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Charleston-based PhishLabs raises $20.5 million, buys competing cybersecurity startup

PhishLabs office

The Charleston cybersecurity startup PhishLabs is headquartered in the Pacific Box and Crate development on King Street Extension. File/Thad Moore/Staff

Charleston-based PhishLabs has raised just over $20 million to buy a competing cybersecurity firm, making a significant bet on its ability to snap up more of the market for spotting and shutting down digital attacks.

The $20.5 million investment is the largest received by a Lowcountry technology firm in three years, and it bolsters PhishLabs’ status as one of the region’s largest startups.

With the acquisition of the Canadian firm BrandProtect, it will add an outpost in Toronto, but its headquarters will stay on Charleston’s upper peninsula.

The two firms already work in similar arenas. PhishLabs has primarily focused on identifying — and shutting down — so-called phishing attacks, the practice of spoofing reputable institutions to dupe people into handing over sensitive information. It does that work for companies like banks and tech firms who have their websites mimicked.

BrandProtect does similar work, but it offers other services, too, like protecting companies’ brands and their intellectual property. Its chief executive, Roberto Drassinower, called the companies “very complementary from a market perspective.”

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“Bringing our two companies together is a win for our clients, employees, and the security industry as a whole,” PhishLabs chief executive Tony Prince said in a statement. “With our combined visibility and mitigation capabilities, we can detect and stop attacks across a comprehensive range of threat vectors."

The combination was financed by LLR Partners, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm, with contributions from the Charleston-based venture capital firm Alerion Ventures. Alerion invested in PhishLabs last year. The company had previously collected about $11 million in investments.

LLR partner David Steines said the companies could offer “unique and compelling value” by combining.

PhishLabs says it now has more than 200 employees, including BrandProtect's staff, and Prince will stay on as CEO of the combined company. BrandProtect's Drassinower will become an adviser, and there haven't been any layoffs.

The company declined to disclose the finances of the new company, but it says BrandProtect is profitable.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.

Thad Moore is a reporter on The Post and Courier’s Watchdog and Public Service team, a native of Columbia and a graduate of the University of South Carolina. His career at the newspaper started on the business desk in 2016.

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