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After several twists and turns along the way during its six years working on artificial intelligence technology, Versive has been acquired by eSentire, a Canadian security company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Versive, originally known as Context Relevant, will become the Seattle office for eSentire’s cybersecurity efforts. It expects that its 50-person team will grow without layoffs following the deal, said CTO Dustin Hillard, who will also become eSentire’s CTO as part of the deal.

Dustin Hillard will become CTO of eSentire. (Versive Photo)

Versive’s original plan was to build an analytics platform that used artificial intelligence to help financial services companies, but after a detour involving layoffs and a new name, emerged as a company using the same ideas to help companies find security threats across their networks.

“The underlying technology that we had built is this AI platform that can solve multiple different use cases,” Hillard said. eSentire, which offers security threat detection and response services, has “a broad set of data and use cases that they want to apply AI against,” he said.

Current Versive CEO Joseph Polverari will not join the combined company, which also tapped current Versive executives Ashley Fidler and Matthew Vanderzee as vice president, product and vice president, engineering, respectively, alongside Hillard. eSentire has about 500 employees and is based in Cambridge, Ont., just down the road from mobile pioneer Research in Motion in Waterloo.

Versive raised $54.7 million in total funding, and it’s not clear if investors such as Madrona Venture Group are cashing out on this deal. Tim Porter of Madrona, who sat on Versive’s board of directors, would not comment on the deal but said “the acquisition helps both companies expand their market reach, and is a natural fit.”

There are a lot of companies working on using machine-learning techniques to automate security threat detection, which involves a constant barrage of real threats and false alarms that even trained security professionals can find extremely hard to triage and react properly. Couple that with a worldwide shortage of trained security professionals, and you discover a market for services in which the computer does a lot of that grunt work.

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