Movac is pleased to announce it has led the seed investment in Kry10 along with NZGCP and K1W1. Kry10 is building a new operating system and software stack for mission-critical connected devices.  We are excited to partner with Boyd Multerer and his co-founder Jason Fox on building the kry10 business. Several software “greats” are also backing this company in advisor and mentor roles which speaks to its potential. This includes J Allard (ex CXO/CTO for Microsoft Consumer Products Division), Marc Whitten (ex CPO X-Box, SVP Unity), and Francesco Cesarani (Erlang Solutions founder). It’s a pretty special alignment of people centered around our small nation and we are happy to be part of the team taking on this ambitious project.

The Founder Story

So much of early-stage investing is about confidence in the founder. What is their special story which uniquely positions them to do something great that has not already been done by someone else? The CEO of Kry10, Boyd Multerer has such a story. Boyd worked for 17 years at Microsoft and was the technical brains behind the Xbox live architecture. Xbox live is now so common in our homes that it’s easy to forget that it was once a frontier technology. It was the world’s largest network of devices connected to the cloud within a year of its initial launch.

To deliver this service, the Xbox live team needed to manage a whole new set of challenges brought by the world of hardware and software controlled across the cloud. The most demanding of these was the problem of how to secure the devices so that hackers and other bad actors did not remote wipe the hard drive or interfere with all the gamer fun. A little-known fact but before Xbox live could ship it had to be certified by the US Department of Defense that it would not be a vector of Russian attack. Boyd was frontline in dealing with these issues and developed deep insight into how hardware and software worked in unison to secure devices on a network.

The Brave New World of Connected Devices

At the time there was much excitement about how many devices and machines would also be connected to the internet and how this would revolutionalize industry, making it more productive and more intelligent. I myself worked at Microsoft during those years so I remember our hope for this brave new world enabled by the cloud. All the major tech vendors talked about it and yet somehow it never quite happened. Why? Largely because the risks of connecting mission-critical devices such as expensive industrial equipment, secure communication networks, self-driving transport, and utilities such as electrical grids and water systems were too great. We did not have the security we needed to ensure these systems could withstand the concerted efforts of foreign actors trying to attack them and bring them down.

In a world where the US has not ever had a foreign war on its soil, the idea of an enemy being able to shut off water or power to populous cities is unthinkable. Boyd’s insight is that neither Windows nor Linux would ever be secure enough to enable this to happen. It might be doable for something like an Xbox but not for the industrial complex developed nations rely on, nor for governments in their work of running countries. Both the war in Ukraine and the 2020 Presidential election gave us a peek into the future of warfare and how it could undermine both emerging and developed democracies.

The World’s Most Highly Assured OS Kernel

Boyd’s belief is that the only way to address this is to build a new operating system designed from the ground up with security in mind. This is very different to Windows and Linux who mostly rely on reactive processes, reboots or software bandaids to deliver “improved security”. A really secure system would need to start with a micro-kernel that had a mathematical proof of correctness such as SEL4, and then be integrated into hardware optimized for security along with the software layers above this being built with isolation and resilience as priorities (ie if an attack happens how do you limit its blast radius and also how quickly can it be rolled back to its last known good state). Kry10 seeks to deliver such a solution. It’s a massively ambitious project but one whose time may have finally come.

If the timing is right, the good news is we have here in New Zealand and Australia a team of SEL4 experts that can deliver it. We will not elaborate further given the company has not yet formally launched from stealth mode. Nicole Perlroth, the award-winning cyber security journalist for the NYTs, wrote a book called “This is how they tell me the world ends: the cyberweapons arms race” which is a great background read.

The New Zealand VC Village

In closing, I wanted to thank some people for helping with this investment. The thing about our country is that it’s a village, and many hands are involved in making great things happen. Thanks firstly to Boyd and Jason for trusting Movac. They were a bit skeptical of VCs at first but eventually embraced me as “a friendly”. Thanks to the Edmund Hillary Fellowship. This experimental visa program brought Boyd and family to New Zealand. We always dream that our nation can be a home for international founders to launch businesses but to be honest we don’t have a ton of examples of this yet. Kry10 would not be here without the EHF program. Special call-out to Mahi Paurini, who has supported Boyd from the beginning of his journey in New Zealand and has inspired Te Ao Maori throughout the company culture and values. This was one of the principles of the EHF program and it is great to see it playing out in practice. 

Thanks to our CTO in residence Jeremy Ginsberg and operating partner Rob Shaddock for help in the due diligence. Thanks to James Palmer, Jason Roche and Emil Schroeder from NZGCP who did fantastic initial work understanding the technology which they shared with us during our diligence.  Thanks to Fiona Foster for her work on our Movac investment case, showing her talent as a fast study across yet another new business in our portfolio. Love our village!