Enterprise security startup Centrify just nabbed a $US42 million venture investment from Samsung Ventures and others, one day after Google announced it was buying its own Android security company, Divide.
Centrify makes enterprise security software that manages employee passwords. It also has a cloud service that does the same, competing with hot startups like Okta.
But Centrify’s tech also powers a key security function in Samsung’s Android phones and tablets, known as Knox.
Knox is a so-called “secure container” feature that lets you divide your device into two halves: one side for work controlled by IT and one side for your personal life, not controlled by IT. It was introduced in early 2013.
Knox is part of the “Samsung For Enterprises” (SAFE) program, which Samsung uses to persuade enterprises to buy fleets of Android devices for their employees. It’s a way to counter the perception that Android is less secure than Apple’s iOS by giving IT departments all sorts of control over devices.
Divide is also a hugely popular secure container app that Google bought for an undisclosed sum this week. Divide said the app would live on after the acquisition, but now that Google owns it, such a feature could wind up baked into the Android operating system itself.
That could eliminate the need for Knox and diminish one of Samsung’s big points of differentiation for its devices.
But with this investment, Samsung is clearly not ready to concede the “secure container” technology to Google, according to Injong Rhee, head of Samsung’s Knox business group, who said in a press release:
Samsung is investing in the enterprise and delivering to customers the best mobile solutions and Centrify is an integral partner for that offering.
There were two other interesting investors in Centrify’s latest round: a security company called Fortinet, which makes corporate firewalls, and Japan’s mobile phone company NTT DOCOMO.
Centrify CEO Tom Kemp wrote in a blog post that when he went to raise the round, money poured in.
We had planned to raise $US25-30 million to primarily expand internationally and also do some M&A, but we had such strong interest from investors that in the end we raised more than $US42 million.
Centrify has now raised $US94 million and has more than 5,000 customers, it says.
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