June 30, 2022

Opaque Systems Raises $22M Series A to Boost Confidential Computing

Opaque Systems announced it has raised $22 million in Series A funding bringing its total financing to $31.6 million. The San Francisco-based firm is focused on enabling collaborative analytics and AI in confidential computing and plans to use the funds to serve the growing market demand for this technology.

Confidential computing is an emerging cloud computing technology that isolates data within a protected CPU for in-memory processing. The CPU’s processes and resources are hidden from the rest of the system stack, only accessible through privileged access. Gartner predicts that by 2025, over half of organizations will adopt confidential computing for processing sensitive data.

A data access challenge exists for working with data owned by multiple parties, as securely sharing or analyzing it can be difficult or impossible. In a blog post, Opaque Systems VP of Product Jay Harel gives examples of use cases where this challenge presents itself: collaborating to identify and prevent money laundering in financial services, confidentially sharing patient information for clinical trials, and sharing sensor data and manufacturing information to perform preventive maintenance applications. He also lists critical data access needs of businesses, including end-to-end encryption and data protection, the ability to share and run collaborative analytics across multiple parties, and compliance with regulatory policies for dating sharing.

The Opaque Platform was developed to meet growing confidential computing needs. Source: Opaque Systems

The Opaque Systems platform is based on the open source confidential computing project MC2, created at UC Berkeley by the company’s five co-founders. The Opaque team is comprised of esteemed security researchers and practitioners, including UC Berkeley professors Raluca Ada Popa and Ion Stoica (co-founder of Databricks), as well as former UC Berkeley graduates and industry veterans Rishabh Poddar, Wenting Zheng, and Chester Leung.

The team’s goal for launching the Opaque Platform was to build upon MC2 for an enterprise-focused platform that enables users to share encrypted datasets across multiple teams and organizations for collaborative analytics or AI/ML development, all while maintaining specific confidentiality protocols. According to the company, encrypted data is never exposed, and analytical outcomes are kept private to each party.

“The Opaque Platform allows you to run analytics and ML at scale on encrypted data while collaborating securely within and across organizational boundaries,” said Harel. “Using our platform, you can upload encrypted data or connect to disparate encrypted sources. You can then edit and execute high-performance SQL queries, analytics jobs, and AI/ML models using familiar notebooks and analytical tools.”

The Opaque Platform uses multiple security layers reinforced with cryptographic techniques and solely uses NIST-approved encryption. The platform can be scaled multi-dimensionally across enclaves, data sources, and multiple parties with secure access across enclave clusters. The company asserts that users can also automate cluster orchestration, monitoring, and management across multiple workspaces without operational disruption.

Investors seem poised to jump on the confidential computing wave which the research firm Everest Group estimates could be worth $54 billion by 2026. The platform’s latest funding round was led by Walden Catalyst Partners, with participation from new investors, Storm Ventures and Thomvest Ventures, as well as all existing investors, Intel Capital, Race Capital, The House Fund, and FactoryHQ.

“Our new investors, Walden Catalyst, Storm Ventures and Thomvest Ventures, and existing investors see the enormous market opportunity in performing collaborative analytics and AI on confidential data,” said Raluca Ada Popa, president and co-founder of Opaque Systems. “This financing will accelerate R&D and hiring as we cement Opaque’s position as the authority in multi-party analytics and AI for confidential computing. Global organizations are in desperate need of a secure solution to collaboratively analyze their confidential data and we are well positioned to meet this growing demand.”

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