While consulting for venture capital firms in Silicon Valley over the past year, security expert Chenxi Wang regularly found herself the only woman at the meetings.
"Very rarely did they have a woman partner sitting at the table," says Wang, the former strategy officer at Twistlock and vice president of research at Forrester. "I felt that was a very strange thing. ... If you go to Google, Facebook ... there are a lot of women engineers. But in VC, it's very hard to find women."
Wang decided to channel her security expertise, as well as her interest in investing in early-stage startups, into creating her own VC firm, Rain Capital, which she launched today. "We are the first cyber investment firm with an all-female partner team," she says, noting that the firm's venture partners include both women and men.
So far Rain Capital has closed the first $10 million of its $20 million goal, with investments in Altitude Networks, a stealth-mode cloud security firm founded by the former CISO of Twitter and lead data scientist of Capital One; Capsule8, which provides security for containerized, virtual, and traditional systems; and ICS security vendor Claroty.
Wang – who is the managing general partner of Rain Capital – has teamed with VC expert Amena Zhang, who serves as operating partner. Zhang brings to Rain Capital her veteran experience as an investor in startups in Asia.
One of the firm's goals is to promote and support women and minority startups, Wang says. "We want to create a space for women and minority entrepreneurs to collaborate," she says. While she traditionally hasn't received many cybersecurity pitches from women, her firm is actively reaching out to them to pave the way for more diverse entrepreneur representationin the industry, Wang adds.
Rain Capital won't operate purely as a VC investment firm. It also plans to help build new startups to solve stubborn or new security problems. "We are hoping to seek out founding teams for interesting [security] problems and make companies with entrepreneurs," Wang explains. "If I see a [security] problem that really needs a different approach and can identify folks who will be really good at doing this, we'll ask them, 'How about [starting] a company?'"
Among the areas in which Rain Capital is interested in investing is security awareness and culture, Wang says, as well as new ways to solve fraud detection and other nagging security problems. Though the firm initially will invest in early-stage cybersecurity firms, it also might join in later-stage funding rounds as well.
Rain Capital's venture partners include Jamie Lewis, founder of the Burton Group and former president of Gartner, and Charisse Castagnoli, who is the general counsel of the new firm.
Its advisory board includes Renee Guttmann, chief information security/IT executive/board member of Fortune 50 companies and board member at NETSHEILD; Jim Routh, CSO of Aetna and board chair at National Health ISAC; Richard Seiersen, senior vice president and CISO at Lending Club; Scott Howitt, senior vice president and CISO at MGM Resorts International and a board member at the Retail ISAC; Jay Leek, managing director at ClearSky Security and board member at Capsule8, BigID, and Demisto; and Joe Horowitz, managing general partner at Icon Venture and board member at Area 1 Security, National Venture Capital Association, and Thanx.
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Why Cybercriminals Attack: A DARK READING VIRTUAL EVENT Wednesday, June 27. Industry experts will offer a range of information and insight on who the bad guys are – and why they might be targeting your enterprise. Go here for more information on this free event.