Plano Information Security Startup Raises New Funds Amid Growing Global Threats

In about 24 months, Plano-based Tentacle has grown from an "idea sketched out on a PowerPoint deck to a valuable enterprise application that's able to solve real problems," says founder and CEO Matt Combs. 

Now a new investment by Providence Strategic Growth will help the cybersecurity startup expand both its functionality and market position, after a 105% surge in ransomware attacks and a 350% increase in social engineering attacks in 2021.

After going live with its information security technology a year ago, a Plano-based startup is taking on fresh funding.

Tentacle, which focuses on helping organizations assess their security and manage their data, announced closing a new investment by Providence Strategic Growth, a growth equity firm and longtime backer of the company’s founder. The investment comes as Tentacle makes updates to its platform amid growing traction and increased cybersecurity risks for businesses.

“In the past 24 months, we’ve taken Tentacle from an idea sketched out on a PowerPoint deck to a valuable enterprise application that is able to solve real problems—and in my belief—has the opportunity to substantially improve the way in which businesses approach security of their operations, from both the inside and out,” said Matt Combs, Tentacle founder and CEO, in a statement.

Matthew Combs, founder and CEO of Tentacle [Photo: Tentacle]

Tackling rising cyber threats

Tentacle’s technology allows organizations to manage their own information security program while also managing shared projects from third-party vendors. The company says that allows it to streamline the security assessment process for multiple parties, giving assessors the ability to request and receive information from third parties while letting assessment requests and responses to be centralized and reducing redundancy.

Tentacle was founded in 2020 and launched its product in 2021, a year that saw a 105% surge in ransomware cyberattacks, according to Fortune. In that same year, businesses with less than 100 employees were likely to experience a 350% increase in social engineering attacks, Forbes reported.

To keep up with the hackers, Tentacle made a number of improvements to its technology, including streamlined project summary sharing, faster risk assessments, and integrating HIPAA frameworks for use in the health care industry.

“Although I’m enthusiastic about the growth we’ve had over the past 12 months, what really motivates me is how our thesis continues to apply—daily—as we speak with the enterprise subscribers on our platform,” Combs said. “The problem is real. Companies overwhelmingly acknowledge that a solution is overdue. Now, it’s about working with our subscribers to finally change the existing ways in which the industry conducts InfoSec assessments.”

Building a company with purpose

Tentacle didn’t announce specifics of the funding round. However, it adds to the $5 million the company launched with that included backing from Providence, as well as from Combs, per the Dallas Business Journal. The software-focused growth arm of Providence Equity Partners was the majority shareholder of Combs’ most recent venture, YourCause, a charitable-giving SaaS platform that was sold public firm Blackbaud for around $157 million in early 2019.

Tentacle was formed the following year to address the inefficiencies Combs saw within YourCauses’ own processes. In addition to addressing those issues, Combs said he wanted to develop a “purpose-driven” business with Tentacle. To do so, the company has an “equality plan” designed to remove bias in the hiring process and increase gender and racial equity in pay and leadership roles. In an effort to expand its talent pool, the company works remotely with a four-day week.

Client base of 225+ organizations

Since its launch, Tentacle says it has grown its client base to more than 225 organizations operating in numerous verticals across the globe. Combs wrote in a recent blog post that the company has seen more organizations sign up each quarter than it did the previous one—a trajectory he expects to continue. With the new funding, the company says it plans to expand its functionality and market position.

“Now with a year in having our product live in the market, we seem to be settling into a groove and are truly making it happen,” Combs wrote in the blog post. “We’ve gained a very clear understanding of the growth path of our product and have solidified our roadmap to execute what we believe will continue to support our vision.”

David Seeley contributed to this report.

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