Security

Lookout Mobile CEO: We want to be the ‘security layer for everything’

Image Credit: Meghan Kelly/VentureBeat

Break out the brats and beer: mobile security company Lookout Mobile just announced another huge distribution partnership with Deutsche Telekom — and received $55 million from the German telco and Peter Thiel.

So we talked to the company’s CEO as well as its chairman to find out more.

“It’s almost as much capital as we’ve raised to date,” said chief executive John Hering in an interview with VentureBeat. “Lookout’s grander vision is to be the security layer for everything.”

Lookout Mobile, which creates mobile security software for both Android and iOS, has been busy drumming up partnerships in the last year. It already has a major distribution deal with T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, and with French carrier Orange. It also recently announced a separate partnership with Samsung’s mobile security Knox product.

In both of its carrier partnerships, Lookout is shipped pre-loaded on most if not all the carrier’s Android phones. These partnerships represent a huge branding opportunity for Lookout and make automatic users out of huge carrier customer bases.

Deutsche Telekom alone had over 132.3 million mobile customers in 2012.

Lookout chairman and Greylock partner Joseph Anasnelli explained to VentureBeat that the partnerships have been “impressive” drivers of growth. Lookout currently has over 45 million users, over half of which are outside the U.S.

The round comes quickly after Lookout took on funding from Orange’s investment arm, Iris Capital, in December 2012. While the company didn’t announce the amount, it’s rumored to have been up to $20 million.

Lookout says the funding will be used for further international expansion and its latest focus: moving to the enterprise, where there’s actual money to be made.

“The consumer business is very predictable and growing steadily,” said Anasnelli, “They’re actually getting pulled into the enterprise. We put up the ‘Lookout for Business’ page on the website, and now we’re getting thousands of inquiries from people who want that product.”

But Anasnelli says even without the enterprise business, Lookout could “absolutely” survive financially on its own on the consumer business.

Lookout Mobile, more specifically, creates mobile security software that monitors your phone’s activities and can tell you if an app is malicious before you download it, if there is suspicious activity occurring on your phone, or if a link looks just a little too fishy to click on.

It also has a number of functional features such as a “find my iPhone” equivalent for Android, a “scream feature” that helps you find the phone by sound, and “Signal Flare,” which lets you know the phone’s exact location before its battery died.

You can definitely argue that Lookout has put a lot more time into its Android product. The company hasn’t quite figured out where it can provide the most value on iOS, but has built a fairly robust product around Android.

“It’s a super important platform for us,” said Hering. “The Android product has been under development for significantly longer, and, yes, the platforms are very different. Over the next year you’ll see those products really reach parity.”

However, no business comes without risks. Google recently announced that it will now let Android users remotely lock their phones from their Android Device Manager — a feature of Lookout’s. It’s a small feature compared to the much larger offering Lookout has, but it shows that Google really could swoop up mobile security under its own purview and run its competitors out of town.

“Google, Apple, any platform provider is going to have to invest in securing their ecosystem,” said Hering. “But, it’s hard for any one platform provider to have that context [we have with data across multiple platforms].”

“It’s so reminiscent of when Microsoft said they were going to add security to Windows,” said  Anasnelli. “People don’t want to give the fox the keys to the henhouse — people really want an unbiased third party.”

Greylock Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, and Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management also invested in the round alongside existing investors Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and Khosla Ventures.