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Tines, which helps enterprise security teams automate repetitive workflows, raises $26M

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As businesses seek ways to address the heavily reported technical skills gap, automation is playing an increasingly big role in their efforts. This is perhaps no more evident than it is in the cybersecurity fray, which has a longstanding skills shortage that is only widening, and which has been embracing AI and other automated tools.

It’s against that backdrop that Tines is setting out to grab a slice of the $153 billion cybersecurity market, with a rules-based no-code platform that helps enterprise security teams automate repetitive workflows. To help, the company today announced a fresh $26 million investment led by Addition, with participation form Accel and Blossom Capital.

Automation for the people

Tines can perhaps be best summarized as something like IFTTT for cybersecurity teams, insofar as it enables personnel to pre-build what the company calls “automation stories” that trigger specific steps whenever a particular event occurs — for example, this could be to carry out a log and threat intelligence search to figure out whether a security alert requires further action.

For context, most enterprise-level companies employ security professionals that are dedicated to spotting and responding to cyberattacks. They will typically use various automated tools to help them, though these tools can create a lot of noise and false alarms. And this is where Tines shines, as it helps teams automate many of the manual steps that follow after an alert is triggered, freeing security personnel to focus on more mission-critical work. A drag-and-drop interface also opens things up to non-coding team members such as security analysts.

Tines is built upon a visual storyboard where users can access seven agents, or “action types,” to construct their automations. They can be combined in any number of ways to create complex automation flows — for example, the webhook agent and email agent can be configured so that the relevant on-call personnel is automatically notified whenever a change is made to a GitHub repository.

“When we launched Tines, our core product principal was that every single enterprise process could be broken down and automated using just seven types of action,” Tines cofounder Eoin Hinchy told VentureBeat. “With Tines, you take the process you want to automate, break it into steps, and decide which of these seven action types is best suited to perform that step. This makes the platform extraordinarily easy to learn — there are only seven things you need to know — and once you know them, you can automate anything.”

Above: Automating tasks in Tines

Tines also serves up a bunch of prebuilt sample agent configurations to support some of the more common requirements — for example, to automatically send a Slack message whenever a specific type of security alert is triggered.

Tines sports dozens of integrations out of the box, including CrowdStrike, Snyk, PagerDuty, Gmail, Box, Datadog, Okta, Facebook, Freshdesk, and more. However, Tines can in fact be integrated with any tool that has an API, something Hinchy says separates it from other players in the security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) space — its users are not restricted to the integrations it has created.

Sign of the Tines

The Dublin-based startup has amassed an impressive roster of clients since its founding just three years ago, including Box, Databricks, Sophos, OpenTable, Canva, and soon-to-be Okta-owned Auth0. At the time of its series A raise back in 2019, Hinchy said that while security would remain its core focus, some of its customers were already using the platform to support other workflows across IT, developer operations (DevOps), and even HR, raising the possibility that Tines could broaden its horizons in the future. Some 16 months on, Tines for now remains focused on the security realm. But with a fresh $26 million in the bank, the company is well-financed to expand its product “beyond the scope of security automation” over the next year or so.

According to Hinchy, roughly one-quarter of its customers are using Tines outside of security, in places where “there’s a mission critical process that’s complex and time consuming,” he said. “Tines is flexible enough to support any workflow.”

While Hinchy added that they were in “no hurry” to officially open the floodgates to the broader enterprise automation market, it will meander down that road. “We will stay focused on security for the next year while being opportunistic and selectively working with teams and companies in other parts of the enterprise,” he said.

A typical example outside the security sphere might involve removing user-generated content that breaches company policy, updating help desk tickets, and employee onboarding. It’s worth noting that some of these use cases are supported by existing tools, but if a company is already paying to use Tines to orchestrate their security, then they may as well use it to automate other workflows across their business. Or to liven things up in a virtual office environment, they could also use Tines to randomly send dad-jokes to their colleagues as this user did — replete with SMS alerts.

In terms of pricing, Tines offers a basic free “community” edition, while its main hosted cloud product starts at $2,999 per month with support for 10 users and 250 actions. Elsewhere, the Tines platform can also be deployed on any public cloud or on-premises.

“Tines can run anywhere,” Hinchy said. “Although the most common deployment mechanism for Tines is our hosted cloud, we have customers that run in Google Cloud, Azure, DigitalOcean, AWS, bare metal, private datacenters, and even FedRAMP-compliant facilities.”

Workforce

Tines said that it more than tripled its revenue last year. While it’s not clear how much of that can be directly attributed to the pandemic, Hinchy thinks that the increase in demand he’s seen for Tines is down to the fact that companies are trying to be more efficient. “They want to use their resources more intelligently and reduce margin for human error,” he said. “This has never been more true than in the last 12 months.”

Moreover, as remote work has emerged as the “new normal” for millions of workers, this has perhaps created a more competitive landscape for technical talent. Jobs that are more rewarding and which involve fewer tedious tasks are likely to be more appealing, which is where Tines can help.

“The sudden rise in remote, flexible work means that top talent can work for any company from almost anywhere,” Hinchy said. “As a result, we’ve had conversations with an increasing number of CISOs and CIOs that want to empower staff with the tools they need to automate their manual workloads end-to-end, allowing them to refocus on higher-impact, more rewarding, engaging projects. Ultimately reducing risk of burnout while also increasing job satisfaction.”

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Nintendo has some intriguing indie games to fill out the Switch’s future lineup

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Nintendo has some intriguing indie games to fill out the Switch's future lineup

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OK, I admit that I’m a little bummed that we didn’t see an update on Hollow Knight: Silksong during today’s Nintendo Indie World event. But we got enough other cool looking games that I’m not too upset.

Nintendo has done a great job showcasing indies on Switch during the console’s first four years. Along with those awesome Nintendo first-party games, it has really been these smaller digital titles that have kept the Switch’s library looking so attractive. And today, we saw some that I imagine many of us are going to want to download.

Play them soon

A few of them are even coming out later today. The Longing jumped out at me with its moody, hand-drawn art. It also looks like an adventure game of sorts, which sings to this old LucasArts fan. There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension is also coming out later today, somehow looking even weirder than The Longing. It gives me some WarioWare vibes. It looks like you’re playing snippets of minigames.

Above: There Is No Game.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Fez is also heading to Switch later today. This is a classic indie game that should appeal to anyone who enjoys 2D platformers with a heavy emphasis on puzzle-solving. As the Switch continues to become such an indie-focused machine, it’s important to get classics like Fez on the console.

Look at all these games

I also saw a few action games that look intriguing. Skul: The Hero Slayer is a 2D roguelite that gives me a bit of a Dead Cells impression, both because of its pixel art and its fast-paced 2D fighting. Then there’s Aztech: Forgotten Gods, a 3D action game! You don’t often see the indies take on that genre, and its Mesoamerican aesthetic helps it stand out from all the fantasy and sci-fi stuff that we usually see.

aztech

Above: Aztech: Forgotten Gods.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Nintendo also showed off some neat games that focus on story, like Road 96. This one is about a teenager going on a road trip, and its procedural story should make for a lot of replayability. Nintendo closed the show with Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, a sequel to one of the better-liked indie games ever. I was also impressed by Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, an auto-runner set in a Tokyo-Detroit mashup.

It was an impressive showcase. I know that some Nintendo fans have been worried that 2021 would be a quiet year for the Switch. That may be true when it comes to Nintendo first-party games, but these indies should help keep the system relevant for a lot of players while they wait Breath of the Wild 2.

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USC Games Expo will highlight 70 student games on May 15

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Danny Bilson is head of USC Gam,es.

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The USC Games Expo will debut more than 70 student-made games at noon Pacific on May 15 in a livestreamed online-only event.

The event for the University of Southern California’s video game program will feature returning host Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards. Long-term partner Jam City returns as well. The USC Games program is rated as the top undergraduate game school in the country by The Princeton Review.

The event will be the second time it has been held in an online-only format because of the pandemic. The 70 games are up from 50 a year ago. They’re from students teams who worked remotely and were distributed across the globe.

Continuing the “global” theme, an additional live encore of the expo will stream that evening Pacific time to coincide with daytime in Asia. All interested attendees can register on uscgamesexpo.com for event updates, with North America attendees who RSVP eligible to win prizes, including game codes, during the stream itself.

Above: Danny Bilson is head of USC Games.

Image Credit: USC

This is the fifth year USC Games has held an expo, which covers the video game development programs offered by USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The Expo will also feature the first hands-on for the 10 projects being developed in its capstone course, the Advanced Games Program (AGP).

The 10 games from the AGP class are:

  • Beat the Beat Up (Oculus VR) — A VR action/rhythm game where you fight to the beat as the star of your own Bollywood blockbuster. The neighborhood Don has sent out his goons to terrorize the locals, and you are the only one that can stop them. You have to impress the critics, including one voiced by Bollywood star Abhay Deol (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dev.D, Happy Bhag Jayegi). If you rack up your score and clear the streets, you can save the village.
  • Corporate Clash (Mobile IOS/Android) — You can become the richest CEO of 2250. Corporate Clash is a casual mobile strategy game where players are the CEO of a futuristic company that makes widgets for robot consumers. You have to deal with the twists and turns thrown at you by your factory, employees, investors and other demanding groups. Pollute to cut costs but irk environmentalists, or raise prices and upset your customers?
  • Crescendo (PC) — Crescendo is a 2D combat action game where you conduct a musical world through your actions. Travel through an eerie fairy tale setting with music and battle the monstrous personifications of an orchestra.
  • Detour Bus (SteamVR, Oculus Rift/Link) — Detour Bus is a VR construction-comedy game where players build winding highways around themselves to take the Flowers family on a psychedelic road trip across post-infrastructure America. Snap together random road pieces to traverse groovy landscapes, avoid hazardous obstacles, and prevent corrupt Senator Joseph McCarthief from turning all freeways into pay-to-drive tunnels.
  • Larger Than Light (PC) — Traverse shadows by manipulating light in the 2.5D puzzle platform game, Larger Than Light. Escape a haunted school as the sibling duo: Skia the shadow, who can move across other shadows on the wall, and Lux the lightbulb, who can manipulate the size and placement of shadows for his younger sister to platform across. A single player will control both characters, getting them to work together to break away from the otherworldly force trapping them in their school while overcoming their bitter sibling rivalry.
  • Leechbug (PC) — Leechbug is a real-time strategy combat game where players take on the role of the Leechbug, a robotic symbiotic parasite who exists in an alien seascape. Your home is under threat from a polluting force that’s also sapping the will of your fellow undersea denizens. You have to use your powers of possession to free your friends, control their unique abilities synergistically to engage in combat, and reach the surface of the ocean to rescue your underwater world.
  • Pelota (PC) — Pelota is an action-packed online sports game for 2-to-4 players that brings an ancient sport into the interactive medium. Players will be immersed in a Mesoamerican setting as they master the game’s novel physics-based mechanics to get the game ball through a vertical hoop, using everything they have — except their hands — in order to win the favor of the gods.
  • Snowshoe Thompson (PC) — Explore the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains in The Trials of Snowshoe Thompson, a skiing expedition game set in the 19th century about an immigrant traversing the elements and laying the groundwork for what would become the U.S. Postal Service. During 1856, Snowshoe Thompson sets out to aid his new community as a mailman cross-country skiing across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, connecting the wild west with the wider world.
  • Sweeping the Ruins (PC) — Sweeping the Ruins is a two-player co-op strategy and combat game that let’s players engage in asymmetrical combat with an overpowered behemoth inside a dark and deep dungeon. Armed with no weaponry, two players will rely on their wits and use environmental traps to work in tandem to take down the beast. Players will need strategic coordination, situational awareness and teamwork to defeat the massive enemy and prevent the destruction of their nearby homeland.
  • Wheelin’ & Mealin’ (PC) — Wheelin’ and Mealin’ is a two-player co-op driving-and-cooking game that blends tooling around a bright, colorful cityscape and cooking fantastical dishes. Players can maneuver a souped-up race car and immerse themselves around a fantastical city to create crazy dishes that satisfy their customers in order to rise to the top of the restaurant world.

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Nvidia forms Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital

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Nvidia forms Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital

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Nvidia has formed its Inception VC Alliance to connect AI startups with venture capital. The move will help connect more than 7,500 startups in the company’s Inception program for AI tech with venture capital firms.

Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development and head of Inception at Nvidia, unveiled the alliance today at the AI Day for VCs event during Nvidia’s annual GTC 21 conference. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the company’s latest products on Monday in a keynote speech where he talked about the company’s new Grace central processing unit (CPU).

“We always felt a very strong connection to the ecosystem. We give them technology, we introduce them to our 150 different software development kits, we give them joint marketing, we introduce them to investors,” Herbst said in an interview with VentureBeat. “We give them Cloud Credits. We give them discounts for GPUs.”

Above: Nvidia’s Jeff Herbst (top left) leads a panel on AI startups at GTC 21.

Image Credit: Nvidia

AI adoption is growing across industries, and startup funding has been booming. Investment in AI companies increased 52% last year to $52.1 billion, according to PitchBook. The Inception AI startups are up 9 times from 2016, Herbst said.

The alliance aims to help investment firms identify and support leading AI startups early, as part of their effort to realize meaningful returns down the line. The goal is to educate VCs about AI opportunities and nurture startups, Herbst said.

inception 2

Above: Inception has more than 7,500 AI startups.

Image Credit: Nvidia

“AI is growing like a weed. We’re over 7500 companies, and it’s not going to be long before we’ve doubled that,” he said. “The ecosystem is clearly exploding. And VCs are a super important part of it. Startups need VCs, and VCs need startups. It’s just that simple fuel for startups to grow. We have thousands of VCs that are already part of our ecosystem, but we’ve never formalized the partnership with them until now.”

Founding members of the alliance include venture firms NEA, Acrew, Mayfield, Madrona Venture Group, In-Q-Tel, Pitango, Vanedge Capital, and Our Crowd. More VCs can apply here.

nvidia panel 2

Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups by industry.

Image Credit: Nvidia

The Nvidia Inception VC Alliance is part of the Nvidia Inception program, an acceleration platform for startups working in AI, data science, and HPC. These startups represent every major industry and are located in more than 90 countries.

Among its benefits, the alliance offers VCs exclusive access to high-profile events, visibility into top startups actively raising funds, and access to growth resources for portfolio companies.

“It’s both a corporate goal and a personal goal to extend this ecosystem around the world,” Herbst said.

nvidia panel 3

Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups are from the green countries.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Nvidia currently counts about 40 companies it has invested in directly. Around 300 Inception companies are making presentations at the GTC 21 event, which is expected to have an online audience of about 150,000. And around 35 of the startups are in emerging markets, Herbst said.

“Is there parity in the world with AI startups? No,” Lopez Research analyst Maribel Lopez said on the panel. “Do we have a long way to go? Yes. But I’m seeing exciting things like Cuda, a fintech startup in microfinance in Africa.”

These startups are using AI for a wide range of tasks, like figuring out what percentage of fisheries in the world are operating illegally.

“Now that Jensen has shown the roadmap, people know that Nvidia is a complete platform, with CPUs, GPUs, DPUs, and everything that enables these startups to do their life’s work.”

nvidia panel 4

Above: Nvidia’s Inception AI startups over the years.

Image Credit: Nvidia

On Monday, Herbst moderated a panel on investing in startups around the globe and the need to create a more diverse ecosystem for entrepreneurs. He estimated there are 12,000 to 15,000 AI startups around the world and said Nvidia is only in touch with about half of them through Inception.

“It’s an open invitation to join our ecosystem,” Herbst said. “Nvidia loves startups.”

Herbst said about 16% of Inception members are part of the health care industry. Growth areas include robotics, self-driving cars and trucks, and data science.

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