Online consumer security platform ZenMate has closed a $3.2 million (€2.54m) Series A led by Holtzbrinck Ventures. The Berlin-based startup, whose first product was a Chrome browser extension, has also revealed plans for a release on Firefox, a month after introducing iOS and Android mobile apps.
The round marks a notable move for Holtzbrinck, which is better known for investing in larger e-commerce concerns such as Zalando, Delivery Hero and the Hitfox Group, as well as Wooga and Paymill. Holtzbrinck is joined in this latest ZenMate funding by Shortcut Ventures and T-Venture, as well as current investor Project A Ventures. Shortcut and T-Venture specifically can offer ZenMate strategic support on mobile thanks to their links with ePlus and Deutsche Telekom respectively.
ZenMate’s software encrypts and redirects your Internet connection via a presence in the cloud, which further encrypts and accelerates it. The company puts its popularity down to providing end users secure and encrypted access to any website, from anywhere, and it has been described as like a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with easy location switching. As a browser add-on, however, it doesn’t protect the whole computer.
The impressive initial growth came both in countries with restricted Internet access like China and Iran and in the US and Western Europe, where perhaps watching content on Hulu or BBC iPlayer or streaming Netflix was the most important factor.
But that’s not, however, ZenMate’s focus, as founder and CEO Simon Specka told Silicon Allee: “The primary aim of ZenMate is to provide security and privacy to our users. Net neutrality in regards to unblocking of blocked content is an important issue for us, which we continue to work on, but is not our primary focus.”
ZenMate will spend the new funding on product development, tech and team scaling, as well as increased customer support. The goal, Specka said, is to become the primary brand for online privacy and security-related products, for both end and business users.
He added: “Over the past 18 months we have focused on making ZenMate the best of its kind, and watched it grow to be a product that millions around the world have come to trust. With our new investment we hope to scale and grow our product family, to become the number one privacy solution of its kind.”
The launch of a Firefox add on – which the company says is the first worldwide VPN-like encryption service for the browser – comes as ZenMate has also announced it has reached 5 million registered users across 180 countries after just over a year, and just four months after it won Best Security/Privacy Startup at the Europas.
Barbod Namini, principal at Holtzbrinck said: “We saw an incredibly talented team in ZenMate, with deep technical knowledge and a crystal-clear product vision. Their already global reach and strong growth puts them on the right path to becoming a household name in internet security.”
Jürgen Kohr, senior vice president of the cybersecurity division of T-Systems, added: “I am impressed to see these data privacy technologies being developed in Germany. It’s important not only at a business level, but also for consumers.”