FireEye snags security effectiveness testing startup Verodin for $250M

When FireEye reported its earnings last month, the outlook was a little light, so the security vendor decided to be proactive and make a big purchase. Today, the company announced it has acquired Verodin for $250 million. The deal closed today.

The startup had raised over $33 million since it opened its doors five years ago, according to Crunchbase data, and would appear to have given investors a decent return. With Verodin, FireEye gets a security validation vendor; that is, a company that can run a review against the existing security setup and find gaps in coverage.

That would seem to be a handy kind of tool to have in your security arsenal, and could possibly explain the price tag. Perhaps it could also help set FireEye apart from the broader market, or fill in a gap in its own platform.

FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia certainly sees the potential of his latest purchase. “Verodin gives us the ability to automate security effectiveness testing using the sophisticated attacks we spend hundreds of thousands of hours responding to, and provides a systematic, quantifiable, and continuous approach to security program validation,” he said in a statement.

Chris Key, Verodin co-founder and chief executive officer, sees the purchase through the standard acquisition lens. “By joining FireEye, Verodin extends its ability to help customers take a proactive approach to understanding and mitigating the unique risks, inefficiencies and vulnerabilities in their environments,” he said in a statement. In other words, as part of a bigger company, we’ll do more faster.

While FireEye plans to incorporate Verodin into its on-prem and managed services, it will continue to sell the solution as a standalone product, as well.

Bidding for this like-new Enigma Machine starts at $200,000

If you’re feeling flush this week, then perhaps instead of buying a second Bugatti you might consider picking up this lightly used Enigma Machine. These devices, the scourge of the Allies in World War II, are rarely for sale to begin with — and one in such good shape that was actually used in the war is practically unheard of.

The Enigma saga is a fascinating one, though far too long to repeat here — let it suffice to say that these machines created a code that was close to unbreakable, allowing the Nazis to communicate securely and reliably even with the Allies listening in. But a team of mathematicians and other experts at Bletchley Park in Britain, the most famous of them Alan Turing, managed to crack the Enigma’s code, helping turn the tide of the war. (If you’re interested, a good biography of Turing will of course tell you more, and Simon Singh’s The Code Book tells the story well as part of the history of cryptography.)

The risk of exposure should a machine be captured by the Allies meant that German troops were instructed to destroy their Enigma rather than let it be taken. And at the end of the war, Winston Churchill ordered that any surviving Enigmas be destroyed, but many escaped into the hands of private collectors like the person who got this one. It is thought that only a few hundred remain extant, though as with other such infamous artifacts a precise estimate is impossible.

This machine, however, passed through the fires of World War II and survived not only intact but with its original rotors — the interchangeable parts which would spin in a special fashion to irreversibly scramble text — and only one of its interior light bulbs out. The battery’s shot, but that’s to be expected after so long a duration in storage. If you’re waiting on an Enigma in better condition, expect to be waiting a long time.

Naturally this would be of inestimable value to a deep-pocketed collector of such things (let us hope in good taste) or a museum of war or cryptography. The secrets of the Enigma are long since revealed (even replicated in a pocket watch), but the original machines are marvels of ingenuity that may still yield discoveries and provoke wonder.

Bidding for this Enigma starts at $200,000 on Thursday at Nate D Sanders Auctions. That’s some 10 times what another machine went for 10 years ago, so you can see they’re not getting any less expensive (this one is in better condition, admittedly) — and it seems likely it will fetch far more than the minimum.

Indie travel app Lambus makes group trip planning easier

There are plenty of travel apps for researching flights and hotels or generally organizing your trips, but indie German developer Hans Knöechel struggled to find one that could gather all his travel-related information in one place, in addition to allowing a group of friends to collaborate on the trip-planning process. So he built one for himself: Lambus, an app that lets you organize your travel documents, manage expenses, plus collaborate and chat with fellow co-travelers about the trip being planned.

Previously a senior software engineer at Appcelerator in San Jose, Knöechel came up with the idea for Lambus after being on the road a lot himself, and finding existing travel apps lacking.

“When traveling, you either use a manual folder with dozens of pages for all your information — or countless apps to display travel expenses, booking confirmations and waypoint planning. Alternatives like Google Trips, Sygic and Roadtrippers were always limited to one person and never offered all the features I needed during the trip,” he explains. “This gave me the idea for Lambus: A collaborative platform on which travel groups — in real-time — can display all the properties of the trip in an easy-to-use platform: Waypoints, travel expenses, booking documents, notes, photos and chat,” he says.

The resulting app he refers to as a “Swiss Army Knife” for travel planning.

Like TripIt and others, travel documents can be shared with Lambus by forwarding emails to a unique personal email address. The imported documents — like plane tickets or Airbnb stays — will then be made available to all group attendees automatically. This is handy for group trips where often multiple people take turns making the various reservations, but don’t have any easy way to share the information with others beyond forwarding emails or writing down information in a shared online document.

Documents can also be uploaded through an “Import PDF” feature, as an alternative to email sharing. And photos can be added by snapping a picture or importing from the phone’s Camera Roll, as well.

The photo feature is handy for saving those miscellaneous pieces of travel information — like how to access an Airbnb upon arrival, travel directions posted on an event or venue’s website, a helpful online review you saved and more. It’s also a fast way to import any other information, without having to rely on email or uploads.

In the expenses section, you can keep track of either private or group expenses by entering the amount and what it was for, and, optionally, if it’s been paid.

While largely aimed at group travel because of the collaboration and built-in chat features, the app can be used for solo trips, too.


In testing the app, we found there were a few kinks that still needed to be corrected.

The calendar, for example, didn’t include the days of the week, only the dates — which was unusual. The app also had trouble finding some points of interest — like a convention center, for example, when it was entered directly in the search box. (It came up when we searched for a “nearby place” to an existing waypoint, oddly.) This appears to be a bug.

Some parts of the German app hadn’t been localized to English, either. For instance, when viewing the detail page for a waypoint, the “On My List” section read: “Noch keine Orte in der Nähe geplant.” (Meaning: “No places planned nearby.”) 

More importantly, Lambus didn’t turn imported documents into an easy-to-read itinerary, as TripIt does. The travel plan, instead, included a list of waypoints but not the dates and times, with all the details like flight numbers or hotel reservation numbers. That’s perhaps a deal-breaker in terms of dumping all other travel apps in favor of Lambus alone.

Despite its quirks, the concept here is solid and the app is nicely designed with a bright and clean look-and-feel. The app is only a couple of months old, so given a little more time, attention and a few more releases, it has the potential to become a seriously useful travel tool for group trip planning.

The name, “Lambus,” is an odd choice, we have to also note.

Knöechel says he was searching for a word that was easy to pronounce in many different languages, and settled on this — a domain name he already owned.

While Knöechel is the sole founder, Lambus is a team of seven, including mainly university friends, he says. The startup is seed-funded by the Ministry of Economics in Germany (~€120,000), and eventually has plans to generate affiliate revenue by offering hotel, flight, Airbnb and activity bookings in-app.

Lambus is live on iOS and Google Play.