Tailscale lands $100 million to ‘transform’ enterprise VPNs with mesh technology – TechCrunch

Zero Trust security is an emerging paradigm in enterprise computing. This means that no one is trusted by default inside or outside a network, and verification is required from anyone who tries to access network resources. This extra layer of protection has been shown to prevent data breaches, but surveys reveal that IT teams struggle to implement it in their organizations. According to a February report from security vendor Optiv Security – admittedly not a neutral third party – only 21% of enterprises have adopted zero trust as a “core model”. A separate Fortinet report published the same month found that more than 80% of enterprises believe that implementing a zero-trust strategy on a network would be difficult.

Avery Pennarun says the solution lies in Tailscale, a security network startup he co-founded with David Crashaw, David Carney and Brad Fitzpatrick. Pennarun does not claim that Tailscale, which today announced it has raised $100 million in a Series B funding round co-led by CRV and Insight Partners with participation from Accel, Heavybit and Uncork Capital in a valuation of over a billion dollars, is a cure-all. But he argues that Tailscale removes much of the overhead and complexity from the “long tail” business connectivity issues.

“Tailscale sits at the intersection between network infrastructure (connectivity) and security. Often the IT or DevOps team will adopt a connectivity tool and then run into interference from the security team who are concerned about the resulting risk. Or, a security team implements new protection policies that slow down the work of other teams,” Pennarun told TechCrunch in an email interview. “By linking the two, Tailscale provides an option that makes teams more productive, eliminating connectivity issues and complex network architecture, but also secure by default because every connection is always secure.”

Tailscale’s product is based on WireGuard, an open-source communications protocol and software that implements encrypted VPNs in enterprise environments. Designed by Jason A. Donenfeld, WireGuard aims to provide a better alternative to protocols like IPsec, which Pennarun says can be complex to set up and take a long time to negotiate reconnections.

Pennarun co-launched Tailscale in 2019 to commercialize the technology. Pennarun was previously a senior software engineer at Google, where he worked on Google Wallet functionality and some of the Google Fiber infrastructure. Crashaw and Fitzpatrick were also software engineers at Google, while Carney co-founded Format, an online portfolio platform for photographers.

“Every security team these days has a zero-trust networking initiative, but most teams don’t know exactly what that means,” Pennarun said. “The first step towards zero trust is to eliminate trust in the physical network, which means eliminating reliance on “perimeter defenses” like network-level firewalls. If you can’t trust the physical network, every connection between two devices must be encrypted. Zero Trust systems are generally very complex and fragile to deploy. Tailscale’s unique approach makes zero-trust deployments incremental and risk-free, so security teams can see the value immediately.

Tailscale can be installed on a server and used as a means of sharing software services or replacing an enterprise VPN like Cisco AnyConnect, OpenVPN, and Palo Alto Global Protect. Recently introduced, an AirDrop-like feature called Taildrop enables file transfer between network-connected devices.

Pennarun says that even if a company uses Tailscale to route public browser traffic through nodes such as Linux, Windows, macOS, and Android TV devices, only those devices see decrypted traffic or have a view of traffic that is theirs. sent. It is also mesh-based, which means Tailscale’s capacity increases with the number of nodes.

“Many development teams don’t use VPNs at all, instead opening up SSH ports and dashboards to the outside world and trying to lock them down with obscurity or simple blocklists based on IP addresses,” Pennarun said. . “By making connectivity easier and more secure, we enable small teams to build systems that scalewithout overhead scaling.

Tailscale is not disclosing its revenue figures today. But by other metrics, the company performed well against competition from ZeroTier and Cloudflare One. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of users on its free plan, which Tailscale recently launched, the startup claims to have paying government customers as well as private sector customers including Oxide Computing Company, Dusty Robotics and VersaBank.

Part of the growth driver is the growing appetite for cybersecurity startups. Venture capital funding for cybersecurity companies in 2021 reached nearly $30 billion, more than double the previous year’s total, according to Momentum Cyber.

“Security and ease of use don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts,” CRV general partner Reid Christian said in a statement. “The pandemic has abruptly driven the shift to work from anywhere for businesses of all sizes, and they’ve been faced with that decision between allowing their employees access and trying to manage their sprawling, insecure networks. . Tailscale is focused on user experience and security. »

Pennarun says money from the latest funding round will be spent on building more partnerships and integrations while tripling the size of the 30-person workforce. The total capital of Tailscale, based in Toronto, Canada, is $115 million.

“The money will be used to continue doing what we’ve been doing: a focus on highly secure, high-quality network infrastructure that ‘just works’, with surprisingly tight integration and ease of use. By raising funds now, we ensure that we can ride out future market fluctuations. This removes the pressure to drive short-term growth by sacrificing product quality and organic community building,” Pennarun added. “[We’ll be] develop our marketing and sales teams, but above all invest in the creation of additional functionalities for the products. In particular, we want to focus on adjacent “tail-wide” issues that suck the joy out of day-to-day development tasks. »

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