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Automox raises $110M to help enterprises manage endpoints

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Automox

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Endpoint management platform Automox today announced it has closed a $110 million equity round led by Insight Partners. The funds, which come as Automox’s customer base grew 200% from June 2019, bring the startup’s total raised to over $152 million. The company says it will use the funding to support product development.

The average cost of a data breach is nearly $4 million, and yet 74% of companies say they can’t patch vulnerabilities quickly enough because they lack the necessary staff. That’s why former HP national account director Jay Prassl founded Automox, which is developing a platform that automates endpoint configuration, patching, management, and inventory.

Automox’s platform, which works across operating systems, servers, and PCs, lets security teams automate and conduct cybersecurity actions through policies. From a dashboard, users can orchestrate checks to ensure patch compliance of assets, regardless of location, and perform technical and top-level reporting. Automox also enables critical patches and software updates throughout enterprise computing environments, as well as security configurations and custom scripting.

“When we started out, we built the company around the most compelling pain points in the IT Ops space, which was the inability to see and remediate system vulnerabilities across Windows, Mac, and Linux from a single platform,” Prassl told VentureBeat via email. “A lot has changed since those early days, and we have continued to broaden our functionality to become the only fully cloud-native endpoint management platform.”

Above: Automox’s dashboard.

Image Credit: Automox

This April, Automox announced the limited release Data Extract, a new report to gather historical patch management insights within a customer-specified time frame. The company also rolled out the Community Worklet Catalog, which allows customers to review, customize, and deploy workflow automations from the wider Automox community.

A growing cybersecurity market

Automox occupies a global cybersecurity market that’s anticipated to be worth $120 billion by 2024 — Israeli startups alone raised $6.32 billion between 2013 and 2019. That’s not surprising, considering Juniper Research pegs the number of digital records that will be stolen in 2023 at 33 billion, compared with the 12 billion stolen in 2018. As recently as 2017, the U.S. outranked all other countries in the volume of ransomware attacks, according to Symantec. And analysts elsewhere estimate that the cybercrime economy has grown to $1.5 trillion in annual profits and that damages will reach $6 trillion by 2021.

Indeed, Tel Aviv- and Boston-based CybeReason raised $200 million in August 2019 for its enterprise endpoint protection platform, shortly after SentinelOne nabbed $120 million. CrowdStrike, an AI-powered cybersecurity platform specializing in endpoint protection and threat intelligence, also recently raised $200 million. And AI-powered cybersecurity startup Cylance snagged $120 million in June 2018 to expand its platform globally.

For its part, Automox, which has over 160 employees, claims that its nearly 2,000 customers — including Greyhound, NASA, Xerox, and Unicef — have seen a 50% reduction in labor hours to manage patches and an 80% reduction in corporate attack surfaces. That’s in addition to 2-3 times less effort and 15 times faster hardening of infrastructure than with competing solutions.

“While there are other players in the IT Ops and endpoint management space, such as Ivanti, ManageEngine, and Tanium, Automox is the only truly cloud-native platform in the market that has the flexibility to solve the problem that modern IT teams face. IT operators don’t need another siloed on-prem tool to manage,” Prassl said. “Many use up to seven different tools, which can leave operators with outdated views of their infrastructure and no single source of truth. As the strategic value of IT Ops continues to rise, so does the demand for a modern cloud-native platform that can interface with security tools they use today, such as CrowdStrike and SentinalOne.”

Blackstone and existing investors Koch Disruptive Technologies and TechOperators also participated in Automox’s new series C round.

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Former Blizzard and Epic veterans raise $5M for Lightforge Games

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Former Blizzard and Epic veterans raise $5M for Lightforge Games

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When game companies become successful, they tend to breed offspring. That’s the case with veterans of Blizzard Entertainment and Epic Games, who have raised $5 million to open a new studio called Lightforge Games.

The new studio is based near Epic Games in Raleigh, North Carolina, and its quest is to change how role-playing games are made. The team is developing a new cross-platform, social video game where players have the power to create worlds and tell stories with freedom.

CEO Matt Schembari said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company is hiring people for remote jobs.

“Our blended DNA from both Blizzard and Epic extends to the entire studio at this point,” Schembari said. “About a year ago, a bunch of us got together and have been operating quietly, building up the company and our early game prototypes. We’re testing and validating crazy game ideas that we have been coming up with.”

While he isn’t talking about the game yet, Schembari said the game will be highly social and creative and it will run across multiple platforms.

“We love experiences where players can come together and build worlds together, create stories together, tell stories together, where they’re able to have this kind of emergent gameplay. Telling stories together is really the part that we’re most focused on,” he said. “We really believe that there’s no barrier between creation and play. It’s not user-generated content in the classic sense of you create something and then you publish it and people can download it. It’s a different kind of model than just UGC.”

The funding came from Galaxy Interactive, NetEase Games, Dreamhaven, Maveron, 1UP Ventures, and angel investors from the gaming and tech industries.

One of the surprises is that Dreamhaven is another game startup itself, started by former Blizzard president Mike Morhaime and Amy Morhaime. In a statement, Mike Morhaime said that Lightforge is creating a game in a space with a lot of potential and he is excited about the team’s vision.

Above: Lightforge’s team

Image Credit: Lightforge

Schembari has 20 years of experience and he shipped games played by millions as former lead engineer at Blizzard and director of user interface at Epic Games, where he led the Fortnite platform team.

Other founders include Dan Hertzka, Nathan Fairbanks, Glenn Rane, and Marc Hutcheson. Hertzka is engineering director and he led a team at Fortnite that added the client social layer to the battle royale game. Fairbanks has been games for 13 years and has worked on titles such as Fortnite, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Elder Scrolls Online. He is serving as studio director. Rane is art director and he has worked on World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo Immortal. Hutcheson is product director and he has 18 years of experience in marketing and publishing games such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, Diablo III, Fortnite, and Hearthstone.

Lightforge has a total of 11 people and is on the verge of hiring three more. The team brings decades of experience from Epic, Blizzard, Riot, Bioware, and Zenimax Online and have shipped top games such as Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hearthstone, the StarCraft 2 trilogy, Overwatch, Elder Scrolls Online, and more.

Lightforge is an all-remote studio where employees can work and live nearly anywhere. Schembari said that his startup received multiple offers and went with Galaxy Interactive as the lead investor because of their understanding about games and online communities.

“We are all remote and have been since the very beginning and this is something that was really important to us,” Schembari said. “One of our values is to really think about embracing empathy with everything we do. And, in particular, in the case of being all remote. We’ve all lived the experience that one of the most disruptive things you can do to someone’s life is to ask them to relocate for a job. And that was something that we really just strongly didn’t want to do. We are now at a point both technologically and culturally where you can totally work remotely.”

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Amazon’s SaaS Boost tool addresses dev challenges

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AWS SaaS Boost

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Amazon today open-sourced Amazon Web Services (AWS) SaaS Boost, an open source tool that helps software developers migrate their existing solutions to software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery models. Amazon says that SaaS Boost — which launched in preview at AWS Re:Invent 2020 — has the potential to offload development efforts by supporting app transformations to SaaS, freeing up developers to focus on other aspects.

SaaS apps are constantly evolving. Many of them use industry-standard protocols and interface with other products, but they all need certain foundational capabilities to onboard users, provision infrastructure, and surface key metrics. These functions are critical for enabling SaaS providers to scale. However, if every company invested in building these capabilities, it’d take resources — slowing down the time to market.

To address this challenge, AWS SaaS Boost provides functionality including tenant isolation, data partitioning, monitoring, metering, and billing. According to Amazon, the focus is on creating an environment that brings together all the elements of a ready-to-use SaaS architecture, removing much of the heavy lifting commonly associated with migrating a solution to a SaaS model.

Unifying data across disparate sources is one key feature in AWS SaaS Boost. Between 60% and 73% of all data within corporations is never analyzed for insights or larger trends, a Forrester survey found. The opportunity cost of this unused data is substantial, with a Veritas report pegging it at $3.3 trillion by 2020. That’s perhaps why organizations have taken an interest in technologies like AWS SaaS Boost that help to ingest, understand, organize, share, and act on data from multiple environments.

Data challenges

According to Gartner, creating a‌n architecture‌ ‌that helps‌ ‌operationalize data‌ ‌pipelines‌ ‌is one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌major‌ ‌trends‌ ‌for‌ ‌2021. Organizations want to make better use of their data, but most lack a mature strategy. Indeed, surveys show that data’s business impact is limited by challenges in lifecycle management.

Recognizing this, Amazon designed AWS SaaS Boost to be adaptable to the needs of individual projects and organizations. The management and core services of SaaS Boost were built using a serverless application model, with a dashboard where users can configure the ports, domains, compute settings, databases, file systems, and billing options unique to their apps.

New tenants are introduced to the AWS SaaS Boost environment through an onboarding process that collects a tenant’s configuration options and launches an automation. From there, AWS SaaS Boost provisions tenants with separate subdomains that are used to route them to their architectures. The specific resources that apps will need are set up automatically, so that when new versions of the apps are uploaded, SaaS Boost can deploy the updates to all tenants.

Above: A portion of the SaaS Boost onboarding process.

Image Credit: Amazon

On the analytics side, SaaS Boost includes a collection of tenant-focused graphs that can be used to analyze trends. Beyond this, the tool enables integration with preprovisioned infrastructure that can aggregate and surface custom metrics views.

In a blog post, AWS worldwide partner solution architecture Adrian De Luca said that the goal is to “build a vibrant community of developers using AWS SaaS Boost” for production workloads. “We’d like to [encourage] contributors [to donate] code to enhance and optimize … features. As the project matures, we plan to invite other maintainers to take active roles in determining the project’s direction,” he wrote. “Throughout the preview period with developers all over the world, we received interest from large industry-leading software companies who want to offer their traditional products in an easier way, startups who want to build new products with it, and systems integrators modernizing enterprise software on behalf of customers.”

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Hidden Leaf Games raises $3.2 million on a MOBA gambit called Fangs

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Hidden Leaf Games is making a 3v3 MOBA.

Hidden Leaf Games is making a three-vs.-three multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game called Fangs. They have raised $3.2 million.Read More3P8UNcLPZCo

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