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Cylance’s McClure Lands $13M for New AI Venture

Incubator, accelerator for businesses

Orange County cybersecurity pioneer Stuart McClure has launched a new business incubator and accelerator designed to put artificial intelligence and machine learning to work peering into the future.Ora

His Newport Beach-based NumberOne AI said this month it had raised $13 million to back a variety of new company ventures, using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Backers include a number of investors with local ties, as well as prior investment partners of McClure (see story, this page).

“Artificial intelligence and computer prediction is going to be a big part of our future. And I want to apply it to solve big problems in big markets,” McClure told the Business Journal on Oct. 12.

He added: “I want to do it leveraging Orange County as much as I can.”

Cylance Sale

McClure co-founded Cylance, the Irvine-based internet security company, a decade ago and sold it in 2019 to Canada-based BlackBerry for $1.4 billion.

About two months ago he was named chief executive of cybersecurity company ShiftLeft Inc., which is based in Santa Clara and raised an additional $29 million of its own earlier this year.

McClure will remain in OC, and is working with both ShiftLeft and NumberOne, which was started last year, and came out of stealth mode this month.

He calls his latest venture, NumberOne AI, “an incubator/accelerator/foundry.”

“It depends on how you define each of those elements,” McClure said. “We have elements of each.”

“From an incubator perspective, we take an idea, a founding member or team and we help build that idea into technology and a platform.”

‘AI Angle’

As for the accelerator role: “We will take an existing company with actual revenues, and then help infuse an AI angle or value proposition in addition to their current go-to-market value to help accelerate sales.”

Companies and entrepreneurs will keep coming to NumberOne AI for support.

“I probably get pitched 10 to 20 times every single week,” even before the announcement of the $13 million in funds, said McClure, who is a member of the CEO Leadership Alliance Orange County, which among other initiatives is looking to boost the area’s base of next-generation businesses and create an inclusive tech talent hub focused on AI.

“In exchange for adoption into the incubator or accelerator we get a percentage of the company,” he says. “We’re putting the money into the people, process and technology to help build that company and idea.”

He said NumberOne AI will get some of the proceeds once the “incubated” or “accelerated” company starts generating income.

MedTech, Supply Chain

NumberOne AI already has “focus domains’’ that it is looking at to support.

That includes medical technology, human resources technology, the supply chain, marketing technology and cybersecurity.

McClure uses the example of an MRI image looking for specific indications of a problem or an anomaly.

“Feed that into a computer and a machine learning algorithm and they can find it even earlier, with some of the smallest indications,” he said.

In short, AI can predict an outcome more quickly than humans.

McClure wouldn’t divulge any company or entrepreneur names his company is working with, but said that “the very first company is planned in the next three to four months.”

“I see us making some interesting announcements, probably in the first half of 2023,” he added.

Future Prediction

“Data science learns from the past to predict the future, and that is what we intend to do with each company we create at NumberOne AI,” McClure said.

“If a human being can look at a scenario and say, ‘I know what’s going to happen here, then a computer can do it a thousand times better.”

So how far into the future will AI and ML be able to look—for example can it foresee the stock market, wars, pandemics and who will win Nobel Prizes?

“AI has the potential to do all of that,” says McClure, though making all that a reality is a way off.

NumberOne AI already has over 10 employees and contractors, according to McClure. The company will grow organically.

“We’re not going to be a high-volume shop. We’re going to be a low but quality shop,” he says.

Experts predict AI will be worth $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Local, National Backers

NumberOne AI says it is the first of its kind in Orange County to apply a broad, automated AI/ML platform to the challenge of starting and launching new company ventures.

The $13 million financing for NumberOne AI was led by “serial CEOs, founders and investors,” the company says.

Backers include:

Art Coviello, the former CEO of RSA Security and one-time Cylance board member. His Syn Ventures invested in ShiftLeft earlier this year.

Aidan Kehoe, the founder and CEO of Skout Cybersecurity. “Stuart [McClure] is a visionary and I’m excited to see him use AI to build a better future for all of us,” he said.

Alex Weiss, managing partner of ClearSky and a longtime cybersecurity investor.

Ray Zadjmool, CEO of Irvine cybersecurity firm Tevora.

Drumwright Investments, a venture started by Hayes Drumwright, founder of Irvine IT firm Trace3, and his wife, Susana.

B5 Capital, a Silicon Valley investor with ties to Draper Fisher Jurvetson;

Michael Capellas, the former CEO of Compaq; and

• Newport Beach-based Miramar Digital Ventures.

“Many founders and operators struggle to find the right balance of innovation, growth and execution. Stuart has a proven recipe for success that will enable countless entrepreneurs to succeed with predictive AI/ML at their core,” Bruce Hallett, partner at Miramar Digital Ventures, said in a statement.

—Mark Mueller

Stuart McClure’s Latest Journey

OC cybersecurity and AI pioneer Stuart McClure said the pandemic slowdown gave him time to come up with his latest venture idea.

“It’s COVID actually—sitting there like all of us were. In three or four months I was just biting my lip trying to figure out what do I do now. I really want to take AI and move it into places outside of cybersecurity.

“I just kept incubating the idea of an incubator,” McClure told the Business Journal on Oct. 12.

“The more I thought about it, and talked to folks and got encouraged, the more I realized this is a very viable option.”

He said he decided to build the venture “in Orange County and create a flywheel of investors and entrepreneurs and founders.”

The result: an incubator/accelerator/foundry to back AI and ML firms.

His firm, NumberOne AI, recently announced it had raised $13 million to fund its endeavors.

McClure is the chief executive of the new company, while also serving as CEO of cybersecurity firm ShiftLeft in Silicon Valley.

McClure co-founded Cylance, the Irvine-based internet security company, a decade ago and sold it in 2019 to Canada-based BlackBerry for $1.4 billion.

He later served as president of BlackBerry Cylance—now called BlackBerry Cybersecurity—for about eight months after the sale.

He then was self-employed with a company called Silent Shadow before moving on to his latest ventures.

—Kevin Costelloe­



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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal

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