Big data analytics food startup Hampton Creek has raised $90M in Series C funding in a round led by Horizons Ventures and Khosla Ventures with additional participation from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff and other private investors. Hampton Creek uses advanced analytics to identify plants that enable the production of egg-free food products that contain fewer artificial ingredients, taste better and are healthier than their competitors. The funds will be used to advance its research and development efforts and accelerate the distribution of its products in collaboration with other major food vendors. In particular, Hampton Creek intends to use the funding to expand its market presence in Asia by distributing an eggless scrambled egg product that responds to consumer and watchdog concerns about the lack of sanitary conditions in which eggs are harvested in Asia. To date, Hampton Creek’s products include Just Mayo and Just Cookies. The company intends to release Just Pasta and Just Scrambled in 2015. Meanwhile, on Thursday, multi-billion dollar food conglomerate Unilever recently dropped its October lawsuit against Hampton Creek that claimed Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, eggless mayonnaise product is not mayonnaise because it lacks eggs. In dropping its lawsuit, Unilver backpedaled and praised “Hampton Creek’s commitment to innovation and its inspired corporate purpose,” while noting the sharing of “a vision with Hampton Creek of a more sustainable world.” Hampton Creek has now raised a total of $120M that includes $23M in Series B funding from earlier this year.
Enterprise collaboration software vendor Huddle today announced the finalization of $51M in Series D funding. The funding will be used to consolidate Huddle’s leadership in the enterprise collaboration space by accelerating its product developing and sales operations in the U.S. and Europe. Today’s funding raise was led by Zouk Capital with additional participation from Hermes GP Environmental Innovation fund and existing investors Matrix Partners, Jafco Ventures, DAG Ventures and Eden Ventures. As a result of the capital raise, Nathan Medlock of Zouk Capital will join Huddle’s board of directors.
Huddle is an enterprise collaboration software vendor that delivers a solution for enterprises marked by functionality that enables enterprises to expeditiously deploy collaboration solutions for internal teams as well as between corporate teams and vendors. The platform features the ability to configure workspaces defined by role-based access privileges, elicit input and approvals from team members, freeze documents at different stages in their evolution and leverage dashboards marked by user-specific reminders, alerts and notifications as illustrated below:
Whereas many collaboration platforms are dominated by cloud-based storage and sharing functionality, Huddle focuses on delivering the collaborative functionality required for teams to productively interact in the service of the completion of deliverables and long-range projects. Team members receive updates on contributions by fellow collaborators in a space that prioritizes tasks and activities. Moreover, Huddle differentiates in the enterprise collaboration space with a secure cloud platform that empowers enterprises to connect corporate and satellite offices, as well as their partner and vendor ecosystem. The company’s success in adding four U.S. federal agencies to its roster of customers in addition to NASA, UK government agencies, the NHS and the Government of Greenland testifies to the platform’s enterprise-grade security, compliance and auditing functionality.
Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle, remarked on the significance of Huddle’s positioning within the larger enterprise collaboration space as follows:
We’ve seen the content collaboration market come of age over the last year, with enterprises and governments now replacing legacy software at scale and embracing this new way of working. There has also been an increasing trend away from simple cloud storage. It has become a low-value commodity and simply replicates the age-old problem of content getting lost and siloed on shared drives with a new one – content now just gets forgotten about in the cloud. Instead, business managers have realized that secure collaboration workspaces that enable teams within and across the firewall to work together on content is where the real value now lies.
Here, Mitchell remarks on the way in which Huddle enriches simple cloud storage with “secure collaboration workspaces” that transform the way in which teams work together. Huddle replaces email collaboration with a suite of functionalities that promises to bring the power of collaboration software to the enterprise. Current customers include Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly International, National Grid, P&G and Driscoll’s and Panasonic Europe. As told to Cloud Computing Today in an interview with Huddle’s CEO, Alastair Mitchell, today’s round of funding provides the fuel to dramatically scale out Huddle’s operations after the company’s impressive traction to date in both the government and private sector. Competitors such as Box, Dropbox, Teambox and Amazon Zocalo stand to take note of the capital raise as Huddle continues to expand its traction amongst enterprise and government customers in the U.S. and Europe.
Avi Networks today emerged from stealth to announce the general availability of its Cloud Application Delivery Platform. The Avi Networks Cloud Application Delivery Platform leverages a disruptive technology branded the Hyperscale Distributed Resources Architecture (HYDRA) that attempts to bring the application delivery and load balancing technologies enjoyed by internet giants such as Facebook and Google to the modern enterprise. HYDRA takes advantage of software defined networking marked by a separation of the control plane and the data plane in conjunction with distributed microservices that apply a multitude of services such as load balancing and SSL termination to incoming network traffic in parallel. HYDRA also features built-in analytics that give customers real-time visibility into resource consumption specific to applications and swathes of network traffic. The Avi Networks HYDRA-powered Cloud Application Delivery platform empowers enterprises to optimize load balancing and application delivery within private cloud deployments in addition to hybrid cloud infrastructures that additionally take advantage of the services of a public cloud environment to complement an on-premise infrastructure.
Founded by former Cisco executives, Avi Networks has raised a total of $33 million in funding from Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures. In addition to delivering revolutionary load balancing and application delivery technology to the enterprise, the Cloud Application Delivery Platform promises to assist cloud service providers achieve the performance benefits and economies of scale enjoyed by platforms such as Google’s Andromeda platform and Facebook’s Autoscale system. Expect more details about the Cloud Application Delivery Platform to emerge in subsequent months but for now, the application delivery and load balancing space features a new incumbent focused on improving end-user experiences given the proliferation of cloud-based applications that impose new demands on application-delivery infrastructures. Umesh Mahajan, Founder and CEO of Avi Networks, elaborated on the significance of the company’s value proposition by noting that, “In today’s mobile cloud era, the traditional appliance-centric, monolithic application delivery approach doesn’t work anymore,” and as such, the company conceived and operationalized a disruptive application-delivery and load balancing framework that competes with the likes of F5 and Citrix.
xMatters Releases Enhanced Platform For Targeted Notifications To IT Teams For Operational Continuity
xMatters Inc. today announces the latest release of its cloud platform for enterprise alerts and notifications. Designed to deliver notifications and messaging that enable business continuity and the availability of mission-critical applications, xMatters enables IT teams to alert key stakeholders of service disruptions, technical issues, external emergencies or other sources of business and technology interruption. The new release features enhanced collaboration functionality, an upgraded integration agent, improved mobile support and messaging capabilities as well as increased data quality. The xMatters platform enables enhanced communication between teams encountering an incident that threatens to disrupt day to day operations by enriching the quality of the user interface for collaboration and its attendant messaging capability as illustrated below:
The screenshot above illustrates an incident that requires attention and an accompanying message to a team member to take ownership of the event in question given the unresponsiveness of a different team member. The xMatters user interface provides a method for the responsive team member to elaborate on the chosen course of action by way of a comment that correspondingly updates the larger, background reporting dashboard featuring blue, green and red squares. As shown above, today’s release illustrates features the ability to add two-way, free text notes about an incident as it unfolds. In addition, customers can configure xMatters deployments to notify immediate team members, vendors, senior management and executives as deemed appropriate. Importantly, xMatters also delivers enhanced integrations between the xMatters cloud and on premise enterprise applications both behind and outside the purview of corporate security and enterprise firewalls. The integration of the xMatters cloud with on premise applications enables IT teams to configurae notifications from xMatters by configuring rules that automatically identify issues such as a database failure or anomalies in network traffic. The conjunction of the ability of the xMatters cloud to automate application integrations with its rich user interface for collaboration and messaging renders today’s release an especially valuable addition to the exploding space of business continuity software. Expect xMatters to build on its early traction in the targeted notification space, particularly as the larger market for cloud-based collaboration software deepens its footprint within the enterprise.
Interconnection company IIX Inc. today announced the addition of Google Cloud Platform to its infrastructure. As a result of its partnership with the Google Cloud Platform, IIX will offer its customers access to Google Cloud Platform in 20 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, London, Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt via Google Cloud Interconnect. The addition of Google Cloud Platform to IIX’s interconnection ecosystem means that IIX customers can enjoy high performance, low latency connections to the Google Cloud Platform that bypass the public internet. Moreover, IIX customers can now create Google Cloud Platform-based deployments in multiple geographies that benefit from the enhanced security and low latency specific to the dedicated, secure, software-defined connection delivered by IIX. IIX Inc.’s announcement of its support for Google Cloud Platform comes in tandem with the news of its announcement of former Red Hat executive Paul Gampe as CTO. Gampe adds to an impressive roster of executive leadership talent at IIX that includes board member Phil Koen, who was formerly CEO of Savvis and President and COO of Equinix. IIX’s announcement of its support for Google Cloud Platform marks an important moment in its evolution. Expect IIX to add to its roster of major IaaS vendors in upcoming months as the Mountain View-based company attempts to compete with companies such as Equinix, Level 3 Communications, AT&T and Verizon in a steadily exploding space that welcomes new entrants and upstarts given the urgency of enterprise concerns about cloud, network and datacenter security.
Sentient Technologies Raises $103.5M In Series C Funding For Distributed Artificial Intelligence Technology
Artificial intelligence vendor Sentient Technologies recently announced the finalization of $103.5M in Series C funding in a round led by Tata Communications (Hong Kong), existing investor Horizons Ventures and a group of private investors. Sentient’s technology features an artificial intelligence and machine learning platform that operates on distributed datasets to develop actionable business intelligence from disparate, asynchronous data sources. The company’s patent pending technology has thus far been used to develop analytic insights in the financial and healthcare industries. Sentient differentiates itself in the artificial intelligence space by way of its unique ability to scale to process artificial intelligence jobs on millions of nodes in parallel.
Vinod Kumar, MD and CEO of Tata Communications, the company that led the Series C round, remarked on the significance of Sentient Technologies as follows:
As an investor, we share a common vision on the transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence can play in helping businesses get insights and solve their most complex big data problems. We see Sentient at the forefront of these technologies and bringing a disruptive approach to cloud based computing services. Furthermore, the scale of our leading global network infrastructure and data center footprint also complements Sentient’s growth plans and will enable its global deployment.
Here, Kumar positions Sentient Technologies as contributing to the “transformative force that massively distributed computing and artificial intelligence” currently plays in revolutionizing the way in which businesses manage big data analytics. Sentient delivers a “disruptive” approach to cloud-based distributed artificial intelligence that benefits from its collaboration with Tata’s global data center and network infrastructure. As such, Sentient participates in a resurgence of artificial intelligence technologies as evinced by IBM’s $100M venture fund in Watson supercomputing, Google’s acquisition of DeepMind technologies for $500M and early stage artificial intelligence startups such as Wit.ai, Idibon, Expect Labs and Prediction IO. Given that Sentient’s Series C funding represents the largest venture round funding investment in an artificial intelligence startup to date, the industry should expect more details of its technology platform and product roadmap to emerge in upcoming months. Sentient’s platform differentiates by way of its distributed artificial intelligence technology and massive ability to scale, although details of its predictive analytics and data management technology have yet to emerge. For now, however, the bottom line is that AI is hot both for investors and prospective customers that are increasingly interested in leveraging iterative machine learning technologies into business operations.
The following graphics, courtesy of the Onyx Group, illustrate an excerpt of the history of cloud computing from the 1950s to 2014 alongside the estimate of cloud computing industry’s contemporary worth of $150B. The complete infographic reminds us of IBM’s development of a Virtual Machine (VM) operating system in the 1970s and the emergence of virtualized private networks in the telecommunications industry in the 1990s. The full infographic can be found here.