Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Fax machines; funding mega-rounds; 3nm chips.


Check Point Software Technologies reports that facsimile machines (yes, people still use them!) can be subject to hacking through vulnerabilities in their communication protocols. The HP Officejet Pro All-in-One fax printers and other fax machines can be compromised with a hacker only knowing a fax number, according to the company. Check Point Research says a design flaw in Android’s Sandbox feature enables external data storage to serve as a conduit for cyberattacks. Researcher Slava Makkaveev described these “man-in-the-disk” attacks at the DEF CON event in Las Vegas.

ADT acquired Secure Designs of Greensboro, N.C., adding security offerings for small businesses, their networks, and their critical business data. Financial terms weren’t revealed. Secure Designs now operates as ADT Cybersecurity.

President Donald Trump this week signed into law the NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act, directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to provide resources to small businesses, helping them implement the agency’s voluntary cybersecurity framework.

Automotive Tech
Bloomberg News took a very close look at Quanergy Systems, the LiDAR sensor startup in Sunnyvale, Calif. Among its findings: Some of its products aren’t meeting their specifications, and there seems to be a brain drain of sorts. Co-founder and CEO Louay Eldada told Bloomberg, “People understand we are the real deal. We are the veterans.” Meanwhile, Quanergy announced appointing Oprema as the distributor of its QORTEX for Security system in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Cox Automotive formed a new division, the Mobility Solutions Group, and announced its acquisition of Clutch Technologies, developer of a consumer-focused subscription technology platform. Clutch was established and incubated through the Innovation Fund of Cox Enterprises, Cox Automotive’s parent company.

Xiaoju Automobile Solutions, the new spinout of Didi Chuxing, wasted little time in making its first acquisition – Hiservice, which provides after-service care for car owners with a digital platform. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. XAS is combining Hiservice with its maintenance and repair division in a new unit dubbed Xiaoju Auto Care, which offers maintenance, parts, components, and other services for vehicle owners.

Intel this week acquired Seattle-based Vertex.AI, the developer of a deep learning engine called PlaidML; financial terms weren’t disclosed. The startup (originally known as 1026 Labs) was founded in 2015 and had financial backing from Curious Capital and Creative Destruction Lab. Vertex.AI became part of the chipmaker’s Artificial Intelligence Products Group, which will continue development of PlaidML as an open-source project.

Private funding of $100 million or more is commonly known as a mega-round, this analysis notes. Throwing mega-millions at tech startups has lately been popularized by the SoftBank Vision Fund and Chinese investors, among others. There were 273 mega-rounds in 2017, a record bound to be broken this year, which has seen 268 mega-rounds in the first seven months of 2018. Is SoftBank upending the venture capital business? They are not, however, the biggest dispenser of mega-rounds, as Tencent Holdings was behind 31 mega-rounds so far this year, compared with 18 for the SoftBank fund. Tencent this week reported that its profit growth has slowed for the first time in more than 10 years, as Chinese regulators halted sales of its “Monster Hunter: World” game for gory content, while its “PlayerUnknown’s Battleground” game is being scrutinized by regulators as the company seeks a license to sell virtual items in the mobile application.

Shanghai-based NIO, a developer of premium electric vehicles that hopes to challenge Tesla, filed for a $1.8 billion initial public offering in the United States, planning to trade its American depositary shares as NIO on the New York Stock Exchange. William Bin Li, NIO’s founder, chairman, and CEO, writes in a letter to investors incorporated in the company’s F-1 filing, “NIO, which translates to ‘Blue Sky Coming’ in its Chinese name, originated from our vision of a future filled with blue skies. We believe that improved smart electric car technologies, coupled with better experience of car ownership, will drive increased appreciation and adoption of smart electric cars, leading to the fulfillment of our vision of blue skies and a more sustainable future for our planet.” Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs (Asia), and J.P Morgan are the leading underwriters for the proposed IPO.

Uber Technologies gave up on developing self-driving trucks, two years after it paid more than $600 million to acquire Otto. Some who were involved in that effort still share a vision of autonomous driving in the trucking industry. Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo employee who was a founder of Otto, left Uber more than a year ago and is reportedly involved in a stealthy “intelligent driving” startup known as Kache.ai. Don Burnette, another Otto founder, who left Uber in March, still wants to realize the vision of self-driving trucks with his new startup, Kodiak Robotics, which received $40 million in Series A funding led by Battery Ventures. CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Tusk Venture Partners also participated in the round for the startup, which came together in April. Paz Eshel, formerly a vice president at Battery Ventures, is now working at Kodiak.

Sila Nanotechnologies of Alameda, Calif., a developer of materials for electric vehicle batteries and other applications, raised $70 million in Series D funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures. Also investing are next47 (the Siemens venture capital fund), Amperex Technology, ATL, and Bessemer Venture Partners. Sila Nano has a silicon-based battery material that can replace graphite on the battery anode, providing greater energy storage in the battery. The startup is partnering with BMW and has raised a total of $125 million in private funding.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Exabeam received $50 million in Series D funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, which was joined by Aspect Ventures, Cisco Investments, Icon Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and Shlomo Kramer. Exabeam will use the money to expand its cloud-based portfolio of security information and event management offerings, and to extend overseas sales and marketing. The company has taken in total private funding of $115 million.

France’s Navya, which is developing autonomous shuttle vehicles, raised €30 million (about $34 million) from European Investment Bank. The private funding came soon after the company went public on the Euronext exchange in Paris, receiving €38 million (around $43.1 million).

Twistlock of Portland, Ore., received $33 million in Series C funding led by Iconiq Capital, bringing its total private funding to $63 million. Also participating were YL Ventures, TenEleven, Rally Ventures, Polaris Partners, and Dell Technologies Capital. Twistlock offers a platform to help secure cloud native environments.

Tianrang, an artificial intelligence startup in China, raised $26 million in funding led by Gaorong Capital and CMB International Capital. Ziniu Fund and Wacai also invested in the new round. Tianrang was founded in 2016 and plans to work on using machine learning technology in smart cities.

San Francisco-based Scale received $18 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures, Accel, and Y Combinator, bringing its total private funding to $22.7 million. Scale employs human data labelers and machine learning algorithms to examine raw data streams from autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Its clients include Embark, General Motors (Cruise Automation), Lyft, Nuro, nuTonomy, Voyage, and Zoox.

StreetLight Data, a provider of traffic analytics software, received $10 million in funding from Osage University Partners, ENGIE New Ventures, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, and other investors to continue product development and to expand its operations. Its total private funding is more than $25 million. The San Francisco startup was founded in 2011 and operates on a software-as-a-service model.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Owl Cameras raised $10 million in Series A1 funding led by Canvas Ventures. The startup has attracted $28 million in investments. Owl offers a two-way dashboard camera for in-car security.

India’s Vogo, a scooter-sharing startup, received about $7 million in Series A funding led by ANI Technologies (doing business as Ola) and Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal. Matrix Partners India, Stellaris Venture Partners, and angel investors also participated in the round. Vogo was established in 2016 and got seed funding last year.

AttackIQ, a San Diego cybersecurity startup, raised $5.5 million in new funding led by Salesforce Ventures. The company previously fielded $8.8 million from Index Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and Telstra Ventures, all of which also participated in the latest round. AttackIQ offers a platform for testing an enterprise’s security precautions against specific cyberattacks.

Force Over Mass, Round Hill Venture Partners, and Zag (Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s venture capital fund) provided $4.5 million in seed funding to SenSat, a startup in the United Kingdom that uses spatial and visual data to simulate the physical world. Founded in 2013, SenSat will use the money to continue product development and to invest in its San Francisco office.

Infineon Technologies invested in Metawave, which is developing long-range, high-resolution radar technology for advanced driver-assistance systems. This investment is on top of the $10 million Metawave picked up from several investors in May.

Pareteum reports an order for its Global Software Defined Cloud from a customer identified as a “British multinational conglomerate group company.” The agreement is valued at $3.5 million over three years. The company also reported a $4 million, three-year agreement with a “Southeast Asia mobile network operator.”

Synopsys will work with IBM to develop design technology co-optimization for the 3-nanometer process node and beyond. The work is expected to involve new transistor architectures, materials, and other semiconductor process technologies with design metrics.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory came up with the Foresee software, intended to manage connected devices and appliances in the home. Bosch Sensortec and Colorado State University worked with the laboratory to test the software on an air conditioner, dishwasher, dryer, refrigerator, and washing machine, among other appliances and products.

Achronix Semiconductor will be a silver sponsor of the annual Hot Chips conference, which takes place in Cupertino, Calif., from Sunday, August 19th through Tuesday, August 21st. Achronix will tout its Speedcore embedded field-programmable gate array intellectual property at the conference. Flex Logix Technologies will exhibit at Hot Chips, while Harvard University will present a paper on its 16nm AI chip using the EFLX eFPGA technology.

Mobile World Congress Americas takes place on September 12-14 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The event is put on by GSMA and CTIA. The exhibit floor will feature an IoT Zone, highlighting the role 5G cellular communications technology will play in the Internet of Things.


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