Clear raises $44.4 million round for fast-track airport security

Clear, the security company that pre-clears air travelers so they can skip airport lines, has raised $44.4 million in a new round of funding.

The New York company will use the money to expand its reach to more consumers and airports across the country. The round was led by new investor Spark Capital. Other investors include Syncom Venture Partners, and existing investors Lockheed Martin, GE Security, Baker Capital, Lehman Brothers, and Clear founder and CEO Steven Brill.

This is another investment showing that the security market, particularly one that combines both electronic and physical security measures, remains a healthy sector for venture deals. Here’s a list of other security start-ups.

Clear makes “fast lanes” at airport security lines where frequent flyers who have “fast passes” can skip the waiting lines because they’ve been pre-cleared. Clear members pay a fee of $128 and are pre-screened in a process where they must give the company fingerprint images, iris scans, and receive an identification card. The biometric features are scanned each time the passenger comes through.

Clear estimates that its lanes are 30 percent faster than regular security lanes. It is working on plans with the government to allow even faster passage by not requiring cardholders to remove their shoes, outer garments or laptops. The company is targeting the estimated 8 million fliers who take at least two plane trips a month.

Clear made news recently when a laptop was stolen at the San Francisco airport. The machine had the personal information of more than 30,000 job applicants. The laptop mysteriously reappeared in the same office where it was taken a week later. The company said that preliminary investigations showed that no unauthorized person gained access to any of the data stored on the laptop.

The company, which is operated by Verified Identity Pass, has 65 employees. The company outsources its airport security staff of 600 employees. To date, Clear has raised $116.4 million. Eighteen airports have Clear stations and there are 200,000 members.

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