Blackberry acquires an Israel-based security startup WatchDox

By | April 21, 2015

Canadian mobile phones maker Blackberry has been working more on software to improve its position in the market and seems like it has made a significant step in that direction by acquiring file sync and share platform WatchDox for an estimated $150 million. WatchDox is an Israel-based startup that has developed cross-platform technology for digital rights management and for enterprises to share files securely.


The deal was finalized earlier this week and after the acquisition, the company will control its 100-person team in Israel to build out its R&D operations in the country. The startup is a platform for enterprises that permits employees to synch and share files across many devices, but allows the company track and control who is viewing, sharing, scanning and printing a file. The admin of the file can set a time limit on access to the file. If hackers hack a file, all they can see would be set of encrypted characters.

WatchDox is available as SaaS, a virtual appliance or a hybrid. Through this files can be transferred from mobilephones to company’s desktops and vice versa. The company is provided with the option to track and audit who accessed the file and allow creators to delete and clean any files from any device, even after they are not part of the network. This is more or less like DropBox with an additional layer of watchfulness and alertness. Cloud application like Google Drive can be merged with WatchDox.

The company founded in 2008 and headquartered in Palo Alto has raised around $36 million with investors including the Blackstone Group, Gemini Israel Ventures, Millennium Technology Value Partners, Shasta Ventures and Shlomo Kramer. The growing awareness about the security risks among the companies and individuals has boosted the growth of WatchDox. Right now, WatchDox’s DRM product does not seem to be focused at mass distribution of files, but more to shield sensitive scripts, videos and other digital media so that it does not get leaked or used elsewhere.

If the acquisition deal is precise, it would serve as a pathway for Blackberry as a huge step ahead in its own enterprise security business. WatchDox platform is used in various sectors like energy, finance, Government, healthcare media and technology. Blackberry having its own security services would help it differentiate its products from those of its partners.

During the last quarter, the company posted an earned profit of $28 million but the amount was not business growth rather it was through drastic cost cutting. Revenues fell from $976 million a year to $660 million. As the company is intending to grow with the leap in the hardware business, it is also working hard on the software as a second revenue stream that will serve useful for its users to use other platform apart from its own.

Blackberry is not the first business company to have acquired security R&D from Israel. Knowing that Israel is known for its security startups PayPal acquired CyActive earlier this year, IBM acquired Trusteer in 2013 and Microsoft acquired Aorato in 2014. Till date, the company has made 24 acquisitions with security oriented purchase that includes Certicom and Secusmart.