Cyemptive CEO Rob Pike. (Cyemptive Photo) Seattle-area cybersecurity startup today announced the acquisition of (ATG), a 14-year-old IT consulting service company also based in the Seattle region. The ten employees working for ATG will join Cyemptive, whose headcount is now north of 65 people. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cyemptive came out of stealth mode , announcing a $3.5 million investment round from undisclosed investors. The company describes its cybersecurity software as an “automatic self-repairing reliable platform.” It sells products including an endpoint protection service and advanced perimeter firewalls, among others. Cyemptive’s executive team includes founder , who was previously an executive at Hitachi; , who was formerly chief information officer at Microsoft; and , who spent 30 years at the NSA, most recently as chief computer architect. The company plans to use ATG’s expertise in customer service and support to help serve its growing customer base of businesses and government clients. ATG founder and CEO Bryan Greene will join the Cyemptive management team. “Incorporating ATG’s already-established infrastructure of customer focus, service and support with our groundbreaking failsafe, pre-emptive cyber protection technologies is a natural next step in providing the best in cyber security solutions and support to them,” DuBois said in a statement.
Cole Brodman. , a Seattle-area networking startup led by former T-Mobile executive , was acquired last month by , a new company led by former Qualcomm CEO and chairman Paul Jacobs. The news was revealed Monday by in a story that details how Jacobs dropped plans to take Qualcomm private and is now focusing on San Diego-based XCOM. M87 launched out of Austin, Texas in 2014 and . That’s when Brodman, who spent 17 years at T-Mobile — including stints as CMO and CTO — took over as CEO. M87 develops technology to help wireless carriers improve network performance by creating dynamic device-to-device mesh networks. It’s similar to what Jacobs, whose father founded Qualcomm, and a group of former Qualcomm execs are building at XCOM: “giving everyone’s phones the ability to route traffic like a cell tower,” as WSJ reported. Paul Jacobs. (XCOM Photo) “We believed in the XCOM thesis of edge networks and compute, and Paul’s vision on how device-to-device technologies will enhance wireless networks,” Brodman told GeekWire in an email Monday evening. “That’s been our thesis all along, so it’s a great match. Plus, the XCOM team has some fantastic engineering talent and track record in wireless technology to help amplify our go-to-market and product roadmap.” M87 was folded into XCOM but will continue developing its technology, Brodman said. The company’s 20 or so employees are staying onboard, including Brodman. “XCOM likes the access to telecom and software talent in the Seattle area and is keeping an office here,” Brodman added. XCOM had about 30 employees before acquiring M87. It raised additional investment to buy the Seattle-area company, per the WSJ. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. M87 had raised around $12 million. It reeled in a $5 million fundraising round in 2016 led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, the company’s VC arm, and Trilogy Equity Partners, the Seattle-area firm where Brodman holds a position as partner. “It can be a really interesting business,” Brodman said in 2016. “There aren’t a lot of solutions today to help wireless carriers solve coverage capacity problems and most require them to build new cell sites. I’m excited about software-based solutions to approach this problem.” Brodman and spent the next four years as a board member for a handful of startups. Len Jordan, managing director at Madrona, told GeekWire he’s excited to see M87 “realize its vision for extending the power of networks all the way to the edge.” “The acquisition by XCOM is a great outcome for everyone involved,” he said. “The combined team has the experience and skill to reshape an industry.”
Some interesting M&A is afoot in the world of hardware and software that’s aiming to improve the quality of audio and video communications over digital networks. — the Danish company that broke new ground in mobile when it inked deals first with and then to stream audio from their phones directly to smart, connected hearing aids — is expanding from audio to video, and from Europe to Silicon Valley. Today, the company announced that it would acquire Altia Systems, a startup out of Cupertino that makes a “surround” videoconferencing device and software called the PanaCast (we reviewed it ) designed to replicate the panoramic, immersive experience of vision that we have as humans. GN is paying $125 million for the startup. For some context, this price represents a decent return: according to , Altia was last valued at around $78 million with investors including Intel Capital and others. Intel’s investment was one of several strategic partnerships that Altia had inked over the years. (Another was with Zoom to provide a .) The Intel partnership, for one, will continue post-acquisition. “Intel invested in Altia Systems to bring an industry leading immersive, Panoramic-4K camera experience to business video collaboration,” said Dave Flanagan, Vice President of Intel Corporation and Senior Managing Director of Intel Capital, in a statement. “Over the past few years, Altia Systems has collaborated with Intel to use AI and to deliver more intelligent conference rooms and business meetings. This helps customers make better decisions, automate workflows and improve business efficiency. We are excited to work with GN to further scale this technology on a global basis.” We have seen a lot of applications of AI in just about every area of technology, but one of the less talked about, but very interesting, areas has been in how it’s being used to enhance audio in digital network. , as one example, is creating and tracking “audio fingerprints” for security applications, specifically fraud prevention (to authenticate users and to help weed out imposters based not just on the actual voice but on all the other aural cues we may not pick up as humans but can help build a picture of a caller’s location and so on). GN, meanwhile, has been building AI-based algorithms to help those who cannot hear as well, or who simply needs to hear better, be able to listen to calls on digital networks and make out what’s being said. This not only requires technology to optimise the audio quality, but also algorithms that can help tailor that quality to the specific person’s own unique hearing needs. One of the more obvious applications of services like these are for those who are hard of hearing and use hearing aids (which can be awful or impossible to use with mobile phones), another is in call centers, and this appears to be the area where GN is hoping to address with the Altia acquisition. GN already offers two products for call centre workers, Jabra and BlueParrot — headsets and speakerphones with their own proprietary software that it claims makes workers more efficient and productive just by making it easier to understand what callers are saying. Altia will be integrated into that solution to expand it to include videoconferencing around unified communications solutions, creating more natural experiences for those who are not actually in physical rooms together. “Combining GN Audio’s sound expertise, partner eco-system and global channel access with the video technology from Altia Systems, we will take the experience of conference calls to a completely new level,” said René Svendsen-Tune, President and CEO of GN Audio, in a statement. What’s notable is that GN is a vertically-integrated company, building not just hardware but software to run on it. The AI engine underpinning some of its software development will be getting a vast new trove of data fed into it now by way of the PanaCast solution: not jut in terms of video, but the large amount of audio that will naturally come along with it. “Combining PanaCast’s immersive, intelligent video with GN Audio’s intelligent audio solutions will enable us to deliver a whole new class of collaboration products for our customers,” said Aurangzeb Khan, President and CEO of Altia Systems, in a statement. “PanaCast’s solutions enable companies to improve meeting participants’ experience, automate workflows, and enhance business efficiency and real estate utilization with data lakes of valid information.” Given GN’s work with Android and iOS devices, it will be interesting to see how and if these video solutions make their way to those platforms as well, either by way of solutions that work on their phones or perhaps more native integrations down the line. Regardless of how that develops, what’s clear is that there remains a market not just for basic tools to get work done, but technology to improve the quality of those tools, and that’s where GN hopes it will resonate with this deal.
has just bought up the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod, and its voice strategy. Apple has reportedly acquired PullString, also known as , according to . The company , artificial intelligence to power those experiences, and toys like and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString went on to raise . Apple’s Siri is seen as lagging far behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of developer ecosystem. Google and Amazon has built platforms to distribute Skills from tons of voice app makers, including storytelling, quizzes, and other games for kids. If Apple wants to take a real shot at becoming the center of your connected living room with Siri and HomePod, it will need to play nice with the children who spend their time there. Buying could jumpstart Apple’s in-house catalog of speech-activated toys for kids as well as beef up its tools for voice developers. PullString did catch some flack for being a “child surveillance device” back in 2015, but by detailing the security built intoHello Barbie product and saying it’d never been hacked to steal childrens’ voice recordings or other sensitive info. Privacy norms have changed since with so many people readily buying always-listening Echos and Google Homes. In 2016 it rebranded as PullString with a focus on developers tools that allow for visually mapping out conversations and publishing finished products to the Google and Amazon platforms. Given SiriKit’s complexity and lack of features, PullString’s Converse platform could pave the way for a lot more developers to jump into building voice products for Apple’s devices. We’ve reached out to Apple and PullString for more details about whether PullString and ToyTalk’s products will remain available. The startup raised its cash including Khosla Ventures, CRV, Greylock, First Round, and True Ventures, with a Series D in 2016 as its last raise that PitchBook says valued the startup at $160 million. While the voicetech space has since exploded, it can still be difficult for voice experience developers to earn money without accompanying physical products, and many enterprises still aren’t sure what to build with tools like those offered by PullString. That might have led the startup to see a brighter future with Apple, strengthening one of the most ubiquitous though also most detested voice assistants.
ASG MarTech CEO Steve Reardon. (ASG MarTech Photo) , a Silicon Valley investment firm that acquires and then operates software-as-a-service companies, is swooping up six startups and forming a new marketing tech organization that will be based in Bellevue, Wash. The new company, called ASG MarTech, will consist of the six acquired startups and an existing Alpine SG portfolio company called Grade.Us. They will continue operating as standalone offerings as part of ASG MarTech, which will serve digital agencies and brands with a suite of marketing tools. Here are the six acquired startups, with descriptions from Alpine SG: and , managed by Mike Ciaglia, are software platforms for brands and agencies that allow firms to effectively and accurately monitor, test, measure and prove SEO strategies to their customer bases. , lead by CEO Ben Carpel, is an all-in-one online performance dashboard that helps marketers easily monitor and analyze vital enterprise data in one place. , founded by Jack Yu and Nori Yoshida, helps businesses operating multiple locations engage customers quickly and identify opportunities to improve through its monitoring and management platform. The business is a powerful complement to Grade.Us’s presence in the online reputation management market. , founded by Zach Anderson and Jeff Schwerdt, is a marketing platform that enables local business owners to easily control and expand their online reputation. , founded by Vitaly Veksler is a full-service social media management platform that offers both social media monitoring and scheduling of content. ASG MarTech will employ more than 50 people and will be led by CEO , who previously oversaw Alpine SG subsidiary Bill4Time and Grade.Us. “We are incredibly fortunate to be partnering with such quality businesses,” Reardon said in a statement. “Each business has been infused with the passion and energy of an incredibly talented founder and are well positioned to accelerate their already considerable growth.” Alpine SG is backed by Alpine Investors, a private equity firm. In September it Seattle startup Record360 and has bought 18 companies since 2016.
David Leeds, Tango Card CEO. (Tango Card Photo) startup journey is making a return to Seattle. Founded back in 1997, GiftCertificates.com was one of the earliest gift card resellers in the market. The company relocated its headquarters from Seattle to Omaha . But now it has a new owner: Seattle-based , which announced the acquisition of GiftCertificates.com on Tuesday. Tango Card, which helps companies provide digital rewards, will establish a third office in Omaha and add 30 employees from GiftCertificates.com, which has more than 1,000 customers. The combined company will have 130 employees and more than 3,000 customers. GiftCertificates.com was previously in 2010 by Marlin Equity Partners. Tango Card also announced an additional $10 million investment from FTV Capital, which this past May. “As we got to know the team at GiftCertificates.com, we recognized the same commercial and customer focus,” Tango Card CEO David Leeds said in a statement. “We believe that together and with the backing of FTV we’ll be able to continue creating value for our customers while also being able to grow and influence the incentive industry.” Tango Card’s platform consists of three main ways to deliver rewards. Its “” API allows companies to integrate digital rewards directly into their apps and platforms. allow users to fund a gift card account, build an email template and send out digital gift cards. lets the customer send out a link for the recipient to pick a gift card or donation of his or her choice. Tango Card, which ranks No. 71 on the index of privately held Pacific Northwest tech startups, partners with more than 200 retailers, such as Amazon and Best Buy, in addition to restaurants, movie theaters and others. Tango Card also supports donations to 30 nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society and Girls Who Code. Editor’s note: This post was updated to reflect that Tango Card raised an additional $10 million from FTV Capital.
David Leeds, Tango Card CEO. (Tango Card Photo) startup journey is making a return to Seattle. Founded back in 1997, GiftCertificates.com was one of the earliest gift card resellers in the market. The company relocated its headquarters from Seattle to Omaha . But now it has a new owner: Seattle-based , which announced the acquisition of GiftCertificates.com on Tuesday. Tango Card, which helps companies provide digital rewards, will establish a third office in Omaha and add 30 employees from GiftCertificates.com, which has more than 1,000 customers. The combined company will have 130 employees and more than 3,000 customers. GiftCertificates.com was previously in 2010 by Marlin Equity Partners. Tango Card also announced an additional $15 million investment from FTV Capital, which this past May. “As we got to know the team at GiftCertificates.com, we recognized the same commercial and customer focus,” Tango Card CEO David Leeds said in a statement. “We believe that together and with the backing of FTV we’ll be able to continue creating value for our customers while also being able to grow and influence the incentive industry.” Tango Card’s platform consists of three main ways to deliver rewards. Its “” API allows companies to integrate digital rewards directly into their apps and platforms. allow users to fund a gift card account, build an email template and send out digital gift cards. lets the customer send out a link for the recipient to pick a gift card or donation of his or her choice. Tango Card, which ranks No. 71 on the index of privately held Pacific Northwest tech startups, partners with more than 200 retailers, such as Amazon and Best Buy, in addition to restaurants, movie theaters and others. Tango Card also supports donations to 30 nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, American Cancer Society and Girls Who Code.
Health care provider Providence St. Joseph Health acquired Seattle startup , which uses blockchain to collect payments more efficiently. The process of billing and collecting payment, called revenue cycle management, is a common headache for hospitals that has attracted solutions from Athenahealth, Experian Health, GE Healthcare Partners and others. Lumedic CEO Lincoln Popp. (Lumedic photo) Lumedic uses blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, to share information between payers and providers on a distributed ledger. Providence said it’s the first integrated health care system to use blockchain for this purpose. By moving what is often a manual process to the blockchain, the companies hope to reduce costs. “New technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning give us an opportunity to view the complexities of today’s health systems through a different lens,” said Venkat Bhamidipati, Providence St. Joseph Health CFO, in a statement. Renton, Wash.-based Providence, which operates 51 hospitals, has hired the Lumedic team and intends to keep it an independent company that will pursue partnerships with providers, insurers and others. Providence did not disclose how much it paid for the acquisition or other terms of the deal. Lumedic was founded a year ago by Michael Nash, the company’s chief product officer, and is led by CEO Lincoln Popp.
(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy) Seattle-based tax compliance company Avalara has acquired Indix, a Seattle startup that had accumulated vast amounts of data on product information. Indix CEO Sanjay Parthasarathy. (Indix Photo) Avalara, which went public this past June year, will use Indix technology to bolster its tax content database that includes everything from international product codes and classifications to taxability rules. “We believe the combination of deep product knowledge, broad product content, and artificial intelligence technology will allow us to provide our customers the information they want and need to factor compliance into their business decision-making, and for Avalara to address more compliance requirements to support their growth,” Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane said in a statement. Founded in 2013 by former longtime Microsoft executive , Indix developed an intelligence platform that helps businesses analyze and visualize product information across various industries. The company had raised more than $30 million from investors. “From day one, we built Indix to collect, organize, and structure the world’s product information using artificial intelligence,” Parthasarathy said in a statement. “With the addition of the Indix expertise, Avalara will be able to efficiently and rapidly refine its content to meet the expanding and evolving needs of its customers.” Parthasarathy is well known in Microsoft circles. He into the tech giant’s product group in the early 1990s. The Indix homepage now redirects to Avalara’s site. We’ve followed up with Avalara and Indix for more details about the acquisition and will update this post when we hear back. Last month Avalara Compli, a California-based company that helps makers of alcoholic beverages comply with government rules and regulations. Avalara has grown to more than 1,500 employees across 12 offices around the world. Avalara a net loss of $9 million on revenue of $69.5 million for the third quarter. Its stock is down about 10 percent from its IPO price. The company will report fourth quarter earnings next week.