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Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Apple-Dialog deal; Arm TechCon; IPOs and startup funding.


Dialog Semiconductor made a blockbuster deal with Apple – the chip company will license power management technologies and transfer some assets to Apple, which will use them in their internal chip research and development. More than 300 Dialog employees, mostly engineers, will join Apple, which will pay $300 million in cash for the transaction and prepay another $300 million for Dialog products to be delivered over three years. Dialog has been awarded new contracts from Apple to supply power management ICs, audio subsystems, charging chips and other mixed-signal semiconductors. Dialog will continue to expand its offerings for the Internet of Things, automotive, mobile, and computing/storage.

Sigfox is partnering with Paessler, a network monitoring specialist, to enable customers to monitor and manage their critical IT infrastructure. Paessler provided its PRTG Network Monitor for Internet of Things applications, monitoring and visualizing the functionality and measurement data from Sigfox-enabled IT infrastructure sensors. PRTG is used by more than 200,000 system administrators. Paessler is based in Nuremberg, Germany, with representatives around the world.

Chefling of Sunnyvale, Calif., is partnering with Bosch Group and Thermador, a Bosch subsidiary, to show how home cooking appliances can become Internet-connected devices. The revised Chefling mobile application now features UltraConnect, which uses natural language processing to find keywords in recipes and coordinate the cooking with multiple appliances. UltraConnect is now available on iOS devices and will be out on Android devices by the end of this year.

National Instruments brought out the PXIe-5785 FlexRIO transceiver for designing advanced radar applications in military/aerospace systems. The new module uses Xilinx’s UltraScale field-programmable gate arrays. The NI transceiver is said to offer access to direct radio-frequency converters in a modular, commercial off-the-shelf package.

Foghorn Systems released its Lightning 2.0 software for Industrial IoT applications. The new software features the company’s EdgeML edge-based machine learning technology. Lightning 2.0 also includes massively scalable edge deployment support, next-generation operational technology tools, out-of-the-box multi-cloud integration, and zero-touch sensor configuration.

The story about Super Micro Computer’s hacked hardware became more involved this week, while the company continues to deny that its server motherboards made in China are compromised. Bloomberg News reported that “a major U.S. telecommunications company,” not identified, found a suspicious device in the Ethernet ports of a Supermicro server and removed the hardware from its network in August. Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Supermicro, inquiring about the allegations of Chinese spying on American companies.

Automotive Tech
Microsoft is making a substantial investment in Singapore-based Grab, a ride-hailing service. Grab has agreed to use Microsoft Azure as its cloud service. The companies will work together on facial recognition technology and real-time translation services. Microsoft previously invested in Uber and it began working last year with Ola of India on a connected-car platform and enabling in-car entertainment through Azure. SoftBank Group is reportedly on the verge of investing about $500 million in Grab, bringing the ride-hailing company’s total private funding to $6.7 billion and its valuation approaching $12 billion.

Volvo Cars said it selected Nvidia’s Drive AGX Xavier computer for use in its next generation of vehicles, debuting early in the next decade. Those vehicles will first come with Level 2+ autonomy capabilities, later advancing to Level 4. Daimler and Volkswagen are also using Nvidia technology in their self-driving car programs. The new computer hardware was introduced during September.

Waymo reports its autonomous vehicles have driven 10 million miles on public roads, up from 8 million miles in July. The testing began in 2009 on the streets of San Francisco in a stealthy program by Google. Alphabet broke out the Google self-driving car effort as Waymo in 2016.

Rambus renewed its patent licensing agreement with Nvidia; terms remain confidential. The patented technology involved includes memory controllers and serial links. Rambus also concluded a patent licensing agreement with Phison, covering DRAMs and NAND flash memory controllers, as well as serial links.

Arteris IP provided multiple licenses of its Arteris FlexNoC interconnect intellectual property to China’s Enflame (Suiyuan) Technology, which will use the IP in designing artificial intelligence training chips to be used in cloud data centers.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, reports that Leonardo accelerated its FPGA design cycle with the Questa verification system. The Italian company uses Mentor’s Questa SystemVerilog verification offering, applying the Universal Verification Methodology framework and Questa Verification IP to the design, verification, and validation of highly complex avionics interfaces.

Arm TechCon is coming up on October 16-18 at the downtown San Jose McEnery Convention Center in Silicon Valley.

Synopsys will be exhibiting and presenting at Arm TechCon. The company can be found in Hall 1 & 2, booth 619. In room 210-D, Synopsys presents a series of technical sessions on Wednesday, Oct. 17, with HiSilicon Technologies, ANSYS, and Nvidia; the sessions are free of charge and don’t require a conference badge to enter – lunch will be served. Arm and Synopsys will offer two conference sessions on Thursday, Oct. 18, in Executive Ballroom 210-H. More details are available here.

NXP Semiconductors is bringing out the i.MX RT600 line of crossover processors for ultra-low-power and secure applications in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and edge computing. The processors feature Arm’s Cortex-M33 cores, operating at up to 300 megahertz. NXP will demonstrate the voice capabilities of the i.MX RT600 line at Arm TechCon with DSP Concepts and Sensory in booth 620.

Livent, a producer of lithium compounds for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, raised $340 million in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The company sold 20 million shares at $17 a share. Livent is a spinoff of FMC (which retains about 85% of Livent’s common shares) and trades as LTHM on the Big Board. The new stock closed its first trading day at $16.96, slightly below the IPO price, although Livent is an extremely profitable company, posting net income of $70.2 million on revenue of $211 million for the first half of this year. Battery business is good!

Elastic’s IPO was one of the biggest success stories of this year, which has seen a great deal of investor enthusiasm for new tech stocks. The Amsterdam-based enterprise search company finally set its share price at $36; the stock immediately doubled in price after trading opened on the NYSE and closed at $70, a 94% gain, on a day when most tech stocks showed losses. ESTC closed Thursday at $60.92 per share — still an impressive increase. The underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Securities, fully exercised their option to purchase another 1,050,000 shares for a total of 8,050,000 shares sold at $36 per share, raking in $289.8 million for Elastic.

Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds, the purveyor of IT management software, set its IPO terms to 42 million shares at $17 to $19 per share, which would bring in $756 million at the midpoint pricing, three times what Elastic initially got from its offering. The company plans to trade as SWI on the Big Board, with Goldman Sachs serving as its lead underwriter. Silver Lake Partners and Thoma Bravo took SolarWinds private in 2016, paying $4.5 billion for the company; its fully-diluted market value would be $5.5 billion if it goes public at $18 a share.

Honeywell International is spinning off its Homes and ADI Global Distribution businesses into an independent, publicly held company called Resideo. The name is a portmanteau of “residence” and “presidio,” with the latter meaning a fortress or a garrison. The spinoff incorporates the Honeywell Home and Honeywell Pro brands. Resideo Technologies, the company’s full name, says the spinoff officially occurs on Monday, October 29, and it plans to trade its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the REZI ticker symbol.

Baillie Gifford spent more than $500 million to acquire an 11.4% equity stake in Nio, the Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer that last month went public in the U.S. The Scottish investment management firm is the second largest institutional investor in Tesla, with a stake valued at nearly $3.5 billion.

Startup funding rounds:
• San Mateo, Calif.-based Snowflake Computing received $450 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital, bringing its total private funding to $923 million. Snowflake provides a cloud-based data warehouse. The new round gives the startup a pre-money valuation of $3.5 billion. The company has more than 1,000 enterprise customers and will use the money to expand sales staff in the U.S. and in international markets.
Suteng Innovation Technology, doing business as RoboSense, raised more than $45 million in Series C funding from Alibaba Group, BAIC Group, and SAIC Group to continue development of its solid-state LiDAR technology and artificial intelligence sensing algorithms.
Demisto of Cupertino, Calif., received $43 million in Series C funding led by Greylock Partners, bringing its total private funding to $69 million. The security orchestration, automation and response startup will use the money for continued development of its products and for international expansion.
• Finland’s Varjo Technologies raised $31 million in Series B funding led by Atomico. The developer of a virtual reality/mixed reality headset has $46 million in total private funding. Varjo (pronounced “Var-yo”) is Finnish for “shadow.” It was founded in 2016.
TidalScale of Campbell, Calif., received $24 million in Series B funding from Bain Capital Ventures, Hummer Winblad, Sapphire Ventures, Infosys, and SK Hynix. The company develops software-defined servers.
• China’s ICHunt.com, a business-to-business trading platform for electronic components, raised $23 million in Series B+ funding led by affiliates of Haitong Securities.
• San Jose, Calif.-based CNEX Labs received more than $23 million in Series D funding led by Dell Technologies Capital. The startup develops an architecture for solid-state drive controllers. CNEX targets hyperscale data centers, enterprise data storage and servers, and cloud computing platforms.
YourMechanic of Mountain View, Calif., raised $10.1 million in Series B1 funding from RBC, SoftBank Capital, Verizon Ventures, American Family Ventures, Data Point Capital, and Rick Wagoner, the former chairman and CEO of General Motors. The mobile, on-demand auto mechanic service has taken in a total of more than $42 million in private funding.
• Palo Alto, Calif.-based Machinify received $10 million in Series A funding led by Battery Ventures. The startup provides an analytics service platform, helping enterprises monetize data with artificial intelligence technology. It was founded in early 2016.
Randori, a cybersecurity startup with offices in Boston and Denver, raised $9.75 million in seed funding led by Accomplice. The company was started in February. CEO Brian Hazzard was an early employee at Carbon Black, which went public in May.
• Santa Clara, Calif.-based Provino Technologies received $8 million in Series A funding led by Dell Technologies Capital. The semiconductor intellectual property firm provides network-on-a-chip technology for system-on-a-chip devices in artificial intelligence/machine learning, automotive, and consumer electronics applications. Provino has an office in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.
Shujinko of Seattle raised $2.8 million in seed funding from Unusual Ventures, Defy, Vulcan Capital, PSL Ventures, and Vas Ventures. The startup launched this week after beginning in the Pioneer Square Labs incubator program. Shujinko specializes in cloud security compliance.
Greenbriar Equity invested in Spireon of Irvine, Calif., which provides vehicle analytics and telematics for what it calls vehicle intelligence. It offers the NSpire unified IoT platform for applications in fleet management, rental cars, recovery of stolen vehicles, and more.

Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, agreed to acquire Imperva of Redwood Shores, Calif., for about $2.1 billion in cash, paying $55.75 per share for the cybersecurity company’s common stock. Imperva will become a privately held company once the transaction closes, which is expected to happen late in the fourth quarter of 2018 or early in the first quarter of 2019. Thoma Bravo owns two other cybersecurity firms, DigiCert and LogRhythm. This year, it sold its majority interest in Bomgar to Francisco Partners and bought majority ownership in Centrify.

Allstate completed its $525 million acquisition of InfoArmor of Scottsdale, Ariz., which offers cyberintelligence and employee protection products and services. Summit Partners, an investment firm, was the seller. InfoArmor is expanding into identity protection following the acquisition.

Optus Cyber Security, a unit of Singtel Optus and Singapore Telecommunications, will purchase Hivint, a cybersecurity consultancy in Melbourne, Australia, for A$23.3 million (about $16.5 million). The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Established in 2015, Hivint has other offices elsewhere in Australia and in San Francisco. Its services include security strategy and governance, incident response and forensics, vulnerability management, security awareness, and compliance management.

Minneapolis-based Perforce Software has agreed to acquire Perfecto Mobile of Burlington, Mass., which offers cloud-based automated mobile and Web application test software. Financial terms weren’t revealed. Private investors put about $90 million into Perfecto, which has facilities around the world. Perforce, a provider of enterprise-grade DevOps software, is a portfolio company of Clearlake Capital Group.

ServiceNow is acquiring the natural language query technology of San Francisco-based FriendlyData. That technology will be incorporated into applications on its Now platform.

San Diego-based Mitek Systems has reportedly rejected a takeover offer from ASG Technologies Group, a software company that includes Elliott Management and KKR among its investors, Reuters reports. Mitek provides mobile image capture and identity verification software to banks and other financial institutions.

Marvell Technology Group’s stock price started 2018 at $22.20 a share. It has been going up and down for most of the year, trading this week in the upper teens. Harsh Chauhan of The Motley Fool sees potentially better days ahead for the company and its MRVL stock, thanks to its $6 billion acquisition of Cavium three months ago and its latest financial results. Marvell reported revenue of $665 million for the fiscal second quarter ended August 4 and forecast Q3 revenue would be in the range of $825 million to $865 million. Revenue for the six months ending August 4 was $1.27 billion, up nearly 8% from $1.18 billion a year earlier, and including about four weeks of Cavium revenue. Analysts estimate the chip company’s net income will have a compound annual growth rate of more than 14% for the next five years.

Digi International plans to relocate its headquarters from Minnetonka, Minn., to Hopkins, Minn. In early 2019, the company will move into the top two floors of Building B at Excelsior Crossings, a 31-acre corporate campus.

Boston-based Rethink Robotics, supplier of the Baxter and Sawyer collaborative robots, this month shut its doors after the company was unable to complete an acquisition deal. The “cobot” startup received about $150 million in private funding from GE Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and other investors. Established in 2008 as Heartland Robotics, Rethink had 100 employees. Rodney Brooks, the company’s founder, chairman, and chief technical officer, was a co-founder of iRobot and the former director of the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.


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