IronNet, founded by former NSA director, shuts down and lays off staff

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IronNet, founded by former NSA director, shuts down and lays off staff

IronNet, a once-promising cybersecurity startup founded by a former NSA director and funded by cyber and defense investors, has shuttered and laid off its remaining staff following its collapse.

In a regulatory filing published Friday, IronNet’s president and chief financial officer Cameron Pforr said the company had ceased all business activities as it prepares for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, effectively liquidating the company’s remaining assets to pay its remaining debts.

The Virginia-based IronNet was founded in 2014 by retired four-star general Keith Alexander, soon after he departed as the former director of the National Security Agency during the biggest leak (at the time) of government secrets by former contractor Edward Snowden. IronNet provided corporations and government agencies with technologies aimed at helping to defend against cyber threats, and using large datasets and analytics to automate threat intelligence. Its other products were designed to protect critical infrastructure.

To date, the company raised more than $400 million in funding, including a $78 million Series B in 2018 led by C5 Capital, with participation from ForgePoint Capital and Kleiner Perkins, and touted customers like media and financial giant Thomson Reuters. IronNet also received $5.6 million in federal loans granted to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the company failed to gain traction after going public in August 2021 and its stock price continued to decline following an initial spike. By the following year, IronNet had fewer than 100 corporate customers. IronNet also cut 17% of its workforce this June.

Alexander served as IronNet CEO until July, when he was replaced by Linda Zecher, the chairperson of IronNet’s largest investor C5 Capital as part of the investment firm’s effort to rescue the company. C5 Capital, which did not return a request for comment, injected more than $1.3 million into IronNet last month to stave off its eventual collapse.

Investors at Forgepoint Capital and Kleiner Perkins did not return TechCrunch’s requests for comment about IronNet’s bankruptcy. In its Friday filing, IronNet said it “expects that no distributions would be available for stockholders.”

Alexander, who remains chair of IronNet’s board, also serves on the board of SolCyber.

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