Proofpoint returns to Europe after two year absence

Email management company Proofpoint gets new funding and re-opens for business in the UK, nearly two years after it retrenched back to the US.

Email management company Proofpoint has re-opened for business in the UK, nearly two years after it retrenched back to the US.

With $28 million of new funding in its coffers, Proofpoint is using some of the money to finance an international expansion, and has appointed David Stanley as managing director in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Stanley formerly worked for Ciphertrust, Secure Computing and Sophos.

According to chief executive Gary Steele, one of Proofpoint's major selling points is its ability to manage inbound and outbound email traffic from a single technology platform, and to apply all policy from a central console.

He said that with a growing awareness of the potential for data losses through email – such as users emailing out a customer file, or giving out confidential information – the need to control outbound email was now the biggest challenge for companies.

Proofpoint's other benefit, he said, was that users can choose to adopt the same platform either in software, as an appliance, a virtual appliance (using VMware) or as an on-demand service. They can even choose a mixture of delivery mechanisms, for instance taking incoming email as a service, with Proofpoint delivering a clean pipe to the client, and running outbound mail management themselves on an appliance, with everything running under a single policy.

Steele added that Proofpoint had also developed machine-learning technology that was able to analyse email content intelligently and block spam with a 99.8% success rate.

But the company could have an uphill struggle to re-establish itself after quitting the market. "The market is very crowded, and after 18 months of absence, they have a bit of catching up to do," said Nigel Stanley, who leads the security practice at Bloor Research. "And email security is a strategic decision for companies who want to know their supplier will be there to support them. I think Proofpoint's reputation has taken a battering."

Stanley denied there had been any adverse reaction. "I expected some negative reaction from customers and resellers, but it was quite the opposite. They want to look at the new modules to protect outbound data," he said.

He made the point that Proofpoint had retained some customers and a handful of resellers in the UK even after pulling out. In addition F-Secure of Finland has continued to sell Proofpoint products on an OEM basis in Northern Europe and has several hundred customers, said Steele.

Stanley said he had already recruited eight new resellers, some of whom were new to security but were already working with VMware. He said he was also targeting Secure Computing's resellers, most of whom he knew from his days working for that company and integrating resellers after its acquisition of Ciphertrust and Cyberguard.

Proofpoint's extra $28 million in funding was announced this week, and was led by a new investor DAG Ventures. The new round brings the company's total raised capital to more than $86 million.

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