Desmond investment in Vahna a bet on spooks to win cyber war

Cantillon: investor’s son Brett joins board of cyber-security firm

There are few Irish investors better than Dermot Desmond at spotting the next big thing. His latest investment in Vahna, a cyber-security firm, comes less than two years after Edward Snowden began to massively leak information about the secret world of technology espionage.

Whatever about the rights and wrongs of what Snowden did, it served to drive home to international corporations the risks of states as well as rivals breaking through their cyber defences. Vahna is led by Brendan Conlon, a 10-year veteran with the United States National Security Agency. He and his team are experts on how to rapidly detect and defuse cyber-attacks.

The connection with Desmond's IIU came after Vahna got to know the leadership of Daon, the biometric firm which is also backed by Desmond.

“That led to a more direct introduction to Dermot and IIU in Dublin,” Mr Conlon said.


“They knew the space very well and I believe saw our team’s experience in the security arena – from NSA and CIA to private industry security operations. Together, we saw gaps in previous defensive technologies and techniques in the market.”

The decision of Desmond’s son Brett to join the board of Vahna is an indication that Desmond is excited about Vahna’s prospects.

“The mission is to keep growing and keep delivering cutting-edge cyber protection solutions,” Mr Conlon tell us.

“Vahna will use the investment to expand our market and sales presence, both in the US and aboard, and continue to innovate new versions of our technology platform.”

Over a decade ago, Desmond first invested in Daon, at a time when biometrics as a field was only emerging.

The company now manages more than 800 million identities in Australia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.

Desmond will be hoping to build Vahna into as big a success.