A Q&A with PrivateCore co-founder and CEO Oded Horovitz. The Menlo Park–based company was founded in 2011 and earlier this month raised $2.25 million in Seed funding.
SUB: Please describe what PrivateCore is, and the value proposition you bring to online security.
Horovitz: PrivateCore is an early-stage startup developing a private computing platform. This platform allows users to safely use cloud computing resources without exposing sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, secret keys, or personal information.
PrivateCore’s software eliminates privacy concerns associated with running virtual machines on physically insecure hosts. With our product, users do not need to trust the physical security controls of service providers and can reduce the cost of their own physical security controls.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Horovitz: Our target users are individuals or organizations who are processing sensitive data, either on-premise or in the cloud. Anybody currently investing in their own physical security controls or relying on third parties for security could benefit by using our product.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Horovitz: PrivateCore was founded in late 2011 while I was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Foundation Capital. Early on, I developed some of the core technology, then attracted Carl Waldspurger as an advisor and Stephen Weis as a co-founder. We then signed up early trial users, continued developing the product, and closed a Seed funding round with Foundation Capital.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for PrivateCore? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Horovitz: With the status quo, whoever physically controls a server ultimately controls any data processed on that server. There is no privacy when running on a server you don’t physically control, for example when hosting a virtual machine in the cloud.
The inspiration behind PrivateCore is to provide a private computing environment to users processing data on machines that they do not physically control. An analogous technology is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs allow you to safely use someone else’s physical communication infrastructure without compromising your privacy. If you didn’t use a VPN, an eavesdropper could listen in to your communications by physically tapping the lines. It would not be practical to guard every inch of the communications network against physical attacks.
Similarly, PrivateCore allows you to safely use someone else’s physical computation infrastructure without compromising your privacy. If you don’t use PrivateCore, attackers can access your computation state by physically compromising the server. With an explosion in cloud server growth, it’s becoming impractical to guard every component of a computation infrastructure against physical attacks.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Horovitz: We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with today’s technology, so our biggest challenges so far have been technical in nature. We have needed to solve hard problems and invent new technology to overcome some of the obstacles we’ve encountered.
SUB: You recently raised $2.25 million in Seed funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Horovitz: We are planning to use the funding to build a top-notch development team. We’ll be recruiting excellent virtualization, operating systems and security talent. If you fit the bill, we’re hiring.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Horovitz: We do not have any immediate plans to raise more outside funding.
SUB: What are your goals for PrivateCore over the next year or so?
Horovitz: We will soon be releasing an evaluation version to be tested by several early trial users, including large financial institutions and a non-governmental organization. As that progresses, we’re very excited to grow our team and develop the next version of our product for a wider beta release.
PrivateCore – www.privatecore.com