January 19, 2019
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Broadcom acquires CA Technologies for $18.9B in cash

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Broadcom, the massive semiconductor supplier you may remember from its failed attempt to acquire Qualcomm, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement with CA Technologies, a major IT management software and solutions provider. The price of the acquisition is $18.9 billion in cash. CA’s shareholders will receive $44.50 per share, a 20 percent premium over the closing price of the company’s stock today.

It’s a bit of a surprise to see chip manufacturer Broadcom acquire a major software and services company. “This transaction represents an important building block as we create one of the world’s leading infrastructure technology companies,” Broadcom CEO and president Hock Tan explains in today’s announcement. “With its sizeable installed base of customers, CA is uniquely positioned across the growing and fragmented infrastructure software market, and its mainframe and enterprise software franchises will add to our portfolio of mission critical technology businesses. We intend to continue to strengthen these franchises to meet the growing demand for infrastructure software solutions.”

This comment doesn’t exactly explain the rationale behind today’s acquisition, but Broadcom is clearly trying to diversify its offerings. Earlier this year, the company walked away from its proposed hostile takeover of Qualcomm after the Trump administration blocked it. At the time, Broadcom was willing to pay $117 billion for Qualcomm, which would have greatly extended the company’s semiconductor business. Today’s move sees Broadcom enter a completely new business.

The company expects the acquisition to close in the fourth quarter of 2018. It’s unlikely that Broadcom will face any major headwind from Washington this time around.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Meet Alchemist Accelerator’s latest demo day cohort

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An IoT-enabled lab for cannabis farmers, a system for catching drones mid-flight and the Internet of Cows are a few of the 17 startups exhibiting today at Alchemist Accelerator’s 18th demo day. The event, which will be streamed live here, focuses on big data and AI startups with an enterprise bent.

The startups are showing their stuff at Juniper’s Aspiration Dome in Sunnyvale, California at 3pm today, but you can catch the whole event online if you want to see just what computers and cows have in common. Here are the startups pitching onstage.

Tarsier – Tarsier has built AI computer vision to detect drones. The founders discovered the need while getting their MBAs at Stanford, after one had completed a PhD in aeronautics. Drones are proliferating. And getting into places they shouldn’t — prisons, R&D centers, public spaces. Securing these spaces today requires antiquated military gear that’s clunky and expensive. Tarsier is all software. And cheap, allowing them to serve markets the others can’t touch.

Lightbox – Retail 3D is sexy — think virtual try-ons, VR immersion, ARKit stores. But creating these experiences means creating 3D models of thousands of products. Today, artists slog through this process, outputting a few models per day. Lightbox wants to eliminate the humans. This duo of recent UPenn and Stanford Computer Science grads claim their approach to 3D scanning is pixel perfect without needing artists. They have booked $40,000 to date and want to digitize all of the world’s products.

Vorga – Cannabis is big business — more than $7 billion in revenue today and growing fast. The crop’s quality — and a farmer’s income — is highly sensitive to a few chemicals in it. Farmers today test the chemical composition of their crops through outsourced labs. Vorga’s bringing the lab in-house to the cannabis farmer via their IoT platform. The CEO has a PhD in chemical physics, and formerly helped the Department of Defense keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. She’s now helping cannabis farmers get high… revenue.

Neulogic – Neulogic is founded by a duo of Computer Science PhDs that led key parts of Walmart.com product search. They now want to solve two major problems facing the online apparel industry: the need to provide curated inspiration to shoppers and the need to offset rising customer acquisition costs by selling more per order. Their solution combines AI with a fashion knowledge graph to generate outfits on demand.

Intensivate – Life used to be simple. Enterprises would use servers primarily for function-driven applications like billing. Today, servers are all about big data, analytics and insight. Intensivate thinks servers need a new chip upgrade to reflect that change. They are building a new CPU they claim gets 12x the performance for the same cost. Hardware plays like this are hard to pull off, but this might be the team to do it. It includes the former co-founder and CEO of CPU startup QED, which was acquired for $2.3 billion, and a PhD in parallel computation who was on the design team for the Alpha CPU from DEC.

Integry – SaaS companies put a lot of effort into building out integrations. Integry provides app creators their own integrations marketplace with pre-boarded partners so they can have apps working with theirs from the get go. The vision is to enable app creators to mimic their own Slack app directory without spending the years or the millions. Because these integrations sit inside their app, Integry claims setup rates are significantly better and churn is reduced by as much as 40 percent.

Cattle Care – AI video analytics applied to cows! Cattle Care wants to increase dairy farmers’ revenue by more than $1 million per year and make cows healthier at the same time. The product identifies cows in the barn by their unique black and white patterns. Algorithms collect parameters such as walking distance, interactions with other cows, feeding patterns and other variables to detect diseases early. Then the system sends alerts to farm employees when they need to take action, and confirms the problem has been solved afterwards.

VadR – VR/AR is grappling with a lack of engaging content. VadR thinks the cause is a broken feedback loop of analytics to the creators. This trio of IIT-Delhi engineers has built machine learning algorithms that get smarter over time and deliver actionable insights on how to modify content to increase engagement.

Tika – This duo of ex-Googlers wants to help engineering managers manage their teams better. Managers use Tika as an AI-powered assistant over Slack to facilitate personalized conversations with engineering teams. The goal is to quickly uncover and resolve employee engagement issues, and prevent talent churn.

GridRaster – GridRaster wants to bring AR/VR to mobile devices. The problem? AR/VR is compute-intensive. Latency, bandwidth and poor load balancing kill AR/VR on mobile networks. The solution? For this trio of systems engineers from Broadcom, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, it’s about starting with enterprise use cases and building edge clouds to offload the work. They have 12 patents.

AitoeLabs – Despite the buzz around AI video analytics for security, AitoeLabs claims solutions today are plagued with hundreds of thousands of false alarms, requiring lots of human involvement. The engineering trio founding team combines a secret sauce of contextual data with their own deep models to solve this problem. They claim a 6x reduction in human monitoring needs with their tech. They’re at $240,000 ARR with $1 million of LOIs.

Ubiquios – Companies building wireless IoT devices waste more than $1.8 billion because of inadequate embedded software options making products late to market and exposing them to security and interoperability issues. The Ubiquios wireless stack wants to simplify the development of wireless IoT devices. The company claims their stack results in up to 90 percent lower cost and up to 50 percent faster time to market. Qualcomm is a partner.

4me, Inc. – 4me helps companies organize and track their IT outsourcing projects. They have 16 employees, 92 customers and generate several million in revenue annually. Storm Ventures led a $1.65 million investment into the company.

TorchFi – You know the pop-up screen you see when you log into a Wi-Fi hotspot? TorchFi thinks it’s a digital gold mine in the waiting. Their goal is to convert that into a sales channel for hotspot owners. Their first product is a digital menu that transforms the login screen into a food ordering screen for hotels and restaurants. Cisco has selected them as one of 20 apps to be distributed on their Meraki hotspots.

Cogitai – This team of 16 PhDs wants to usher in a more powerful type of AI called continual learning. The founders are the fathers of the field — and include professors in computer science from UT Austin and U Michigan. Unlike what we commonly think of as AI, Cogitai’s AI is built to acquire new skills and knowledge from experience, much like a child does. They have closed $2 million in bookings this year, and have $5 million in funding.

LoadTap – On-demand trucking apps are in vogue. LoadTap explicitly calls out that it is not one. This team, which includes an Apple software architect and founder with a family background in trucking, is an enterprise SaaS-only solution for shippers who prefer to work with their pre-vetted trucking companies in a closed loop. LoadTap automates matching between the shippers and trucking companies using AI and predictive analytics. They’re at $90,000 ARR and growing revenue 50 percent month over month.

Ondaka – Ondaka has built a VR-like 3D platform to render industrial information visually, starting with the oil and gas industry. For these industrial customers, the platform provides a better way to understand real-time IoT data, operational and job site safety issues and how reliable their systems are. The product launched two months ago, they have closed three customers already and are projecting ARR in the six figures. They have raised $350,000 in funding.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Vesper’s new microphone technology attracts millions from the biggest names in sound technology

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Vesper Technologies, a new microphone technology developer, has raised $23 million from some of the biggest names in audio technology to finance the commercialization of its piezoelectric microphones.

As audio technology and voice controlled devices become more ubiquitous, manufacturers are hoping to turn to higher performance MEMS (micro-electro mechanical systems) microphones that use acoustic sensors made on semiconductor production lines using silicon wafers.

The technology allows for far smaller microphones that are incredibly sensitive, but the mics themselves typically don’t withstand the wear and tear of harsh environments all that well. Enter Vesper. It’s piezoelectric microphone technology received a full-throated endorsement from Amazon last year (after the company invested through its Alexa Fund).

Traditionally, manufacturers have used arrays of MEMS microphones to pick up sound, but as systems become more complex, they’re more susceptible to breaking down thanks to the sensitivity of the microphone technology. Amazon (and others) are betting that Vesper can solve the problem thanks to its novel approach to manufacturing MEMS using piezo-electric technologies.

The innovation from Vesper basically hinges on the company’s design for a MEMS microphone that doesn’t require a back plate, which lets flexible microphone plates bend and respond to stress without degrading, according to Amazon senior sound engineer, Dave Berol.


Piezoelectric MEMS design replaces the diaphragm and back plate with flexible alternatives that result in a waterproof, dustproof, particle-resistant, and shockproof microphone that requires no workarounds to be used in high-reliability arrays.



According to Yole Developpement, the MEMS and sensor market will reach $66 billion by 2021. Vesper Technologies chief executive Matt Crowley, thinks his company can command a huge share of that market.

“Our vision is for Alexa to be everywhere, and that means devices need to be built with durable, high-quality components that stand up to the demands of many different environments, especially on-the-go scenarios that require better power efficiency,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Amazon Alexa Fund, in a statement. “Vesper has become further embedded in the Alexa community through its integrations with various development kits and integrated solutions for Amazon AVS, and this follow-on investment is a testament to their continued momentum.”

Crowley was working at a company making MEMS with quartz crystals for clocking, but the clock market wasn’t so appealing back in 2012, so the serial entrepreneur began looking at other opportunities.

“We thought the microphone was going to be a growth market back in 2012,” Crowley recalled. So he began looking for technologies that could compliment the manufacturing work his company was doing.

Through hours of online research, Crowley came across the NASA-backed work of Bobby Littrell, who had come up with an entirely new way to build commercially viable piezoelectric microphones. 

“I had these piezoelectric manufacturing expertise and i need to find a better product,” Crowley said. “I actually just started looking on the web for a piezoelectric microphone and it was like all roads led to [Littrell]… I read his doctoral thesis and then i actually read his patents and i actually contacted him through LinkedIn.”

Crowley also noted that the lower power demands of piezo electric sensors means that the microphones can enable a broader range of uses. From turning on television using nothing more than a voice command (without the need to touch a remote) to work with doorbells and security cameras and even augmented reality-based “hearables” like those designed by Bose.

Vesper raised its initial capital from Jeff Fagnan’s Accomplice fund, before getting its first strategic investment from AAC Technologies.

The most recent round was actually led by Madison, Wis.-based American Family Ventures, the investment arm of American Family Insurance, which has built quite an interesting portfolio of hardware and software services companies since its launch eight years ago. Additional institutional venture investors in the Vesper round include Hyperplane, ZZ Capital, and Accomplice.

“People have been trying to make piezoelectric microphones since the 70s,” said Crowley. “The breakthrough was making really thin layers of these piezoelectric technologies and it was Broadcom which was using this stuff… We couldn’t have started this company five years earlier. It had to be now, when the material science wasn’t right where it needs to be.”



News Source = techcrunch.com

Nintimdo RP is a DIY Nintendo Switch clone that plays classic games

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Tim Lindquist is an undergrad at Iowa State University and, if you’re into classic gaming, might just be the man of your dreams. His super-cool Nintimdo RP project is a 3D-printed case for a Raspberry Pi that is designed to simulated the size and shape of a Nintendo Switch without all those silly modern gaming advances. In fact, the Nintimdo RP is dedicated to playing classic games.

Writes Lindquist:

​This project was to create a portable gaming system that could also double as a portable computer. Above shows the 3D model (Rev 3) I made on Autodesk Inventor. Waiting on final prints, More coming August 2017. This project was to create a portable gaming system that could also double as a portable computer. The goal was to create a console that was functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. I use what I learned with 3D modeling to make professional looking cases to house my circuits. Buttons were constructed using tactile components behind a stripped façade.
Inside is a Raspberry Pi 3 that holds a Broadcom BCM287 processor (ARM architecture) is running a light version of Linux (pixel) with emulators on top through retroarch and retropie. This interfaces with the 7-inch touch screen on the front to display the GUI. Buttons are wired to a microcontroller and finally to the motherboard so games can be played. Thermals are controlled by bringing air in through an intake located on the back. The air is directed past heat sinks on the processor and graphics card, this then goes through the fan and into a duct system that routs the exhaust out of the top of the device.

The entire thing is open source and available on Github. You can download the models here and see the parts list here. After all, it’s dangerous to go alone. You’d better take a 3D printed Raspberry Pi-based handheld console.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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