At a glance.
- Oracle, Microsoft, and Walmart pursue TikTok acquisition.
- Fastly acquires Signal Sciences for $775 million.
- Security First Corp. files for bankruptcy.
- Keeper Security raises $60 million.
Mergers and acquisitions.
Oracle is now seen as a serious contender to acquire TikTok. The Wrap reports that Oracle offered a total of $20 billion ($10 billion in cash and $10 billion in stock) for the app. Business Insider and Seeking Alpha explain what Oracle stands to gain from the deal. The social media app could help improve Oracle's marketing and advertising products by giving the company access to the type of behavioral data used by other tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Additionally, Seeking Alpha says Oracle "has to compete aggressively to get bookings for its idle compute and storage resources," while Business Insider notes that paying for cloud services is one of TikTok's largest expenses.
Meanwhile, Walmart has teamed up with Microsoft to make a joint bid to acquire TikTok's operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Wall Street Journal reports that this bid is considered the front-runner for the acquisition. The Wrap says Walmart is "interested in the e-commerce aspect of the social app."
But some recent developments in China may have placed an obstacle in the path of anyone's bid to acquire any piece of TikTok. Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reports, has just enacted restrictions on the export of artificial intelligence technology. It appears that the controls may have been designed with TikTok's algorithms in mind. If they do indeed fall within the scope of the restrictions, it's difficult to see how any suitor would be attracted to what remains.
San Francisco-based content delivery provider Fastly has announced its intent to acquire Culver City, California-based web application protection company Signal Sciences for approximately $775 million ($200 million in cash and approximately $575 million in stock). Fastly stated, "Signal Sciences’ technology combined with Fastly's current solutions will form Fastly's upcoming new security offering, Secure@Edge. Secure@Edge will be a modern, unified web application and API protection solution that will power and protect companies looking to further or begin their digital transformation." The Motley Fool believes the acquisition will make Fastly "a stronger competitor against innovative CDN and edge computing specialists such as Cloudflare (which has been providing edge computing and security capabilities for a couple of years)."
Rancho Santa Margarita, California-based data security company Security First Corp. has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to sell its business to ESW Capital LLC for approximately $6 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Investments and exits.
Chicago-based password manager provider Keeper Security has received a $60 million minority investment from Insight Partners, the company's first equity raise since its founding in 2011. The company says the funding "will further accelerate product innovation and development and catalyze expansion of the company's global customer base of consumers and businesses. Following the investment, Thomas Krane, Principal at Insight Partners, will join Keeper's Board of Directors."
San Francisco-based ID verification-as-a-service company Berbix has raised $9 million in a Series A round led by Mayfield, with participation from existing investors Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and Fika Ventures, Crunchbase News reports. The funding "will be used to hire additional employees and continue growing its customer base." Berbix's co-founder Eric Levine told Crunchbase, "We are a lean operation and expect to double our size by early next year."
The Virginia-based Center for Innovative Technology's seed accelerator MACH37 has invested an undisclosed amount in IoT endpoint protection firm Cervais (also based in Virginia). CIT's press release states, "Cervais successfully completed MACH37's 90-day program, designed to accelerate a startup’s path to a sustainable business model. As a result, Cervais has made significant progress toward launching their latest product before the end of 2020. Cervais plans to use the investment to complete production of their prototypes, secure intellectual property, and prepare for product launch."
Zscaler has hired Kirk Henzlik and Benjamin Weldon as regional sales directors for Australia and New Zealand. Henzlik was previously Sales Director for Australia at Workday; at Zscaler, his territory will cover Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and New Zealand. Weldon, formerly regional sales director at AppDynamics, will handle Zscaler's sales in New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.
Coalfire has added Dr. Homaira Akbari as a board advisor and Jesús Rueda as a board director. Akbari is currently president and CEO of AKnowledge Partners LLC, while Rueda is a Vice President at Apax Partners.
BlueVoyant has appointed Debora Plunkett and Ariel Litvin to its board of directors and Ronald Moultrie as Vice Chairman of its advisory board. Plunkett is currently Principal of Plunkett Associates LLC, a Senior Fellow at Harvard, and a Professor at the University of Maryland. Litvin is CISO at First Quality Enterprises. Moultrie was formerly the NSA's Director of Operations.
Companies in the news.
Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer MediaTek has applied for a license from the US government to continue selling chips to Huawei after new US restrictions come into place on September 15th, Reuters reports. The company stated, "MediaTek reiterates its respect for following relevant orders and rules on global trade, and has already applied for permission with the U.S. side in accordance with the rules."
Crunchbase News reports that startup names are getting "less silly." New companies are increasingly opting for normal English words such as Wardrobe, Banked, Mighty, and Cured, or straightforward descriptions of the company's purpose, like Grow Credit or The Browser Company. Crunchbase contrasts these choices with past startups like Dogpile and Doostang. Misspelled words, such as Shef and Puzzl, are still in vogue, however. Crunchbase's judgment of relative silliness may be open to question, but if we've at least moved away from puns and misspellings, well, civilization may be regaining some ground lost to the Cult of Disruption.