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Firm and Portfolio Updates November 2023

Inner Loop Capital is a pre-seed and seed venture capital fund investing in Digital Infrastructure, including Cybersecurity, Cloud Technologies, and Data Science. Inner Loop is based in Baltimore, and the current portfolio spans from San Francisco to Israel. Inner Loop is currently investing out of a $30m-target Fund II. Inner Loop Capital is a solo-GP firm managed by Justin Label.


Firm Updates

Inner Loop Field Trip to Johns Hopkins SAIS

On November 27, Inner Loop, along with a group of the firm’s local friends, attended a lecture on Taiwan and US-China relations by Dmitri Alperovitch at the eponymous Alperovitch Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Dmitri shared his perspective on this topic – which has significant implications on semiconductor manufacturing and the tech economy generally – in advance of the anticipated April 2024 release of his book, World on the Brink.

Inner Loop invited D.C. area founders, friends, co-investors, and LPs to join for the lecture, and hosted dinner afterward for those who could stay. While the event was too close to this letter’s press time to summarize Dmitri’s insights here, you can learn more about his views from his forthcoming book, at the Silverado Policy Accelerator, or on his podcast, Geopolitics Decanted. We were, however, able to drop in this picture from dinner:

Cyber Security Hall of Fame

In November not one, but two Inner Loop Capital Limited Partners were inducted into the Cyber Security Hall of Fame. In a ceremony on November 16, Ron Gula and Sounil Yu were ushered into this prestigious group which includes foundational scientists and government and business leaders in cybersecurity such as Whitfield Diffie, Gene Spafford, Jim Bidzos, and Vint Cerf.

Ron and Cyndi Gula of Gula Tech Adventures were Inner Loop Capital’s first-ever Limited Partners. The Inner Loop Pilot Fund was established around a commitment from Ron and Cyndi in late 2018. That fund has gone on to strong success, backing rapidly-growing companies such as GreyNoise, DNSFilter, and AppOmni. The Gulas have returned as pre-launch anchor investors to back every Inner Loop vehicle since.

Ron is inducted into the Cyber Security Hall of Fame on the basis of a lifetime of contributions to the field. He invented and wrote one of the first commercial intrusion detection systems, Dragon. In 2002, he founded Tenable, the vulnerability management company, which he ran until 2016. At Tenable, Ron was responsible for two of the largest funding rounds ever in the Maryland software industry, with a $50m Series A in 2010 led by Accel Partners, and a $250m Series B in 2015 led by Accel and Insight Partners. Tenable went public in 2018 and has a market capitalization of over $4.5 billion.

Today, Ron and Cyndi continue to contribute to the cybersecurity industry through Gula Tech Adventures. GTA makes investments in private cybersecurity companies and funds, promotes good government policy in the field, and is uniquely devoted to cybersecurity philanthropy. The Gula Tech Foundation runs competitive $1m grant programs for cybersecurity non-profits, and awarded its sixth round of such grants in October 2023.

Sounil Yu has had a storied career in cybersecurity and is probably best known as the creator of the Cyber Defense Matrix, a systematized approach to identifying and prioritizing cybersecurity needs. Sounil has been granted over 20 patents, and previously served as Chief Security Scientist for Bank of America, a role he held when I first met him in 2015.

Sounil was recently CISO of JupiterOne, where he currently serves as Security Ambassador. Sounil is presently the co-founder of a stealth startup focused on AI safety and security. There will be amazing things to come!

Sounil was one of the very first people to commit to the Inner Loop Capital Strategic Limited Partner program in January of 2020. Strategic LPs make investments in the Inner Loop funds and are available on an opt-in basis to refer, diligence, assist, advise, and co-invest in Inner Loop portfolio companies. Sounil and Inner Loop are co-investors in at least two companies: GreyNoise Intelligence and Sublime Security. This type of collaboration is precisely what the Strategic LP program is designed to promote.

Congrats to both Sounil and Ron on their outstanding honors and recognitions!


Portfolio and Industry News

Congratulations to GreyNoiseon successfully recruiting Alan Keister as the company’s first CTO. Alan brings a wealth of senior engineering management experience to the role, having served in VPE roles at AOL, Invincea, Sophos, and Capital One. His expertise will be invaluable to helping GreyNoise grow and manage its expanding product footprint.
Gigasheet continues to uplevel its Generative AI features. Founder Jason Hines has illustrated how Gigasheet’s ChatGPT integrations can supercharge marketing content creation. 150,000 emails in two minutes?! Jason expounded further on this opportunity in an article on SpiceWorks.
AWS announced its integration with Inner Loop portfolio company Tamnoon, and promoted using Tamnoon to remediate security issues identified by AWS Security Hub. It is fantastic to have AWS’s support, both at the product and value proposition level, and to use their channels to amplify the Tamnoon message and mission!
Continuing a distinguished career in private and public sector cybersecurity, Kiersten Todt has joined the board of RunSafe, an Inner Loop Capital Pilot Fund portfolio company from 2019. Most recently, Kiersten served the nation as Chief of Staff at CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, under its high-profile director, Jen Easterly. Congratulations to Kiersten and RunSafe on their partnership!
In 2022, Inner Loop Capital Fund I portfolio company Clean.io was acquired by Human Security. Human is a late-stage private company backed by Goldman Sachs and NightDragon (led by another 2023 Cybersecurity Hall of Fame inductee, Dave DeWalt!), among others. Inner Loop now holds equity in Human Security through that transaction. And a good thing, too, as Human Bot Defender was named by TIME Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2023. TIME notes that Human took down two of the largest ever bot fraud schemes in 2023 alone, in part through its work verifying trillions of transactions weekly. Congratulations to Clean.io and Human Security on this important work and notable recognition.

In Enterprise Technology industry news, Battery Ventures released its semi-annual State of Enterprise Tech Spending report. Q3 2023 saw Inner Loop’s core infrastructure sectors – Cybersecurity, Cloud Tech, and Data Science – rank among the top 5 sectors of enterprise technology priorities for the third time in a row.

Of course, Generative AI and LLMs cracked the top 5 for the first time as well. As discussed in Ad Interim issue #2 (our occasional newsletter on AI) in September, Inner Loop does not explicitly focus on AI. But we do specifically see AI as the next platform shift in technology which will have both tech stack and demand driver implications for Inner Loop’s core Digital Infrastructure sectors.


Exciting News from our Work (and Life) Partners

Point Field Partners, the family office for Baltimore Ravens owner and Allegis Group co-founder, Steve Bisciotti, has been a key partner for Inner Loop since 2019 and is the primary Limited Partner for Inner Loop Capital Fund II, which launched in 2022. Point Field made significant news in Baltimore, Life Sciences, and beyond in November with their launch of Blackbird Laboratories.

Blackbird Laboratories is a non-profit organization funded with a $100m donation from The Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation. It will make $1m to $2m grants to university research projects to bridge a persistent funding gap for early-stage life sciences companies. The NIH funds basic research, and venture capitalists are eager to finance fully developed business plans. But the commercialization stages in between for innovation technologies are much more resource-intensive than the low-six-figure funding amounts that are common from software-focused accelerators like Y Combinator or TechStars.

To lead this effort, Blackbird has recruited Matt Tremblay from the Scripps Research Institute as CEO. Scripps has successfully launched 80 companies from its basic research, and we are excited that Matt is bringing this expertise to Baltimore. Blackbird has already signed partnership agreements with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore to help source candidates for grants. Congratulations to Matt Tremblay, Ryland Sumner, Ju Hyung Kim, and the entire Blackbird and Point Field teams for this tremendous accomplishment.

Congratulations are also due to Expect Equity Founder and CEO Hallie Label (who is also my wife) on the public launch of her new investment firm. Expect Equity incubates under-represented public equity investment managers to enable them to create a track record and develop relationships with institutional allocators. The firm’s goal is to empower these portfolio managers to launch independent investment firms and funds at scale.

After two years of research, development, recruiting, and building investment support from institutional allocators, Expect Equity placed its first trades on October 2, and launched publicly on November 20. Axios covered the firm’s launch in this exclusive article.

The Label household is helmed by two founders, both in the investment industry, but fortunately in different asset classes! Bringing Expect Equity to this point was a two-year labor of love, passion, and commitment. Getting Inner Loop Capital to a stable stage of development was an undertaking of up to ten years, and so Expect Equity’s time to public launch was quite rapid by comparison. Congratulations to Hallie and her colleagues Jill, Anne, and Jessica. You are changing the $70 trillion asset management industry – and therefore the world – for the better!

Archives and Please Be In Touch

Have you missed any earlier versions of Inner Loop Capital updates? Archives for both the Firm and Fund Updates (twice per quarter) and Ad Interim, the occasional newsletter on AI (once per quarter) are now available from the Inner Loop Capital website. Please visit innerloopcap.com/news to get caught up.

Now that you are up-to-date on all Inner Loop activities, please reach out any time. I welcome:

  • Discussions about any of the companies, technology sectors, or investment themes above.
  • Introductions to founders or future founders in Digital Infrastructure, including Cybersecurity, Cloud Tech, DevOps, DevTools, Data Science, and AI.
  • Connections to potential co-investors or collaborators in these sectors.
  • And drop-ins to Baltimore (or the greater Washington D.C., area) any time.

Do not hesitate to reach out if you see something or have some ideas on ways we can collaborate more closely. I appreciate your interest in and support of Inner Loop Capital, and I wish you and your families a merry and peaceful holiday season.

Justin Label
Managing Director
Inner Loop Capital

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