Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Renesas and IDT; startup funding; smart speakers.


Internet of Things
NXP Semiconductors provided its A71CH trust anchor to Google IoT Cloud, enabling authentication for Google IoT Cloud Core. The technology helps to secure edge devices for Internet of Things deployments. Separately, NXP announced the promotion of Kurt Sievers, executive vice president and general manager of the chip company’s automotive business, to president of NXP Semiconductors, overseeing all of the vendor’s business lines.

AT&T is in negotiations with the City of Los Angeles to provide IoT technologies and small cells throughout LA, supporting smart city infrastructure. Installing small cells will help with the future launch of a 5G cellular communications network. AT&T could provide digital kiosks, structural monitoring, and other digital infrastructure, while also offering its FirstNet services to the fire and police departments of Los Angeles.

Both chambers of the California Legislature have approved an IoT cybersecurity bill, which now awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown to become a state law. The Golden State would be the first state to regulate IoT devices; similar legislation in the U.S. Congress was introduced last year, and has yet to come up for a vote. The California bill mandates that “a manufacturer of a connected device shall equip a device with a reasonable security feature or features.” It would take effect on January 1, 2020, if it becomes law.

Cisco Systems reported cybersecurity revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter was $627 million, a 12% increase from a year earlier. Those figures are larger than most of those reported by cybersecurity specialty vendors, Harsh Chauhan of The Motley Fool notes. While cybersecurity is Cisco’s fastest-growing business segment, it only accounts for about 5% of its total revenue, he adds.

The health-care industry is especially vulnerable to cyberattacks, with its treasure trove of patient records, the Global Risk Center of Marsh & McLennan Companies warns in a new report. The paper looks at best practices in cyber risk management for health care and other industries.

The Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health & Human Services recommends that the Food and Drug Administration should take a closer look at the cybersecurity documentation submitted as part of premarket submissions for proposed medical devices. (The new Apple Watch Series 4, introduced this week, was vetted by the FDA as a medical device.) “FDA could take additional steps to more fully integrate cybersecurity into its premarket review process,” the HHS deputy inspector general for evaluation and inspections says.

General David Petraeus asserts that the U.S. needs a national cybersecurity agency to protect the electrical power grid and other critical infrastructure in this essay. “Cyberthreats have changed dramatically in recent years, but our national approach to cyber defense has not,” he writes.

Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a lecturer in public policy for the Harvard Kennedy School, also serves as chief technology officer of IBM Resilient and as an Electronic Frontier Foundation board member. He has a new book, “Click Here to Kill Everybody,” about the potential dangers of connected devices. “I’m trying to make the point that the Internet now affects the world in a direct physical manner, and that changes everything,” he says in this interview.

Eric Maskin of Harvard University and Christopher Pissarides of the London School of Economics, both Nobel laureates in economic science, joined the economic advisory board of Cryptic Labs, a research institute working on blockchain technology to address cybersecurity issues. Cryptic Labs is based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Automotive Tech
Renesas Electronics agreed to acquire Integrated Device Technology for about $6.7 billion in cash. The deal could boost Renesas in automotive and industrial chips, two of the hottest segments in the semiconductor industry. The chip vendors expect to complete the transaction during the first half of next year, depending on IDT shareholder approval and antitrust clearance by regulatory authorities.

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant was introduced at a San Francisco conference earlier this month. Users can give the virtual assistant any name they choose. The German carmaker is also integrating Amazon’s Alexa assistant into its vehicles, complementing its internally developed assistant technology. The BMW assistant runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud service.

KKR & Co. is reportedly still in negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles about an acquisition of FCA’s Magneti Marelli car parts business, a development first revealed last month. The big sticking point is apparently the purchase price. FCA would like to get more than €6 billion (about $7 billion) for the business, while KKR is proposing around €5 billion (exceeding $5.8 billion). KKR remains in the talks because of its interest in combining Magneti Marelli with Japan’s Calsonic Kansei, a KKR portfolio company.

Daimler agreed to buy a 20% equity stake in Heycar, a used-car marketplace established in 2017 by Volkswagen. Financial terms weren’t revealed.

NIO priced its U.S. initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange this week, selling 160 million American depositary shares at $6.25 apiece, raising $1 billion. The NIO stock closed its first trading day at $6.60 and climbed to $11.20 on Thursday, a gain of nearly 70%. The Shanghai-based manufacturer of electric vehicles will use the money to produce premium EVs for the Chinese market, competing with Tesla.

Startup funding rounds:
• Singapore-based GreyOrange, a developer of industrial robotics, raised $140 million in funding led by Mithril Capital, bringing its total private funding to more than $175 million.
TPG invested $80 million in Sonatype, a cybersecurity startup, which will use the money to extend its Nexus platform for enterprises.
Sisense of New York also received $80 million in funding, led by Insight Venture Partners. The startup offers business analytics software for complex data.
• Davis, Calif.-based Sysdig, which offers security and performance software for cloud-native applications and monitoring containers, raised $68.5 million in Series D funding led by Insight Venture Partners, bringing its total private funding to $121.5 million.
Wasabi Technologies of Boston, which provides cloud-based data storage, received $68 million in Series B funding from Forestay Capital and other investors.
• Brazil’s Yellow, an e-scooter company, raised $63 million in Series A funding led by GGV Capital.
• Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Datrium, a provider of unified hybrid cloud computing and data management services, received $60 million in Series D funding led by Samsung Catalyst Fund.
StreamSets of San Francisco raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Harmony Partners. The startup will use the money for continued development of its data operations platform for data integration.
• Redwood City, Calif.-based AutoGrid received $32 million in Series D funding for its smart energy grid technology. CLP Holdings Group, Innogy, Ørstead, and Tenaska are new investors in the company. AutoGrid has raised more than $75 million in total.
Solid Power of Louisville, Colo., raised $20 million in Series A funding for its solid-state batteries. Hyundai, Samsung, Sanoh Industrial, Solvay Ventures, and A123 Systems participated in the investments.
• Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Impossible Aerospace, a producer of commercial drones, received $9.4 million in Series A funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures, and Airbus Ventures.
Migo of Seattle, which offers a meta-search application for on-demand rides, raised $9 million in Series A funding from Enterprise Holdings, Hyundai, Thayer Ventures, Second Avenue Partners, Via-ID, Rolling Bay Ventures, and B37 Ventures.
Auterion of Zurich, Switzerland, took in $10 million from private investors for its open-source commercial drone operating system. The company will use the money to scale up its operations and speed up development of its platform, which provides an enterprise version of the open-source PX4 standard.
• Germany’s Silicon Line received €8.2 million (nearly $9.6 million) in Series B funding led by Capital-E. The company provides ultra-low-power optical link technology for consumer electronics.
ZenCity of Tel Aviv, Israel, raised $6 million in Series A funding from Vertex Ventures, Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, and Canaan Partners Israel. The company’s platform uses AI technology to analyze structured data from multiple sources to provide insights to city planners and managers.
• Raleigh, N.C.-based Growers Holdings received $5 million in Series A funding led by Lewis and Clark Ventures. The startup provides agricultural analytics software.
• Tel Aviv, Israel-based Fleetonomy raised $3 million in private funding led by Vertex Ventures for its AI-based fleet management tools.
Logiwa of Chicago, which provides warehouse and inventory management software, received $3 million in new funding led by Runway Venture Partners.
• Austin, Texas-based Pani raised $1 million in seed funding led by Blake Chandlee, a former Facebook executive. The startup develops smart home products to measure water usage in the home, offering a way for homeowners to reduce their water bills.
Intsite, an Israeli developer of autonomous cranes, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Terra Venture Partners.

Synopsys had several announcements this week. The company brought out its DesignWare High-Performance Core Design Kit for EV6x Processors, going into artificial intelligence and embedded vision applications. Synopsys is working with Truphone to integrate Truphone’s embedded SIM software into the DesignWare tRoot Hardware Secure Module for integrated SIM, used in IoT devices that require secure, unique identification and authentication. The company introduced version 11.2 of its CODE V optical design software. Finally, Synopsys said Yankin Tanurhan, vice president of engineering for Processors, Security, NVM, and SoC Design in Synopsys’ Solutions Group, will chair next week’s 2018 AI Hardware Summit, and Thomas Andersen, head of AI and Machine Learning in the Design Group, will present “Device Intelligence: AI Chip Design from the Data Center to the Edge” at the conference on Tuesday, September 18, at 1:30 p.m. at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Rambus said its Token Gateway for e-commerce transactions is qualified for the “Visa Ready” Tokenization program. This enables parties around the world to securely connect to the Visa Token Service.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, announced its LightSuite Photonic Compiler, an automated layout system for silicon photonics components, which will become available on Monday, October 1. The new system is paired with the company’s Calibre RealTime Custom verification tool.

Adobe Analytics surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers in August, and found that 32% of respondents currently own a smart speaker, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, up from 28% in January, while another 16% plan to buy one before the end of 2018. Requesting the playing of music and getting the weather forecast are the top tasks for smart speakers, consumers say; they also like to ask fun questions and do online searches.

KB Home, the house-building company, is working with Google Home to install home electronics in its houses going up in selected U.S. communities. The built-in offerings include Google Home Mini, Google Wi-Fi, and Nest Hello video doorbells.

National Instruments collaborated with Radisys to offer an end-to-end 5G platform for operators of mobile networks and chipset manufacturers to validate and monetize 5G offerings. The platform integrates NI’s test equipment with 5G PHY and New Radio technology with the 5G protocol stack from Radisys.

Microsoft acquired Lobe, a San Francisco-based startup specializing in deep learning and AI models; financial terms weren’t revealed. The purchase follows Microsoft’s acquisitions of Semantic Machines in May and Bonsai in July, adding to its AI development portfolio.

The Global Semiconductor Alliance holds its U.S. Executive Forum on Tuesday, September 18, at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park, Calif. Flex Logix Technologies CEO Geoff Tate will be among the executives attending the event, along with Andy Jaros, the company’s vice president of sales, and Abhijit Abhyankar, vice president of silicon engineering.