Cybersecurity company Tessian raises $42m led by Sequoia to protect enterprises from security threats caused by people

Cybersecurity company Tessian raises $42m led by Sequoia to protect enterprises from security threats caused by people

  • Sequoia is leading the Series B, with participation from Latitude and existing investors Balderton Capital and Accel
  • Tessian’s machine learning prevents spear phishing and misdirected emails (emails being sent to the wrong people)
  • Fast-growing company has hundreds of customers across Europe, North America and APAC

London, 27 February 2019

Tessian, the fast-growing security platform that is helping hundreds of enterprises around the world to radically reduce the chances of human security breaches, has raised $42m in a Series B funding round led by Sequoia to accelerate its expansion in the US and other global markets. Latitude and existing investors Balderton Capital and Accel are also participating. Matt Miller, Partner at Sequoia, will join the Tessian board.

Tessian’s technology uses machine learning to eliminate the huge security vulnerabilities surrounding enterprise email including spear phishing and misdirected emails. The platform analyzes historical email data in order to understand the context of human relationships and communication. By knowing what normal email activity looks like, it can automatically detect any anomalies that may imply a security threat.

Emails that look like security threats are flagged with warning notifications to employees, which alert them to the specific reason why something looks unusual. Security admins can also be notified in real-time when threats are detected and with information about what action the employee took when issued with the warning.

“We’ve entered the third era of enterprise cybersecurity. In the early days, network security sufficed. Then cloud apps and mobile devices proliferated, and we adopted endpoint protection. But in spite of these protections, data breaches are at an all-time high. The reason is humans. People are the most important decision makers in the enterprise and process extremely sensitive information on a daily basis, yet they’re more vulnerable than ever before. Tessian’s mission is to help organisations protect people processing data using technology that empowers, rather than restricts the way they work” explains Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian.

Matt Miller, Partner at Sequoia, said: “For years the security market has focused mostly on protecting critical machine driven points of vulnerability such as the network, the endpoint, the cloud or SaaS connection. To us this has always seemed somewhat flawed because the biggest asset and vulnerability to any enterprise is its people. We are enthusiastic to partner with Tessian because we believe in this team and its ability to leverage machine learning to help enterprises protect their people. Tessian’s human-centric approach is incredibly distinctive and is already resonating well with customers. We are excited to help them create this market focused on Human Layer Security.”

Tessian grew by more than 300% in 2018 and the company will use the funds raised to accelerate its global expansion, as well as to invest heavily in research and development to expand their product line in 2019.

Suranga Chandratillake, partner at Balderton Capital said: “Since we led the Series A in Tessian, it has been a pleasure to work with Tim, Ed, Tom and their team as they have continued to execute rapidly on their vision of Human Layer Security. Starting with misdirected emails, expanding to both weak and strong form spear-phishing and with plans for much more, we believe the company’s singular focus on protecting corporations, without limiting or restricting their employees, is powerful and sets the bar on enterprise security.”

Luciana Lixandru, partner at Accel, said: “Tessian’s traction over the last two years reflects their success in addressing a fundamental security risk that no company had properly addressed before – humans. The effectiveness of their technology was apparent when we invested at the seed stage, and we have no doubt that Tim, Ed and the rest of the Tessian team are poised for tremendous growth as they continue their product line and international expansion.”

Suzanne Ashman, partner at LocalGlobe, said: “The company’s significant growth between their Seed round, which we co-led with Accel in 2017 and their Series B led by Sequoia today, is testament to the technical talent of their team in London. We are excited to continue working with Tim, Ed and Tom to deliver their vision of Human Layer Security.”

The corporate world has seen a flurry of cyber attacks and breaches in recent years that have cost some household names millions of dollars to put right. One such spear phishing attack last year targeted FIFA, which led to 70 million documents being leaked to Der Spiegel magazine. France’s independent film group, Pathe, lost  €19.2 million when the CEO and finance director of its Dutch branch fell victim to a spear phishing scam.

There are also frequent examples of misdirected and unauthorised emails causing significant data leaks and financial damage. For example, last year insurance company Bupa was fined after an employee sent sensitive data of 547,000 customers to his personal email account to sell on the Dark Web.

Tessian was founded in 2013 by three Imperial College engineers who spent their early careers working for some of the world’s largest investment banks. Tessian has been rapidly adopted and celebrated by many of the UK’s leading enterprises and was awarded “Best AI/ML Provider” from Computing Technology Product Awards in 2018.

Tessian has a global customer base across the legal, financial, technology and healthcare sectors. Their clients include international law firms Clifford Chance and Dentons, financial institutions Schroders and Investec and FTSE 100 company Rightmove.

About Tessian: Tessian is building the world’s first Human Layer Security platform to fulfil our mission to keep the world’s most sensitive data and systems private and secure. Using stateful machine learning to analyze historical email data, Tessian’s Parallax Engine can predict for this user, at this point in time, does this email look like a security threat? Tessian protects leading enterprises across the financial, legal and technology sectors from being compromised by spear phishing, misdirected emails, unauthorized emails and other threats executed by humans.

About Sequoia:

From idea to IPO and beyond, the Sequoia team helps a small number of daring founders build legendary companies. We spur them to push the boundaries of what’s possible. In partnering with Sequoia, companies benefit from our unmatched network and the lessons we’ve learned over 45 years working with Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, John Morgridge, Jerry Yang, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jan Koum, Brian Chesky, Drew Houston, Adi Tatarko and Jack Dorsey, among many others. In aggregate, Sequoia-backed companies account for more than 20% of NASDAQ’s total value. We’re proud that their success also fuels great causes. The vast majority of money we invest is on behalf of non-profits and schools like the Ford Foundation, Mayo Clinic and MIT, which means that the returns generated from the incredible achievements of founders can make a massive difference.

Further Informations:

Image: Team Tessian (

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