Entrepreneur Cybersecurity: Vade raises 28 million after legal disputes

Cybersecurity: Vade raises 28 million after legal disputes

Touched but not sunk. After months that are “downright sporty”, according to its founder, Georges Lotigierthe cybersecurity specialist Vade (formerly Vade Secure) has completed a funding round of 28 million euros with the investment funds Tikehau Ace Capital, Bpifrance and Auriga Partners.

“This is a positive sign for the dynamics of society,” said Gérôme Billois, partner in cybersecurity and digital trust at Wavestone. “Vade remains a cutting-edge technological player that sells its products internationally,” he continues.

This funding comes as the company has experienced legal issues. The beginning of trouble began in 2019. On the rise, Vade, a member of the Next40, announced a fundraising of 70 million euros led by the General Catalyst fund: a record amount for a French cybersecurity start-up.

But the joy was short-lived. “The deal was signed, but the amount was not paid,” comments the boss of Vade. At the same time, Proofpoint, Vade’s main competitor in the United States, sued him. The reason for his anger? The recruitment in 2017 of Olivier Lemarié, former CTO of Cloudmark, a subsidiary of Proofpoint.

Legal disputes

In the summer of 2021, Vade was found guilty by a US court of “deliberately and maliciously misappropriating more than a dozen trade secrets and infringing copyrights belonging to Proofpoint and its subsidiary Cloudmark”. .

The French company, which has always maintained its innocence, was fined $13.5 million in compensatory damages. “A crushing blow”, admits Georges Lotigier, who attended the hearings for four weeks and did not expect such a verdict.

Appeals are still possible and Vade has not yet had to pay the fine in question. But this sum, substantial for a start-up, was provisioned as a precaution. In addition, the company had to pay lawyer’s fees higher than the fine imposed on it – Vade does not communicate on the exact amount. The fundraising of 70 million finally fell through in the midst of a health crisis. General Catalyst was asking for another postponement to close the process, which Vade refused.

So many inconveniences for a company that has made a name for itself with its solution for securing e-mail boxes. Vade protects more than a billion in the world and has a portfolio of prestigious clients, particularly among telecom players (Softbank, Orange, Comcast, BT, etc.).

Profitable start-up

Despite everything, the boss of Vade relativizes these misadventures. “Each year, for three years, we have achieved greater growth than the previous year,” he says, without giving further details. Failing to increase its capital, the young shoot continued to land contracts, particularly in Japan, and was “more economical”, indicates Georges Lotigier. “We have a cost of acquiring our customers almost twice as low as that of our competitors”, he cites as an example.

The company, which has 200 employees, claims to be “very profitable” and ready to go back on the offensive by signing a new, more substantial round of funding in the coming months. “We have this procedure with Proofpoint and we want everything to be cleaned up before accelerating”, specifies the boss. Like other young French shoots, however, Vade will have to rely on a cooling venture capital market.

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