F-Secure to buy MWR InfoSecurity for ~$106M+ to offer better threat hunting

The ongoing shift of emphasis in the cyber security industry from defensive, reactive actions towards pro-active detection and response has fueled veteran Finnish security company F-Secure’s acquisition of MWR InfoSecurity, announced today. F-Secure is paying £80 million (€91,6M) in cash to purchase all outstanding shares in MWR InfoSecurity, funding the transaction with its own cash reserves and a five-year bank loan. In addition, the terms include an earn-out of a maximum of £25M (€28,6M) in cash to be paid after 18 months of the completion subject to the achievement of agreed business targets for the period from 1 July, 2018, until 31 December, 2019. F-Secure says the acquisition will enable it to offer its customers access to the more offensive skillsets needed to combat targeted attacks — specialist capabilities that most companies are not likely to have in-house. It points to detection and response solutions (EDR) and managed detection and response services (MDR)
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Email security startup Tessian raises $13M led by Balderton and Accel

Tessian (formerly called CheckRecipient), the London-based startup that is deploying machine learning to improve email security, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Balderton Capital, and existing backer Accel. A number of previous investors also followed on, including Amadeus Capital Partners, Crane, LocalGlobe, Winton Ventures, and Walking Ventures. Founded in 2013 by three engineering graduates from Imperial College — Tim Sadler, Tom Adams and Ed Bishopon — Tessian is built on the premise that humans are the weak link in company email and data security. This can either be through mistakes, such as a wrongly intended recipient, or through nefarious employee activity. By applying “machine intelligence” to monitoring company email, the startup has developed various tools to help prevent this. Once installed on a company’s email systems, Tessian’s machine learning tech analyses an enterprise’s email networks to understand normal and abnormal email sending patterns and
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Google makes $550M strategic investment in Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com

Google has been increasing its presence in China in recent times, and today it has continued that push by agreeing to a strategic partnership with e-commerce firm JD.com which will see Google purchase $550 million of shares in the Chinese firm. Google has made investments in China, released products there and opened up offices that include an AI hub, but now it is working with JD.com largely outside of China. In a joint release, the companies said they would “collaborate on a range of strategic initiatives, including joint development of retail solutions” in Europe, the U.S. and Southeast Asia. The goal here is to merge JD.com’s experience and technology in supply chain and logistics — in China, it has opened warehouses that use robots rather than workers — with Google’s customer reach, data and marketing to produce new kinds of online retail. Initially, that will see
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YC alum Modern Health, a startup focused on emotional wellbeing, gets $2.26M seed funding

Modern Health founders Alyson Friedensohn and Erica Johnson

About one year ago, a note from a CEO thanking his employee for using sick days to take care of her mental health went viral. It was a reminder to Alyson Friedensohn of what she wants to accomplish with Modern Health, the emotional health benefits startup she founded last year with neuroscientist Erica Johnson. “We want that to be normal. We want the email she sent to be normal, to be able to be that open,” Friedensohn tells TechCrunch. Modern Health, a Y Combinator alum, announced today that it has raised $2.26 million in seed funding for hiring, accelerating the development of its healthcare platform and growing its network of therapists, coaches and other providers. Offered as a benefit by companies, Modern Health’s services are meant to improve employee well-being and retention rates. The round was led by Afore, with participation
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Scooters go mad, Opendoor wants to buy your house, and Meituan’s IPO

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was something of a first for the crew, twice. First, we had two guests on the show, and, also, we only made it through two and a half topics. The former is good, the latter is, well, we’ll see. So, this week Matthew Lynley and I were joined by David Chao, co-founder and general partner at DCM, and Steve Vassallo, a general partner at Foundation Capital. Points to both for being guinea pigs. Heading into our first topic I’m sorry to inform you that, at least in terms of Equity, scooters are the new Uber. So, we wound up talking about both this week. We started with the fact that Bird is raising new capital at an even more staggering valuation than before ($2 billion!), and that
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Cheq raises $5M for a proactive, AI-driven approach to safe ad placement

While brand safety and fraud prevention have been big topics in the online ad industry over the past couple years, Cheq CEO Guy Tytunovich argued that “first generation solutions for ad verification” aren’t good enough. The problem, Tytunovich said, is that existing products use sampling to alert advertisers to issues “after the fact.” Compare this to credit card fraud — if the credit card company only alerted you long after the fraud had occurred, “You’re not going to be happy with that kind of answer.” At Cheq, Tytunovich and his team have developed an approach that uses artificial intelligence to deliver what he calls “autonomous brand safety” — the idea is that when an ad is being served, Cheq can detect whether it might be a fraudulent impression that will only be seen by bots, or if it might show up next to content that a brand doesn’t
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Marketing startup Influential raises $12M from WME and others

Influential announced today that it has raised $12 million in Series B funding. The funding came from existing investors Capital Zed, ECA Ventures, Paradigm Talent Agency, ROAR and Tech Coast Angels, as well as from Hollywood agency WME . Just a couple weeks ago, Influential said it was working with (and had raised money from) WME. The agency is the first to try out a new Influential product called Talent Pro, which gives agents access to social data around a broader pool of talent. Influential founder and CEO Ryan Detert said the product will allow WME — and, in the future, other agencies — to sweeten endorsement and promotional deals with more data and to “take an A-list celebrity… and now surround that person with 10 lookalike influencers who are not celebrities themselves.” One of Influential’s big selling points is its use of artificial intelligence (it’s a developer partner with
Ryan Detert
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Benchling raises $14.5M to help streamline collaboration among scientists

Email and a smarter notebook might be enough for handling communication for projects or experiments inside a team in a lab in some university basement. But when you have around 200 scientists working on discovering something new — say, a new drug — that communication process is going to quickly break down, and Sajith Wickramasekara that sits somewhere between science and software. That’s the goal for Benchling, which Wickramasekara hopes will make life easier for researchers and help simplify and speed up the process of scientific discovery. Specializing in life sciences, Benchling aims to create a comprehensive suite of tools that help researchers thoroughly log their processes and collaborate among other scientists. Benchling looks to provide a rigorous platform that can take a lot of the work away from researchers, who instead might be documenting everything in email, Excel sheets, or just in a notebook somewhere. Benchling said it has raised
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IP platform PatSnap picks up $38M from Sequoia and Xiaomi founder’s fund

PatSnap, a Euro-Asian company that offers a patent and R&D platform and services, has pulled in a $38 million Series D funding round led by existing investors Sequoia and Shunwei Capital, the investment firm founded by Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun. Southeast Asia’s Qualgro also took part. All three backed the company in 2016 when it led an undisclosed Series C round. While PatSnap didn’t give a figure for that previous round, it is saying this time around that it has raised over $100 million to date. Doing some quick via math via figures on Crunchbase suggests that the Series C was something in the region of $50 million. PatSnap was founded in 2007 and it is based out of the UK and Singapore, with locations in China and the U.S.. The company started out as essentially a directory for IP, helping companies — and particularly enterprises — pull in data
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Farmdrop picks up £10M Series B

Farmdrop, the farmer-friendly online grocery platform based in the U.K., has picked up £10 million in new funding. New investors in this Series B round include LGT Impact Ventures (described as a growth equity investor that invests in businesses making a positive contribution to society), and Belltown Ventures, a renewable energy investment specialist with an interest in agricultural technology. Previous backer Atomico also followed on. Founded by ex-city broker Ben Pugh in 2014, Farmdrop originally launched as a ‘click and collect’ service that let you order groceries online from farmer-producers to pick up at a local collection point. However, the company has since pivoted to door-to-door delivery but with the same basic idea of a marketplace that bypasses the mass supermarkets. It claims to give consumers much fresher produce, and farmer-producers a more generous share of the retail price. Large supermarkets are known for squeezing suppliers in
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Samsung launches new fund for early-stage AI investments

Samsung is diving deeper into artificial intelligence after it announced a new fund focused on AI technologies and startups. The Korean firm’s ‘Samsung NEXT Q Fund’ is targeted at seed and Series A deals for startups that are “solving AI problems, as well as those using AI to solve computer science problems.” In particular, the announcement revealing the new fund mentioned areas that include learning in simulation, scene understanding, problem learning programs and human computer interaction. The fund itself doesn’t have a dedicated kitty, it instead invests from Samsung’s $150 million U.S. Next Fund, which was announced last year and is focused on early-stage companies in emerging tech verticals. The Q fund has already cut checks, though. To date it has backed a number of companies, one of which is Covariant.AI — a startup that teaches skills to robots. “For the past ten years, we’ve watched
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Back Market raises $48 million for its refurbished device marketplace

If you’ve tried selling your old smartphone on a refurbishment website, chances are you ended up with a dozen browser tabs comparing prices. French startup Back Market is taking advantage of this fragmented industry to create a marketplace and aggregate all refurbishers on a single online platform. The startup just raised $48 million (€41 million). Groupe Arnault, Eurazeo, Aglaé Ventures and Daphni participated in today’s funding round. Back in May, the company told me that it was working with over 270 factories. Back Market has generated over $110 million in gross merchandise volume over the past three years. The service is now live in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy. The company just expanded to the U.S. “Before, refurbishment was just a thing for tech savvy people and tech bloggers,” co-founder and chief creative officer Vianney Vaute told me. “With Back Market, it becomes a mainstream alternative.” Working
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Tableau gets AI shot in the arm with Empirical Systems acquisition

When Tableau was founded back in 2003, not many people were thinking about artificial intelligence to drive analytics and visualization, but over the years the world has changed and the company recognized that it needed talent to keep up with new trends. Today, it announced it was acquiring Empirical Systems, an early stage startup with AI roots. Tableau did not share the terms of the deal. The startup was born just two years ago from research on automated statistics at the MIT Probabilistic Computing Project. According to the company website, “Empirical is an analytics engine that automatically models structured, tabular data (such as spreadsheets, tables, or csv files) and allows those models to be queried to uncover statistical insights in data.” The product was still in private Beta when Tableau bought the company. It is delivered currently as an engine embedded inside other applications. That sounds like something
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Opendoor raises $325M to make buying and selling homes a near-instant process

Investors are placing another huge bet on a startup looking to reinvent a decades-old process into something that’s near instant, this time pouring $325 million into Opendoor — a company that wants to bring the complex operation of buying or selling a home down to something similarly as simple as hailing a Lyft. The idea of Opendoor is one not so dissimilar from a consumer theory that’s blossomed into companies worth tens of billions of dollars — consumers hate complex processes and are willing to hand off those processes to technology companies if they can make it even a little simpler. Home-buying and selling can be one of the more intense ones, requiring a lot of moving pieces and coordinating multiple time tables and schedules. Opendoor’s theory is that it can create a sizable business by dropping that time and energy cost to zero and effectively create a new technology-powered
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Truecaller makes first acquisition to build out payment and financial services in India

Sweden’s Truecaller started out life as a service that screens calls and messages to weed out spammers. In recent times the company has switched its focus to India, its largest market based on users, adding services that include payments to make it more useful. Now Truecaller is putting even more weight behind its India push after it announced its first acquisition, mobile payment service Chillr. The vision is to go deeper into mobile payments and associated services to turn Truecaller into a utility that goes beyond just handling messages and calls, particularly payments — a space that WhatsApp is preparing to enter in India. Truecaller doesn’t have WhatsApp -like scale — few companies can match 200 million active users in Indua, but it did recently disclose that it has 100 million daily active users worldwide, while India is its largest country with 150 million registered users. Truecaller has raised over $90
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Sea seeks $400M raise to develop its e-commerce and payment businesses

Southeast Asia-based internet firm Sea is raising $400 million through the sale of notes in what would be its first fundraising activity since it went public via in an October 2017 IPO that raised over $1 billion. The Singapore-based company, formerly known as Garena, said that the senior note offering will put toward general costs and business expansion. Long-time investor Tencent is expected to buy up $50 million of the notes on offer, and the offering itself could be extended by a further $60 million. Sea’s IPO was a landmark for Southeast Asia, where startup exits are few and far between, but the company hasn’t exactly set Wall Street on fire since making its public bow. Its share price is $16.40 at the time of writing, having debuted at $15. It has risen thanks to gains over the past month following its most recent earnings but initially the company
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Southeast Asia’s Grab lands $1B from Toyota at a $10B valuation

Grab, the ride-hailing firm that acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business earlier this year, is raising a new round of funding and it just announced that it will be led by Toyota, which is committing $1 billion in capital. The deal values Grab at $10 billion, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. In return for its capital, Toyota will also get a board seat and the opportunity to place an executive within Grab’s team. Grab said it plans to work with its new investor “to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia’s megacities” and help its drivers increase their income. In particular, that will involve close collaboration with the Toyota Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), which is working on areas such as user-based insurance, new types of financial packages and predictive car maintenance. “Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that
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Exotec Solutions raises $17.7 million for its warehouse robots

French startup Exotec Solutions raised a $17.7 million funding round (€15 million) from Iris Capital with existing investors 360 Capital Partners and Breega also participating. The startup has built an automated robot called the Skypods to optimize e-commerce warehouses. It’s easy to forget about it when you click on “buy now”, but there are a ton of people walking through endless aisles of products every day to pick up your next order. Exotec is selling a complete solution to replace part of your warehouse with a robot-managed area. France’s second biggest e-commerce website Cdiscount has been experimenting with Exotec and now plans to buy more robots, racks and stations in the coming months. Skypods are low-profile robots that can carry a standardized box and bring it back to a human operator. But the Skypods don’t just move on flat grounds. They can move up and down a rack and
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Reid Hoffman to talk ‘blitzscaling’ at Disrupt SF 2018

When it comes to scaling startups, few people are as accomplished or consistently successful as Reid Hoffman . While the rest of us consider scaling a startup to market domination a daunting task, Hoffman has continued to make it look easy. In September, Hoffman will join us at TC Disrupt SF to share his strategies on “blitzscaling,” which also happens to be the title of his forthcoming book. Hoffman started out his Silicon Valley career at PayPal, serving as EVP and a founding board member. In 2003, Hoffman founded LinkedIn from his living room. LinkedIn now has more than 500 million members across 200 countries and territories across the world, effectively becoming a necessity to the professional marketplace. Hoffman left LinkedIn in 2007, but his contributions to the company certainly helped turn it into the behemoth it is today, going public in 2011 and selling to Microsoft for a whopping $26.
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Amino raises $45M for to bring fan communities to smartphones

Amino has raised a big Series C round of funding — $45 million from GV, Venrock, Union Square Ventures, Goodwater Capital and Time Warner Investments, with Hearst Ventures joining as a new investor. Co-founder and CEO Ben Anderson has described Amino as an way to help people who have “passionate niche interests” find others who feel the same way, via smartphone apps. The company started out with apps focused a handful of topics like K-pop, anime and Doctor Who, but it later added the ability for anyone to launch a new community in the main Amino app, and there are now more than 2.5 million communities. Of course, some of these communities are more active than others, and there’s some overlap between them — but Max Sebela, who’s general manager for Amino’s English-language apps, said there’s less than you might think, because “each interest is actually a universe
Amino Voice Chats
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