking infrastructure that now includes thousands of servers along with 22 data centers; ten in North America, nine in Europe, and the rest scattered across Asia.

With the capabilities to gather large quantities of networking data, Ulevitch said, the company made the jump to enterprise security as it realized that all of the data could be analyzed and used to discover potential security threats that exist in the open web.

Now, OpenDNS has a team of data scientists who gather the networking information via Hadoop—storing billions of data points in a single cluster—and use the open source tools Storm and Kafka to analyze it. With the tools, Ulevitch said his data teams have built classification models that can look at traffic as it flows across the internet and build patterns to discover threats.

Picture of OpenDNS Team
Picture of OpenDNS Team

Preventing potential security threats rather than detecting them after the fact, Ulevitch said, is extremely important in today’s enterprise world in which workers can now access sensitive company information stored in Box or Dropbox from their phones instead of having to log into a virtual private network. With OpenDNS, a user who might be tricked into accessing a malicious website would instead be blocked from going, similar to a corporate firewall except expanding outside the office.

While Ulevitch said that his company doesn’t necessarily compete directly with big security companies like Symantec, whose scope and size dwarf OpenDNS, he did say that OpenDNS competes with the individual cloud deployment offerings that those companies offer, like Norton ConnectSafe.

The company claims Nvidia(S NVDA), BP, H&R Block, and Vanderbilt University as customers. 

Glynn Capital, Cisco Systems, Evolution Capital, Lumia Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Northgate Capital were new investors to this financing round along with previous backers Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Sutter Hill Ventures.