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Recorded Future Unveils $20M Threat-Intel Investment Fund

Christopher Ahlberg wants to “build a significant threat-intel company” and he isn’t shy about looking externally for technology innovation around data intelligence tools.

The Recorded Future co-founder and CEO this week unveiled The Intelligence Fund, an in-house initiative that sets aside $20 million to invest in seed-stage and Series A startups in the nascent threat-intelligence space.

Flush with cash from its own $780 million sale to private equity firm Insight Partners, Ahlberg says Recorded Future wants to make early bets on entrepreneurs taking new approaches to collecting and parsing data to feed into security intelligence tools.

“Without discounting our own creativity and ability to invent, we need to access those fringe things that might spew out data sets that are unique and useful,” Ahlberg said in an interview with SecurityWeek.

[ Previously: Insight Partners has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in threat-intelligence provider Recorded Future. The all-cash transaction values Recorded Future at more than $780 million ]

“There is an opportunity here to build a significant threat-intel company but we need to have access to the best data sets, the best ideas around turning that data into new applications.  We have to invest early in these ideas,” he said.

The fund, which is being run in-house by Recorded Future’s management team, has already invested in two startups -- SecurityTrails and Gemini Advisory.  Recorded Future eventually bought Gemini Advisory in a $52 million deal that provided access to financial services and payment processing markets.

“We are in a sweet spot to do small investments, in the $1 million to $2 million range,” Ahlberg said, noting that he’s open to joining venture capital funding rounds led by other investment groups.

“I want to be flexible.  If someone has a great idea on the edges that could be interesting for us, I want to be part of that conversation,” Ahlberg added. “We will do [investments] with a view to acquire or partner down the road. We’re not going to be strict about it. If it makes sense and fits our vision, we want to have a conversation.”

Together with co-founder Staffan Truvé, Ahlberg launched Recorded Future in 2009 with initial funding from Google and In-Q-Tel, building out an early-warning system for data found on the darkweb and morphing into a threat-intel data broker for a wide range of organizations.

“We know how to build intelligence companies. We know how to do data better than most,” Ahlberg declared, insisting that his network of connections “gives us an edge” to help new entrepreneurs.

Related: Recorded Future Acquired for $780M

Related: Recorded Future Adds Third-Party Risk to Threat Intel Platform  

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Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. Ryan is a veteran cybersecurity strategist who has built security engagement programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. He is a co-founder of Threatpost and the global SAS conference series. Ryan's past career as a security journalist included bylines at major technology publications including Ziff Davis eWEEK, CBS Interactive's ZDNet, PCMag and PC World. Ryan is a director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.