Ballistic Ventures formally announced its $300 million debut fund Tuesday.
The firm, which launched last year, is headed by Ted Schlein, formerly of Kleiner-Perkins, who is also on the board of trustees of the non-profit national security venture capital group In-Q-Tel and the board of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee. Kevin Mandia, the titular Mandia of Mandiant, serves as a strategic partner. Other partners include AT&T Cybersecurity veterans Barmak Meftah and Roger Thorton, Oakley Networks and Shape Security founder Derek Smith and Lightspeed Partners cofounder Jake Seid.
"A lot of folks might not know it, but Ted had actually co-founded a company while he was at Kleiner-Perkins," Thorton told SC Media. "That was the company that he and I founded together to buy software. And so we can say all of our partners are founders."
"Founders backing founders" will be a major selling point of the fund, and what the partners hope will make it stand out. They advertise direct experience as cybersecurity vendors solving the problems vendors face.
But the main gap that Ballistic hopes to fill in the venture market is the relative lack of cybersecurity-focused funds.
"The trends and the themes in cybersecurity change probably more rapidly than any other area in tech that we've seen — as a result of the ever-expanding attack surface, but more importantly, as a result of the adversary constantly innovating," said Meftah. "The pace of innovation is really fast. So if you're not at the forefront of cyber, if you don't have a whole team of cyber experts that are focused on it, it's really easy to miss the trends on an ongoing basis."
"It's an area in tech that we argued having specialization and skills are going to be really important," he added."
Ballistic has already made four investments from the fund, backing early stage vendors Concentric AI, Nudge Security, Pangea and Veza.
Thorton and Meftah said that the unifying theme in their investments so far have been strong, experienced teams.
"Teams are really the only known entity in the early stages of the company. Everything else, you know, we have to figure out as we go along," Meftah said.