Haystax Technology, a McLean-based company that helps Super Bowl organizers and government agencies track security threats by analyzing millions of web-based data points, is embarking on a company-wide pivot towards helping organizations identify “insider threats;” employees who leak confidential information.
The company announced Thursday morning that it is getting $4 million from Kansas City businessman Gary Fish to help scale the new line of business.
Haystax is a unique conglomerate of technology companies that plays at the intersection of physical security, cybersecurity and information technology. The firm was founded in 2012 by uniting two analytics firms, FlexPoint Technology and Digital Sandbox, with backing from Chicago private equity firm Edgewater. In 2014, it bought government information technology contractor NetCentrics, helping it grow to more than $100 million in revenue.
“The whole idea with that is to acquire a couple of companies and create something where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” Haystax chief executive Bryan Ware said of the combination.
At the beginning of 2016, Ware started drawing up plans to transition his company towards corporate cybersecurity with a new focus on insider threats, de-emphasizing government and intelligence work.
Like many in D.C.’s government-centric technology community, Haystax will be selling private corporations a solution that was originally developed for the government.
After Wikileaks started publishing reams of classified information in 2010, Ware’s company started working on an organization-wide behavioral analytics service meant to track the risk that any given employee might leak confidential data. At its core was an algorithm meant to weigh “whether someone is becoming more trustworthy over time or less trustworthy over time” by triangulating different sources of electronically-obtained information.
The algorithm looks at whether employees pay their bills, scans public records like divorce proceedings and arrest warrants and collects background information such as whether the employee finished high school. It tracks badge data pinpointing when employees enter a building in the morning and when they leave, alongside different sorts of network and computer log-in data.
Ware says he has seen interest from large financial institutions worried about insider threats, and already sells analytical services to large corporations including National Australia Bank. But focusing on commercial work will be something of a new direction for Haystax.
The company‘s newest benefactor, Fish, is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and sold multiple companies.
Fish founded FishNet Security in 1996 when the security industry was still in its infancy, and sold it to private equity giant Blackstone in 2014. His latest project is a technology incubator he calls Fishtech Labs, which incubates cybersecurity companies out of offices in Kansas City, Mo. Fish uses Fishtech as a vehicle to invest his own money in technology companies across the U.S.
He says he wants to play a close advisory role in helping companies grow and find business. He says he plans to pick security companies whose technology platforms can work in tandem, allowing them to sell to the same customers when appropriate.
“We have a broad portfolio of customers that we can introduce these companies to,” Fish said. “They can graft off each other and introduce each other to their customers as well.’