Decrypted: Grayshift raises $47M, Apple bugs under attack, video game maker hacked

The election is over, but not without a hitch or two. Some voters in Georgia and Ohio had to use paper ballots after hand sanitizer leaked into voting machines — an unexpected casualty of the pandemic. And a slew of robocalls across a number of swing states urged voters to “stay safe and stay home,” in an effort to disenfranchise voters from going to the polls. With record voter turnout, there’s little evidence to show it worked.

But we saw nothing like the hack-and-leak operations like we did four years ago, which delivered an “October surprise” that derailed the election for Hillary Clinton, despite winning the popular vote by three million votes.

Government officials and cybersecurity firms said there were no significant or damaging cyberattacks during Election Day. One Homeland Security official called it “another Tuesday on the internet,” but conceded there was still cause for concern in the election aftermath.

With the bulk of the votes counted, government officials pointed to the threat of “foreign influence” campaigns — or misinformation — that would try to cast doubt on the election results. In reality, much of the false and misleading claims ended up coming from inside the White House as the Trump administration tried to cling onto power. After being caught out four years ago, the social media giants put into place measures and policies that limited the spread of false news — including Trump’s repeated attempts to claim victory.

Fears that the 2020 election could turn into a national, or even an international security matter did not come to fruition. The U.S. is in a better place than it was four years ago by simply learning the lessons from Russia’s efforts to interfere with the election. Imagine where we could be in another four?

Since you, like us, were glued to the television screens last week, here’s more from the week you might have missed.


Grayshift, the maker of phone unlocking tech, raises a Series A round

Grayshift, the secretive startup behind the U.S. government’s favorite phone unlocking technology, has raised $ 47 million in fresh funding. The Series A round was led by PeakEquity Partners, and — as first reported by Forbes — is a huge round for a little-known phone forensics firm.

One of only a few photos of the mysterious GrayKey phone unlocking devices. Image Credits: Malwarebytes

Grayshift exploded onto the mobile forensics scene in 2018, months after the company began quietly selling its proprietary GrayKey technology to federal agencies for about $ 15,000 each. The FBI and other agencies use their purchased GrayKey devices to break into encrypted phones without needing the passcode.

Startups – TechCrunch

Tech startups weekly: Klarna under investigation, Balderton to launch a new fund, EU funds for lab-grown meat project, & more

Tech Startups

The European startup ecosystem is evolving and maturing. Most startups, across the continent, are acclimatising to the new normal, undergoing digital transformation, and coming up with new innovations to stay relevant. Fundraising and consolidation are prevalent, as startups are focusing on scale and expansion.

European tech startups weekly

As a part of a weekly roundup, here is a list of some of the most important tech startups that have hit the headlines in Europe this week.

Image Credit: Brighteye Ventures

Brighteye Ventures grabs €46M 

Luxembourg-based Brighteye Ventures, the European EdTech VC firm, has announced the $ 54M (approx €46M) first close of its second fund, bringing its total assets under management to over $ 112M (approx €95.5M). 

The capital comes from a mixture of existing and new investors, made up primarily of unnamed international family offices. The fund’s second close is expected to take place next year. The new funds will go to 15-20 companies over the next 3 years at the seed and Series A stages, with cheques up to $ 5M (approx €4.2M).

Brighteye Ventures is an EdTech venture capital fund in Europe. It leverages deep experience in tech, education, media, and VC and invests at Seed and Series A stages.

Image Credit: Klarna

“Unsolicited” marketing emails.

Stockholm-based Klarna has been reported to the UK’s data regulator for sending “unsolicited” marketing emails.

Apparently, Klarna has sent its newsletter to people who had never used its services. Some of the claimants showed anger on Twitter, asking the company, why and how their details had been obtained.

Klarna had also sent out a second email apologising to recipients. The company claims to have around 8.6 million customers in the UK. And, it could pay a penalty of up to 4% of its annual revenue. It made SEK 7.2B (approx €631.5M) in 2019. This means a fine could look as big as $ 29.6M (approx €25.2M).

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating the issue.

Image Credit: Smunch

The online canteen

Berlin B2B food delivery service, Smunch, has raised €18M in capital funding. The money represents the capital raised since the company’s founding in 2016, provided by investors including Luxor Capital Group, Thomassin, Nosara Capital, and Colle Capital.

The startup aims to make it easy for companies to provide healthy, mindful food for their employees. The food delivery service provider has tied up with the restaurants in town, who take turns providing food with options including vegan and meat. Currently, the startup operates in three major German cities, including Berlin, but it’s looking to expand – and introduce new services.

Image Credit: Workpath

Company software for strategic implementation

The Munich-based SaaS platform Workpath has received millions in funding from signals Venture Capital to further grow and expand its market leadership.

Founded in 2017 by Eddie Peloke, Workpath uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help companies flexibly and effectively execute their strategy. It aims to increase the adaptability, innovative power, and effectiveness of companies with its software-based on agile methodologies.

Image credit: ShutterStock

Ex Revolut employees launch a new investment company

The business was set up by former Revolut employees Rishi Stocker, Dan Westgarth, Will Mahon-Heap, and Neil Shah. A fifth, unnamed Revolut stalwart is also involved in the new venture. Currently, an angel investment firm, however, Expansion Capital aims to grow into a fully-fledged venture capital firm. 

It is currently investing between £50,000 (approx €54,966) and £100,000 (approx €109,959) in a range of early-stage tech startups. The founders are investing their own cash alongside a group of angel investors, who contribute on a deal-by-deal basis. Expansion Capital – incorporated in March 2020, is a seed-stage investor. It has already backed around fifteen early-stage startups. 

Image credit: Balderton Capital

Balderton to launch a new fund

Balderton Capital is raising money for a new growth fund to fill the financing gap in the European market and take early-stage startups through to public listings. It is focused exclusively on backing the best European-founded technology companies.

Founded in 2000, Balderton has invested in more than 200 early-stage companies over the past 20 years. It is aiming to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from investors in order to help promising startups expand more aggressively.

The firm has invested in over 100 early-stage startups between 2000 and 2017, including Betfair, The Hut Group, MySQL (sold for $ 1B – approx €852M – to Sun Microsystems) among others. It has raised eight funds over 20 years, totaling $ 3B (approx €2.5B).

Image credit: BioTech Foods

Funds for lab-grown meat project ‘Meat4All’

The EU’s Horizon 2020 R&D funding framework programme has granted €2.7M to a lab-grown meat project ‘Meat4all’, which is led by Spanish firm BioTech Foods and its Ethicameat B2B concept.

BioTech Foods has been working on developing its cultured meat, which it supplies to food business customers, known as ‘Ethicameat‘ since 2017.

The ‘Meat4All’ project, in which the French company Organotechnie also participated, aims to increase cultured meat production technology, work on market acceptance and perform testing to assess safety in order to start sales by July 2022.

Image credit: Zipp

Irish e-scooter startup to start the trial in the UK

Zipp Mobility, an Irish micromobility startup, has been given a green light by Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council to run a 12-month e-scooter trial scheme in Taunton, the county town of Somerset. SWT Council has received approval from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) to operate the scheme which is scheduled to commence in late October.

Founded in 2019 by Charlie Gleeson, Zipp is a dockless scooter sharing company launching in the UK and Ireland in this year. The startup aims to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions by providing affordable micromobility alternatives that enhance the quality of life of communities across the world.

Featured image credit:

Startups – Silicon Canals

Kindred Capital closes €88.1M second fund; will repay €5.4M to founders under ‘Equitable Venture’ model

What if a founder could become a co-owner of the fund that’s investing in their company? While it may sound a bit out of ordinary, this is exactly what the VC firm Kindred Capital envisions. The company has come up with a new model for VC and it seems to be working, as the firm has announced paying back €5.4M to founders of the companies it has invested in. The announcement comes after Kindred Capital revealed it has secured €88.1M in its second seed funding round. 

Kindred’s portfolio displays higher funding success 

Quoting Dealroom data, Kindred says, about 19% of startups that raise seed funding go on to raise Series A within 36 months. On the other hand, the firm says that 54% of its Fund I portfolio successfully raised Series A funding within 3 years, which can be attributed to the equitable venture model. 

In Fund I, Kindred Capital invested in 29 companies across Europe. Some notable investments include Five, the company creating software layer for autonomous vehicles; Paddle, which enables firms to sell their software products; Pollen, the invitation-only peer-to-peer marketplace for experiences and travel; Disperse, the AI enabled construction startup and more. Kindred has also commenced investing from its second fund with 10 seed investments in companies such as BotsAndUs, Gravity Sketch and Beit.

“We are delighted with the success of our first fund, and excited to announce that our second fund was significantly oversubscribed and which we’ve now closed at €88.1M. We originally entered the UK seed stage ecosystem with ambitious goals, to invest in around thirty high quality UK technology companies per fund, and to introduce ‘Equitable Venture’ as a totally new way of practicing our craft,” says Partner Leila Zegna.

Equitable Venture method works?

The Equitable Venture model was introduced by Kindred Capital and the company says it works. From Fund I, the company estimates that around £5m (€5.4M) will be returned to the founders, which would otherwise have gone to General Partners of Kindred. The whole model works on the idea that Kindred Capital will share its carry with the founders in which the fund invests. It offers a collective model, wherein founders are said to actively help each other achieve their goals.

Image Credits: Kindred Capital

The post Kindred Capital closes €88.1M second fund; will repay €5.4M to founders under ‘Equitable Venture’ model appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Delivery Hero launches online food delivery and quick commerce in Japan under its brand foodpanda

Today Delivery Hero, one of the world’s leading local delivery platforms, is launching operations in Japan, further expanding its leadership position in Asia. Delivery Hero’s regional brand foodpanda will roll-out its service to six inaugural cities – Kobe, Yokohama, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Hiroshima – with plans to keep expanding its footprint in Japan continuously….

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