Verkada’s AI Software, The Tesla Of Building Security

San Mateo-based Verkada is embarking on an ambitious journey to transform physical security with software that makes two-factor identification possible with their cameras. Founders Hans Robertson and Filip Kaliszan initially faced an uphill battle to convince venture firms to commit capital to their enterprise-grade security service company.

Kaliszan recalled that the seed and series A were challenging rounds to raise compared to later rounds. The market was mature and, consequently, tough to break into with a product that might be hard for clients to understand. Investors were skeptical about the company's ability to deliver an ROI that could counterbalance the inherent risk. But fortune favors the brave, and the two co-founders stayed the course until someone saw the potential the same way Robertson and Kaliszan did. 

The security company recently received an impressive $80 million in Series C funding, in cooperation with Felicis Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Meritech Capital. This most recent round brings the total investment to $139 million and bumps the company's valuation to a staggering $1.6 billion. The company tripled its staff numbers last year and plans to grow its workforce to 800 by the end of 2020. 

What’s different about Verkada is that it’s attempting to transform an industry usually defined by dinghy basement rooms, outdated equipment, and a bank of monitors featuring grainy images of indeterminate usefulness. Typically, access to these video feeds is restricted to those within the actual security hub, which means nobody but those onsite could follow-up on a potential incident if required.

Enter Verkada, a commercial security company that is changing a hardware-based industry into a software-as-a-service market. By combining the best of AI with cutting-edge camera technology, the San Mateo-based firm offers enterprises a full-service system that can deliver everything from encrypted data streaming to video feeds that can be monitored remotely via mobile.

Perhaps the most intriguing is an innovation that the tech firm is currently beta testing this spring, a new access control system that goes beyond a typical fob or badge that is easy to steal. Using a two-factor authentication system of a fob and facial recognition, Verkada is producing machine vision software-enabled cameras (MVS). In addition, the MVS software can learn patterns and identify behaviors that fall outside the typical range. 

For example, a hostage negotiator used data provided by a Verkada system to assess how to deploy SWAT teams in an emergency. The AI technology can also group all incidents of an identified individual or use search filters to scan for people wearing a specific color. “We can immediately show them all the video containing a particular person of interest rather than manually searching through hours of footage,” Kaliszan said. 

“We call this reinvention,” says Aydin Senkut, founder and managing director Felicis Venture. “One thing people underestimate is how big this market is. Honeywell is valued at $110 billion-plus. The opportunity to be the operating system for all buildings in the world? Sounds like that market couldn’t be better.”