Jan 25, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Goldman Sachs leads $44M round in Bastille Networks

Illustration of a phone screen displaying a person peeking through blinds with binoculars.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Goldman Sachs is leading a new round of funding in Bastille Networks, a company that uses hardware sensors in offices to stop corporate and nation-state espionage.

Why it matters: The fresh funds can help Goldman raise awareness inside corporate America about an issue that's primarily been a priority inside the intelligence community.

Driving the news: The $44 million Series C round was led by Goldman Sachs' venture arm, per an announcement shared exclusively with Axios.

  • Bessemer Venture Partners also participated in the round.
  • Zartasha Chaudhry, vice president at Goldman, is also joining Bastille's board.

How it works: Bastille customers purchase "proprietary sensors" that the company says can be placed inside ceilings or under desktops or cubicles.

  • The sensors monitor devices in the area connected to wireless networks, and companies also subscribe to a service that lets them assess the activity the sensors pick up.
  • Theoretically, the technology could detect when one of those devices starts showing signs of compromise, such as high traffic and large volumes of data leaving a device.
  • These are typically signs that a malicious actor has remotely turned on the microphone of a compromised phone or that a phone charging cord that was left behind in an office is actually a secret recording device, CEO Chris Risley told Axios.

Reality check: Bastille's technology does not save any sensitive information about the users of the devices the company is monitoring — and it only shares details about a device when it is flagged for violating an internal policy.

  • "We don't record any identity associated with these devices in our system," Risley said. "We provide information to customers about the incidents, and then if they want to track that down, they'll do that."

Of note: Bastille will use much of the new funding to hire marketing and sales people who can help raise brand awareness, as well as invest in other outreach services like webinars.

  • Bastille has a heavy government client list and the company plans to focus on building out its roster of private sector customers.

The big picture: So far, many of Bastille's corporate customers are household names, Risley said.

  • While he declined to name specific customers, he did say the company's client list includes major cloud providers, high-tech companies, financial organizations and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Bastille also monitors roughly 5 million square-feet of the U.S. intelligence community's operations, Risely added.

Between the lines: Espionage is about more than just foreign spies leaving listening devices behind in an executives' office.

  • It's also about hedge funds that could be interested in hearing how a rival is interpreting the market or undetected spyware remotely installed on a politician's phone, Risley said.

What they're saying: "Historically, insider threat has been the disgruntled employee," Risley said. "But with spyware, it can now be the loyal employee with a compromised phone, or the loyal CEO with a compromised phone."

What's next: Risley is eyeing a potential build out of Bastille's data-sharing capabilities for customers interested in cross-referencing its wireless traffic data with information from other third-party vendors.

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