citybiz+ Gula Tech Backs New Zealand’s Sandfly Security

Ron Gula’s Gula Tech Adventures, Utah-based Sorenson Capital and New Zealand’s Alt Ventures have joined a seed funding round for New Zealand’s Sandfly Security, which focuses on protecting Linux systems powering the world’s infrastructure.

Sandfly — named after a “small, annoying, relentlessly-biting black fly indigenous to New Zealand” — was founded by Craig Rowland, who spent a couple of years leading naval operations for the Pentagon before turning an entrepreneur.

‘Rare Entrepreneur’

“Linux runs the internet — 95% of cloud workloads run on Linux,” said Rowland, who went to work for Cisco’s managed threat-response unit after the networking giant acquired his startup, Psionic Technologies. “Industrial apps in robotics, edge devices, networking gear, and most critical infrastructure run on Linux.”

Gula, who famously co-founded Columbia, Md.-based Tenable, called Rowland “one of the rare entrepreneurs” who repeatedly builds lasting companies that solve tough problems.

“The world relies on Linux, and we know how important it is to secure it — yet organizations don’t — leaving critical systems vulnerable,” said Gula. “The market is desperate for a solution that works reliably, is easy to deploy, and is effective with what it promises to do. That’s Sandfly Security,” he added.

Agent-based Approach

Rowland, whose previous startup helped Cisco reduce false alarms by up to 95%, pointed out that there are few good security tools available to protect Linux systems. This is because of the distributed nature of Linux infrastructure. Such an architecture ensures performance of critical-mission systems but also makes it particularly hard to secure. Rowland’s solution: so-called “agent-based” systems, eliminating “the biggest problem: loading an agent.”

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Gula is best known for cofounding Tenable, which attained a $3 billion value on listing in 2018. In 2020, the cyber industry titan was awarded the Northern Virginia Technology Council Cyber Investor of the Year award and the Baltimore Business Journal Power 10 CEO award.

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Early in his career, Gula developed Dragon, one of the first commercial network intrusion detection systems. During his stint in the US Air Force in the 1990s, he deployed network honeypots for the US Defense Department and served as a penetration tester for the National Security Agency.

Gula and his wife Cindy established Gula Tech Adventures in 2017, as a venture firm to exclusively fund cybersecurity startups. The firm, based in Columbia, Md., has invested more than $100 million in 50 portfolio companies and several nonprofits. Its recent portfolio investments include Start Left Security, Halcyon, Second Front Systems, North American Wave Engine Corp. and Cybrary.