[Sayata Labs in Insurance Journal] Massachusetts’ Sayata Labs Hires Reardon, Regilio

Sayata Labs has hired Mat Reardon as business development manager for the East Coast and Tim Regilio to manage West Coast activities also as business development manager.

Read more here.

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Mobile testing platform Kobiton raises $14M, acquires competitor Mobile Labs

Atlanta-based Kobiton, a mobile testing platform that allows developers and QA teams to test their apps on real devices, both on their own desks and through the company’s cloud-based service, today announced that it has acquired Mobile Labs, another Atlanta-based mobile testing service.

To finance the acquisition of its well-funded competitor, Kobiton raised a $ 14 million extension to its $ 5.2 million Series A from its existing investor BIP Capital and new investor Fulcrum Equity Partners.

As Kobiton CEO Kevin Lee told me, we shouldn’t take that as the acquisition price, but it’s probably a fair guess that the real price isn’t too far off. The companies declined to disclose the exact price, though. Mobile Labs, which was founded in 2011, had raised about $ 15 million before the acquisition, according to Crunchbase. The last time it raised outside funding was in 2014. Kobiton and Mobile Labs do not share any common investors.

Kobiton CEO Kevin Lee. Image: Kobiton

It’s interesting that Kobiton, which launched in 2017 and which may seem like a smaller player at first glance, was able to acquire Mobile Labs. Lee argues that one of the reasons Mobile Labs decided to sell is that while his company has long focused on using machine learning to help developers build the tests for their apps — and the open-source Appium testing framework — Mobile Labs had fallen behind in this area.

“They were a little slow to invest in [AI] and I think they realized — and the rest of the market, I think will realize it — if you don’t invest heavily and early, you kind of get behind the eight ball,” Lee told me.

He also noted that there are a lot of obvious synergies between the two companies. Mobile Labs has a lot of clients in the gaming and financial services space, for example. A lot of those clients are relatively new to mobile, while Kobiton’s existing customer base is often mobile-first.

“They’ve been around for 10 years and [have] a lot of partners, a lot of stuff outside the U.S.,” Lee noted. “They have mainly focused on what I would call large established enterprises in regulated industries or industries that are really concerned about IP protection — so behind the firewalls — where they really succeeded well.”

Those Mobile Labs customers, Lee said, were also looking for AI/ML-based testing solutions and the acquisition will now allow the two companies to layer Kobiton’s technology on top of the Mobile Labs solution. There will be an upgrade path for these customers and they’ll be able to do so at their own pace. There’s no plan to sunset Mobile Labs’ existing services for the time being, though some of Mobile Labs’ individual brands may change names.

With this acquisition, Kobiton will more than double the number of its U.S.-based employees, though that’s in part because a good portion of the company’s team is based in Vietnam.

Startups – TechCrunch

[Scopio in Biospace] Scopio Labs Receives FDA Clearance for its AI-Powered Full Field Peripheral Blood Smear (Full Field PBS) Application

Scopio Labs, a leading provider of Full Field Morphology (FFM), announced today that it was granted FDA clearance to market and sell its X100 with Full Field Peripheral Blood Smear (Full Field PBS) Application, unlocking the potential of in vitro hematology diagnosis. Full Field PBS is also available in Europe with CE mark certification granted earlier this year.

Read more here.

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OurCrowd Blog

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck is coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020

Over the last few years Rocket Lab has gone from its very first orbital launch to regular commercial missions, with the goal of being the most responsive launch provider on the planet. Founder and CEO Peter Beck will join us at our all virtual TC Sessions: Space event happening on December 16 & 17 to talk about the new launch ecosystem and building a company to compete with industry giants.

Rocket Lab’s 15th mission, “In Focus,” is scheduled to take off this very afternoon, with 10 Earth observation satellites from Canon Electronics and Planet. It has already put satellites in orbit for NASA, the NRO and numerous private companies. The company’s launch cadence has slowly increased, though the loss of a mission in July soured its plan to go from months to weeks between launches.

But Beck, who has led the company from its inception in 2006, saw this as just another challenge to take head-on, and within the month Rocket Lab had gotten to the bottom of the issue and was clear to fly again.

“If you’re going to own a rocket company and launch vehicles, you have to be prepared for this kind of thing,” he said at the time. And now Electron is even more reliable than it was before, he pointed out.

Now Rocket Lab is expanding into adjacent businesses as well, with the secretive launch of its First Light satellite platform, demonstrating tech that it hoped to share with customers who don’t want to build a satellite from scratch. “It’s just really painful to go from an idea to getting something in orbit,” he said, and by making it easier to actually build a spacecraft, it both democratizes space and creates customers out of thin air.

At TC Sessions: Space, Beck will discuss all of this and more. You can get early-bird tickets right now, and save $ 100 before prices go up on November 13 — and you can even get a fifth person free if you bring a group of four from your company. Special discounts for current members of the government/military/nonprofit and student tickets are also available directly on the website. And if you are an early-stage space startup looking to get exposure to decision makers, you can even exhibit for the day for just $ 360.

Is your company interested in presenting your company at TC Sessions: Space 2020Click here to talk with us about available opportunities.

Startups – TechCrunch

Security testing firm NSS Labs ceases operations, citing coronavirus

Security testing company NSS Labs “ceased operations” last week, the company said in a notice on its website, citing impacts related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Austin, Texas-based company was quietly acquired by private equity firm Consecutive last October. But last week, the company was reportedly preparing for layoffs, according to Dark Reading, which first reported news of the company’s shuttering.

In a brief post on LinkedIn, NSS Labs’ chief executive Jason Brvenik hinted at layoffs, adding: “If you are in need of excellent people that exceed my high standards, please get in touch.” (Brvenik listed himself as a former chief executive on his LinkedIn profile.)

Former employees told TechCrunch that they had been laid off as a result of the company’s closure.

NSS Labs, founded in 2007, was one of the most well-known product security testing companies, allowing customers to use real threat data to stress-test their products and discover potential vulnerabilities and security issues.

But the last few years have been rocky. NSS Labs retracted its “caution” rating for CrowdStrike’s Falcon platform in 2019, after the two companies confidentially settled a lawsuit challenging the results. NSS Labs also dropped its antitrust suit against the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO), Symantec and ESET, after the testing giant claimed it had discovered evidence of the companies allegedly conspiring to make it harder to test their products.

Spokespeople for NSS Labs and Consecutive did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Startups – TechCrunch

Fake labs, travel frustrations, passengers allege COVID-19 test Scams at airport – Nairametrics

Fake labs, travel frustrations, passengers allege COVID-19 test Scams at airport  Nairametrics
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Pixie Labs raises $9.15M Series A round for its Kubernetes observability platform

Pixie, a startup that provides developers with tools to get observability into their Kubernetes-native applications, today announced that it has raised a $ 9.15 million Series A round led by Benchmark, with participation from GV. In addition, the company also today said that its service is now available as a public beta.

The company was co-founded by Zain Asgar (CEO), a former Google engineer working on Google AI and adjunct professor at Stanford, and Ishan Mukherjee (CPO), who led Apple’s Siri Knowledge Graph product team and also previously worked on Amazon’s Robotics efforts. Asgar had originally joined Benchmark to work on developer tools for machine learning. Over time, the idea changed to using machine learning to power tools to help developers manage large-scale deployments instead.

“We saw data systems, this move to the edge, and we felt like this old cloud 1.0 model of manually collecting data and shipping it to databases in the cloud seems pretty inefficient,” Mukherjee explained. “And the other part was: I was on call. I got gray hair and all that stuff. We felt like we could build this new generation of developer tools and get to Michael Jordan’s vision of intelligent augmentation, which is giving creatives tools where they can be a lot more productive.”

Image Credits: Pixie

The team argues that most competing monitoring and observability systems focus on operators and IT teams — and often involve a long manual setup process. But Pixie wants to automate most of this manual process and build a tool that developers want to use.

Pixie runs inside a developer’s Kubernetes platform and developers get instant and automatic visibility into their production environments. With Pixie, which the team is making available as a freemium SaaS product, there is no instrumentation to install. Instead, the team uses relatively new Linux kernel techniques like eBPF to collect data right at the source.

“One of the really cool things about this is that we can deploy Pixie in about a minute and you’ll instantly get data,” said Asgar. “Our goal here is that this really helps you when there are cases where you don’t want your business logic to be full of monitoring code, especially if you forget something — when you have an outage.”

Image Credits: Pixie

At the core of the developer experience is what the company calls “Pixie scripts.” Using a Python-like language (PxL), developers can codify their debugging workflows. The company’s system already features a number of scripts written by the team itself and the community at large. But as Asgar noted, not every user will write scripts. “The way scripts work, it’s supposed to capture human knowledge in that problem. We don’t expect the average user — or even the way-above-average developer — ever to touch a script or write one. They’re just going to use it in a specific scenario,” he explained.

Looking ahead, the team plans to make these scripts and the scripting language more robust and usable to allow developers to go from passively monitoring their systems to building scripts that can actively take actions on their clusters based on the monitoring data the system collects.

“Zain and Ishan’s provocative idea was to move software monitoring to the source,” said Eric Vishria, general partner at Benchmark. “Pixie enables engineering teams to fundamentally rethink their monitoring strategy as it presents a vision of the future where we detect anomalous behavior and make operational decisions inside the infrastructure layer itself. This allows companies of all sizes to monitor their digital experiences in a more responsive, cost-effective and scalable manner.”


Startups – TechCrunch

Spectrum Labs raises $10M for its AI-based platform to combat online toxicity

With the U.S. presidential election now 40 days away, all eyes are focused on how online conversations, in conjunction with other hallmarks of online life like viral videos, news clips and misleading ads, will be used, and often abused, to influence people’s decisions.

But political discourse, of course, is just one of the ways that user-generated content on the internet is misused for toxic ends. Today, a startup that’s using AI to try to tackle them all is announcing some funding.

Spectrum Labs — which has built algorithms and a set of APIs that can be used to moderate, track, flag and ultimately stop harassment, hate speech, radicalization and some 40 other profiles of toxic behavior, in English as well as multiple other languages — has raised $ 10 million in a Series A round of funding, capital that the company plans to use to continue expanding its platform.

The funding is being led by Greycroft, with Wing Venture Capital, Ridge Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Super{set} also participating. The company has raised about $ 14 million to date.

Spectrum Labs’ connection to combatting toxic political discourse is not incidental.

CEO Justin Davis said the startup was founded in the wake of the previous U.S. election in 2016, when he and his co-founder Josh Newman (the CTO) — who hailed from the world of marketing tech (they and about 9 other employees at Spectrum all worked together at Krux and then Salesforce after Krux got acquired by it) — found themselves driven to build something that could help combat all the toxicity online, which they felt had a huge role to play not just in how the election unfolded but in the major rifts that get established, and play themselves out everyday, on the internet and beyond.

“We were all looking for some way to get involved,” he said. “We wanted to use our big data experience” — Krux’s specialty was online content categorization for marketers to better measure their campaigns — “to do some good in the world.”

Spectrum Labs today works with a wide range of companies — from gaming giants (Riot Games is one customer), to social networks (Pinterest is another), online dating sites (the Meet Group is one more), marketplaces (Mercari is a fourth), DTC brands and organizations that want to track their own internal conversations.

The company’s primary platform is called “guardian” (not to be confused with the eponymous newspaper, whose logo it resembles) and it comes in the form of a dashboard if you need it, or just a set of services that you can integrate, it seems, into your own.

Customers can use the tech to check and vet their existing policies, get guidance on how to improve them and use a framework to create new samples and labels to train models to track content better in the future.

Tools for content moderation have been around for years, but they have largely been very simplistic complements to human teams, flagging keywords and the like (which as we now can throw up many false positives).

But more recently, advances in artificial intelligence have supercharged that work — an arrival that has come not too soon, considering how online conversations have grown exponentially with the surge of popularity of social media and online chatting in general.

Spectrum Labs’ AI-based platform is currently set up to scan for more than 40 kinds of toxic behavior profiles, such as harassment, hate speech, scams, grooming, illegal solicitation and doxxing, a set of profiles that it built initially in consultation with researchers and academics around the world and continues to hone as it ingests more data from across the web.

The startup is not the only one that is tapping AI to target and fix toxic behavior. Just this year, for example, we’ve also seen the AI startup Sentropy — also focusing on social media conversations — raise money and come out of stealth and L1ght also announce funding for its own take on tackling online toxicity.

Indeed, what has been notable is not just the emergence of other startups building businesses around fighting the good fight, but seeing investors interested in backing them, in what might not be the most lucrative ventures, but definitely efforts that will help society for the better in the longer term.

“Justin and Josh have grit and resilience and it takes a unique set of leaders and team,” said Alison Engel, a venture partner at Greycroft. “But as investors we know to solve the most systemic problems requires capital, too. You have to invest behind them. To pull it off, you will need coalitions, platforms coming together. A lot of this is a problem rooted in data and making it more robust, second is people behind it and third is the capital.”

She said that it feels like there is a changing tide right now among VCs and where they choose to put their money.

“When you look at the investment community supporting and thriving on community growth you have to think, what is our value system here? We need to invest in the platforms that are part of this greater good, and you are starting to see investors responding to that.”

Startups – TechCrunch

What you need to know about VC firm, V8 Capital Partners and its Growth Labs programme – Techpoint Africa

What you need to know about VC firm, V8 Capital Partners and its Growth Labs programme  Techpoint Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News