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Sega to release Mega Drive Mini this year

Just like Nintendo before it, Sega is releasing a mini version of its iconic Mega Drive game system. The system is supposed to be available sometime in 2018; the company also announced at least 15 classic Sega games will hit the Switch this summer to celebrate the system’s 30th anniversary.

Sega turned to AtGames to build the hardware. AtGames had previously built the shoddy Sega Genesis Flashback, so hopefully this system will be better than that version. Nintendo paid attention to the details in its retro systems — and it showed. The mini NES and SNES are lovely throwbacks that bring the best of the past to the present — I just wish the controllers had longer cords.

Growing up I had an SNES because my parents thought Sega games were too violent. Basically, Killer Instinct instead of Mortal Kombat. I hope I can handle Scorpion’s finishing moves now.

If that’s not enough nostalgia, Sega Ages series producer Kagasei Shimomura hints Sega Dreamcast games could also hit the Switch, which, if that happens, could bring Phantasy Star Online or Jet Set Radio to Nintendo’s system.

Also, Bryce, our all-star illustrator, didn’t know the Genesis was called Mega Drive outside of North America. He can’t be alone.

Mixcloud, the audio streaming platform for long-form content, raises $11.5M from WndrCo

Mixcloud, the London startup that offers an audio streaming platform designed for long-form content, has closed its first-ever funding round, TechCrunch has learned. According to a regulatory filing and since confirmed by co-founder Nico Perez, the ten-year old company has raised approximately $11.5 million led by WndrCo, the media and technology holding company based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

As part of the investment, WndrCo partners Ann Daly (former president of DreamWorks Animation) and Anthony Saleh (an investor and artist manager of hiphop stars Nas and Future) have joined the Mixcloud board. The injection of capital will be used to scale the service globally and for product development, says the company.

This will include doubling down on the U.S., hence Mixcloud’s new backers, and growing the company’s 22-person team, both in London and New York (where Perez is now based). On the product side, I understand the plan is to “diversify the platform,” which would appear to point to a recent licensing deal with Warner and new paid Mixcloud consumer offerings, making the company less reliant on display advertising and other types of brand sponsorship alone.

That Mixcloud has raised a decent sized funding round isn’t surprising in itself. The music streaming site, which originally wanted to be something akin to ‘YouTube for long-form audio’, has carved out a decent following as a place to house archived radio shows and DJ mixes, and counts more than 1 million “curators” uploading content to the platform. However, aside from a couple of U.K. government grants in its formative years, the fact that the company hasn’t taken any outside funding since being founded in 2008 is no-less than remarkable. As is, perhaps, its survival. The history of consumer-facing music startups is littered with companies that raise significant venture capital, before ultimately crashing and burning or being litigated out of existence.

“We are fairly rare, if not unique,” Perez tells me, in his understated way. “We quit our jobs and incorporated the company in 2008 and then the next two years was the challenge of starting any new company, around building the team, trying to raise funding, and in our case doing these innovate types of [music] licenses. And, being straight up honest with you, we couldn’t fundraise. We couldn’t find anybody to put in money. It was a very different time back then”.

To put that period in context, the term ‘Silicon Roundabout,’ used to describe the emerging tech cluster in East London where Mixcloud would eventually relocate, only entered the public domain in July 2008. And although Spotify was founded the same year, it remained very much under the radar. Meanwhile, the spectacular rise and fall of Napster over the previous decade was still fresh in the memories of investors.

“There had been several major collapses — Napster being the largest but also other services like imeem — that had grown and ultimately failed. Investors were very, very wary of the space, or maybe we were just not very good at pitching. Either way we didn’t manage to raise in the early days… For better or worse, we had to figure out how to survive by ourselves”.

This saw Mixcloud initially set up home in a warehouse in an industrial estate near Wembley, a much less fashionable part of London, in a bid to keep costs low. The team also took on “small jobs on the side,” ploughing any surplus money they earned into keeping the service alive. Aside from bootstrapping and those early government grants, the key to survival was growing Mixcloud’s users at roughly the same speed as advertising revenue, alongside pioneering new content licenses and fingerprinting technology to ensure rights-holders were paid.

“Slowly, over the next few years, it started to get traction amongst users and listeners. Then we started to make a little bit of money from Google Adsense and a few different brand partnerships. And then it took a good five or six years until we could support a small team, and we never raised investment along the way”.

That journey instilled a culture at Mixcloud of “being lean and not splashing out huge amounts of money on launch parties”. This not only ensured the lights could be kept on, but in recent years and somewhat ironically, the same financial discipline and non-reliance on venture capital started to attract the attention of investors. As did the latent potential for Mixcloud to go international.

“The next step for us — and actually part of the fund-raise — is how do we move from bringing this very U.K.-centric streaming platform to being a global player,” adds Perez. “We looked at the wider marketplace and the time we’re in right now… and we kinda felt like if we really wanna go for it then we’re gonna need some firepower behind us. So that’s why we did the deal”.

Kolide raises $8M to turn application and device management into a smart database

More devices are coming onto the Internet every single day, and that’s especially true within organizations that have a fleet of devices with access to sensitive data — which means there are even more holes for potential security breaches.

That’s the goal of Kolide. The aim is to ensure that companies have access to tools that give them the ability to get a thorough analysis of every bit of data they have — and where they have it. The Kolide Cloud, its initial major rollout for Mac and Linux devices, turns an entire fleet of apps and devices into what’s basically a table that anyone can query to get an up-to-date look at what’s happening within their business. Kolide looks to provide a robust set of tools that help analyze that data. By doing that, companies may have a better shot at detecting security breaches that might come from even mundane miscalculations or employees being careless about the security of that data. The company said today it has raised $8 million in new venture financing in a round led by Matrix Partners.

“It’s not just an independent event,” Kolide CEO Jason Meller said. “The way I think about it, if you look at any organization, there’s a pathway to a massive security incident, and the pathway is rather innocuous. Let’s say I’m a developer that works at one of these organizations and I need to fix a bug, and pull the production database. Now I have a laptop with this data on this, and I did this and didn’t realize my disk wasn’t encrypted. I went from these innocuous activities to something existentially concerning which could have been prevented if you knew which devices weren’t encrypted and had customer data. A lot of organizations are focused on these very rare events, but the reality is the risk that they face is mishandling of customer data or sensitive information and not thinking about the basics.”

Kolide is built on top of Osquery, a toolkit that allows organizations to essentially view all their devices or operations as if it were a single database. That means that companies can query all of these incidents or any changes in the way employees use data or the way that data is structured. You could run a simple select query for, say, apps and see what is installed where. It allows for a level of granularity that could help drill down into those little innocuous incidents Meller talks about, but all that still needs some simpler approach or interface for larger companies that are frantically trying to handle edge cases but may be overlooking the basics.

Like other companies looking to build a business on top of open source technology, the company looks to offer ways to calibrate those tools for a company’s niche needs that they necessarily don’t actively cover. The argument here is that by basing the company and tools on open source software, they’ll be able to lean on that community to rapidly adapt to a changing environment when it comes to security, and that will allow them to be more agile and have a better sales pitch to larger companies.

There’s going to be a lot of competition in terms of application monitoring and management, especially as companies adopt more and more devices in order to handle their operations. That opens up more and more holes for potential breaches, and in the end, Kolide hopes to create a more granular bird’s-eye view of what’s happening rather than just creating a flagging system without actually explaining what’s happening. There are some startups attacking device management tools, like Fleetsmith does for Apple devices (which raised $7.7 million), and to be sure provisioning and management is one part of the equation. But Kolide hopes to provide a strong toolkit that eventually creates a powerful monitoring system for organizations as they get bigger and bigger.

“We believe data collection is an absolute commodity,” Meller said. “That’s a fundamentally different approach, they believe the actual collection tools are proprietary. We feel this is a solved problem. Our goal isn’t to take info and regurgitate it in a fancy user interface. We believe we should be paid based on the insights and help manage their fleet better. We can tell the whole industry is swinging this way due to the traction OSQuery had. It’s not a new trend, it’s really the end point as a result of companies that have suffered from this black box situation.”