Orca Security scores $6.5M seed round to solve cloud native security

Orca Security, a startup based in Israel, announced a healthy $6.5 million seed round today led by YL Ventures, a firm that makes a living investing in Israeli security startups.

That’s a lot of money for a seed round, but the company, which is led by two former Check Point Security executives, is trying to solve a hard problem around securing applications in the cloud without an agent.

“Orca, as a cloud native security platform, secures both customers’ own cloud native and legacy apps migrated to the cloud without needing agents,” company co-founder and CEO Avi Shua explained. Instead, he says the company uses a concept called “SideScanning,” which he said, “comprehensively examines the entire deployed software stack, discovering vulnerabilities, outdated and deprecated software versions, misconfiguration and other risks.”

This approach works well in a cloud native world where developers are launching applications in the cloud in containers using Kubernetes to orchestrate the containers, precisely because of the agentless approach.

Screenshot of Orca dashboard

The startup is going after established security vendors like Rapid7 and Tenable by attempting to build a more modern approach to cloud security, one that’s built from the ground up for cloud native constructs. “We didn’t just repurpose security software originally targeted at data center workloads. As such, we can analyze and secure customers’ own cloud-native workloads, migrated legacy workloads and hybrids of the two,” he said.

As a seed investment, it’s still very much early days for the company, which has a 15-person staff. With several beta customers, the startup is looking for ways to build out the product and help customers solve the security problems related to modern software approaches. Today’s funding should help in that regard.

The future of car ownership: Building an online dealership

Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot.

For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car buying. It’s clear these startups are the underdog in this fight. Most consumers buy cars the same way as their grandparents did and for good reason. Dealerships nationwide fought for years to enact laws and regulations that protect their businesses.

Several young companies are attempting to put the dealership online. Companies like Carvana, Shift, Vroom and Joydrive are putting the entire car buying process online, allowing customers to buy, trade-in and even test drive vehicles without talking to a salesman in an oversized golf pullover.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at companies like Fair that are moving consumers away from purchasing and into short-term leases. Even automakers are trying something new. Tesla sells directly to consumers while Volvo, BMW, Mercedes and others are launching subscription options to give owners even more flexibility.

The three new dealerships

Several companies are building online car dealerships. Shoppers find and buy a vehicle solely through these sites, and often, the cars are delivered to the buyer. These online dealerships even take trade-ins.

Three services dominate this space, and they were all founded in 2013. Carvana, Shift, and Vroom hit the market at the same time but have experienced different paths. One thing is clear though: it takes hundreds of millions of venture capital money to build an online dealership.

Emily Melton, co-founder and managing partner, Threshold Ventures (formally known as DFJ Ventures), points to consumer’s changing expectations and an optimized process across all kinds of vehicles. She co-led Shift’s Series A in 2014.

BetterUp raises $103M to fast-track employee learning and development

BetterUp, a company that connects employees with expert career and leadership development coaches online, has secured a $103 million Series C from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Threshold Ventures, Freestyle Capital, Crosslink Capital, Tenaya Capital and Silicon Valley Bank.

For access to its mobile coaches, which are meant to expedite development among employees and foster purpose and passion within the workplace, BetterUp offers a SaaS service to enterprises. Its customers include Airbnb, AppDynamics and Instacart, as well as 28 of the Fortune 1000.

The company said recently that the influx of Fortune 1000 customers has led to tripled revenue growth year-over-year.

“We are proud to be enabling innovative companies who recognize that their biggest asset—their people—deserve an elevated employee experience that speaks to who they are as whole persons, not just employees,” BetterUp co-founder and chief executive officer Alexi Robichaux said in a statement. “By combining human expertise, the latest advances in scientific research, and digital technologies including AI and machine learning we’re delivering unprecedented levels of personalized learning at scale.”

San Francisco-based BetterUp has previously raised about $43 million in venture capital funding since it was founded in 2012. It reached a valuation of $125 million with a $30 million Series B in March 2018, according to PitchBook. BetterUp declined to disclose its Series C valuation

BetterUp says its latest round is the largest ever for a “tech-enabled coaching, behavior change and wellness” platform. There isn’t a whole lot of competition in that space just yet. Nonetheless, $100 million is a sizable capital infusion for any startup.

Though career coaching hasn’t become VCs new favorite space — yet — startups creating tools for other startups is a trend that’s taken off in the last couple of years. Just look at Brex. In just two years, the company, which creates corporate cards for startups, has garnered a valuation of $2.6 billion. Gusto, WeWork, Plaid, Stripe, Atrium, Intercom and Outreach are just a few more examples in this emerging category.

“BetterUp is the one company fundamentally investing in the most important part of the future of work — human beings, Lightpseed’s Will Kohler said in a statement. “No other company drives measurable outcomes that change lives and workplaces.”

Xiaomi’s budget Mi Band wearable now sports a color screen and voice assistant

Xiaomi has refreshed its smart fitness tracker and unveiled a range of other gadgets in China, giving a glimpse at some of its affordable products that it will likely be bringing to other markets in the coming future.

The wearable fitness tracker, called Mi Smart Band 4, sports a bigger AMOLED display (39.9% increase in screen size) than its popular year-old predecessor and features support for XiaoAI, the company’s voice assistant that can be activated with a voice command.

The bigger display, which supports 16 million colors and 77 customized themes, will allow users to quickly glance at notifications and fitness stats. The tracker also supports offline payments via AliPay. It is still very affordable, priced at just RMB 169 (roughly $24.50).

Coupled with the long durability that previous generation smart bands have offered, it is no wonder the Chinese giant has emerged as the second largest wearable maker in the world. According to IDC, Xiaomi shipped 7.5 million wearable units in the waning quarter of last year, second only to Apple, which shipped 16.2 units.

The company has also launched a smart lock, dubbed Mi Smart Door Lock, that offers up to six unlocking modes and allows users to track its status in real time. It also works with the NFC variant of Mi Smart Band 4 that, when paired, can serve as a key. It is priced at RMB 1699 (roughly $245).

The announcement comes as Xiaomi, which went public last year and is increasingly trying to expand its services business, struggles to meet analysts expectations. The Chinese group, once thought of worth more than $100 billion, has a market cap of under $30 billion currently.

Xiaomi also launched a smart washing machine, induction cooker, e-skate hover, digital translator and pens. The washing machine, called Mi Smart Combo Wash Dryer, sports OLED smart buttons and supports voice controls for activating or halting a washing cycle. It is priced at RMB 2999 (roughly $433).

Shaped like a smartphone, the Mi AI Translator comes preloaded with Oxford and Collins dictionary as well as Chinese dictionaries. It is aimed at people trying to learn a new language and who want to improve their pronunciation. It supports real-time translation between 34 languages. It starts at RMB 499 (roughly $72).