Bonsai Launches Early Access Program to Deepen Customer Engagement with Bonsai’s Artificial Intelligence App Development Platform

Bonsai, an innovator in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, recently revealed details of the Bonsai Early Access Program that provides customers with training, consultative support and collaborative design and development for customer-specific AI applications. Bonsai absolves customers of the complexity specific to building AI apps using Google’s TensorFlow or APIs to platforms such as IBM Watson by using Inkling, a programming language that allows developers to create artificial intelligence models called BRAINs at a higher level of abstraction as compared to low-level machine learning libraries and code. The higher level of abstraction delivered by the Bonsai platform with respect to application development streamlines and simplifies the creation of artificial intelligence models and systems. The Bonsai Early Access Program intends to deepen customer engagement with a view toward optimizing the creation of artificial intelligence-based apps for industrial systems spanning use cases in segments such as supply chain, manufacturing, warehousing and business operations. Early Access Program members also have access to engineering and consulting resources customized to specific use cases, in addition to the opportunity to contribute to the company’s roadmap for product development.

In separate news, Bonsai also announced the finalization of $7.6M in funding that brings the total funding the company has raised to $13.6M. The additional funding was led by Microsoft Ventures and NEA, an existing investor, with additional participation from ABB Technology Ventures, Samsung NEXT and Siemens. The funding raise will be used to deepen relationships with customers as well as increase the pace of product development. Bonsai was founded in 2014 by Mark Hammond and Keen Browne with the vision of imbricating machine learning more broadly in contemporary hardware and software. The company’s AI platform represents a Platform as a Service for Artificial Intelligence in a contemporary-PaaS environment that has gravitated toward polyglot platforms that are agnostic to specific application purposes. Positioned as a niche PaaS player in the rapidly growing field of machine learning, Bonsai stands poised to take advantage of increasing contemporary interest in artificial intelligence by means of a platform that centralizes the development, deployment and ongoing operational management of AI-related applications.

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Rubrik Finalizes $180M in Funding and Achieves Unicorn Status with $1.3B Valuation

Cloud data backup and recovery startup Rubrik has announced the finalization of $180M in funding led by Institutional Venture Partners with additional participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Greylock Partners. Rubrik delivers backup and recovery software that runs on both on-premise IT infrastructures as well as public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Rubrik specializes in hybrid cloud backup and recovery software solutions that recognize the needs of customers to manage, automate and orchestrate backup and recovery deployments across on-premise and cloud-based platforms.  The company competes directly with storage solutions offered by EMC and Veritas and already claims close to $100M in annualized revenue. Rubrik’s incipient success underscores the need for innovation in the storage space as it pertains to hybrid cloud environments and the concomitant value of a business solution that streamlines and simplifies backup and recovery processes for the enterprise. The $180M funding round brings the total funding raised by Rubrik to $292M and further gives it the mythical “unicorn” status accorded to startups valued at over $1 billion. With an extra $180M in the bank, expect Rubrik to ramp up its product development cycle and enhance its ability to compete with legacy solutions offered by competitors. Meanwhile, the larger backdrop to the story of Rubrik’s success is the need for disruption in enterprise storage and the potential of Rubrik’s product offerings to initiate a seismic shift in the consumption and management of storage for backup and recovery use cases.

Qumulo Finalizes $30M in Funding to Support Global Expansion of its Scale-Out Storage Platform at Petabyte Scale

Qumulo today announced the finalization of $30M in funding led by Northern Light Venture Capital, a new investor, with additional participation from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Madrona Venture Group, Top Tier Capital Partners, and Tyche Partners. The oversubscribed funding round brings the total capital raised by Qumulo to over $130M. The funding will be used to accelerate Qumulo’s market expansion and global growth in geographies such as North America, Europe and Asia in recognition of an intensified need amongst enterprises to replace legacy storage platforms with Qumulo’s data-aware, scale-out storage infrastructure. Qumulo’s scale-out storage platform delivers the ability to deploy and manage petabyte-scale storage and subsequently provide insight into the usage of billions of files as well as the data stored within those files. Qumulo’s ability to empower enterprises to manage multi-petabyte storage deployments, in conjunction with the granular visibility it provides into storage trends, renders it a disruptive force in the battle to transform legacy storage to accommodate the business needs of big data storage for on-premise and cloud-based infrastructures. Qumulo’s Series C funding raise comes soon after the February 2017 release of Qumulo Core 2.6, a new version of its data aware storage platform in addition to QC 360, a hybrid storage appliance and the November 2016 appointment of former EMC executive Bill Richter as the company’s CEO. With a roster of investors that include Amazon Web Services, Isilon, Microsoft and Google, Qumulo stands poised to continue to shake up the legacy storage landscape by delivering a solution that differentiates by way of its ability to manage petabyte-scale storage with a high degree of performance in addition to keen visibility into storage patterns. The latest funding raise promises to inaugurate the next wave of Qumulo’s growth as Qumulo expands globally and correspondingly enriches its product in relation to customer feedback and the unfolding of the company’s larger strategic vision.

Avere Systems Raises $14M in Series E Funding for Storage Solutions for Hybrid Clouds

Avere Systems recently announced the finalization of $14M in Series E funding. The Series E funding raise features a new investor, namely, Google Inc., and existing investors Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and Western Digital Capital. Avere Systems specializes in storage products and solutions that optimize the performance of storage infrastructures for hybrid cloud environments by empowering customers to access stored files, whether they are stored in the cloud or on premise, without sacrifices to file availability or performance. In recognition of the need to manage, scale and optimize storage solutions for on-premise storage as well as cloud-based storage, Avere Systems delivers a portfolio of products and services that help ease enterprise adoption of cloud computing, with a specialization in the intersection of storage and hybrid cloud deployments. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, the company has raised a total of $97M to date.

The Series E funding raise is notable because of Google’s addition to Avere’s roster of investors as well as the continued support of Western Digital Capital, the venture capital firm associated with Western Digital. The ability of Avere Systems to garner high profile investors with deep investments in enterprise storage such as Google and Western Digital speaks to its success in gaining traction in the rapidly growing hybrid cloud space. That Avere Systems has been able to carve out a niche with respect to facilitating high performance access to data for computational and long-term storage purposes underscores the success of its strategy to serve the storage needs of organizations that leverage a plurality of on-premise and cloud-based infrastructures. The funding will be used to support product development and innovation for Avere System’s customers with a specific focus on expanding its portfolio of products for the hybrid cloud.

Airbnb Raises $1 Billion in Series F Funding and Vaults to Valuation of $31 Billion

Airbnb has finalized $1 billion in Series F funding that represents an increase from the $555M that it announced as constitutive of its September 2016 capital raise in September 2016. According to a recent SEC filing, Airbnb raised over $1B in Series F equity funding that brings its valuation to roughly $31 billion, or slightly more than its $30 billion valuation as noted in September 2016. Airbnb provides a web-based platform that allows individuals to find accommodation as delivered by the private homes offered by other members instead of hotels. The company has recently expanded its offerings to include “Trips” that allow members to sign up for itineraries and experiences in the destination of their choice. Operating in 65,000 cities spanning 191 countries, Airbnb became profitable in the second quarter of 2016 and currently has no immediate plans to go public in the near future. The company’s decision to remain private, for now, is illustrative of the access to capital had by technology companies and the corresponding deferral of the decision to go public until the product matures or legal and regulatory issues related to the disclosure of business practices are resolved.

Storj Labs Finalizes $3M In Seed Funding For Its Open Source Distributed Cloud Storage Platform

Storj Labs has announced the finalization of $3M in seed funding for its open source distributed cloud storage platform that delivers peer to peer to storage using blockchain technology and cryptography. Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Techstars and angel investors from venture capital firms in addition to Cockroach Labs, Ionic Security and Pindrop Security are amongst the company’s early investors.The Storj Labs storage platform uses “farmers” who rent space on their own hard drives and storage infrastructures to other users. Storj Labs claims that the decentralization of its storage platform enables enhanced security and lower costs as compared to storage solutions offered by vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform. Because only end users have the encryption keys to their stored data, farmers cannot access data stored within the infrastructure they are providing to Storj Labs. Furthermore, the inherent decentralization of its platform means hackers and data thieves have no central servers to attack, compromise or destroy. Storj Labs currently boasts over 15,000 API users and more than 7,500 farmers. The company aims to disrupt cloud storage with improved performance, security and lower costs by means of its decentralized, peer to peer, client-side encrypted storage solution.

Kenna Security Finalizes $15M In Series B Funding

On December 7, Kenna Security announced the finalization of $15M in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital. Kenna’s security platform creates vulnerability points that quickly hone in on the components of an organization’s IT platform most susceptible to attack from security threats. Kenna Security differentiates in the IT security space by mapping the universe of possible security threats and applying a risk-based, data-driven methodology to identify the points of vulnerability that are most likely to lead to security breaches. The company’s expertise in prioritizing security risks enables it to deliver real-time, actionable business intelligence that helps organizations prepare remediation strategies to mitigate risk. By using Kenna’s vulnerability and risk intelligence platform, companies can focus their remediation efforts on potential threats of highest risk to their IT infrastructure, thereby maximizing their return on investment in security-related risk remediation. The funding will be used to accelerate the company’s product development as well as expand its sales and marketing operations. In addition to PeakSpan Capital, the funding round featured additional participation from existing investors U.S. Venture Partners, Costanoa Venture Capital and Hyde Park Angels. Kenna’s Series B funding raise brings the total funding it has raised to $25M.