Why We Invested in Harmonic Security
At Ten Eleven Ventures, we are always thrilled when we have the opportunity to invest in a repeat founder, and we are doubly delighted when that founder is one we have had the chance to work with before. Indeed, that is where we find ourselves today, with the exciting news of our second investment in founder Alastair Paterson and his co-founder, Bryan Woolgar-O’Neil, as they launch their new company, Harmonic Security. After Alastair sold his first company, Digital Shadows, last year, he noticed another significant problem in the world of cybersecurity was emerging (finding problems is something that great founders always seem to do). Alastair and Bryan noted that as employees adopted generative AI tools and Large Language Models (LLMs) to help them work faster and more efficiently, a new kind of data security problem was on the horizon.
How cybersecurity innovators can help provide trust and security into a rapidly deploying new technology front is a recurring investment opportunity for us here at 1011vc. With Harmonic, this front is now generative AI and LLMs – but virtually all new technologies go through an adoption curve that requires security to “cross the chasm” and reach beyond early adopters to the early and late majority. Another analogy we use to think about this dynamic is that security always wins the “best-supporting actor” to the newest “best actor” on the scene. So today, we see the best generative AI and LLMs applications winning the best actor headlines. But a security innovation will grab the supporting category quickly.
We see this analogy playing out dramatically in real life. Enterprises are on a new technological precipice, looking at generative AI’s and LLMs’ productivity enhancements. Employees, particularly early adopters, are excited to use the new AI-supported tools and want to benefit from the productivity enhancements they promise to bring to everyday tasks. They have nominated many “best actors” – ChatGPT, Jasper.ai, Lensa, and Otter.ai, to name a few.
Understandably, security professionals are concerned about the new risks these models may bring. There are many “unknown unknowns” about data usage, privacy concerns, and how feeding data into these new models may have adverse consequences. Some CISOs have blocked all usage of generative AI and LLM-based tooling, sacrificing the benefits in hopes of preventing serious harm, but it seems unlikely that security departments will be able to keep a “no usage allowed” policy around for long. And, as usage increases (AI’s next “second act” on the horizon), an avalanche of questions around the enterprise data story will continue around data flows, governance, data sovereignty, and privacy issues. Consider the privacy issues faced even with simple search engines – these concerns are even more exaggerated, given AI’s hunger for data sets.
So, at 1011vc, our job is to back the next “best-supporting actor” for this colossal category – and today, we’re excited to be nominating Harmonic for the slate. By providing complete visibility into AI app usage, identification of potential compliance, security or privacy violations, and necessary controls, Harmonic Security will be the supportive guide that enables more employees and enterprises to use their data safely when it comes to AI.
Finally, regarding the tricky art of growing a business, the partners at 1011vc were always consistently impressed by Alastair, Bryan, and their team as they built Digital Shadows. We admire how they built their threat intelligence product, developed their leadership team, and developed their corporate brand and reputation. We know that Alastair and Bryan will bring those same skills to building the product and team at Harmonic Security. We are thrilled to support them in their next endeavor and look forward to being behind the team that helps usher in safer data usage practices for Al.