Week in Review – IoT, Security, Autos

Drone market; exposed database; battery factory.


Rambus entered an exclusive agreement to acquire the Silicon IP, Secure Protocols, and Provisioning business from Verimatrix, formerly known as Inside Secure. Financial terms were not revealed. The transaction is expected to close this year. Rambus will use the Verimatrix offerings in such demanding applications as artificial intelligence, automotive, the Internet of Things, and networking.

Synopsys reports NSITEXE, Inc. achieved success with the first silicon for its Data Flow Processor-based system-on-a-chip test chip using Synopsys design, verification, and intellectual property. The DFP combines a CPU with a GPU and will be used in automotive systems.

Cepton Technologies next week will introduce the Helius system, a network of laser-powered smart sensors that link with other types of sensors and activate CCTV cameras, at the Global Security Exchange in Chicago. Helius is said to aim at seamless integration into existing security systems.

Internet of Things
The commercial drone market went through a bubble phase in recent years, with lots of venture capital invested in startups, this analysis notes. The market enthusiasm has collided with business reality in the past year. Paris-based Parrot announced in July that it would stop producing most of its drone products. Airware, which raised $118 million in private capital, closed its doors and laid off 140 employees late last year. GoPro quit the market for unmanned aerial vehicles and laid off hundreds of employees in early 2018. Crunchbase reports at least 67 drone startups have been sold.

Parrot is still in the drone game, introducing the Anafi FPV model this week. The “FPV” stands for “first person view.” The drone comes with a pair of goggles that connects with a smartphone. The goggles show you the live feed from the Anafi FPV’s 4K high dynamic range (HDR) camera. The drone is priced at $799.

Powerhouse Brattørkaia in Trondheim, Norway, is an energy-positive office building. It will generate more power than it consumes over the life of the facility. It is the largest such building in Norway.

Altair Semiconductor says its ALT250 IoT cellular chipset was validated for SoftBank Corp.’s narrowband IoT network in Japan.

Parsons Corporation is leading the Transforming Intersections Smart Cities Challenge, an initiative aimed at improving mobility efficiency in urban environments. “The world today is facing a significant global mobility challenge and the infrastructure that moves cities needs to keep pace with the technology,” said Bryce McDevitt, senior director of external communications at Parsons. “Our goal is to give cities the opportunity to increase their mobility, reduce their carbon footprint, and keep their city safer.” Another aspect of this is sustainability, McDevitt said. “We believe drivers can reduce their fuel consumption by 20% with simply having well-timed signals,” he added. “All that combines to create faster, more agile mobility systems that will increase economic growth, free time, and spur innovation.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is launching a smart cities technology pilot program in St. Louis. The federal agency will work with the city and the Open Geospatial Consortium to design and test a smart city interoperability reference architecture as a framework that integrates IoT smart sensors for public safety applications.

Mobileye, an Intel subsidiary, chose Orange Business Services to provide IoT connectivity for its next-generation product, Mobileye 8 Connect. The connectivity support will be implemented in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions collaborated on developing robotic boats, autonomous platforms that can be configured to bridge canals, ponds, and backyard pools. These “roboats” feature cameras, GPS modules, microcontrollers, sensors, thrusters, and other hardware.


A database with more than 419 million phone numbers for Facebook users was left exposed without a password. Sanyam Jain, a security researcher and a member of the GDI Foundation, discovered the database. He was unable to find the database’s owner. TechCrunch also could not identify the owner. The Web hosting service took the database offline. The trove included the phone numbers for 133 million Facebook users in the U.S.

Biometric authentication is on the rise, offering a more secure alternative to passwords, Jon Markman writes. “Faster, more secure logins make life easier for users. However, the real benefit accrues to enterprises, financial institutions, telecoms, insurance, and the government. Better authentication speeds e-commerce and banking transactions. It protects networks from malicious hackers and reduces the likelihood of fraud,” he notes.

This week in Huawei – the embattled Chinese company accused the U.S. government of engaging in a campaign to pressure employees of Huawei Technologies to provide inside information on Huawei’s operations, adding that the U.S. aimed cyberattacks on its computer systems. The company offered no evidence for these allegations. Meanwhile, Huawei scheduled a September 19 rollout for its Mate 30 flagship smartphone. While the launch date is now known, not known is whether the handset will include Google’s Android software and services. The company recently launched its HarmonyOS operating system for automotive systems, smartwatches, and televisions, yet not for smartphones now.

Security researchers at Eclypsium uncovered vulnerabilities in the baseboard management controller firmware of Supermicro’s motherboards. These vulnerabilities were dubbed USBAnywhere by those researchers. They estimate more than 47,000 servers and workstations could have the motherboard vulnerabilities, leaving them exposed to cyberattacks. The USBAnywhere vulnerabilities have patches available, while Supermicro and security experts recommend restricting access to BMC management interfaces from the Internet.

Hundreds of dental offices in the U.S. were hit with ransomware during August, with the cyberattack focusing on software from two Wisconsin-based companies, The Digital Dental Record and PerCSoftware. ZDNet reports the companies paid the ransomware to free up the systems of their customers. The companies would not say if the ransoms were paid.

Imperva last week notified customers for its firewall services that it was the victim of a data breach. The cybersecurity firm said it learned on August 20 that a third party improperly accessed the email addresses, hashed passwords, API keys, and SSL certificates of a “subset of customers” who had accounts through September 15, 2017. “We want to be very clear that this data exposure is limited to our Cloud WAF (Web Application Firewall) product,” wrote Heli Erickson, director of analyst relations at Imperva. “While the situation remains under investigation, what we know today is that elements of our Incapsula customer database from 2017, including email addresses and hashed and salted passwords, and, for a subset of the Incapsula customers from 2017, API keys, and customer-provided SSL certificates, were exposed.”

Google researchers report that thousands of iPhones were secretly infected with spyware over a period of more than two years. Apple fixed the last of the vulnerabilities in February. The researchers suspect nation-state hackers were responsible for the spyware.

Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, emphasizes the need to protect 5G wireless networks from cyberattacks in a paper published by the Brookings Institution. David Simpson, the former chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, co-authored the paper with Wheeler. “To build 5G on top of a weak cybersecurity foundation is to build on sand,” Wheeler and Simpson wrote in the paper. “This is not just a matter of the safety of network users, it is a matter of national security.”

Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) is committing more than $2 billion toward building an automotive battery factory in Arnstadt, Germany, a town that suffered economically after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the merging of East Germany into the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The townspeople are generally welcoming the Chinese company, mainly since it is not acquiring an established German company. CATL will supply BMW and Volvo Cars with batteries for their electric vehicles. The new factory will offer 2,000 jobs, which are highly welcome in this region of eastern Germany.

Pronto is vowing to deliver this year its CoPilot product, a Level 2 driver-assistance system, following the charging of its founder, Anthony Levandowski, with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google. Levandowski stepped down as the startup’s CEO as he prepares his legal defense. “We have deadlines and we are going to meet them — what’s going on isn’t going to affect that,” says Robbie Miller, the chief safety officer, who succeeded Levandowski as CEO.

The McKinsey Center for Future Mobility is partnering with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization to establish the Mobility Experience and Technology Lab in Stuttgart, Germany. “This is a space for anyone—from suppliers and manufacturers to entertainment providers and insurance companies—to collaborate and test new mobility experience ideas together,” says Timo Moller, a McKinsey partner and Center for Future Mobility leader. “The ecosystem of mobility players is expanding, and our goal here is to bring them together across industries to create new concepts.”

San Diego is grappling with the issue of electric scooter rentals, much like San Francisco and other cities have had to impose some order in e-scooter operations. Bird, Jump, Lime, Lyft, and Razor have put thousands of e-scooters on the streets and sidewalks of San Diego. What’s driving regulation in the city is several recent fatalities among scooter renters. Elsewhere in the U.S., Denver is wrapping up a pilot program with five scooter companies. Scooter safety is becoming a priority, along with dealing with the prospective costs of infrastructure to support rented e-scooters.

Didi Chuxing Technology plans a pilot for a self-driving taxi service in Shanghai, receiving government permission to proceed last week. The ride-hailing giant, which offers several other services, will deploy 30 different models of Level 4 autonomous vehicles in the pilot. Customers will summon a robotaxi through a mobile application.

BYD, a supplier of automotive batteries, is in negotiations with Audi to provide batteries for the German automotive manufacturer’s electric vehicles, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The battery maker is in talks with other automotive manufacturers, too, and there is no guarantee that the Chinese company, which is backed by investor Warren Buffett, will reach a deal with Audi.

Volkswagen agreed to a court settlement worth $96.5 million to reimburse eligible customers in a fuel economy restatement reached with the Environmental Protection Agency. Under that restatement, VW will forfeit greenhouse gas emissions credits and lower the fuel economy ratings on 98,000 vehicles. The car company will not be excluded from public-sector contracts in the U.S. following its emissions scandal yet will install a second U.S. monitor at its headquarters. Meanwhile, attorneys for the owners of those 98,000 vehicles petitioned a U.S. judge for $26 million in attorney’s fees and costs. Finally, VW will invest $577 million in an automotive factory in Sao Paulo state, Brazil. The investment is expected to create 1,000 jobs.

Assembly Bill 5 is moving through the California Legislature and has the support of Governor Gavin Newsom. It would require Lyft and Uber Technologies to make their ride-hailing drivers employees of the companies, not independent contractors under the current laws. DoorDash, the food delivery service, similarly characterizes their drivers, and it is joining Lyft and Uber in opposing the legislation. The three companies are ready, willing, and able to spend $90 million on a referendum initiative that would exempt them from the bill’s provisions, if it becomes law, this analysis notes.

Restaurants in India are rebelling against the financial terms of working with Swiggy, Uber Eats, Zomato, and other dining applications, according to this analysis. The restaurateurs oppose the deep discounts that the dining apps offer to consumers, sometimes giving those customers plenty of free food, denting the profits of restaurants.

Meanwhile, DoorDash is establishing operations in Melbourne, Australia, its first meal delivery service outside of North America. In Oz, it will compete with Uber Eats, Just Eat’s Menulog, and the U.K.’s Deliveroo, among others. San Francisco-based DoorDash chose Melbourne over Sydney due to lower costs and the southern Australia city’s openness to the “sharing economy.”

Lotus Cars rolled out the Evija hypercar, a high-performance, 2,000-horsepower electric vehicle priced at $2.1 million. It is the British automotive manufacturer’s first new model since the company was acquired in 2017 by China’s Geely Auto Group. Meanwhile, Porsche unveiled its Taycan EVs. The $150,000 Taycan Turbo and $185,000 Taycan Turbo S are Porsche’s first fully electric vehicles, with 670hp and 750hp, respectively.

Brazil’s CAOA reached an agreement with Ford Motor to acquire the American automotive manufacturer’s plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo state. The factory employs about 3,000 workers, and their union asserts that the workforce will be trimmed by 1,300 positions if the deal goes through.

The federal Highway Tax Fund could take a revenue hit as EVs gain in popularity, since EV owners don’t pay the federal fuel tax. Jim Barbaresso, senior vice president of intelligent transportation systems at HTNB Corporation, writes that a mileage-based tax might help pay for the advanced infrastructure that EVs and autonomous vehicles will require in the future.

TomTom developed an autonomous test vehicle to help the company work on advanced, high-definition mapping technologies. The vehicle, developed with the help of Volvo Cars, is said to have full Level 5 autonomy. TomTom also announced its collaboration with Hella Aglaia, a German supplier of computer vision software for automotive applications.

PSA Group and Dongfeng Group reached an agreement on restructuring their joint venture, Donfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobiles of Wuhan, China. The Chinese JV this year will reduce its break-even point to less than 180,000 vehicles. That goal will be lowered to less than 150,000 vehicles between 2020 and 2021.

Austria-based AMS officially made its €4.3 billion (about $4.75 billion) counteroffer for Germany’s Osram. That offer tops a previous bid by Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group. Bafin, the German financial regulator, allowed AMS to pursue its proposed acquisition through the end of this month.

TPG Capital acquired a majority stake in CollabNet VersionOne from Vector Capital, without disclosing the financial details. The private equity firm says it plans to invest $500 million in the Alpharetta, Ga.-based dev-ops firm.

Commvault agreed to acquire Hedvig, a developer of software-defined storage for enterprises, for $225 million, including ongoing employee retention. The proposed transaction is scheduled to close during Commvault’s fiscal third quarter. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hedvig was founded in 2012. Commvault of Tinton Falls, N.J., provides data management software across cloud and on-premises environments.

Amazon is acquiring a 9.9% equity stake in Cargojet, a Canadian freight cargo carrier. The e-tailer already uses Cargojet to transport freight from its warehouses to its distribution centers. In the U.S., Amazon leases aircraft from Air Transport Services Group and Atlas Air Worldwide for its Amazon Air fleet.

India-based OYO reportedly paid about $10 million to purchase Danamica, a data science startup in Copenhagen, Denmark. OYO is a travel startup with Airbnb and SoftBank among its investors. The Indian company plans to spend €300 million (around $331 million) on vacation business homes in Europe.

Palo Alto Networks will spend $75 million to buy Zingbox, an IoT and container security startup that had raised $23.5 million in venture capital. Zingbox was founded in 2014 and is the fourth cybersecurity startup acquired by Palo Alto Networks this year.

Microsoft acquired Movere of Bellevue, Wash., a software-as-a-service startup specializing in cloud migrations and optimizing IT environments. Movere was established in 2008 and has apparently operated for 11 years without any outside investments. The acquisition fits into the growth plan for Microsoft Azure, which strongly competes with Amazon Web Services for cloud computing services.

Trimble of Sunnyvale, Calif., acquired 3LOG Systems, a supplier of timber management software. The startup makes its headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia. The purchase of 3LOG fits into the Trimble Connected Forest offering, an end-to-end ecosystem for forest management, traceability, and timber processing.

AMETEK acquired Pacific Design Technologies of Goleta, Calif., for about $125 million. PDT specializes in mission-critical thermal management systems and components used in commercial, military/aerospace, and space platforms. It has annual sales of around $40 million.

San Francisco-based Cloudflare set the terms of its initial public offering at $10 to $12 a share for 35 million shares, which would raise from $350 million to $420 million in the offering, with an initial market capitalization of $3.23 billion at the midpoint pricing. The content delivery network services and cybersecurity company plans to trade as NET on the New York Stock Exchange. Goldman Sachs is the lead underwriter. Cloudflare reports a net loss of $37 million on revenue of $129 million for the first half of 2019. The company has raised $332.1 million in venture capital funding, according to Crunchbase. Fidelity Management & Research owns 30.9% of Cloudflare prior to the IPO, while Pelion Ventures holds 9.2% and New Enterprise Associates has a stake of 8.8%. Venrock, Union Square Ventures, and Franklin Templeton are among other investors.

Peloton has sold 577,000 stationary bicycles and treadmills in the past five years. The Peloton bike, with a big screen and a Wi-Fi connection, is priced at $2,245. The company brand has become familiar with consumers through its television advertising. It all seems like the makings of a successful IPO, but there are several troublesome developments disclosed in the public S-1 filing, this analysis notes.

Starboard Value accumulated 11 million shares in Box, giving the activist investor an equity stake of 7.5%. The cloud content management company said in a statement, “While we do not comment on interactions with our investors, Box is committed to maintaining an active and engaged dialogue with stockholders. The Board of Directors and management team are focused on delivering growth and profitability to drive long-term stockholder value as we continue to pioneer the Cloud Content Management market.” Starboard is now the third-largest shareholder in Box.

Motorola Solutions reports Silver Lake made a $1 billion investment in the company, which will allow MSI to pay off its $800 million aggregate principal investment a year ahead of maturity. Terms call for Silver Lake to buy 1.75% convertible notes due 2024 that will have an initial conversion price of $203.50 a share. Motorola Solutions will pay Silver Lake approximately $1.1 billion in cash and issue approximately 5.5 million shares to settle the $800 million note.


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