[Armory in TechCrunch] Armory nabs $40M Series C as commercial biz on top of open-source Spinnaker project takes off

As companies continue to shift more quickly to the cloud, pushed by the pandemic, startups like Armory that work in the cloud-native space are seeing an uptick in interest. Armory  is a company built to be a commercial layer on top of the open-source continuous delivery project Spinnaker. Today, it announced a $ 40 million Series C.

Read more here.

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Commercializing the open-source FingerprintJS browser fingerprinting tech nabs Chicago entrepreneur $4M

Chicago-based serial entrepreneur Dan Pinto has raised new cash and launched a new company looking to commercialize a years-old open-source project that purports to solve one of the web’s hardest problems — fraud prevention.

The company he launched in January, FingerprintJS, touts itself as a new kind of toolkit offering browser fingerprinting as a service for any application.

The company, based on an open-source project that already has 5 million downloads and 8,000 websites using the service (and hundreds of paying customers, according to the company), is a variation on the browser fingerprinting technology that companies have been using for years.

FingerprintJS uses the same canvas fingerprinting, audio sampling, WebGL fingerprinting, font detection and browser plugin probing tech that’s available on the market, but de-identifies the fingerprint from a specific device by generating a unique identifier of a browser without using cookies. Companies can store the identifier in their database and then track its behavior, the company said on its website.

The open-source project was actually started five years ago by Valentin Vasilyev, according to the project’s GitHub page. Vasilyev and Pinto worked together at Pinto’s last startup, Machinio, which was sold back in 2018. The two men launched a business around Vasilyev’s project in January and have raised $ 4 million in financing to support the commercialization of the project.

“The open source community was pivotal to our success thus far,” said Vasilyev, in a statement. “We will continue to build upon that base and focus on selling to developers first. Software engineers understand technology and are starting to recognize how effective our product is to help stop fraud.”

Funding came from Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Hack VC, the Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator’s Remarkable Ventures fund and angel investors like Rony Kahan, the chair and co-founder of Indeed, according to a statement from FingerprintJS.

“FingerprintJS APIs make it possible for developers to quickly embed fraud detection and prevention capabilities into their code,” said Abhishek Sharma, principal at Nexus Venture Partners, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the FingerprintJS team because of their product-led bottom-up technology development and distribution in a category that has historically been reliant on top-down enterprise sales.”

One potential roadblock to FingerprintJS’ growth comes from the recent General Data Protection Regulations enacted by the European Union and better known by their acronym, GDPR. Those regulations restrict the use of several browser fingerprinting and tracking technologies. Some browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Safari, have even set up their own controls to limit the amount of data a website can use to track visitors online.

Pinto is undeterred.

“We have a unique opportunity to disrupt the fraud technology market by enabling our customers to build fraud prevention in their applications rather than it being an afterthought just as Stripe has done with payment processing,” he said in a statement provided by the company. “Think of online fraud as a shell game where malicious users are constantly trying to hide themselves in order to commit fraud. Existing solutions try to generate a fraud score for each visitor without trying to understand who they are. We focus on uniquely identifying malicious users which directly solves the underlying fraud problem.” 

Startups – TechCrunch

Armory nabs $40M Series C as commercial biz on top of open-source Spinnaker project takes off

As companies continue to shift more quickly to the cloud, pushed by the pandemic, startups like Armory that work in the cloud-native space are seeing an uptick in interest. Armory is a company built to be a commercial layer on top of the open-source continuous delivery project Spinnaker. Today, it announced a $ 40 million Series C.

B Capital led the round, with help from new investors Lead Edge Capital and Marc Benioff along with previous investors Insight Partners, Crosslink Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Mango Capital, Y Combinator and Javelin Venture Partners. Today’s investment brings the total raised to more than $ 82 million.

“Spinnaker is an open-source project that came out of Netflix and Google, and it is a very sophisticated multi-cloud and software delivery platform,” company co-founder and CEO Daniel R. Odio told TechCrunch.

Odio points out that this project has the backing of industry leaders, including the three leading public cloud infrastructure vendors Amazon, Microsoft and Google, as well as other cloud players like CloudFoundry and HashiCorp. “The fact that there is a lot of open-source community support for this project means that it is becoming the new standard for cloud-native software delivery,” he said.

In the days before the notion of continuous delivery, companies moved forward slowly, releasing large updates over months or years. As software moved to the cloud, this approach no longer made sense and companies began delivering updates more incrementally, adding features when they were ready. Adding a continuous delivery layer helped facilitate this move.

As Odio describes it, Armory extends the Spinnaker project to help implement complex use cases at large organizations, including around compliance and governance and security. It is also in the early stages of implementing a SaaS version of the solution, which should be available next year.

While he didn’t want to discuss customer numbers, he mentioned JPMorgan Chase and Autodesk as customers, along with less specific allusions to “a Fortune Five technology company, a Fortune 20 Bank, a Fortune 50 retailer and a Fortune 100 technology company.”

The company currently has 75 employees, but Odio says business has been booming and he plans to double the team in the next year. As he does, he says that he is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion.

“There’s actually a really big difference between diversity and inclusion, and there’s a great Vernā Myers quote that diversity is being asked to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance, and so it’s actually important for us not only to focus on diversity, but also focus on inclusion because that’s how we win. By having a heterogeneous company, we will outperform a homogeneous company,” he said.

While the company has moved to remote work during COVID, Odio says they intend to remain that way, even after the current crisis is over. “Now obviously COVID been a real challenge for the world, including us. We’ve gone to a fully remote-first model, and we are going to stay remote-first even after COVID. And it’s really important for us to be taking care of our people, so there’s a lot of human empathy here,” he said.

But at the same time, he sees COVID opening up businesses to move to the cloud and that represents an opportunity for his business, one that he will focus on with new capital at his disposal. “In terms of the business opportunity, we exist to help power the transformation that these enterprises are undergoing right now, and there’s a lot of urgency for us to execute on our vision and mission because there is a lot of demand for this right now,” he said.

Startups – TechCrunch

Cube Dev raises $6.2M for its open-source data platform

Cube Dev, the open-source company behind Cube.js that is building a data platform to help developers write analytics applications for both internal and external users, today announced that it has raised a $ 6.2 million seed round led by Bain Capital Ventures. Previous investors Eniac Ventures, Betaworks, Innovation Endeavors and Slack Fund also participated, in addition to new investors Uncorrelated Ventures and Overtime.vc.

The two co-founders, Artyom Keydunov and Pavel Tiunov, actually built the core of what is now the successful Cube.js project for another company they founded in 2016: Statsbot. Statsbot is a business intelligence platform that helps enterprises create reports and dashboards — and there’s a Slack bot, too.

“While working on Statsbot we built what is Cube.js right now to power the Statsbot application,” Keydunov said. “But over time, as users were using Statsbot, we started to see that they were asking us about how they could use this technology to power internal application or customer-facing applications for analytics. […] We worked with several companies to have some proof of concept of using Cube.js as a standalone technology and we got really positive feedback about that.”

The general idea behind Cube.js is to replace a lot of the busywork of building the backend infrastructure for connecting data sources and building visualizations. The open-source tool is essentially a middleware layer that sits between the databases and the frontend and that handles the SQL generation, caching, security and orchestration so that developers can focus on writing their applications. Thanks to its caching technology, it also solves a lot of performance issues for developers.

Image Credits: Cube.js

As Keydunov argued, if you are a data analyst or data engineer, there are already plenty of tools on the market today that will provide you most of what you need. Developers, though, who typically need to build custom applications, have to rely on a variety of disconnected libraries. “They don’t have any solutions they can use specifically for building analytics applications,” he noted.

“We invest very often in open-source companies. And one of the areas of pain points that we’re very well aware of is this challenge of building applications that connect to lots of different data sources,” Bain Capital Ventures partner Stefan Cohen told me. “The advent of the public cloud and the heterogeneity of the data sources that are out there and being consumed at such a rapid pace by developers and engineers just makes it really hard to pull all this stuff together in a way that can present visually appealing and useful applications for the enterprise.”

Yet enterprises want these applications because they can help them unlock new revenue and streamline their workflows. That puts Cube Dev right in the middle of this trend.

Like most open-source companies, the Cube Dev team is looking at offering a commercial cloud and SaaS service for enterprises, with all of the usual enterprise accouterments like additional security and sign-in features.

As Keydunov told me, the team expected to spend 2020 building out the open-source community around Cube Dev through events and meetups. And while that has obviously gotten a bit harder, the team still focused on talking to potential customers and community members as much as possible.

“I think the big challenge — and the opportunity for us — is to make this leap from open source to a commercial product,” Cohen noted. “And it’s great to see so many developers and organizations using the Cube.js open source. But what we really need to do is get that fully featured cloud product available and then start to drive use of it. And not even necessarily monetizing it but just making sure that our enterprise features are the right ones for the market and that we’re solving a meaningful pain point. And I think if we could get that right, the world’s our oyster — but we have to get that product out and then start driving some initial usage.”

Unsurprisingly, that’s also what the team plans to focus on with this new round of funding it now has in the bank.

Startups – TechCrunch

Five years after creating Traefik application proxy, open-source project hits 2B downloads

Five years ago, Traefik Labs founder and CEO Emile Vauge was working on a project deploying thousands of microservices and he was lacking a cloud-native application proxy that could handle this kind of scale. So like any good developer, he created one himself, and Traefik was born.

If you go back five years, the notion of cloud native was still in its infancy. Docker has been doing containers for just a couple of years, and Kubernetes would only be released that year. There wasn’t much cloud-native tooling around, so Vauge decided to build a cloud-native reverse proxy out of pure necessity.

“At that time, five years ago, there was no reverse proxy that was good at managing the complexity of microservices at cloud scale. So that was really the origin of Traefik. And one of the big innovations was its automation and its simplicity,” he said.

As he explained it, a reverse proxy needs to have several features, like traffic management, load balancing, observability and security, but much of this had to be done manually with the tools available at the time. As it turns out, Vauge had stumbled onto a major pain point.

“Initially I created Traefik for myself. It was a side project but it turned out that there was a huge interest and very quickly a community gathered around the project,” he said. After a few months, he realized he could build a company around this and left his job to start a company called Containous.

Today, he changed the name of that company to Traefik Labs and the open-source project he developed has become wildly popular. “Five years later we are at 2 billion downloads. It’s in the top 10 most downloaded projects on Docker. We have 30,000 stars on GitHub. So basically it’s one of the largest open-source projects in the world,” he said. In addition, he said there are more than 550 individuals contributing to the project today.

When he formed Containous, he developed an open core-based commercial project designed for enterprise needs around scaling, high availability and more security features. Today, that includes the Traefik Proxy and an open-source service mesh called Traefik Mesh.

Among the companies using the open-source project today are Conde Nast, eBay Classifieds and Mailchimp.

Vauge certainly was in the right place at the right time five years ago, which he modestly attributes to luck because he was working at one of the few companies at the time that was dealing with microservices at scale. “We had to build a lot of things, and Traefik was one of those things. So I was basically lucky because I created Traefik at the right time,” he said.

Not surprisingly, a company with that kind of open-source traction has attracted the interest of venture capitalists, and Vauge has raised $ 16 million since he launched his company in 2015, including $ 10 million led by Balderton Capital in January.

Startups – TechCrunch

Harness makes first acquisition, snagging open-source CI company Drone.io

Harness has made a name for itself creating tools like continuous delivery (CD) for software engineers to give them the kind of power that has been traditionally reserved for companies with large engineering teams like Google, Facebook and Netflix. Today, the company announced it has acquired Drone.io, an open-source continuous integration (CI) company, marking the company’s first steps into open source, as well as its first acquisition.

The companies did not share the purchase price.

“Drone is a continuous integration software. It helps developers to continuously build, test and deploy their code. The project was started in 2012, and it was the first cloud-native, container-native continuous integration solution on the market, and we open sourced it,” company co-founder Brad Rydzewski told TechCrunch.

Drone delivers pipeline configuration information as code in a Docker container. Image: Drone.io

While Harness had previously lacked a CI tool to go with its continuous delivery tooling, founder and CEO Jyoti Bansal said this was less about filling in a hole than expanding the current platform.

“I would call it an expansion of our vision and where we were going. As you and I have talked in the past, the mission of Harness is to be a next-generation software delivery platform for everyone,” he said. He added that buying Drone had a lot of upside.”It’s all of those things — the size of the open-source community, the simplicity of the product — and it [made sense], for Harness and Drone to come together and bring this integrated CI/CD to the market.”

While this is Harness’ first foray into open source, Bansal says it’s just the starting point and they want to embrace open source as a company moving forward. “We are committed to getting more and more involved in open source and actually making even more parts of Harness, our original products, open source over time as well,” he said.

For Drone community members who might be concerned about the acquisition, Bansal said he was “100% committed” to continuing to support the open-source Drone product. In fact, Rydzewski said he wanted to team with Harness because he felt he could do so much more with them than he could have done continuing as a standalone company.

“Drone was a growing community, a growing project and a growing business. It really came down to I think the timing being right and wanting to partner with a company like Harness to build the future. Drone laid a lot of the groundwork, but it’s a matter of taking it to the next level,” he said.

Bansal says that Harness intends to also offer on the Harness platform a commercial version of Drone with some enterprise features, even while continuing to support the open source side of it.

Drone was founded in 2012. The only money it raised was $ 28,000 when it participated in the Alchemist Accelerator in 2013, according to Crunchbase data. The deal has closed and Rydzewski has joined the Harness team.

Startups – TechCrunch

Kubermatic launches open-source service hub to enable complex service management

As Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies proliferate, developers and IT have found a growing set of technical challenges they need to address, and new concepts and projects have popped up to deal with them. For instance, operators provide a way to package, deploy and manage your cloud-native application in an automated way. Kubermatic wants to take that concept a step further, and today the German startup announced KubeCarrier, a new open-source, cloud-native service management hub.

Kubermatic co-founder Sebastian Scheele says three or four years ago, the cloud-native community needed to solve a bunch of technical problems around deploying Kubernetes clusters, such as overlay networking, service meshes and authentication. He sees a similar set of problems arising today where developers need more tools to manage the growing complexity of running Kubernetes clusters at scale.

Kubermatic has developed KubeCarrier to help solve one aspect of this. “What we’re currently focusing on is how to provision and manage workloads across multiple clusters, and how IT organizations can have a service hub where they can provide those services to their organizations in a centralized way,” Scheele explained.

Scheele says that KubeCarrier provides a way to manage and implement all of this, giving organizations much greater flexibility beyond purely managing Kubernetes. While he sees organizations with lots of Kubernetes operators, he says that as he sees it, it doesn’t stop there. “We have lots of Kubernetes operators now, but how do we manage them, especially when there are multiple operators, [along with] the services they are provisioning,” he asked.

This could involve provisioning something like Database as a Service inside the organization or for external customers, while combining or provisioning multiple services, which are working on multiple levels and a need a way to communicate with each other.

“That is where KubeCarrier comes in. Now, we can help our customers to build this kind of automation around provisioning, and service capability so that different teams can provide different services inside the organization or to external customers,” he said.

As the company explains it, “KubeCarrier addresses these complexities by harnessing the Kubernetes API and Operators into a central framework allowing enterprises and service providers to deliver cloud native service management from one multi-cloud, multi-cluster hub.”

KubeCarrier is available on GitHub, and Scheele says the company is hoping to get feedback from the community about how to improve it. In parallel, the company is looking for ways to incorporate this technology into its commercial offerings, and that should be available in the next 3-6 months, he said.

Startups – TechCrunch

StackHawk, the Denver-based bug-detecting service, hires developer of open-source project Zed Attack Proxy

StackHawk, the Denver-based software startup offering service to detect and fix security bugs, is doubling down on its support for the popular open-source OWASP Zed Attack Proxy web app security scanner by bringing on board its founder, Simon Bennetts.

At StackHawk, Bennetts will continue to focus on the development of the open-source project, which the company said is among the world’s most frequently used security scanning tools.

StackHawk already uses the open-source project for its underlying scanning technology and has built a business by layering on security test automation, integrations with development tools and functionality for new development paradigms. 

“Since founding ZAP, the vision has always been to deliver application security to developers,” Bennetts said, in a statement. “While the project has been widely adopted by security teams and pen testers, I’m excited to work with a team dedicated to delivering our original vision of AppSec for devs and that also believes in growing the open source community.” 

StackHawk founders Joni Klippert, Scott Gerlach and Ryan Severns and Bennetts found common cause in their belief that bug-editing tools are too often built for external enterprise security teams instead of the developers who are closest to the apps they’re building.

“Simon’s work on the ZAP project has both changed the security and open-source worlds for the better. It became clear that we were highly aligned in our mission to bring application security into the hands of developers,” said Klippert, the chief executive and founder of StackHawk, in a statement. “Simon joining the StackHawk team provides an exciting opportunity to invest more in the ZAP open source project, while also building capabilities that make it easy for enterprise development teams to streamline AppSec into their CI/CD pipelines.” 

In the eleven years since Bennetts first began working on ZAP, the OWASP Foundation-incorporated security scanner has become popular among the developer community for its dynamic application security testing.

After the hire, StackHawk said that nothing much will change. Bennetts will continue to work on the open-source project while the company will continue to build functionality around the scanner.

The Denver-based company has raised nearly $ 5 million in financing from investors including Flybridge, Costanoa Ventures, Matchstick Ventures and Foundry Group .

Startups – TechCrunch

RudderStack raises $5M seed round for its open-source Segment competitor

RudderStack, a startup that offers an open-source alternative to customer data management platforms like Segment, today announced that it has raised a $ 5 million seed round led by S28 Capital. Salil Deshpande of Uncorrelated Ventures and Mesosphere/D2iQ co-founder Florian Leibert (through 468 Capital) also participated in this round.

In addition, the company also today announced that it has acquired Blendo, an integration platform that helps businesses transform and move data from their data sources to databases.

Like its larger competitors, RudderStack helps businesses consolidate all of their customer data, which is now typically generated and managed in multiple places — and then extract value from this more holistic view. The company was founded by Soumyadeb Mitra, who has a Ph.D. in database systems and worked on similar problems previously when he was at 8×8 after his previous startup, MairinaIQ, was acquired by that company.

Mitra argues that RudderStack is different from its competitors thanks to its focus on developers, its privacy and security options and its focus on being a data warehouse first, without creating yet another data silo.

“Our competitors provide tools for analytics, audience segmentation, etc. on top of the data they keep,” he said. “That works well if you are a small startup, but larger enterprises have a ton of other data sources — at 8×8 we had our own internal billing system, for example — and you want to combine this internal data with the event stream data — that you collect via RudderStack or competitors — to create a 360-degree view of the customer and act on that. This becomes very difficult with the SaaS-hosted data model of our competitors — you won’t be sending all your internal data to these cloud vendors.”

Part of its appeal, of course, is the open-source nature of RudderStack, whose GitHub repository now has more than 1,700 stars for the main RudderStack server. Mitra credits getting on the front page of HackerNews for its first sale. On that day, it received over 500 GitHub stars, a few thousand clones and a lot of signups for its hosted app. “One of those signups turned out to be our first paid customer. They were already a competitor’s customer, but it wasn’t scaling up so were looking to build something in-house. That’s when they found us and started working with us,” he said.

Because it is open source, companies can run RudderStack anyway they want, but like most similar open-source companies, RudderStack offers multiple hosting options itself, too, that include cloud hosting, starting at $ 2,000 per month, with unlimited sources and destination.

Current users include IFTTT, Mattermost, MarineTraffic, Torpedo and Wynn Las Vegas.

As for the Blendo acquisition, it’s worth noting that the company only raised a small amount of money in its seed round. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

“With Blendo, I had the opportunity to be part of a great team that executed on the vision of turning any company into a data-driven organization,” said Blendo founder Kostas Pardalis, who has joined RudderStack as head of Growth. “We’ve combined the talented Blendo and RudderStack teams together with the technology that both companies have created, at a time when the customer data market is ripe for the next wave of innovation. I’m excited to help drive RudderStack forward.”

Mitra tells me that RudderStack acquired Blendo instead of building its own version of this technology because “it is not a trivial technology to build — cloud sources are really complicated and have weird schemas and API challenges and it would have taken us a lot of time to figure it out. There are independent large companies doing the ETL piece.”

Startups – TechCrunch