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Blu Venture Investors Announces the Formation of Strategic Advisory Board

The Advisory Board Strengthens the Company’s Commitment to the Cybersecurity Industry

VIENNA, VA – May 24, 2023 – Blu Venture Investors, a private venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments in the cybersecurity and adjacent technology industries, is pleased to announce the formation of its strategic advisory board to support the company’s continued focus on driving superior investment returns by identifying and mentoring break-out portfolio companies. The board is composed of diverse and distinguished cybersecurity practitioners and operators.


Blu Ventures first began supporting cybersecurity companies through small seed-round investments in 2011.  Making small bets early and mentoring many of these companies provided opportunities for Blu to grow its ecosystem of cybersecurity portfolio companies through follow-on rounds in growth-stage companies. Blu launched its $24.8M Cyber Fund I in May 2021 and has since invested in 7 high-performing cybersecurity and technology companies. 


The company announced the appointment of the following founding members to the advisory board:

  • Vishal Chawla, Founder and CEO of BluOcean Digital is an experienced cybersecurity and risk management professional with over 25 years of experience serving clients in the financial services, technology, and media industries in the U.S. and internationally. Vishal specializes in aligning cybersecurity and privacy strategies and programs with business strategies, digital transformation initiatives, and innovation agendas. He has a proven track record of helping clients achieve customer trust, innovation, and agility in their business operations, operational resilience, and regulatory compliance throughout their digital transformation journey.


  • Jon Darby, former Director of Operations, NSA and founder of Jon Darby Consulting,  is a nearly 39-year veteran of the U.S. Intelligence Community, primarily in the National Security Agency (NSA)/Central Security Service (CSS), culminating in serving over four years as the NSA/CSS Director of Operations (DO). He led some of NSA’s most difficult missions, including Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity Operations, and SIGINT analysis and production on all geographic and transnational missions.


  • Rick Gordon, CEO, Tidal Cyber, is an expert on technology investing and early-stage venture development. Rick previously served as a Managing Director at MITRE and led the growth of the Center for Threat Informed Defense, ATT&CK® Evaluations, and MITRE ATT&CK® Defender (MAD) Training. Rick was the founding Managing Partner of the MACH37 Cyber Accelerator, where he led the first venture investments in Huntress, Black Kite, and Adlumin, and served as the COO of Lookingglass, and as a submarine officer in the US Navy.


  • Kirk Holmes, CEO, Holmes & Associate, is a thought leader and industry pioneer with 40 years of experience in the delivery of technology services and organizational transformation using technology. He is an experienced board member with focus areas including Cybersecurity, digital transformation, competitive advantage, and business growth. He is the long-time CEO of Holmes and Associates, Inc., a C-level advisory consultancy, and a Fractional Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for multiple organizations that have ranged from Fortune 500 defense contractors to large nonprofit organizations. 


  • Mike Newborn, CISO, Navy Federal Credit Union, has over 24 years of experience in the Information Security field. He is an experienced cyber leader with a passion for helping people, technology, and cyber risk management. Mike has a long history of hands-on leadership and has extensive operations experience in network security, vulnerability management, intrusion detection, application security, cloud security, and governance risk and compliance.


  • Bill Phelps, EVP (retired), Booze Allen Hamilton,  recently retired from Booz Allen Hamilton as Executive Vice President and Senior Partner. Bill joined Booz Allen in 2016 to transform and lead Booz Allen’s Global Commercial business, which became, under his leadership, a recognized market leader, delivering cybersecurity consulting and incident response services to some of the most sophisticated clients in the world. Before joining Booz Allen, Bill spent 26 years at Accenture, finishing his Accenture career as the Global Managing Director of Accenture Security.   


“The formation of Blu’s Advisory Board is critical as cybersecurity threats continue to rise to unprecedented levels. With this talented and respected group of security practitioners on our board, we can quickly accelerate the roadmap of our security companies,” said Michael Denning, Blu Ventures partner, and CEO of SecureG. “This team will give us greater market insights into the current challenges that security professionals experience every day.”  


The advisory board holds many advantages for Blu’s portfolio companies, partners, and investors, including deepening the company’s cybersecurity subject matter expertise, gaining greater market insights into current challenges CISOs face, and providing Blu’s portfolio companies with a customer oriented “sounding board” complete with constructive feedback.


Blu Ventures plans to appoint additional high-level defense and cybersecurity experts to the advisory board as it expands its reach and continues its commitment to the cybersecurity community.


About Blu Venture Investors

Blu Ventures was founded in 2010 by former operators who employ their experience to fund and mentor early-stage startups. Blu Ventures has deployed over $114MM in capital to date to early-stage cyber and enterprise software firms. Blu’s partners bring operator expertise across a variety of industries and an investment perspective closely aligned with entrepreneurs. For more information, visit

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