AN IRISH-FOUNDED CYBERSECURITY firm has been bought by a venture capital firm established by the billionaire owner of American football team Miami Dolphins.
Through the sports and entertainment investment vehicle, RSE Ventures, real estate magnate Stephen M Ross has acquired Oxford Solutions for a reported $30 million.
Ross is chairman and founder of real estate firm Related Companies. He is famous for developing New York’s Time Warner Center.
His multibillion-dollar Hudson Yards development opened its first building in May 2016. The project is expected to be completed by 2024 and is tipped to become the largest private real estate development in US history with 18 million sq ft of commercial and residential space.
Following the acquisition by RSE Ventures, Oxford Solutions will be rebranded Skout Secure Intelligence.
Headquartered in New York City, the company was co-founded in 2013 by Laois native Aidan Kehoe. It provides cybersecurity services to small- and mid-sized companies.
It claims to have more than 800 clients, including Denis O’Brien’s mobile phone network Digicel and Fortune 500 bookseller Barnes & Noble.
The acquisition of Skout is a change of gear for RSE Ventures, which usually invests in sports franchises like the International Champions Cup, an annual exhibition of European soccer.
According to Skout boss Aidan Kehoe, there is a big opportunity to provide cybersecurity to the SME sector and compared it to healthcare: “We all need access to it.”
Skout plans to invest in technology that promises to make cybersecurity products “accessible and easy to use” for smaller businesses. It’s betting on automation, machine learning, voice recognition and other such developments.
Commenting on the sale, RSE Ventures co-founder Matt Higgins said the outfit was attracted to Skout because of a growing demand from small- and mid-sized business owners looking for “understandable” cybersecurity that “addresses the severe lack of human engagement in the industry”.
“We are hearing a consistent message from our portfolio; there is a gap in the marketplace for a company that serves the needs of small to mid-sized businesses,” he said.