With $175M in new funding, Island is positioning the browser at the center of enterprise security

With $175M in new funding, Island is positioning the browser at the center of enterprise security

Island, the enterprise browser company, might be the most valuable startup you’ve never heard of. The company, which puts the browser at the center of security, announced a $175 million Series D investment on Tuesday at a staggering $3 billion valuation. Island has now raised a total of $487 million.

That’s a ton of money, and it makes us wonder: What did the company do to warrant this kind of investment at this level of value? Doug Leone, a partner at Sequoia who invested in Island back in its A round, said he was drawn to the company’s founding team and unique value proposition.

“The two founders, one of them is a technical founder from Israel — Dan Amiga — and one who is a very senior security executive from the U.S. — Mike Fey — had a vision that if you could produce a browser based on Chromium that looked like a standard browser to user workers in a company, but was secure, it would prevent the bad guys from doing a lot of things,” Leone told TechCrunch.

He says that the end result is that you can reduce the overall cost of security by replacing things like VPNs, data loss prevention and mobile device management, all of which can be done right in the browser instead of buying separate tools. This in turn can reduce the overall cost of securing the network.

Island is defining a category with an enterprise browser, while allowing employees to work in a familiar environment and keeping them more secure, said Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“They’re using the security angle to change human computing interactions,” he said. “Think of the browser as your screen into a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ game, and based on all the data it captures, it can deliver contextually relevant content, actions and insights, but it does so while delivering enterprise-class security of data, processes and identity. ”

Fey admits that if he shows up at a company that has a proprietary browser, and they have 20,000 apps — which is probably possible in a Fortune 100 company — then they have to test all those apps against that browser. But the fact that Island is based on the Chromium standard means that IT can trust the browser without having to put everything through a lengthy testing process. “The world of browsers is standardized on Chromium. This idea was unlikely to become a reality before then,” Fey said.

While there is a value proposition and a standardized approach, Fey says it still takes some explaining to get executives to understand that by paying security-focused browsers, they can actually save money in the long run. “You have to explain where the ROI [return on investment] is coming from. What do I get? Where did it come from? And the ROI has to be very easy to understand and very reliable and large,” he said.

How big? Consider that he said one company saved $300 million a year by closing racks in a data center because they no longer needed nearly the same level of resources to run the same applications.

Fey says it’s not about replacing these tools, but the fact that taking advantage of standard browsers just makes it easier to implement things like web filtering or even virtual desktops. It sounds simple, but the company has 280 employees, of which 100 are engineers. He said a lot of engineering work had been done to make this happen.

Although he wouldn’t discuss specific revenue numbers, the company has about 200 customers and has grown steadily over the past few years. Leone refers to it as exponential growth.

Fey thinks that Island could become a large public company eventually. “We’re getting into good ARR at this point, meaningful ARR, and our margins are good,” he said. “So you know what we think is that we will make a strong IPO candidate one day, but not next year. One day.”

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