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Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Microsoft’s IoT; election security; GM plant.

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Internet of Things
Microsoft this week introduced IoT Plug and Play, a no-code toolkit for connecting Internet of Things devices to the cloud. The company touts it as a new modeling language to pump up the capabilities of IoT devices through the Microsoft Azure cloud service. The Azure IoT Device Catalog lists devices that support IoT Plug and Play, such as the STMicroelectronics SensorTile.box, which can function as a demonstration platform for Azure IoT Central.

Cisco Systems signed a memorandum of understanding with Snam of Italy to conduct joint research, development, and innovation in the Industrial Internet of Things field. The companies will collaborate on IIoT infrastructure, while training workers and students for the jobs of the future. Snam is a natural gas infrastructure company, once part of Eni and now an independent venture with the Italian government as its leading shareholder.

Tyson Tuttle, president and CEO of Silicon Labs, talked to TheStreet.com about 5G, the IoT, and other topics. The Austin-based chip company got about 53% of its $868.3 million in 2018 revenue from IoT-related products. Its IoT revenue grew from $395 million in 2017 to $463.8 million last year. Around three-fourths of the IoT revenue is derived from wireless products, Tuttle says. With $11.4 billion of potential business in the pipeline, about $8 billion is in IoT, he notes.

Vodafone reports that 34% of companies now use IoT technology, up from 29% a year ago. In the near future, 5G cellular communications will support relatively niche IoT use cases. “But the market will expand as coverage improves and 5G begins to deliver on its full promise: lower latency, higher speeds, and greater reliability,” says Michele Mackenzie of Analysys Mason.

Tech Data debuted its Analytics and IoT Solution Factory offering, which is said to expand upon click-to-run solutions in the Tech Data Cloud Solution Factory to create vetted analytics and IoT solutions for specific use cases. The company’s offerings feature the Intel IoT Market Ready Solutions.

Frost & Sullivan evaluated more than 1,000 IoT platforms, with its team determining that 400 companies have true platform capabilities across multiple vertical markets and consumer segments. The analysts and experts selected 29 companies for the Frost Radar: Global Internet of Things (IoT) Platforms Market, 2019, which can be downloaded here.

Cybersecurity
At this week’s Build developers conference in Seattle, Microsoft debuted the ElectionGuard platform, a free and open-source software development kit that is part of the company’s Defending Democracy Program. The platform would sit underneath existing voting systems and would enter data on a specific vote, providing the voter with a tracking number to help ensure that the vote is securely tabulated. Microsoft worked with Galois, a company that received a $10 million grant from DARPA, to develop ElectionGuard. Also new is Microsoft 365 for Campaigns, a version of the cloud-based Microsoft 365 for Business, which will be offered this year to campaigns and political parties.

C-level executives have access to the most sensitive information in an enterprise, and some fraudsters are targeting those people, according to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, which you can read here. That seems to contradict a recent Proofpoint report, which said lower-level employees – especially those in research and development – are being targeted by hackers.

The Israel Defense Forces report stopping a cyberattack by Hamas last weekend and responding to the attack with an airstrike aimed at the Gaza Strip building where the cyberattack reportedly originated. The IDF claimed it destroyed the cyber operational capabilities of Hamas with the airstrike.

A hacking group in China was able to get its hands on National Security Agency tools and repurpose those tools to carry out attacks on American allies and private companies in Asia and Europe during 2016, according to security researchers at Symantec. The method of obtaining that secret code is unusual – Symantec says the hackers captured the code from an NSA attack on their computers.

This week in Huawei – Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, had a hearing before the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Wednesday in a proceeding to determine the next steps in Canada’s consideration of an extradition request by the Trump administration. The process is expected to take months, and it may be affected by negotiations between China and U.S. over a trade deal. The Huawei executive, who is the eldest daughter of the company’s founder, was detained at the Vancouver airport more than five months ago and is monitored by a GPS tracker on her ankle while she remains at a home in Vancouver. The court approved a request allowing her to live at her $16 million mansion in Vancouver, rather than her $6 million home. Meanwhile, Huawei is pressing into the business of public cloud services, providing competition for such services in China offered by Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud. The company has launched more than 160 cloud service products. In other news, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged British leaders to prohibit Huawei from providing equipment for its forthcoming 5G network. Huawei would like the U.S. to follow the example of the United Kingdom and Germany in evaluating its networking and telecommunications products.

Unisys, better known as a vendor of computer systems and as a military contractor, has grown into the cybersecurity business in a big way, this analysis notes. The company integrated its Unisys Stealth security software suite with the Dell EMC Cyber Recovery software, a combined offering that will be available next month.

At its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Facebook has a room full of employees working to detect and stop meddling in this month’s elections for the European Parliament. About 40 workers are charged with monitoring activities in 28 countries. The company has a similar command post in Singapore for the elections in India.

Baltimore’s city government computers and network were hit Tuesday with a ransomware attack, after a similar attack in 2018 brought down the city’s phone system, including automated dispatches for 911 and 311 calls. The attackers demanded 3 bitcoins (worth about $17,600) for each affected computer, or 13 bitcoins (worth about $76,280) for freeing the entire system. Baltimore is refusing to pay the ransom and has quarantined the ransomware on its systems.

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously denied the application by China Mobile USA to offer services in the United States, citing the company’s ownership and control by the government of China, raising national security and law enforcement concerns.

Automotive/Mobility
General Motors is in talks to sell its shuttered assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to the Workhorse Group, a manufacturer of electric trucks and commercial vans, drones, and other products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. President Trump took credit for the transaction. Workhorse’s stock jumped on the news, from less than $1 to $2.65 on Wednesday. Questions about the prospective deal are being raised, however, by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the United Automobile Workers, and Ohio politicians.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R.-AK, is introducing the Minerals Security Act with the support of Senator Joe Manchin, D.-W.Va. The legislation is aimed at streamlining regulations and permitting the development of new mines for lithium, graphite, and other minerals that go into producing electric vehicles. China currently dominates the supply chains for those minerals. “Our challenge is still a failure to understand the vulnerability we are in as a nation when it comes to reliance on others for our minerals,” Murkowski told Reuters.

Ride hailing and ride sharing continue to grow around the world. The expense of using automotive vehicles for those services is contributing toward greater use of electric motorbikes, especially in India, this analysis notes. The two-wheelers can be rented for a full day with a fee of 10 rupees, or about 14 cents.

Prosecutors in Germany levied a fine of €535 million (about $599 million) on Porsche for the car company’s role in the diesel emissions cheating scandal. The unit of the Volkswagen Group is not appealing the fine. Meanwhile, an engineer who helped to uncover the emissions cheating while he was a graduate student at West Virginia University, is out of a job and has gone back to India while he looks for employment. General Motors hired Hemanth Kappanna, the engineer, in late 2014. Most recently, he acted as a company liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency, working in Milford, Mich. In February, GM laid him off, paying two months of salary as severance and giving him a one-way plane ticket to India. He was unable to find another job during a 60-day grace period for his work visa and now is in Bangalore, his hometown, although he has spent most of his adult life in the U.S.

The Waymo unit of Alphabet will offer rides in its robotaxis in the Phoenix area through the Lyft mobile application. Safety drivers will initially be in the autonomous vehicles under the pilot program, intended to gather customer feedback.

Google is refreshing the Android Auto operating system, sporting a new look that was rolled out at this week’s Google I/O developers conference. The new features include a more dynamic persistent navigation bar at the bottom of the user interface. There’s also a default dark mode in the software, which will be available this summer.

May Mobility selected LeddarTech’s solid-state Cocoon LiDAR sensor for use in their autonomous shuttles. The shuttle developer validated the LiDAR technology with more than 50,000 real-condition test drives, the companies stated.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Bird rolled out the Bird One, an electric scooter specified to run for 30 miles on a charge, with a top speed of more than 19 miles per hour. The new e-scooter costs $1,299 to purchase and comes in black, white, and rose colors. The model will soon be available to reserve or rent in the Los Angeles area.

In Berlin, Volkswagen introduced its ID.3 electric hatchback, an entry-level vehicle that will cost less than €30,000 (about $33,650), with deliveries beginning next year in Europe. The company claimed there were more than 10,000 pre-orders for the EV in only 24 hours.

Products/Services
Cliosoft reports TUV SUD certified Tool Confidence Level 1 for the company’s designHUB IP reuse ecosystem for enterprises platform, SOS7 design management platform, and Visual Design software. TCL1 certification means products comply with the ISO 26262 automotive functional safety requirements and can be used in ASIL A through ASIL D automotive design projects.

Arteris IP says Semidrive licensed the Arteris IP FlexNoC Interconnect and the accompanying FlexNoC Resilience Package for use in chips going into autonomous driving and advanced driver-assistance systems.

Synopsys announced that Fudan Microelectronics Group selected its DesignWare Bluetooth 5.0 Controller and PHY for ultra-low-power microcontrollers going into IoT applications.

OmniVision Technologies introduced the OV2312 automotive image sensor, combining multiple functions in one camera. The company also recently announced the combination of its OV2778 2MP RGB-Ir image sensor with GEO Semiconductor’s GW5200 sensor for machine vision and viewing applications.

M&A
Marvell Technology Group agreed to acquire Aquantia for $13.25 per share in cash, representing a transaction value of approximately $452 million. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019. The proposed purchase is said to strengthen Marvell’s product portfolio for automotive in-vehicle networking and in multi-gigabit Ethernet for enterprise infrastructure, data centers, and access. Strategy Analytics forecasts in-vehicle Ethernet ports will increase from 58 million ports in 2018 to 367 million ports in 2022 for a compound annual growth rate of 62%.

An investor group led by Hellman & Friedman, a private equity firm, completed its $11 billion acquisition of The Ultimate Software Group. Significant investors include Blackstone, GIC, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board; JMI Equity is among the other investors.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles completed the $6.5 billion sale of Magneti Marelli, a manufacturer of automotive parts, to Calsonic Kansei, a KKR portfolio company.

Atlanta-based NCR, a manufacturer of automated teller machines, is exploring strategic alternatives, possibly including a sale of the company, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. NCR may be worth $3.7 billion or more if sold.

F5 Networks completed its $670 million acquisition of NGINX, an open-source leader in application delivery.

Orange agreed to acquire SecureLink of the Netherlands, a provider of cybersecurity services, for €515 million (about $577.8 million). The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter or in the third quarter.

QlikTech International completed its $560 million acquisition of Attunity, a provider of big data management and data integration software.

Roseland, N.J.-based Actigo, formerly known as Comodo CA, acquired Icon Labs, a provider of cross-platform security for embedded OEMs and IoT device manufacturers.

Kaseya of Dublin, Ireland, is buying ID Agent, an American cybersecurity startup; financial terms weren’t disclosed. The Irish firm specializes in infrastructure management software.

Finance
It’s a big week for initial public offerings! San Francisco-based Uber Technologies priced its IPO at $45 a share, selling 180 million shares and raising a total of $8.1 billion. UBER shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange. The offering values the company at about $82 billion. Pricing of the IPO comes a day after Uber drivers around the world protested against the company, saying they want to be paid more and to gain employee status, rather than being treated as independent contractors. The launch of trading shares on the NYSE brought up the issue of whether co-founder, director, and former CEO Travis Kalanick will get to appear on the stock exchange’s balcony for the opening ceremony; his successor as CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has reportedly insisted on Kalanick staying on the trading floor. Meanwhile, this analysis looks at how the current crop of tech IPOs is different from the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. UBER finished its first day of trading at $41.57, down $3.43 or 7.6% for the day. Market capitalization closed at $76.13 billion, with more than 183 million shares changing hands.

Mayville Engineering, which provides manufacturing services to OEMs, raised $106.25 million in its IPO, selling 6.25 million shares at $17 per share, below its earlier expected range of $19 to $21. The employee-owned company’s shares trade as MEC on the NYSE. Mayville closed its first day of trading on Thursday at $16.47, down 53 cents from the IPO price. Nearly 2.8 million shares changed hands on the day.

Sonim Technologies raised nearly $39.3 million in its IPO, pricing 3,571,429 shares at $11 a share. The stock trades as SONM on Nasdaq. The company makes ultra-rugged smartphones, feature phones, and flip phones.

GM Cruise raised $1.15 billion in equity funding from an investor group including T. Rowe Price Associates, Honda Motor, the SoftBank Vision Fund, and General Motors. The GM unit’s post-money valuation now stands at $19 billion.

Uber rival Lyft, which went public in late March, reported a net loss of $1.14 billion for the first quarter of this year, compared with a loss of $234.7 million a year earlier. Its Q1 revenue rose 95% to $776 million. LYFT shares on Nasdaq closed Thursday at $55.18, up $2.27 a share for the day, but down from the IPO price of $72, a decline of about 23%.

Market Research
Tractica forecasts the market for AI-enabled automotive human-machine interface software will increase from $462.8 million in 2018 to $4.6 billion by 2025. The market intelligence firm predicts most of the growth will come from voice and speech recognition applications, with smaller opportunities for driver face analytics and emotion recognition, along with gesture recognition.

Personnel
Symantec CEO Greg Clark abruptly stepped down Thursday as the cybersecurity company warned that its earnings in the current quarter would fall short of analyst estimates. Richard (Rick) Hill, a Symantec director, was named interim president and CEO. Hill was once chairman and CEO of Novellus Systems, a supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and much earlier was an executive at Tektronix.

Jess Lee, the former CEO of InVisage Technologies, was named president and CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Sentons, a startup developing a new way of touch and force sensing. Founded in 2011, Sentons has received $37.7 million in private funding, according to Crunchbase, from investors including New Enterprise Associates and Northern Light Venture Capital.


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