Mako Networks, which helps businesses protect themselves from cybercrime, has taken a major step towards growth in the US market by opening an office in San Francisco.

The Auckland-headquartered company said its international expansion was largely thanks to research and development grants from the government.
Mako has been operating from the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco for the past 18 months, preparing to crack the US market.

"The Kiwi Landing Pad has served as a great base to help us get established here in North America," said Simon Gamble, Mako's co-founder and president for North America.

The firm had managed to secure US clients during that time and was now 'graduating' into a new office, he said.


"We have significant plans for the US market and this new office is a pleasing milestone for us."

Mako, which was started out in 2000 as YellowTuna Networks, offers cloud-based network management and security systems for companies that process credit cards.

It helps those merchants that process, transmit or store cardholder data to comply with rules designed to protect credit card users and combat fraud, called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

The tighter standards mean cybercriminals have increasingly targeted smaller businesses, such as cafes and corner dairies.

Mak0 was awarded a $4.2 million Technology Development Grant from the Ministry of Science and Innovation in 2011.

Gamble said that grant had helped Mako "to springboard an aggressive growth strategy", leading to its position now in the US.

Since receiving the grant, Mako has taken on 15 more staff at its R&D centre in Albany and carried out some major development projects.

"The return on investment for the grant funding we've received is evident in the way our organisation has matured over the past 24 months," said chief executive Bill Farmer.


"Were it not for these grants, Mako's journey would have been very different."

Mako now employs more than 80 New Zealand residents in Albany and also has offices in Melbourne and London.

The company expects to double its headcount in the coming year.