Archive for the Press & Events Category
PSBJ 6/25/12 -
Ignition Partners led a $14 million Series C financing round in Couchbase, a NoSQL database software company. Based in Mountain View, Calif., Couchbase said it will use the funding to invest in product development, pursue enterprise partnerships and expand overseas.
Seattle-based Ignition has been busy investing in California companies these days, with an emphasis on those in the cloud computing space. Ignition general partner Frank Artale said Couchbase is a market leader and has a proven ability to scale up its platform.
Go to full article here.
Wired Enterprise 6/20/12 -
Google’s Chrome browser was built to keep every webpage you visit from attacking everything else on your machine. Each browser tab sits in its own security “sandbox,” isolated not only from other applications and your machine’s core operating system, but from every other browser tab. Google has even built a tool that seeks to protect your machine when your browser runs “native code” — code that talks directly to your hardware.
But Simon Crosby says all this Google security is flawed. He says Google’s sandbox is inadequate simply because it’s software written by mere mortals, and he calls Google Native Client “nonsense.”
“These methods fail because they require humans to write code, and wherever you have code, you have vulnerabilities,” he says. “[Chrome's sandox] is a massively broad interface. It’s no surprise that Chrome still has zero-day vulnerabilities.”
“This is a complete paradigm shift, and it will invert your brain. We call it virtualization, but to understand it, you need to forget everything you know about virtualization.”
This is just how he talks. Simon Crosby is known for his, shall we say, incisive opinions on the giants of the tech world. But he’s also known for creating the Xen hypervisor — the open source software that helps run virtual machines across Amazon’s massively popular cloud service and so many other online operations — and there’s usually a purpose to his frank criticism. In flaming Google, his aim is to show that he and his new company, Bromium, have built a security tool that succeeds where the search giant ostensibly fails.
Yes, Bromium’s new tool involves virtualization — the art of creating software that’s separated from the software and hardware running beneath it. But he says the company has created an entirely new form of virtualization. He calls it micro-virtualization, and the idea is to protect your machine from every malicious piece of code you may click on, including rogue web addresses, email attachments, and other files.
Humans, he says, will always click on malware. We’re just gullible that way. But Bromium uses tools built into Intel’s existing microprocessors to isolate rogue code from the rest of your machine. “This is a complete paradigm shift, and it will invert your brain,” Crosby says. “We call it virtualization … but to understand it, you need to forget everything you know about virtualization.”
Tapping into microprocessor hardware originally designed to facilitate the use of virtualization, the tool extends the idea of Google’s sandbox to all other applications on your machine, and according to Crosby, it’s less vulnerable to attack because the code used to build is minuscule compared to the code behind software such as a Google’s sandbox. Most of the work, he says, is done with hardware. “We use hardware virtualization to isolate between different boundaries of trust. It’s a hardware backstop for whenever we cross one of those boundaries.”
Asked to comment on Crosby’s comparison between Bromium and Google Chrome’s security, Google told us it didn’t have enough information on Bromium to adequately respond. But it did defend its security record as “strong.”
Revealed today at a conference in San Francisco, Crosby’s micro-virtualization technology is still in the “beta” test phase. It has no price tag at the moment, and Crosby himself admits there are parts of this creation that still need honing. But he’s adamant the tool will revolutionize computer security within the world’s businesses.
Judging from Crosby’s description of the tool, security researcher Joanna Rutkowska questions whether it’s as useful as Crosby says it is. But at first blush, she does see this as extension of the trend towards security that provides better isolation between disparate applications running on the same machine. This includes not only Google’s Chrome sandbox but the “Protected Mode” Microsoft now offers with its Internet Explorer browser and the various sandboxes Google has helped build for plugins such as Adobe Flash.
“It seems like Bromium avoided addressing any of the hard problems of the desktop computing, focusing instead on the most basic form of application isolation,” says Rutkowska. “[But] this…should not be automatically interpreted as a useless solution. Providing even basic isolation between applications is always a good thing. After all, until recently, most desktop OSes, such as Windows or Mac, practically didn’t use any form of isolation between apps.”
It should be noted, however, the Rutkowska is also using the virtualization tools built into microprocessor to build a security system that seeks to go well beyond Bromium’s technology.
But Crosby argues his tool is superior because it can be readily installed on existing operating systems and is far easier to use. Your OS continues to work as it always did, and you can take your machine onto any network — at least in theory.
“You can’t just build a big wall around everything. A [business] that is completely locked down is not productive,” he says. “Humans inherently like to go out into the world to be productive, whether it’s hunting and gathering or going to Starbucks with a business colleague to discuss a deal, browsing the web and opening an attachment.”
Go to full article here.
GigaOM 6/21/12 -
Big data has always had a place in the world of systems management, but it might have found its sweet spot in the cloud. While there are plenty of tools available for analyzing data on how your physical resources are operating in your data center, it’s still a lot of work and it’s not easy to truly figure out what’s going on. You could think of it like a Yakov Smirnoff joke: In data center, you discover insights. In cloud, insights discover you.
What that means is that companies providing cloud computing and cloud services can tap into the experiences of all their customers to give everyone a sense of what’s going on. Nand Mulchandani, co-founder and CEO of SaaS startup ScaleXtreme calls it “the wisdom of the crowd.” Ideally, for example, his server-management service should be able to realize I’m running my servers at far too low a utilization rate compared with other customers, and it should be able tell me the ideal size instance to run and the most-effective software stack for fixing my problem.
As of Thursday, ScaleXtreme does just that. The company announced its first suite of analytics functions for configuration management, patch management, capacity and utilization, and monitoring. The analytics functions are fairly elementary off the bat, Mulchandani said — what side effects has the latest Windows patch created, what are the best software stacks, do customers running Amazon Spot Instances save more than those using Reserved Instances, etc. – but they’ll get more advanced and more predictive in time.
That’s when things get really interesting and become the Holy Grail of crowdsourced analytics. Mulchandani thinks it will be about a year before ScaleXtreme is predicting problems, but it’s coming. “If machine A fails … the first question after you cleaned up the mess is ‘Wow, what other system of mine are going to fail?’,” he explained. If it puts the right models in place to identify failure patterns across its customer base, ScaleXtreme should be able to give users that level of foresight.
Among its peers, however, ScaleXtreme isn’t necessarily unique in its thinking. Cloudability, which monitors users’ spending across their various cloud services, has told me it’s also working on incorporating big data techniques into its service. The idea there is that the company could tell users how their cloud spending and choice of services compare with those of other similarly situated users. Another startup, Newvem, uses crowdsourced insights to recommend better choice for Amazon Web Services customers.
Nodeable (see disclosure), which launched last year as a Twitter-like app for letting administrators keep track of their systems, is undergoing a significant shift into a real-time analytics engine. It’s relying on Hadoop and Storm, a real-time processing front end, to analyze and alert customers to system events as they’re happening, perhaps even before.
There’s a saying in analytics that more data trumps better algorithms, and this definitely seems to be one of those cases. A single organization can only collect and analyze its own data, but that’s just a drop in the bucket of all the data generated by everyone trying to do the same thing. Especially with a new model such as cloud computing, there could be a real value in learning from what your peers are doing.
Go to full article here.
Tech Crunch 6/21/12-
Bromium — an enterprise security and virtualization startup backed initially by Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Partners — is taking the stage today at GigaOm’s Structure conference to unveil its technology. It’s also announcing that it has raised $26.5 million in Series B funding.
Here’s the problem that Bromium is tackling, as outlined for me by co-founder and CTO Simon Crosby (who was previously CTO at Citrix): As the “consumerization of the enterprise” advances, it’s creating more security risks. Workers, not IT managers, have more control over the devices they use, the software they install, and the websites that they can visit. That’s a good thing, but it things much harder for anyone trying to protect a company from viruses or other attacks.
Obviously, there’s no shortage of security products, but Crosby says none of them address a core problem — security patches, for example, can’t keep up with the threats, while using traditional virtualization just means that a virus could wreak havoc on your virtualized desktop.
Bromium’s solution takes the form of micro-virtualization. Crosby says that anytime you open something that could pose a security risk, Bromium can create a microvisor — a virtualized version of the desktop that completely hardware-isolates the risky application or website, as well as any documents or files that are deemed necessary for it to access. Meanwhile, the core system is always completely walled off.
“Any untrustworthy computation is automatically just put into these tiny shells on-the-fly, and the user is completely unaware of it,” Crosby says.
From a security perspective, that means the threat from a virus is significantly diminished, because it’s going to be completely isolated in its effects. Users, meanwhile, can visit the websites and download the software that they want, and they won’t notice any change to their experience. (A bonus: Bromium makes sure that you’re never sending data to a website other than the one claimed in a browser — which means, for example, you don’t have to worry about accidentally handing over your bank credentials to a hoax site.)
As for the Series B, it was led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from new investor Intel Capital and existing investors Andreessen and Ignition. Bromium has now raised about $37 million in funding.
Today’s announcement is just about the Bromium architecture and funding. Later this year, Crosby says we can expect product announcements that bring the architecture to PCs and mobile devices.
Go to full article here.
Fotopedia Launches Its New Ad Model For iPad, Partners With Flipboard, Jetsetter & National Geographic
Tech Crunch 6/21/12 -
Fotopedia, the company best known for it’s travel-focused iOS photo apps, launched its new ad model for the iPad today that will allow advertisers to buy highly targeted ads to its over 12 million users in more than 120 countries. The company, which recently updated many of its apps for the new iPad’s Retina display, says that it’s regularly seeing 10% click-through rates for the ads its featuring in its apps. Fotopedia launched and tested this new model with Flipboard, Jetsetter and National Geographic as its first advertisers.
Advertisers will be able to target users based on geography, their interests, device (iPhone or iPad) and language (English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish and French). Jean-Marie Hullot, Fotopedia’s CEO and a former Apple executive who worked with Steve Jobs at NeXT and Apple until 2005, notes that 60% of the company’s traffic is now generated on the iPad. The company’s apps, he also stressed, are very popular in China, Japan, the U.S. and many European countries. Last month, the company also announced that it now gets over 250,000 visits per day and 200 million image views per month.
As for how successful these new ads are, National Geographic Traveler’s editor-in-chief Keith Belows says the company’s Fotopedia campaign results in “tens of thousands of downloads” in just three days.
The ads themselves feature the kind of high-end photography that Fotopedia has become known for and are generally nonintrusive. Fotopedia suggests that advertisers set a budget around $10,000 to $20,000 per week for their campaigns.
Since its launch, Fotopedia has made a slight pivot away from the coffee table book-like large apps it used to produce to smaller and more focused magazine-like apps that are regularly updated with new content. This more focused approach to the apps is likely also helping the company to reach more targeted audiences and the regular free in-app updates are getting users to look at the apps 4.5 times per month.
Go to full article here.
GigaOM 6/20/12 -
How far are investors willing to go to invest? As long as they get wifi on their flights, the borders are extending further, they told the crowd at GigaOM Structure Wednesday in San Francisco.
“You have to go to where the entrepeneurs are, and where the thinking’s happening,” said Frank Artale, managing director at Ignition Partners.
The VC investors said that while the older, more traditional wisdom might have said investors should stick closer to home when making backing decisions, the incredible growth within the cloud and infrastructure industries in emerging markets has disrupted that conventional wisdom. The investors pointed to India, Brazil, and China as areas where growth is hot.
So why not Europe?
“It’s the culture,” said Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners who is himself European. “And unfortunately it takes a long time to change that. And unfortunately the culture in Europe is not something that embraces failure.”
So what about Brazil, India, and China allows failure and innovation to exist?
“Innovation comes from pain due to growth,” said John Vrionis, managing director at Lightspeed Venture Partners. “And growth is happening in places like Brazil and China and India. VCs follow growth because they see entrepenerus attacted to growth in those areas.”
But on the flip side, Skok pointed out that there’s a practical reason for investors not immediately taking all their deals to China.
“It’s a relationship-based business,” he said, mentioning a close business associate who started a new business on the opposite coast. “I can’t bring all the network he would want every day in the Bay Area. So it’s really about what value you can add. If I actually had all the networks in Brazil that someone needed, I would be happy to get involved in that.”
Go to full article here
Marketwire 06/20/12 –
WePay, the easiest way to accept payments online, today announced a partnership with Fundable.comto power payments for the company’s crowdfunding platform. The WePay API enables companies like Fundable to allow their users to start accepting payments instantly, without requiring users to have a pre-existing merchant account. The Marketplace API provides Fundable with a fully compliant payment solution, without compromising the platform’s user experience.
Crowdfunding platforms raised $1.5 billion in 2011 and successfully funded more than one million campaigns. The recently passed JOBS Act (also known as the Crowdfunding Bill), which will allow startup companies to publicly raise money from non-traditional investors, has led to explosive growth in the crowdfunding space.
“As crowdfunding evolves into a legitimate source of funding for small businesses, the technologies used to facilitate transactions must keep the pace,” said Bill Clerico, CEO of WePay. “WePay’s payment API is uniquely designed to provide the ease-of-use, compliance, and flexibility to support the rapidly growing demand for crowdsourced payments.”
“The Crowdfunding Bill signals a massive shift in access to capital by startup companies,” said Wil Schroter, Fundable CEO and co-founder. “It is an incredible feeling to contribute and help make someone’s startup dream a reality, and we wanted to make sure that the payment experience didn’t get in the way of that. The WePay API allows us to focus on the user experience and remove as many obstacles as possible to maximize conversion.”
Benefits of the WePay/Fundable Partnership:
- Fundable creates WePay accounts for its entrepreneurs in real time, so they can start accepting payments on Fundable instantly
- The API helps Fundable comply with card network, state, and federal regulations to avoid issues like payment aggregation and money transmission
- Payments are made on Fundable’s site without redirecting to WePay
- The WePay API supports split payments (app fees), pre-approved payments, and subscription billing
- WePay provides world-class customer support via live chat, email, and phone
- Fundable’s entrepreneurs do not have to deal with paperwork, applications, or frozen accounts
Fundable is one of many companies that have turned to WePay’s API for a complete, easy to use, and compliant solution for accepting payments online. Other companies using the API include Rock the Post (www.rockthepost.com), GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com), and Bellstrike (www.bellstrike.com).
WePay is the easiest way to accept payments online. WePay offers a suite of tools that allow merchants and non-profits to start accepting payments online in less than two minutes. WePay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. WePay has raised $20 million in venture financing from Ignition Partners, Highland Capital Partners, August Capital. For more information visit https://www.wepay.com or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
Go to full article here.
All Things D 6/19/12 -
John Connors was Microsoft’s chief finance guy for five years, responsible for managing one of the largest tech company’s books.
For the past seven years, however, he’s been contributing his fiscal know-how and diversity of opinions to the venture business, joining Bellevue’s Ignition Partners in 2005.
As a member of Nike’s board, the FuelBand wearer explains how the Internet is disrupting the retail business. Strong distribution channels — think Amazon — are enabling new consumer brands to be created overnight with nothing but a hotshot clothing designer and access to cheap manufacturing. But, he says, services like the FuelBand have the opportunity to keep brands relevant to consumers on a daily basis.
He also points to “the next big cycle in the enterprise.”
Over the past few years, he says, not many interesting enterprise companies were created, but “in the past 24 months there’s been more interesting companies than I’ve seen in years. … By the end of this year, the general public will be talking about the next cycle for the enterprise.”
And yet, his latest investment has nothing to do with the enterprise.
Motif Investing, based in San Mateo, Calif., has raised $26 million, with Ignition Partners participating in the most recent round. The company could be described as Etrade meets Twitter’s trending topics.
For example, instead of investing in individual companies or mutual funds, the company identifies themes, or “motifs.”
The “Caffeine Fix” motif reasons that caffeine’s addictive qualities will continue to drive the popularity and success of Coca-Cola, Starbucks and energy drinks. The motif labeled “Drill, Baby, Drill!” is focused on the winners of domestic drilling. “Lots of Likes” focuses on the 20 most-“Liked” brands on Facebook.
As a Montana native, Connors prefers motifs about agriculture-based themes. See, we told you his interests were broad!
In an hour-long chat in the venture firm’s offices, which look like any other suburban cubicle farm, we covered a lot of subjects. Here are some of the highlights:
To see video and read full article go here.
AllThingsD, 6/12/2012 –
Hipmunk, the offbeat travel site that has made “taking the agony out of travel planning” its tagline, tells AllThingsDthat it has raised $15 million in a second round of funding.
The financing will enable the team to double — to 32 employees — in the next six months, and to accelerate its product plans going forward.
Hipmunk is different from other travel services because it displays search results visually. Instead of seeing a list of flights, the user can easily scan flights by price, duration, and departure and arrival time in a grid layout. Users also can sort by “agony,” which is a combination of price, number of stops and duration.
Since launching in 2010, the company has created a mobile application that has been downloaded more than one million times; the app recently added hotel search. In the future, Hipmunk plans to continue improving flight and hotel search on both the Web and mobile, while also expanding internationally.
“We want to be the de facto travel tool,” said Hipmunk CEO and co-founder Adam Goldstein. “We have a great user interface that helps people find the best options, but we knew our ability to ramp would be easier with additional funding. The fact is that now, instead of building one thing at a time, we can build multiple things at once.”
The company’s second round was led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) with investors from the company’s first round, including angels and Ignition Partners, also participating. In total, Hipmunk has raised $20 million.
IVP’s General Partner Todd Chaffee, who previously invested in Kayak and HomeAway, will join Hipmunk’s board.
Goldstein said that Hipmunk is not just about creating a better user interface, it’s about creating new experiences.
“Hipmunk is a different place to shop, with alternate sources of inventory,” he said.
For example, when searching flights, it features private jets alongside traditonal flights; when searching for hotels, it displays apartments for rent on HomeAway and Airbnb.
As with other travel sites, like Kayak, Hipmunk earns a commission from traffic it sends to aggregators such as Orbitz or Expedia. He declined to disclose the agreement it has with HomeAway, Airbnb and less-traditional sites.
Chaffee said that even though Goldstein is only 24 years old, he feels like he’s talking to a veteran CEO.
“He’s incredibly well versed on how to run a business that’s way beyond his years,” he said of Goldstein.
Hipmunk is just one of a few companies that are trying to upset the status quo by trying to make booking travel less painful. Google recently purchased ITA Software to integrate flight information into its search results, and other start-ups, like HotelTonight, allow you to find a hotel room on your mobile phone for the same day.
“People woke up and finally realized that the travel companies haven’t meaningfully innovated in a decade,” Goldstein said. ”The travel start-ups don’t have entrenched financial interest in the status quo, but the big ones are global distribution systems who are unwilling to experiment with new experiences, that don’t want to risk losing customers who have been using them for 10 years.”
Chaffee said the opportunity to build another massive company like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz or Kayak still exists. The game isn’t over yet.
“The real story here is, if you look at the overall share of purchases going through Kayak and Hipmunk, it’s unbelievably small,” he said. “The bulk of the average U.S. citizens don’t know about these services, and they are still trying to call the airline, or fumble through some airline Web site, or surf hotel Web sites. They are terrible, and you don’t have to suffer.”
Read the full story at AllThingsD
New York Times, 6/4/12 –
Even as ordinary investors shy away from the stock market, a new online broker is entering the fray, and it has received backing from some big names on Wall Street.
Motif Investing, a firm based in a San Mateo, Calif., that officially opened for business on Monday, allows investors to buy a bucket of stocks centered on a theme, like cloud computing or income inequality. The company bills itself as an online evolution of investment clubs.
“We want to empower people to take ideas in their daily life that are hitting them, and put them to work,” said Hardeep Walia, Motif’s co-founder and chief executive, who once oversaw investments and acquisitions for Microsoft.
The initiative has attracted some prominent Wall Street backing. Sallie L. Krawcheck, who led Bank of America’s wealth management division until a management shake-up in September, has joined Motif’s board of directors. Arthur Levitt Jr., a former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Jerry Gramaglia, a former president and chief operating officer of E*Trade, are both serving as advisers to the company.
“One challenge for investors is that many would like to invest in themes or in concepts that they believe in, but it can be a real challenge to do so,” Ms. Krawcheck said in an e-mail on Sunday. “Motif offers an interesting blend of new technologies to solve this and empower people to invest behind ideas.”
The company, which has been in a testing phase since January, will charge a flat fee of $9.95 for a so-called motif, a portfolio of up to 30 stocks based on themes like “seven deadly sins,” which includes tobacco, liquor and gambling stocks. Users can buy a prepackaged portfolio or create their own.
Mr. Levitt, who currently works as an adviser for Goldman Sachs and the Carlyle Group, said the platform offered a way for investors to diversify their holdings.
“The principal problem with retail investing is investors picking their own securities rather than going for low-cost funds or portfolios such as this,” Mr. Levitt said in an interview.
Motif also includes a social aspect, allowing investors to share portfolio ideas with “circles” of friends on the site. One of the themed portfolios, “lots of likes,” aims to mine the collective wisdom of social media users by including a group of companies that have the most “likes” on Facebook.
The start-up, whose venture capital backers include Norwest Venture Partners, Foundation Capital and Ignition Partners, said it had raised $20 million last summer, following a $6 million financing round in the fall of 2010.
Go to full article here