Symantec and Frost Data Capital To Fund Data Security Startups

Information security giant Symantec is joining with Frost Data Capital to provide seed funding for 10 new startups a year aimed at filling technology gaps that make corporations vulnerable to hacker attacks via connected devices and other means, the companies announced today.

But don’t expect to see scouts for Mountain View, CA-based Symantec or its new venture firm partner at your local tech incubator’s next demo day. The seed funding to be spread around by the partnership won’t go to any existing teams of young co-founders who are already funded.

Symantec and Frost Data Capital plan to form their own startups based on their own ideas, along with input from Symantec customers in a range of industries that all suffer new headaches related to data protection in the era of Web-based software, as well as connected phones, tablets, factories, medical devices, light bulbs, and cars.

Symantec, (NASDAQ: SYMC) a global enterprise that claims 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies as customers, decided to adopt a more agile innovation model in recent years, vice president of technology strategy Ken Schneider says. A new Symantec corporate development executive, Jeff Scheel, introduced the big company to Frost Data Capital, a hybrid venture firm and incubator focused on company formation.

The southern California-based venture firm works with strategic partners such as Symantec to identify the key “pain points” that affect many of that partner’s customers. By consulting with those customers about their critical needs, Frost Data develops ideas for viable, scaleable startup businesses, says general manager Miles Mahoney. The VC firm also lines up customers who will provide test beds for the startups’ new technology, and will share their data. Some customers may later become investors in the startup ventures.

Frost Capital’s strategic partners, which have been involved from the beginning in the formation of startups, later have the opportunity to acquire the young businesses, according to the VC firm’s website.

“We generate 100 percent of our deal flow from these large partnerships,” Frost Data managing partner and president John Vigouroux says.

Executive teams for the startups created will be drawn from a pipeline of experienced CEO’s and CTO’s, Schneider says. Under the partnership, the startups will draw on the expertise and resources of both Symantec and Frost Data.

While Symantec offers comprehensive data security services in general areas such as device certification and encrypted communication to the cloud, Schneider says new technologies are creating specific needs across many different industries, such as health care and networked factories. The proliferation of connected devices has created “an expansion of the threat surface,” Schneider says.

“That’s a huge opportunity to unleash innovation,” Schneider says.

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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