Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Dialog deals; Alphabet’s Backstory; LiDAR market.


Internet of Things
Dialog Semiconductor is shifting its product portfolio away from smartphones following its pending $600 million deal with Apple. The chip company is looking toward connected-health products and video-game consoles for future growth. The connected-health devices, developed in collaboration with pharmaceutical firms, would monitor blood pressure and check glucose levels, according to Dialog CEO Jalal Bagherli. These devices would take Dialog deeper into the Internet of Things market. “We find this transformation of Dialog’s business compelling, and think its current valuation overly discounts the risk associated with the company’s evolving business model,” Barclays analyst Andrew Gardiner wrote in a note to clients. While Dialog earlier predicted a decline in 2019 revenue due to the smartphone sales slump, the company now forecasts first-quarter revenue of $270 million to $310 million. Dialog wants to boost sales of its configurable mixed-signal ICs, which came through the $276 million acquisition of Silego Technology in 2017. The company agreed this week to acquire Silicon Motion Technology’s Mobile Communications line for $45 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close during this year. The Silicon Motion line is branded as FCI and is primarily located near Seoul, South Korea. FCI posted 2018 revenue of about $30 million. “The acquisition of Silicon Motion’s Mobile Communications product line provides Dialog customers with ultra-low-power Wi-Fi SoCs and complete modules that are certified and designed to meet the demands of today’s battery-powered IoT devices,” Bagherli said in a statement.

The SEMI-FlexTech organization announced funding for two new projects. ITN Energy Systems leads a project to develop ultra-thin charge control circuits for an optimized ultra-thin battery as a renewable, self-charging, flexible source, in partnership with Molex, ENrG, Sunray Scientific, and the University of Rhode Island. The 15-month project has total funding of $2.4 million with a 48% cost share by industry partners. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) will team with i3 Microsystems to demonstrate an electrode array that identifies muscle fatigue in training combatants and provides rehabilitation therapies from neural-trauma or neuropathic disorders. The team will create an advanced electromyography electrode array and commercial CMOS chip in a fan-out-wafer-level-package based on a biocompatible platform for heterogeneous integration. The FOWLP enables a small form factor, with the biocompatibility enabled by a new molding compound. The project is scheduled for 18 months at a total of $1 million with a 50% cost share.

Filament CEO Allison Clift-Jennings is touting the use of blockchain technology in securing data transfer to networked devices. Reno, Nev.-based Filament offers a decentralized IoT platform and has raised a total of $22.8 million in private funding. Most of the company’s client base is in the automotive and mobile communications business. “The automotive industry, unlike many others, is experiencing at least four inbound disruptions right now: autonomous driving, the electrification of vehicles, ride-sharing services, and connectivity built into the car,” she says. “With technology like Filament’s platform, we bring about a trusted capability into the car itself. Trusted, in that there is verifiable proof of the vehicle identity and when various events on the vehicle happen (when it starts, moved, etc.). When both of those are trustworthy, then new products and services can be built on top of our platform, giving OEM automakers the ability to stay relevant in this new era.”

Alphabet’s Chronicle subsidiary brought out Backstory, a tool that uses Alphabet/Google’s data storage, indexing, and search capabilities to find the origins of a malicious attack. The product’s evolution stems from a Chinese hacking of Google in 2010, an incident that caused the company to recruit cybersecurity professionals from the National Security Agency and within Silicon Valley. Splunk and other big data analytics companies charge by the amount of data indexed; Backstory sets its charges by a client’s number of employees.

This week in Huawei – the Chinese vendor of telecommunications and networking equipment sued the U.S. government over barring federal agencies from using Huawei products. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Texas; Huawei has its U.S. headquarters office in Plano, Texas. Meanwhile, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou had an extradition hearing before the Supreme Court of British Columbia to decide whether Canada will comply with the U.S. request to extradite her to the States to face criminal charges. Meng has been detained for more than three months in Vancouver, B.C., where she has a seven-bedroom mansion and a six-bedroom house, together worth about C$22 million (around $16.4 million). Finally, Huawei Chairman Ken Hu called for governments, regulators, and the telecommunications industry to develop a common set of cybersecurity standards. “As a whole, the industry lacks a unified set of technical standards for security, as well as systems for verification. This is complicated by globalization of the value chain,” he said.

Verizon Communications is adding BlackBerry Cylance’s antivirus security offerings to its Managed Security Services portfolio. The CylancePROTECT and CylanceOPTICS endpoint security tools can now be licensed and managed by Verizon MSS. Verizon has completed its acquisition of Denver-based ProtectWise, which provides cloud-based network detection and response capabilities. The ProtectWise technology will be integrated into the telecom’s existing offerings.

FireEye brought out its M-Trends 2019 Report on cyberattack trends around the world. The report can be found here.

At the RSA Conference USA 2019, McAfee revealed evidence that the Operation Sharpshooter campaign exposed last year is more extensive in complexity, scope, and duration of operations than previously known. McAfee Advanced Threat Research now believes that Sharpshooter was initiated in September of 2017.

Carbon Black released its second annual Modern Bank Heists report, which can be downloaded here. The company collaborated with Optiv to survey chief information security officers at financial institutions around the world to identify cyberattack trends in the financial sector.

Symantec reports that the massive 2018 cyberattack in Singapore, which exposed the personal information of about 1.5 million people, was carried out by a state-sponsored cyberespionage group known as Whitefly. The group has apparently been operating since 2017. “Based on its tactics and targets, our assessment is that Whitefly is a state-sponsored espionage group. We can’t identify for certain who or what organization is directing or funding that activity,” a Symantec spokeswoman told Reuters. “Whitefly’s tight focus on a limited number of targets in a single country leads us to believe they are likely a small- to medium-sized team.”

Cisco Systems advises businesses using its firewall and VPN routers to immediately install updates to patch a critical flaw that would enable remote attackers to break into a network. The CVE-2018-1663 bug can affect the Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall, Cisco RV130W Wireless-N Multifunction VPN Router, and Cisco RV215W Wireless-N VPN Router.

Microsoft introduced its Azure Sentinel product, a native security information and event management tool within a leading cloud service platform. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that the cybersecurity industry faces a shortage of about 3.5 million qualified workers by 2022, raising the need for artificial intelligence-based security platforms. Microsoft’s Ann Johnson also noted the addition of the Microsoft Threat Experts product within Windows Defender, where users can click the “Ask a Threat Expert” button.

Palo Alto Networks unveiled an AI-based security product, Cortex, during the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Cisco Systems and Palo Alto Networks are active acquirers in the cybersecurity business, with Palo Alto Networks last month agreeing to purchase Demisto for $560 million in cash and stock.

Verizon’s Insider Threat Report is out, and you can read it here. The company’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 20% of cybersecurity incidents and 15% of data breaches originated from people within an organization; nearly half of these attacks were motivated by financial gain, while 23.4% did it for fun.

At RSA, the National Security Agency introduced an open-source version of its internal Ghidra tool, a reverse-engineering platform for taking compiled, deployed software and decompiling it.

LiDAR technology has fostered a number of partnerships in the automotive industry, as the old-line manufacturers make deals with the dozens of startups working in the field, this analysis notes. More than $1 billion in corporate and private investments were placed in about 50 LiDAR startups during the last three years, including a record $420 million last year, Reuters estimates. Here’s a chart of investment data gathered from Crunchbase, Dealroom, and PitchBook. Despite all the interest and investment, IHS Markit estimates the automotive LiDAR market will have just $2.5 billion in revenue by 2025. Of course, LiDAR sensors have applications in other markets, such as mapping and robotics.

Alphabet’s Waymo unit is now selling its custom-designed LiDAR sensors to other companies for applications in agriculture, robotics, and security. “Today, we’re announcing that one of our 3D lidar sensors, which we call Laser Bear Honeycomb, is available to select partners,” Waymo’s Simon Verghese wrote in a Medium blog post.

NIO reported a net loss of about $1.4 billion on revenue of $720.1 million in 2018, as it delivered 11,348 ES8 electric vehicles for the year. As a result of the big loss, the Chinese carmaker is putting off plans to build its own factory and will continue to contract out manufacturing of its all-electric SUVs. JAC Motors is the company’s contract manufacturer. NIO plans to deliver its ES6 SUV later this year.

Tony West, chief legal officer at Uber Technologies, is profiled in this article. Since joining the company in late 2017, the former U.S. Department of Justice official has had to deal with a number of legal issues, including sexual assaults by Uber contractor-drivers, as Uber moves closer to its initial public offering. Meanwhile, prosecutors decided against bringing criminal charges against Uber in the pedestrian death caused last year by an Uber autonomous vehicle in Tempe, Ariz.

Volkswagen and Microsoft will work together on cloud computing services in China and the U.S., in the service of connected vehicles around the world. VW will use its Automotive Cloud to provide vehicle and service data operations for its ID electric cars, scheduled to be in showrooms next year.

When we last heard of Carlos Ghosn, the executive was languishing in a Tokyo jail, while prosecutors continued to question him. This week, a judge granted Ghosn bail, set at 1 billion yen (nearly $9 million). In detention for more than 100 days since his arrest last October, Ghosn is prohibited from leaving Japan and will be under guard, with restricted access to outside information.

The cybersecurity of automotive vehicles can be vulnerable; there have been multiple hackings of auto systems in the past decade, this analysis notes. Companies have formed partnerships and worked with “white hat” hackers to help resolve the issue.

Thomas Ensergueix, senior director of IoT and embedded at Arm, reports on his attendance of the embedded world conference in Nuremberg, Germany. The company celebrated with the Raspberry Pi Foundation the shipments of 25 million Arm-based Raspberry Pi computers.

ClioSoft reports a 15% increase in 2018 bookings, compared with 2017, while maintaining profitability for the 19th consecutive year. Last year saw increased demand for the company’s designHUB IP reuse ecosystem and the SOS7 design management platform.

Beijing, China-based Lynxi Technologies licensed the Arteris IP FlexNoC Interconnect for use in its high-performance neural networking processors. The startup includes technology leaders from Tsinghua University.

Marvell Technology Group will collaborate with Oracle to develop secure key storage with the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 Level 3 certified hardware security modules for the cryptographic keys that Oracle Cloud Infrastructure customers manage through the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Key Management service. Marvell unveiled its LiquidSecurity Network Hardware Security Module, which also works with Amazon CloudHSM and Google Cloud Platform Cloud HSM. Meanwhile, P6R Inc. announced that its Key Management Interoperability Protocol Server Gateway can now be bundled with the Marvell LiquidSecurity Network Hardware Security Module portfolio. Marvell worked with Bloombase to integrate the LiquidSecurity Network HSM line with the Bloombase StoreSafe Intelligent Storage Firewall.

Synopsys is showcasing its RSoft product portfolio, the Photonic Integrated Circuit Design Suite, and PAM-4 DesignWare 56G Ethernet PHY intellectual property at OFC 2019 in the San Diego Convention Center.

Ixia, a business unit of Keysight Technologies, exhibited at RSA 2019, spotlighting such products as Ixia Vision Edge 1S and 100G iBypass.

New York-based UiPath, a robotic process automation startup, may launch a conversational AI platform for customer-facing services and carrying out backend processes, according to Param Kahlon, the company’s chief product officer. The well-funded UiPath has already added Microsoft Bot Framework functionality and integrated Google’s Enterprise Dialogflow.

NXP Semiconductors integrated Intrinsic ID’s IoT security technology in its LPC55Sxx line of secure microcontrollers. At the RSA Conference, the company debuted the Citadel Infrastructure Tools, a suite of software products easing the deployment of unclonable device identities for securing IoT applications.


Volkswagen signed e.GO Mobile, an electric vehicle startup in Germany, as a partner for VW’s modular platform for EVs, which involves the group’s MEB production system.

Ericsson showed off a strip of plastic at MWC 2019 Barcelona that seemed innocuous, yet it could be a significant product in the future. The strip contains printed circuits and antennas for receiving and transmitting 5G data.

The Trump 2020 reelection campaign embraced a government-owned wholesale system for sharing 5G airwaves, a policy position that reportedly surprised the White House and relevant administration officials. Within a few days, the campaign walked back that endorsement, abandoning the idea of getting the government into the 5G cellular communications business to satisfy the complaints of rural voters that are underserved by most wireless networks.

Lyft lodged its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, publicly laying out information about the company, which hopes to have an initial public offering, possibly next month. For 2018, Lyft had a net loss of $911.3 million on revenue of $2.2 billion. Like many disruptive startups, the company has yet to make a profit in its history, as it pursues growth over profitability. In 2017, Lyft posted a net loss of $688.3 million on revenue of $1.1 billion. Meanwhile, Lyft and Uber Technologies are reportedly giving cash to certain drivers so they can purchase shares during their IPOs. The drivers would have the option of keeping the cash as a bonus.

Israel’s Tufin Software Technologies filed for a $100 million IPO, planning to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as TUFN. The provider of network security policy management software selected J.P. Morgan as its lead underwriter. Tufin last year posted a net loss of $4 million on revenue of $85 million. The company has raised about $26 million in venture capital funding.

DataStax of Santa Clara, Calif., which offers a data management platform, is preparing for an IPO this year, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The company has reportedly hired Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase as underwriters. DataStax has raised around $190 million in venture capital funding, with private investors giving the startup a post-money valuation of $967 million.

Volkswagen is considering a spinoff listing of its Traton truck unit, Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said. “A listing is highly desirable,” he said at the Geneva International Motor Show. The decision may be made soon, he added.

Juniper Networks agreed to acquire Mist Systems of Cupertino, Calif., for $405 million in cash and the assumption of outstanding equity awards. The transaction is expected to close during Juniper’s fiscal second quarter, which ends in June. Mist uses artificial intelligence technology to automate the Wi-Fi infrastructure of enterprises. Founded in 2014, the company raised about $88 million from private investors including GV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Cisco Systems, Dimension Data, and NTT Docomo Ventures.

Comcast acquired BluVector, which uses AI and machine learning to provide cybersecurity protection to companies and government agencies. Financial terms weren’t revealed. Eric Malawer, a cybersecurity veteran in government and private enterprise, was named CEO of BluVector, succeeding founding CEO Kris Lovejoy, who will serve as an adviser and consultant to BluVector and Comcast.

Nintex of Bellevue, Wash., acquired EnableSoft of Orlando, Fla., which provides robotic process automation software. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Nintex, which specializes in process management and automation, is a Thoma Bravo portfolio company.

Cerberus Capital Management completed its $181 million acquisition of Schaumburg, Ill.-based Sparton, a manufacturer of electromechanical devices. Sparton was publicly held prior to the purchase by the private equity firm.

SEMICON China 2019 will be held March 20-22 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, running concurrently with FPD China 2019. The annual conference and exhibition this year focuses on smart transportation, smart manufacturing, the Internet of Things, and workforce development. SEMI is expecting 100,000 attendees, a record, at the trade show.


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