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Polar Security unveils cloud data protection platform, $8.5M seed round

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Polar Security, a startup with technology for continuously securing sensitive data in the cloud, said today it has emerged from stealth with an $8.5 million seed round of funding.

Founded in January 2021, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup offers an agentless platform that automatically discovers and classifies sensitive cloud-native data—spanning both known and unknown cloud data stores. This provides “complete visibility of all data stores,” CEO and cofounder Guy Shanny said in an email—including visibility into the types of data, the potential and actual data flows, who is accessing it, and the data store’s owner.

The startup says that its “data security posture management” platform also offers detection of vulnerabilities that could lead to data exfiltration or ransomware, as well as detection of detecting compliance violations for regulations such as GDPR.

Currently, data creation has become “chaotic,” Shanny told VentureBeat in the email. Data is no longer centralized in a single database or storage, but decentralized across multiple public cloud infrastructure platforms, regions, and virtual private clouds and services—as well as pipelined to data warehouses for further analytics, he said.

“Data stores are constantly created by developers, or as a by-product of your cloud workload apps. This includes managed, unmanaged, and unknown ‘shadow data’ — all the sensitive data that is created that security and compliance teams don’t know exists, and therefore cannot monitor or protect,” Shanny said. “In most organizations that we’ve spoken with, answering simple questions such as where is the company’s data, what’s inside and is it sensitive, and where is it going to, is a very manual process.”

Polar Security addresses this issue with automation, and “only our unique technology does this completely agentless, with no impact on the workload,” he said.

Customer traction

While the startup does not yet have paying customers, it has deployed its technology in production workloads with companies in the U.S. and Israel “that will soon be converted to paying customers,” Shanny said. The customer names aren’t being disclosed at this time, but among them are multiple public companies with thousands of employees, he said.

Polar Security says it raised its seed round of funding in January 2021, at the founding of the company, though the funding hasn’t been announced until now with the emergence from stealth.

The seed round was led by Glilot Capital Partners. Other backers that took part included IBI Tech Fund and a number of angel investors, including Cloud Security Alliance cofounder and CEO Jim Reavis, former RSA chief technology officer Tim Belcher, former Qualys President Ann Johnson, and IBM Security vice president Tom Noonan.

Growth funding

Remaining portions of the funding will be used for hiring, with a goal to double the size of the company from 20 people to 40 over the next six months.

Shanny and one of his cofounders, chief technology officer Roey Yaacovi, previously worked in the cyber division at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. Earlier, Shanny said he founded a web vulnerability research firm, FreshServ, at age 14 that he sold four years later to a web hosting company in Israel.

A third cofounder of Polar Security, chairman Dov Yoran, previously was an executive in Cisco’s security business following Cisco’s acquisition of his company ThreatGRID.

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BharatPe claims over Rs 88 Cr in damages from Ashneer Grover and family

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The Delhi High court on Thursday issued a notice and summons to Ashneer Grover, former Managing Director of BharatPe, and his family members, in a suit filed by the company seeking orders to restrain them from making defamatory statements against the company. 

Meanwhile, the fintech unicorn has also slapped a lawsuit against former head of controls and wife of Ashneer Grover, Madhuri Jain, under Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), said various media reports. Besides the couple, the other defendants in the suit are Grover’s brother-in-law, father-in-law, and mother-in-law.

The couple has been granted two weeks time to file their response to BharatPe’s application seeking interim relief. BharatPe has sought:

  • Disclosure of assets of Grover and his family members
  • Interim injunction against the defendants restraining them from making defamatory/derogatory statements concerning BharatPe, its directors, employees and/or publicising the same
  • Direction to defendants to delete/remove within a period of five days all statements, tweets, social media posts, books, re-tweets, hashtags, videos, press conferences, interviews, comments, etc., made against the company
  • Orders granting liberty to BharatPe to approach all social media platforms, media organisations, publications, websites, blogs, etc., to seek deletion/removal of all such material. 

The matter will next be heard in January 2023.

During the hearing, which took place on Thursday, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing BharatPe, pointed out various tweets made by Grover after his resignation earlier this year.

As per the reports by LiveLaw, Rohatgi said that Grover should be restrained from running a “vicious campaign” against the fintech company. He cited various tweets posted by Grover and his family members following his ouster. 

“These are all his family. They were sacked from the company. We have suit for damages as well.”

Counsel for Grover claimed that the suit was not served on his client, said Bar and Bench report, to which Rohatgi responded, “We didn’t serve them because the moment he knows about it, he will again go on a rampage.”

Further, Rohatgi said that while being the former Managing Director, Grover brought in his entire family.

“To fleece the company, they (defendants) created fictitious vendors from Panipat who were paid 50-60 crores and nothing was purchased. The vendors don’t exist,” Rohatgi submitted, adding that there was a massive hiring of employees, said LiveLaw. 

BharatPe has also claimed damages of over Rs 88 crore from Grover, his wife, and his brother. This includes a claim for payment made against the invoices of non-existent vendors, amounting to Rs 71.7 crore; a claim for penalty paid to GST authorities amounting to Rs 1.66 crore; payments made to vendors purportedly providing recruitment services totalling Rs 7.6 crore; payments of Rs 1.85 crore made to a furnishings company; payments for personal expenditures of Ashneer and Madhuri Jain Grover amounting to Rs 59.7 lakh and Rs 5 crore damages for loss of reputation to the company caused by tweets and other statements made by Grover and his family members.

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Sigfox owner UnaBiz doubles its Series B funding to $50 million • TechCrunch

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UnaBiz, the Massive Internet of Things service provider and owner of Sigfox, announced today it has raised another $25 million in Series B funding. This doubles the round’s total amount to $50 million, after the first tranche was announced in October 2021. UnaBiz, which is based in Singapore, has now raised $60 million in total.

The funding was led by SPARX Group, an investment company based in Tokyo, with participation from G K Goh Holdings and Optimal Investment, all returning investors. A UnaBiz representative told TechCrunch that the new capital will prepare UnaBiz for its next stage of growth so it can focus on driving commercial activities and delivery to customers in 2023, regardless of economic conditions.

UnaBiz acquired Sigfox in April after the French IoT startup filed for bankruptcy protection. The acquisition doubled UnaBiz’s office locations and tripled its headcount to more than 240 employees. The UnaBiz representative said it has closed down SigFox’s loss-making entities and brought in new executives, including a chief customer officer to focus on pipeline and revenue streams, a chief operating officer to oversee operations stability and cost optimization and a chief technology officer. Its goal is to consolidate its business more quickly.

UnaBiz plans to invest in four verticals (utilities, security, facilities management and supply chain and logistics) across Latin America, APAC and EMEA. The funding will also be used on research and development for the company’s 0G capabilities and expand its product portfolio to include more LPWAN and satellite tech.

In a statement about its investment in UnaBiz, SPARX Group president and CEO Shuhei Abe said, “As the technology owner of the most energy-efficient LPWAN technology available on the market, UnaBiz is in a prime position to champion the convergence of Massive IoT communication technologies (from 0G to 5G) to help enterprises achieve their digitalization and sustainability goals.”

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Pixyle AI wants to make visual search more intuitive for online retailers • TechCrunch

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When Svetlana Kordumova was studying for her doctorate in AI and computer vision, she grew frustrated by the process of looking for items to buy online. Search results were often inaccurate, and she knew the tech she was learning could improve the experience. Pixyle AI was launched in 2019 to improve product discovery on e-commerce sites and today announced a €1 million seed round (about $1.05 million USD) from South Central Ventures.

The startup, which has offices in Amsterdam and North Macedonia, now works with over 20 clients, including Depop, Otrium and Minto. Over the past three years, it has tagged more than 250 million images and says its increased conversions for its retail customers by 10% on average.

Pixyle AI’s neural networks train its visual AI algorithms to not only identify fashion items in an image, but also categorize them by attribute, like color or pattern, that match the keywords shoppers use when searching for an item. The goal is to “see” images as a human would. For example, someone searching for a “short summer dress with flower print in pink and purple” would get results with all those attributes.

Kordumova, who earned her PhD from the University of Amsterdam, first created a visual search app for consumers before pivoting to B2B in 2019. She told TechCrunch that one of the biggest challenges faced by online retailers is cart abandonment, often because of poor site search and product discovery. Research from Google Cloud shows that even though more people than ever are shopping online because of the pandemic, 52% abandon their cart and go to another site if there is only one item they can’t find.

Pixyle AI's team on a green mountain top

Pixyle AI’s team on a green mountain top

The reason for search results is usually bad data. Retailers often get incomplete and inaccurate product data from brands of people listing secondhand items for sale, which means items don’t show up in search results. Many retailers deal with that problem by manually entering better product data, but that process is labor-intensive, expensive and prone to human errors.

“Take the example of color attributes, what one person might assess as yellow, another person might find to be more orange,” said Kordumova. “In the case of secondhand marketplaces with millions of products being uploaded on the platform, it’s simply an impossible task to manually add attributes to the metadata.”

Pixyle AI automates the process of extracting detailed attributes from pictures, and now has a growing fashion taxonomy that already clocks in at more than 20,000 attributes, with the goal of covering all possible search queries about clothing.

The startup’s customers include online marketplaces, brick and mortar retailers and fashion tech startups like wardrobe cataloging app Whering, virtual fitting solution Virtusize and live shopping marketplace Galaxy. Pixyle AI has helped brands that moved from brick-and-mortar stores to “phygital,” or an omnichannel strategy that blends e-commerce with physical retail points, by automating product tagging. This increases the speed at which they are able to digitize their shopping experience.

Some examples of how Pixyle AI’s tech has been used include automating manual product entry and catalog standardization at Otrium. The end-of-season fashion marketplace had previously been manually tagging and processing product attributes, but was unable to keep up with their growing inventory. Kordumova says Otrium was able to improve its productivity by 65% after implementing Pixyle AI to automate color detection for its inbound logistics team.

For consumers, Pixyle AI offers a visual search tool that lets them upload an image of what they are looking for and get similar results. Kordumova says sustainable fashion marketplace Project Cece reported a 50% higher conversion rate to product outlinks after adding Pixyle AI’s visual search tool to its site.

Other companies that have developed visual AI-powered product discovery tools include Syte, Visenze, Vue.AI and Google, which recently launched a multi-search tool that lets people search using text and images at the same time. Kordumova says Pixyle AI differentiates by focusing on product data enrichment with detailed attributes, and giving its clients a high level of customization and tagging flexibility.

“In orders to make product data enrichment really work for each specific situation of our clients, we first let our teams align on what we’re trying to achieve, and make sure to set the right configurations before our AI models get to work,” she says. “This means we map taxonomies, configure cloud architectures and deploy customer and technical support teams to the exact needs of our customers, ensuring a successful implementation and usage of our platform to help them achieve long-term business goals.”

Pixyle AI plans to use its new funding to enhance its product offering, expand in the United States and Europe and move into new verticals. It will add new suites for industry segments and new offerings like product description generation and label detection using OCR tech that recognizes brands, material composition and size. It will also add “shop the look” and “multi-modal” search to its visual discovery product. For verticals, Pixyle AI plans to move into homeware and furniture by the last quarter of 2023.

In a statement about the investment, South Central Ventures managing partner Jan Kobler said, “A pivotal part of engaging online shoppers is product search, being able to find what you want easily and quickly. However, search has been hugely underserved and remains an unmet need for retailers and shoppers until now. Pixyle AI is laser focused on this opportunity and is already moving the dial with more sales for retailers. They have built a robust tech stack, which has been tried and tested in the market and is ready to scale.”

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