Microsoft’s partnership with Abnormal Security was supposed to make its Azure cloud cool for hot startups. A year later, an internal email indicates that Abnormal has “misrepresented” how much it was using …

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Evan Reiser, CEO of Abnormal Security.
  • Abnormal security is a key part of a plan to make Microsoft’s Azure cloud cool for startups.
  • As part of this program, Abnormal would move to Azure and Microsoft would co-market Abnormal’s products.
  • A year later, an email says Abnormal has “misrepresented” its use of Azure, and Microsoft is investigating.

At the end of last year, email security company Abnormal Security, established two years ago, made a powerful friend in the form of Microsoft. The $ 2.5 trillion giant had just called on blackjack legend Jeff Ma to lead his effort to win trending startups into his cloud battles with market leader Amazon.

Under the terms of the partnership, Abnormal would join the Microsoft for Startups program led by Ma. Insiders say program benefits for participants include up to $ 250,000 in credits for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, the possibility of be highlighted at Microsoft events and, most importantly for any young startup, access to the tech titan’s formidable customer base.

In return, Abnormal has pledged to move its cloud infrastructure away from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s main cloud rival, and onto the Microsoft Azure platform. Microsoft would then “sell” Abnormal’s products to its Azure cloud users.

The two companies touted it as a win for both, bringing Microsoft and the best of Silicon Valley closer together. Ma previously worked on Twitter with Abnormal founder and CEO Evan Reiser, and a former colleague of the two at Twitter told Insider that they have maintained a close relationship ever since. When Ma took the job at Microsoft, he Reiser tweeted was “a big part of making this happen.”

Less than two months after announcing its partnership with Microsoft, Abnormal closed a $ 50 million funding round with top venture capitalists, including Menlo Ventures and Greylock Partners, for a valuation of $ 600 million , according to the PitchBook venture capital database.

Almost a year to the day later, however, there were signs that things were not going as planned.

An internal email sent to Microsoft employees involved in the Abnormal relationship said Microsoft learned in February of this year that Abnormal had “distorted” the performance of its cloud software on Azure – which would constitute a violation. rules to which Microsoft holds all of its co-selling partners. The case is currently under investigation by Microsoft’s General, External and Legal Affairs (CELA) team, according to two people familiar with the situation.

“We learned in September 2021 that they had made minimal progress towards co-selling compliance and that the offerings that customers thought were on Azure were rolling out to AWS,” said the internal email, sent on September 21, as dictated to Insider by phone call.

The email also says that in April, Microsoft granted Abnormal a six-month exception allowing the company to get 50% of the software it sells through its Microsoft relationship on Azure, responding to the coselling requirement. The Anormal employee responsible for handling the relationship left the company in September, the email also said. This person, who did not respond to a request for additional information from Insider, now works for a competitor Anormal.

“Abnormal is a Microsoft IP cosell partner and is program compliant,” Abnormal Security’s communications and brand manager Anil Prasad told Insider. “We are running customer workloads on Azure today and will continue to invest in the Microsoft platform for the long term, including Azure and Microsoft 365.” You can read Prasad’s full statement under this story.

“We have a strong relationship with Microsoft,” Reiser, CEO of Abnormal, told Insider in an email. Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

It’s unclear how many software from Abnormal is running on Azure today

In September 2020, when the partnership was announced, Abnormal shared a slideshow with Insider to promote its partnership with Microsoft to customers, listing its “enhanced data security and privacy via the Azure platform” and its compatibility with the suite. Microsoft Office 365 cloud productivity as point of sale.

Two former employees said that Abnormal’s relationship and technical integrations with Microsoft have long been a selling point as the startup seeks to close deals, and the company will be touting its Microsoft Preferred Solution label in the Azure marketplace as the startup looks to make deals. ‘she courted customers.

Thanks to the partnership with Microsoft, Abnormal has gained customers including MetLife and Gap, according to a person familiar with the matter. A representative from MetLife told Insider the company has not commented on its supplier relationships, although a recent job posting lists familiarity with Abnormal’s products as a desired skill. Gap has not commented at the time of posting.

One of those former employees told Insider that even before the Microsoft for Startups partnership was announced, the startup was responding to “a lot of requests” for a native Azure version of its app, mostly from big guys. public sector customers, indicating a demand for a more Microsoft-centric version of their product.

It’s unclear how much of Abnormal’s software now runs on Azure, although job postings on Abnormal’s site suggest the company may still be using the AWS architecture to some extent.

On Wednesday, a job description for a data platform software engineer at Abnormal lists experience with AWS as a requirement, but makes no mention of Azure. Two other jobs for cloud infrastructure software engineers at Abnormal list both AWS and Azure as the company’s “primary cloud providers”.

Read the full statement from Abnormal Security’s Communications and Brand Manager Anil Prasad below:

“Abnormal Security is a comprehensive email security company built on the Microsoft platform from day one to best support our enterprise customers. We use Microsoft Graph APIs to profile known good behaviors to detect and block never-before-seen social engineering email attacks, which complement the native protection of Microsoft 365.

“Abnormal is a Microsoft IP cosell partner and is compliant with its program. We are running customer workloads on Azure today and will continue to invest in the Microsoft platform for the long term, including Azure and Microsoft 365.

“We have a deep relationship with Microsoft which will grow in the future.”

Do you work at Microsoft or have some ideas to share? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart through the Signal encrypted messaging app (+ 1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]). See Insider’s Sources Guide for more tips on sharing information securely.

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