Lookout Raises $19.5M to Support its Cloud-Based Threat Network

For the last several months I’ve beaten the drum over cloud computing and the dozens of startups in the sector raising money.

Today, another cloud-related company has joined the chorus.

San Francisco-based Lookout Mobile Security, which has built a cloud-based threat network to protect mobile phone users from security threats, announced that it raised a $19.5 million Series C round led by new investor Index Ventures and which included Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures. The company previously raised $16.5 million in two rounds from Accel and Khosla.

As I’ve written many times over the last several months, cloud computing has defined 2010 for consumers, investors and acquirers. This has especially been true in the last half of 2010. As I report in the next issue of Venture Capital Journal, since July 1, more than 40 cloud companies have raised nearly $300 million in venture funding, based on data from Thomson Reuters (publisher of this blog). In comparison, throughout 2009, just 49 companies with cloud in its description raised about $230 million in funding, according to Thomson Reuters.

Many of the cloud startups we’ve seen lately have focused on storage, but Lookout could represent the next phase in cloud sector growth–cloud services for mobile phones and the growing number of tablets that are becoming available.

When I first met John Hering, co-founder and CEO of Lookout, it was at the Gettie Awards in July (presented by the mobile app store GetJar), where Hering and the Lookout team took home the prize for the best Android app (pictured above). At the time, I did not think of Lookout as a cloud play, but as a mobile app developer that protects users against malware and spyware. The company also offers data backup and recovery, and can locate a missing or stolen device. Hering told me yesterday the company has four million registered users (mostly in the U.S. and Western Europe), and the user base is now growing at a pace of one million a month. Not bad for a service that launched in December 2009.

But it’s the company’s cloud-based protection services that interest me the most, and Hering noted that mobile phone users are holding a tremendous amount of data on their smartphones and tablets that require the same kind of cloud-based data protection as desktops.

Hering said the company has plenty of money in the bank and is using the Series C to step up its marketing efforts. If his startup is any indication, then we’ll likely see more cloud startups and related technology innovation for mobile devices in 2011.