October ’18 Startup Funding: IoT, Security, Auto

Funding flows to a variety of startups; M&A in security.


Billions were raised in October for Internet of Things, cybersecurity, automotive electronics, and related technology startups.

October fundings rolled in on the automotive side for Israel’s VayaVision ($8 million) and South Korea-based SOS LAB ($6 million Series A), which are developing products for autonomous vehicles. Silicon Mobility ($10 million Series B), a French startup with offices in Munich and Silicon Valley, is focusing more near-term on the electrification of vehicles, developing chips to control batteries, electric motors, and energy management systems for electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile, a bicoastal American company, Perceptive Automata ($16 million Series A), is tackling a more esoteric aspect: “Understanding human behavior to enable the symbiotic large-scale deployment of automated systems in a human-dominated environment.” In other words – teaching robots how people think and act, through software.

A ride-hailing service, Dubai-based Careem, had the biggest round, $200 million, and there may be more to come soon – the company is reportedly looking to raise $500 million in this new round. Kingdom Holding, Al Tayyar Group, STV, and Rakuten were among the investors in this private funding. Another ride-hailing service, Wuhan Banma Kuaipao Technology, doing business as BMKP.com, took in $43.2 million from QJY Capital, a private equity firm in China.

Elsewhere in automotive electronics, and mobility in general, Innovusion of Los Altos, Calif., received $30 million in Series A funding from NIO Capital, Eight Roads Ventures, F-Prime Capital, and Gaorong Capital. The startup is developing LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Filld, which offers a mobile fuel delivery service, raised $15 million; NAE, which is developing chassis electronic control products, received $14.4 million; Cowboy, an electronic bicycle startup, raised $11.5 million; and Beam, which offers a platform for sharing electric scooters, picked up $6.4 million in seed funding.

Cybersecurity remains an area where many startups verge, and investors splurge. WhiteSource, which provides open-source software security management, raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Susquehanna Growth Equity, bringing its total private funding to $46 million. The company was established in 2011 and has offices in New York, Boston, and Tel Aviv; with the new money, it plans to open offices in London and San Francisco. Smartfrog, an Internet of Things firm headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with offices in Germany, Switzerland, and China, invested $25 million in Canary, a purveyor of smart security cameras, taking a controlling interest in the New York company.

Then there’s Houston-based Mission Secure, a control system cybersecurity startup, which took in $8 million in Series A funding led by Energy Innovation Capital and Chevron Technology Ventures. The company focuses on applications in energy, defense, and transportation. Acorus Networks of Paris, France, raised €5 million (about $5.8 million) from several investors. It specializes in protecting the online properties of enterprises from distributed denial-of-service attacks. San Francisco-based Kogniz received $4 million in seed funding for artificial intelligence and machine learning security. The startup uses AI and computer vision for enterprise-grade facial recognition technology. And Privus raised $635,000 in late-stage seed funding led by Rubicon Venture Capital and “a Toronto-based investment firm,” the company said in a statement. Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Privus aims for digital communications security and privacy using blockchain technology.

Also in cybersecurity, $45 million went to Arctic Wolf Networks (security operations center-as-a-service) and $32 million for Area 1 Security (performance-based cybersecurity service). To date, Arctic Wolf has raised $91.2 million. The startup provides security information and event management, threat intelligence, and other services on a 24/7 basis through its AWN CyberSOC service, staffed by its Concierge Security engineers. Area 1 boasts of its expertise in heading off phishing attacks; its cloud-based service operates on a pay-per-phish business model, making money for each phishing attempt it successfully stops.

Bright Machines came out of stealth mode to announce its $179 million in Series A funding led by Eclipse Ventures. The manufacturing technology company spun out of a project at Flex, which also invested in the company. Amar Hanspal, formerly of Autodesk, started Bright Machines about six months ago and serves as its CEO. Other senior executives are from Autodesk and Flex. Mike McNamara, the retiring CEO of Flex, is on the startup’s board of directors, along with Hanspal and Carl Bass, the former president and CEO of Autodesk.

China’s Terminus Technologies, which provides IoT services incorporating artificial intelligence technology, raised $172.7 million in a round led by China Everbright and IDG Capital, with participation by SenseTime, a Beijing-based developer of AI-powered sensors, which has been raising some impressive amounts of money itself this year.

Tokyo-based Sonas received 350 million yen (about $3.1 million) in Series A funding from Global Brain and an existing investor, Anri. The Japanese startup was founded in 2015, with some of its people coming from the University of Tokyo’s Morikawa Laboratory. Sonas developed the UNISONet technology, involving a high-performance, low-power multi-hop network with simultaneous flooding and intricate scheduling. The company will use the new funding to expand sales in Japan, with possible extensions to China and the U.S.

Germany’s Tado, which provides smart thermostats and air conditioning controls, raised $50 million in new funding, bringing its total private funding since it was established in 2011 to $102 million. The size of the new round wasn’t as remarkable as the investors involved – Amazon, E.ON, Total Energy Ventures, Energy Innovation Capital, Inven Capital, and the European Investment Bank.

Supply Chain
Assent Compliance, a Canadian purveyor of supply chain data management software, received C$130 million (nearly $100 million) from Warburg Pincus. Previous investors, namely BDC Capital, Greenspring Associates, OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund, and Volition Capital, remain shareholders in the company, along with members of the management team.

While investors were paying a little less attention to cybersecurity, there was significant M&A activity in the field. Bitdefender agreed to acquire RedSocks Security of the Netherlands, while Fortinet completed its acquisition of ZoneFox, and eSentire is purchasing Seattle-based Versive.

October 2018 Startup Fundings: Automotive, Cybersecurity, IoT/IIoT and Related Technologies 

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