Category Archives: Funding

Crusoe Energy ‘significantly expansed’ cloud business

Crusoe Energy Systems (Crusoe), a solutions provider for the energy industry, has significantly expanded its cloud business. Equipped with new capacity online and additional financing earmarked for further GPU purchases, Crusoe’s latest move marks an important milestone in the next phase of its mission to reduce the environmental impact of computing and provide customers with… Read more »

The post Crusoe Energy ‘significantly expansed’ cloud business appeared first on Cloud Computing News.

Investors stake $56 million on BloomReach’s private cloud personalisation

bloomreach logoA new system of e-commerce personalisation has broken all records for attracting investment in a private cloud start up. Now the inventors intend to use the money to expand beyond e-commerce into all areas.

Private cloud personalisation specialist Bloomreach has announced a recent award of $56 million of venture capital. Investors contributing to the Series D round of funding included Bain Capital, Battery Ventures, Lightspeed, New Enterprise Associates and Salesforce Ventures. As part of the same initiative Guidewire Software CEO Marcus Ryu was appointed to the BloomReach board.

BloomReach offers an alternative to companies who cannot afford to buy their way to the top of Amazon’s search listings. Since Amazon captures half of the first product searches made by consumers this leaves digital businesses with a massive financial barrier to marketability. Meanwhile the marketing technology sector has fragmented into 2,000 companies offering 2,500 products. Bloomreach claims it can demystify and simplify the choices with omnichannel intelligence and a single personalization platform.

It has two main applications, BloomReach Commerce and BloomReach Compass. The former uses BloomReach’s Organic Search and SNAP applications to boost online sales up to 40% by algorithmically optimizing user’s site experience, it claims.

Compass uses role-specific analytics providing machine-intelligence insights, key performance indicator management and action-tracking for marketers and merchandisers. It claims it can create an average $8,000 in revenue a month for clients on every action taken. The development of BloomReach Compass made it possible for BloomReach to expand beyond e-commerce, it claims, but it needs venture funding to bankroll that growth.

BloomReach said it plans to use the money to strengthen its big-data technology and expand globally into all digital business markets.

E-commerce is a $3.5 trillion market driven by marketing technology with personalization at the core, according to investor Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at Battery Ventures. “We are just in the fourth inning of the marketing-tech revolution,” said Agrawal. Instead of relying on outdated methods of personalisation with demographic or geographic data, BloomReach will provide workflow and transactional-oriented technologies to create one-to-one personalization at scale, it claims.

“There’s a ten billion dollar opportunity in marketing tech, and BloomReach has the expertise to understand, learn and apply big data to make every experience personal for all digital businesses,” said BloomReach CEO Raj De Datta.

Blockchain specialist Digital Asset gets $50 million to create a global digital ledger

Dollar SignsDistributed ledger maker Digital Asset has announced $50 million funding to further its expansion of blockchain technology for the financial sector.

The start up’s thirteen fintech investment specialist backers included ABN AMRO, Accenture, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Börse Group and JP Morgan. Launched in 2015, Digital Asset is aimed at banks, exchanges, settlement and clearing firms, central securities depositories and financial services provider who need faster, but more secure and accountable electronic financial settlement systems.

Digital Asset founder Blyth Masters, a former JP Morgan banker, told Bloomberg that the technology is a ‘form of database’ technology that could a single ‘common source of the truth’ for every single aspect of every transaction in synch. The single source authoritative record of every stage of a transaction could obviate the need for the ‘questionable trade’ investigations conducted by Wall Street, the city and all global financial institutes.

The inventor claims its Distributed Ledger Technology cuts costs through a combination of business logic apps, privately permissioned networks and a cryptographically secure shared infrastructure. Digital Assets’s software will improve post-trade processing and lower the latency, error rates, risk and capital requirements.

“Our investors are putting their capital to work to prove out and drive global adoption of this technology because they see it will be very significant for their businesses in cost avoidance, capital reduction, risk reduction, regulatory compliance – these are big strategic issues for financial firms today,” said Masters.

Included in the round of investment was a contract to speed up settlement in Australia’s stock market ASX, in return for $10.5 million. “We can now trade equities in 150 microseconds, then it takes two days to settle. That makes no sense,” said Elmer Funke Kupper, chief executive officer of ASX. “This is the first opportunity in 20 years to re-engineer the way the market operates end-to-end. We should not miss that opportunity.”

Digital Asset beat 400 applicants for the contract to remake ASX’s clearing and settlement system.

Earlier this week, R3, a blockchain startup backed by 42 banks, said it successfully simulated trades of digital assets on a private network made up of 11 of its members. Meanwhile is expected to unveil the first securities-trading system using blockchain. Nasdaq has reportedly used the technology to complete and record a private securities transaction for the first time.

Cumulus Networks gets $35 million funding for switch tech that inspired Facebook

cloud storm rainCloud infrastructure hardware inventor Cumulus Networks has received a $35 million round of funding to develop its version of specialised version of Linux aimed to make data centre hardware run better.

Venture backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Sequoia Capital, SV Angel, Wing Venture Capital and a new investor, Top Tier Capital. The valuation of Cumulus has fallen, however, since it received its last round of funding in 2014 when it received $36m.

Cumulus has edited Linux so that it boosts cheaper switches from bog standard manufacturers to perform on a par with high end kit from the likes of Cisco and Juniper. Facebook is among the data centre users that have used the software to customise their own switches and avoid paying six figures for kit. Cumulus wrote software for the Facebook-led Open Compute Project, a collaboration which led Facebook’s engineers customer build their own proprietary switches.

With 375 customers, include 9 companies in the Fortune 50, Cumulus is aiming to extend its switch boosting technology to IT organizations in all industries. Cumulus has supplied service providers Axcient, DreamHost and NephoScale, video company Ooyala and customer experience management software company Medallia.

CEO JR Rivers says that Cumulus now aims to help customers use its Linux system in a variety of operating models, by simplifying their move to a streamlined operating model of open networking. California based Cumulus Networks started in 2010 and by January 2014 was in partnership with Dell.

Meanwhile another venture aimed at helping corporate IT departments to create better software, Sendachi, has been launched with $30M of initial funding.

Seandachi is a merger of two DevOps firm, London based Contino and US-based Clutch and was launched with a $30 million investment commitment from venture financier Columbia Capital.

Sendachi aims to help catalyse the deployment of new services. “We don’t train internal teams in an abstracted way, we participate with them, showing them how by executing their real-world work. It’s not academic, it’s absolutely practical,” said Sendachi CEO Steven Anderson.

Big Switch Networks wins $48.5M to bring SDN to telcos, data centres and enterprises

Network Function VirtualisationSanta Clara based software defined networking vendor Big Switch Networks (BSN) has won another $48.5 million to bring its bare metal networking fabrics to new markets, reports

The networking specialist, which has now received $93.5m since its launch in 2010, aims to use the new cash injection to fund more R&D and to create news sales and marketing channels in the Europe, Asia Pacific, the UAE and the US.

Investors from Morgenthaler Ventures, Silver Lake Waterman, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Accton, CID Group and MSD Capital put the cash up after hearing how the company achieved 300% growth last year. Its two technology inventions have found three popular use cases among telecoms carriers, data centre companies, service providers and enterprises.

BSN offers clients a Big Monitoring Fabric and a Big Cloud Fabric, both of which are based on bare metal software defined networking principles, with a centralised product-specific controller managing a network of bare-metal Ethernet switches. The controller, the managed switches, and the links connecting to them form the network fabric. BSN defines the software for a centralised controller running on industry standard servers and the operating system that runs on the bare-metal Ethernet switches. The Big Monitoring Fabric, which connects networks with monitoring tools and Big Cloud Fabric, which provides software defined management of switching fabrics in data centres, have won telco and data centre clients in the US, APAC and EMEA. Its main vertical markets are telcos and IT, financial services, government, service providers and higher education.

In addition to the extra funding, BSN announced that it has recruited former NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven and venture capitalist Gary Morgenthaler, who have both steered companies through the transition that comes with rapid expansion.

According to IHS Research, the percentage of users of software defined networking in enterprise communications will grow from 6% to 23% in 2016. It also estimates that spending on data centre networking will reach $13 billion in 2019, up from $781 million in 2014.

“Nobody can ignore the advantages of software defined networking,” said Shawn O’Neill, MD of one Big Switch’s venture partners Silver Lake Waterman.

Big Switch is fundamentally changing the economics of data centre networking and SDN, claimed  another investor, Mike Volpi, a partner at Index Ventures. “This financing will fuel significant go-to-market acceleration and geographic expansion,” said Volpi.

Infor invests $25 million in cloud-based retail analyst Predictix

Cloud app provider Infor has invested $25 million in data scientist Predictix with a brief to use its powers of analysis to solve the problems troubling modern retailers.

Infor will become a reseller of Predictix, incorporating its applications in the Infor cloud and its CloudSuite offering aimed at the Retail sector. Atlanta-based Predictix had 40% growth in SaaS subscriptions in 2015, has five of the top 15 global retailers as customers and manages $60bn in weekly forecasts. Its technology platform LogicBlox, which underpins all Predictix applications, has attracted funding from DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Infor cloud has 40 million users.

The addition of Predictix to CloudSuite Retail brings modules that support demand forecasting, merchandise financial planning, assortment planning, category management, network flow optimization and optimisation of allocations and markdowns.

Cloud based demand forecasting could be 50% more accurate for retailers, claims Predictix, since it is more elastic and can apply self-learning algorithms to unlimited amounts of data. The improvements in forecasts leads to higher sales and greater profitability for retailers, it claims. Merchandise financial planning, meanwhile, increases the retailer’s powers of diversifying and creates more revenue out of existing product lines, according to Predictix. Assortment planning and category management, on the other hand, can create up to $20 million in annual benefit for every one billion dollars in sales.

Network flow optimisation, meanwhile, saves retailers money by modelling their entire supply chain network, analysing the wastages and offering new more efficient alternatives. The allocation and markdown optimisation services promise to give retailers up to 20% greater revenues and profit. Predictix is suitable to all types of global retail including online, brick-and-mortar, social, mobile, fashion, hardlines, mass-merchant and grocery, the vendor says.

Digital health startup Babylon gets £24m to develop medical AI

Babylon Simulator Screen ShotUK-based digital health service Babylon Health has raised $25m in a Series A funding round led by Swedish investment group AB Kinnevik. The venture capital advance is a record amount for a European cloud based health start up.

Babylon will use the cash to expand beyond its current online patient base of 250,000 UK users to deliver preventative medicine and sick care across EMEA. Since its launch in February 2015, the service has expanded to Ireland and there are plans for an East African service for 2016. Businesses such as Citigroup, Sky and MasterCard offer it to their staff as an employee benefit and it’s used by health insurance providers Mercer, Bupa and Aviva. It claims it’s at an early stage of partnering with the NHS to make its services available to the broader UK population.

The platform uses machine learning to analyse genetics, environment, behaviour, biology and key body functions. It uses this information as a form of preventative medicine, encouraging users to stay healthy through timely personalised health advice. It now plans an additional service which aims to help monitor and manage course completion when medicine is prescribed and to assesses the effectiveness of the treatment. Babylon has demonstrated a working prototype of this additional app, which is due for launch in 2016.

Partners in the venture include investment company BXR Group, Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind and Hoxton Ventures, the fund established to bridge European companies to Silicon Valley. According to the FT.Com Babylon is valued at £100m.

In January another UK based online health start up, PushDoctor, announced it had raised $8.2million round of Series A financing from Oxford Capital, Draper Esprit and Partech Ventures.

Cisco to create 200 new cloud jobs at Cisco Meraki UK

Cisco has announced plans to create 200 new UK jobs for cloud professionals with an investment of $2.5m in the UK-based Startupbootcamp accelerator.

The news came as Cisco entertained Sajid Javid the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills at its new City of London HQ in Finsbury Square. Javid met with Cisco’s UK CEO Phil Smith to discuss the digitisation of the economy and Cisco’s role in catalysing this process in the UK.

In July Cisco announced it would invest $1 billion in the UK over the next three to five years. In November in announced its intention to buy London-based conferencing company Acano for £470m ($700 million) and Portcullis for an undisclosed figure.

The 200 new UK jobs will be at Cisco Meraki, a cloud controlled wifi, routing and security specialist arm which Cisco plans to grow three-fold by early 2017. Meraki is expected to grow in response to booming demand for solutions to the problems created by the BYOD trend in enterprises.

In a separate initiative Cisco is investing in Startupbootcamp, a startup accelerator that aims to nurture new digital talent. Cisco runs different technology themes in programmes across eight sites in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Israel, Istanbul and London. Startupbootcamp claims that 80% of its alumni are still trading and have attracted an average investment of £400,000 each.

Cisco already runs an incubator, IDEALondon, in association with University College London (UCL) and DC Thomson. Last week as IDEALondon celebrated its second anniversary it announced it has secured £10 million in external funding and earned £2 million in revenue, creating 100 jobs. Cisco customers now have 50 pilot projects using technology from IDEALondon startups. The pilot projects help refine the systems and give Cisco customers access to new options that otherwise wouldn’t be available, it claims.

“There are still huge opportunities to improve productivity with digital technology,” said Cisco’s UK CEO Phil Smith.

“Two hundred new high value jobs is fantastic news,” said Javid. “Britain is the place to do business.”

ItsOn gets $12.5 million funding to take Smart Services into LatAm and EMEA

Itson awardCloud based mobile service provider ItsOn has raised $12.5 million in a Series D funding round led by Delta Partners Capital Limited with follow-on investments from Verizon Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Tenaya Capital.

ItsOn’s technology aims to make mobile commerce a more enjoyable and secure experience through a range of services, content and apps. It currently runs its Smart Services primarily from North America data centres but the cash injection will help it fund regional data centres as it launches into markets in South America, Middle East, Africa and Europe.

ItsOn says it gives mobile customers better ways to buy wireless services and interact with their service providers. Its service is described as a ‘digital transformation platform for wireless operators’ that includes an integrated cloud service, on-device software and a mobile operator interface, the Service Design Center. These three components connect to IT and business systems, so operators can provide better experiences with a faster time to market for services, offers and mobile commerce growth.

Mobile operators desperately need to improve their social skills with end users and that requires a digital transformation according to Kristoff Puelinckx, co-founder at one of ItsOn’s investors, Delta Partners. Puelinckx said ItsOn’s mobile commerce platform is ‘at least five years ahead’ of every other player in this space, thanks to its engagement skills and contextual marketing for new products, services and incentives.

The ‘great digital experience’ is generally lacking among mobile operators, who rely on time-consuming and inconvenient store visits and call centre based cold callers in order to sell new services. Operators have suddenly woken up to the fact that they need to show greater transparency and more compelling service, according to Puelinckx.

Verizon Ventures started investing in ItsOn when it invented a virtual end-to-end carrier IT system, and it poured even more money in when it then created a cloud solution for OSS, BSS and user engagement, said Verizon Ventures director Ed Ruth. “It moved the mobile service market forward and we are pleased to continue investing in ItsOn,” said Ruth. The new system, he says, will help operators sell a lot more services to consumers, SMBs and IoT companies.

“There’s a rapidly growing demand for our technology as wireless service providers face increasing end-user expectations, new opportunities and new competition,” said ItsOn CEO Dr Greg Raleigh.

Bracket Computing wins $45 million to secure cloud with encapsulated data cells

Cloud securitySecurity start up Bracket Computing has been awarded $45m in a Series C investment round to develop its system for making content safe on the cloud.

Bracket’s Computing Cell technology works by encapsulating content in cell in order to secure it. The enveloped data and applications can then travel in safety across multiple cloud environments, according to its inventors. The Cell technology simplifies the increasingly complex issue of cloud management by consolidating security, networking and data management into a single construct.

The cell can run across multiple public clouds and in a customer’s own data centre. The cell structure also brings consistency to the cloud, as it protects client apps from the performance changes that can occur in cloud computing.

Customers hold the digital keys to their data, which is encrypted. Bracket runs a service that reserves hardware at cloud providers when necessary and distributes the data across multiple machines to smooth performance and improve speed.

The founders, Tom Gillis and Jason Lango, have a pedigree in Internet security having created Ironport Systems’ anti-spam hardware range, which was bought by Cisco Systems 2007 for $830 million. In 2011 they founded Bracket to solve the new security problems created by the cloud.

“Imagine if you could encapsulate your most sensitive applications, data and services and run them securely across hyperscale public clouds and your private cloud, while ensuring consistent security controls and data management,” said Lango, “this is what a Bracket Computing Cell allows. It enables an enterprise without boundaries, without sacrificing security and control.”

The funds will finance a global roll-out said Bracket CEO Tom Gillis. The data centres of the finance sector are an immediate target, but the technology applies to all large corporations, said Gillis. “Financial firms need to remain technology leaders. We’re working with some of the very largest as we define the blueprint for the data centre of the future.”