Friday, December 19, 2014

FBI: Sony Hack Traced To North Korea

Friday, December 19, 2014

The FBI officially confirmed that it has concluded that the devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment was due to North Korea, according to an official statement by the agency. The official acknowledgement of the U.S.'s conclusions had been widely expected today. The FBI said "North Korea's attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States" saying that "Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior." The FBI said it was working with other departments and agencies to "identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests."

 
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Kwikset Connects Kevo Smart Lock With Android Lollipop

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lake Forest-based door lock maker Kwikset---which has recently launched into the smartphone-connected door lock market with its Kevo smart lock--said Thursday that it has connected its door lock with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Kwikset said that users can now download a beta, Kevo app through Google Play, which allows users to control the lock via their smartphone. the company said it will continue to enhance performance and functionality of its official app, but will supply the new software for Android L devices such as the new Google Nexus 6 phones and Nexus 9 tablets. The new lock uses Bluetooth proximity sensors to unlock a door for users.

 
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XCOR Claims Progress On Space Vehicle

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mojave-based suborbital spacecraft developer XCOR Aerospace claims it is making progress in bringing the company's spacecraft to market, saying it is moving towards its first flight. XCOR said it is making "rapid progress" towards final assembly of it spacecraft, and has attached what it says is a key part of its aircraft--the carry-through spar--to the rear-end of the Lynx fuselage. XCOR is focused on developing a two-seated, suborbital vehicle which will take humans to 330,000 feet. XCOR has been working on its vehicle since at least 2005.

 
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Semtech Gets Wireless Module Win

Friday, December 19, 2014

Camarillo-based analog and mixed signal semiconductor developer Semtech said this morning that it has partnered with wireless product company Link Labs, on a radio transceiver modules. According to the company, Link Labs has launched a low power, bidirectional radio modules for the 915 MHz ISM band and 868 MHz frequency band, which uses Semtech's LoRa long distance radio transceiver technology. Financial impact of the deal were not disclosed, nor were shipping volumes. The technology is aimed at smart meters, sensor networks, and the industrial control, security, and automation market.

 
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Yardi Names VP

Friday, December 19, 2014

Santa Barbara-based real estate and housing management software developer Yardi has appointed a new Vice President, focused on the affordable housing industry, the company said this week. Yardi said that it has named Boone Atkins as the company's new Vice President of Affordable Housing and PHA Sales. Atkins has previously served at Ernst & Young and RealFoundations, as well as CompassRock Real Estate and Milestone Management.

 
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony Hack: Theater Chain Pulls Team America

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Texas theater chain's plan to run Team America: World Police instead of The Interview, has been quashed by Paramount Pictures, according to the chain. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema had said that it would run the 2004 puppet comedy film created by South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone, instead of the Interview, after hackers crippled Sony and threatened a 9-11 style attack on theater goers if the film went to market. Alamo cited "circumstances beyond our control" for the cancellation. Team America: World Police features late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

 
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Report: U.S. Points To North Korea In Sony Hack

Thursday, December 18, 2014

U.S. officials have positively identified North Korea as being central to the hack on Sony Pictures, which resulted in the unprecedented cancellation of the debut of the film "The Interview" yesterday. According to a report from the New York Times, American officials have determined that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking of Sony Pictures, but are debating whether or not the White House should publicly accuse North Korea of cyberterrorism. Sony was forced to cancel the release of the film--a comedy which featured a far-fetched plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un--after four major theater chains pulled the film on threats of a September 11-style attack on moviegoers who watched the movie.

 
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Factual Spins New Geofencing, Targeting Tools

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Los Angeles-based Factual said Wednesday that it has rolled out two new tools, one aimed at geofencing of data, and another for audience targeting. The company said its Geopulse Proximity Designer and Geopulse Audience Builder are specifically aimed at marketers, and use its Global Places data to help target ad campaigns. For example, Factual said marketers can specifically use thigns like business mane, merchant chain, category, or geography and a radius to target offers--for example, offering up ads to users if they are visiting a merchant's store, or even those of a competitor. Factual said the dools are being used by such networks as StrikeAd, Turn, Manage, Deep Forest Media, EQ Works, MdotM, Juice Mobile, Adsmovil, TAPTAP, among others.

 
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DogVacay Adds Video Clips To Mobile App

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa Monica-based DogVacay, the online marketplace which helps dog owners find someone to watch their pet when they are away, has added a brand new feature to its iPhone app. According to DogVacay, it has added the ability to send and receive 15-second videos of pets via its free app, which hosts using the service use to give owners updates on their pets. DogVacay--which has offered up the ability to send photos since it rolled out its app--said the new feature lets hosts capture 15-second video clips of pets and share them with owners, directly from the app. DogVacay said that the photo updates from its hosts have been one of the most popular features of the app.

 
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Teradata Acquires RainStor

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Teradata, which develops big data analytics and marketing software, said Wednesday that it has acquired Hadoop startup RainStor. Financial terms of the buy were not disclosed. RainStor develops online, big data archiving software specifically for Hadoop. Teradata announced the acquisitin out of its San Diego offices. The company said the buy is its fourth, big-data related acquisition this year. The company also acquired Revelytix, Hadapt, and Think Big Analytics. RainStor was venture backed by Credit Suisse, Doughty Hansen Technology Ventures, Dow Chemical, Informatica, Rogers Partners, and Storm Ventures.

 
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Edgewave Raises $2M For Cyber Security Efforts

Thursday, December 18, 2014

San Diego-based cyber security software developer EdgeWave has raised $2M more in a Series A funding, the company said Wednesday. The funding included $1.2M from TVC Capital, $500,000 from Northgate, and $300,000 from Bill Baumel and RWI Ventures. The company said the new funding brings its total raised in 2014 to $8M. EdgeWave is led by former U.S. Navy Captain Mike Walls, and says it prvides military-grade, cyber seurity software. EdgeWave said the new funds will go to support and expansion of its operations.

 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snapchat Hit By Collateral Damage From Sony Hack

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Venice-based instant messaging app developer Snapchat is the latest victim of the hacking of Sony Pictures by a hacking group, which is believed to be backed by North Korea. Snapchat's Evan Spiegel posted a note on Twitter entitled Keeping Secrets, bemoaning the exposure of the company's business plan due to hacked emails which have been covered by many publications. Sony said Wednesday that it would not be releasing "The Interview" to theaters, after threats to theater-goers who dared to attend showings of the film. The hackers--and potentially, North Korea--have been benefiting from an all-too-eager willingness of many in the U.S. press to profit from juicy corporate tidbits stolen and released by the hackers.

 
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Spokeo Hits 150 Employees, Reports Growth

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pasadena-based people search engine provider Spokeo is up to 150 employees in its Pasadena headquarters, almost double the number of employees it had in 2012, the company said today. The site--which is led by Harrison Tang--said the growth compaes as it saw 159 percent revenue growth between 2012 and 2014. Financials were not released by the privately held firm. Spokeo, which has been around since 2006, lets users search for people using their name, phone number, email address, or usernames; the company says its service is aimed at helping people reconnect with friends and family they have lost touch with.

 
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TrueX Media Acquired For $200M, Says Report

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Los Angeles- and New York-based video advertising company TrueX has been acquired by 21st Century Fox, according to a report from the WSJ this morning. The deal is reported to be worth $200M. TrueX Media offers up interactive, video advertising technology, and is led by Joe Marchese. TrueX was previously known as SocialVibe, and is venture backed by Jafco, Norwest Venture Partners, Pinnacle Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures.

 
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Hulu Expands Content With Deal With Disney-ABC Television

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Los Angeles-based streaming television provider Hulu is bolstering its premium content lineup, with a new deal with Disney-ABC Television. Hulu said yesterday that it is in a new licensing agreement which brings video-on-demand rights to Resurrection, Mistresses, and Lifetime's Devious Maids. Financial details of the license deal were not disclosed. Hulu said the deal also includes over 750 library episodes of other titles, such as Melissa & Joey, Alias, Army Wives, Body of Proof, Twisted and Make It or Break It plus the animated series Spider-Man, X-Men and Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

 
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XPRIZE Extends Deadline for Google Lunar XPRIZE To 2016

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Los Angeles-based XPRIZE, which runs a series of multi-million dollar challenges aimed at helping to advance technology innovation, said yesterday that it has extended the deadline for the Google Lunar XPRIZE to the end of 2016. XPRIZE said the deadline for documenting a scheduled launch is now December 31, 2015, for teams to move forward in the competition. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is dangling $30M to the team that is able to successfully place a robot on the moon's surface, which explores at least 500 meters of the moon, and transmits high definition video and images back to earth. The purpose of the competition is to help advance technology and develop low-cost methods for robotic space exploration. XPRIZE said it extended the deadline because the goals of the prize are "extremely difficult and unprecedented" both from the technological standpoint and financially.

 
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ID Analytics Names CFO

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

San Diego-based ID Analytics said today that it has named Timothy Laughlin as the company's new Chief Financial Officer. Laughlin comes from Leap Wireless/Cricket Wireless, where he had been Acting Treasurer, and also served at H&R Block, FriendlyWorks, Inc. and Arthur Anderson LLC. ID Analytics is a provider of risk management and analytics software and is owned by LifeLock, which acquired the company back in 2012.

 
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Cubic Buys DTECH LABS For $114.5M

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

San Diego-based CUBIC said late Tuesday that it has acquired DTECH LABS, a provider of modular networking and baseband communications equipment. CUBIC said it will pay up to $114.5M for DTECH, which it said it will use to bolster its secure communications business. DTECH supplies networking and communications products used by the military, for portable, secure operations, and supplies customers such as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the U.S. Marine Corps, and other government and commercial customers. CUBIC is a provider of defense, military, and other products.

 
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Quality Systems Names CIO

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Irvine-based healthcare information systems provider Quality Systems, Inc. said this morning that it has named Zachary J. Sherburne a the company's new Global Chief Information Officer. Sherburne was previously CIO and VP information Services at Spectrum Brands, and also served at Stanley Black & Decker, Arthur Andersen & Co., Deloitte Consulting and Computer Sciences Corp. QI said Sherburne will be responsible for oversight and delivery of its technology to its clients, which include medical and dental group practices and small hospitals.

 
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FastSpring Joins Recurring Revenue Industry Group

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa Barbara-based FastSpring, which operates a cloud-based, e-commerce merchandising and fulfillment service aimed at software and SaaS companies, said it has joined a new group called the ServiceSource Recurring Revenue Alliance. The group--led by ServiceSource--is developing best practices for recurring revenue businesses. FastSpring is led by Chris Lueck.

 
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CARD.com Rolls Strawberry Shortcake Prepaid Cards

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Monica-based CARD.com, the prepaid, branded MasterCard provider led by Ben Katz, has inked a deal to bring a line of Strawberry Shortcake-themed, prepaid MasterCards to market, the company said this week. CARD.com said the new cards come thanks to a strategic partnership with AG Properties, the licensing division of American Greetings Corporation. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The prepaid Strawberry Shortcake MasterCard will give holders access to 24,000 ATMs, direct deposit, mobile check deposits, as well as other features. CARD.com offers up a wide range of branded prepaid cards, featuring images from Sesame Street, Shrek, Paddington Bear, The Three Stooges, The Walking Dead, and many other brands.

 
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Serviz Raises $12.5M More

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sherman Oaks-based Serviz, the on-demand handyman service led by former ReachLocal head Zorik Gordon, announced today that it has raised $12.5M in a Series B funding round. The funding came from PointGuard Ventures, Andy Sheehan, Jeff Stibel, along with Zorik Godron and Michael Kline. The company has now raised $20M in funding. Serviz previously raised funding from Groupon. The company helps connect homeowners with handymen and other home services, such as plumbers, electricians, and others. The new funds go to help the company expand beyond Southern California.

 
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Upfront Ventures Raises New Fund Worth $280M

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Los Angeles-based venture capital investment firm Upfront Ventures announced this morning that it has raised a fifth fund, worth $280M. According to the firm, the new fund will target early-stage technology investments, and will split half of the dollars in the fu between Los Angeles and the other half in investments nationally. The new fund is being managed by full time investment partners Greg Bettinelli, Steven Dietz, Kara Nortman, Yves Sisteron and Mark Suster, along with Venture Partner Hamet Watt. Upfront's most recent successful exits have included Maker Studios, TrueCar, Gravity, and Burstly.

 
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SGN Ties With NetEase To Bring Cookie Jam To China

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Los Angeles-based mobile games developer SGN, which is led by former MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe, said today that it is in a licensing deal with NetEase, to distribute SGN's popular mobile puzzle game Cookie Jam in China. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. SGN said NetEase will tailor and optimize the Cookie Jam title to appeal to the international market. SGN say it is now the second largest mobile puzzle game developer in the world, only behing King Digital, and now has over 500 million downloads across its catalog. SGN said the deal with NetEase is its first foray into China.

 
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ChowNow Ties Into Apple Pay

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Los Angeles-based ChowNow, which develops tablet-driven, online and smartphone ordering apps for restaurants, has tied its product into Apple Py. According to the company, it is the first online ordering platform to integrate with Apple's new payment system. ChowNow is led by Chris Webb. According to ChowNow, the move allows thousands of local restaurants to accept Apple Pay for purchases. Apple Pay allows iPhone users to pay for items just using their phone and a fingerprint. ChowNow is venture backed by Daher Capital, Double M Partners, Karlin Ventures, Upfront Ventures, and Velos Partners.

 
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Sorrento Therapeutics Gets Strategic Investment From NantWorks

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

San Diego-based oncology drug developer Sorrento Therapeutics has scored a strategic investment from NantWorks, the biotech research company led by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. According to the two, the investment comes as part of a global, strategic collaboration around developing next generation immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and auto-immune diseases. The two said they will create a joint venture, funded with $20M, which will focus on developing immunotherapy antibodies. As part of that deal, the companies said NantWorks will acquire a 19.9 percent stage in Sorrento, by purchasing common stock at $5.80 per share. NantWorks will also gain a 3-year warrant to purchase 1,724,138 shares of its common stock at $5.80 per share.

 
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Ceres Swaps Board Member

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thousand Oaks-based agricultural biotechnology and seed developer Ceres said Monday that it has named a new member of its board of directors. The company said Aflalo Guimaraes has joined the company, replacing existing board member Raymond Debbane. Guimaraes is managing director of The Invus Group, which is an affiliate of Ceres' stockholder Artal Luxembourg. Debbane also had represented Artal Luxembourg on Ceres' board. Ceres develops dseeds to produce crops for bioenergy, using both plant breeding and biotechnology for hybrid seed development.

 
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Voxox Expands SMS API

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

San Diego-based communications provider Voxox said today that it is expanding in the area of SMS APIs, and is looking to provide wholesale access to its SMS capabilities via a web service API. Voxox said it is looking to help address the needs of businesses who are looking to SMS-enable their products, services and customer communications. VoxOx said the expansion includes inbound SMS delivery to Europe; addition of UK-based telephone numbers, among other enhancements.

 
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Guidance Software Names Chief Revenue Officer

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pasadena-based forensics investigation software developer Guidance Software named Jay Ackerman as its new Chief Revenue Officer this morning. Ackerman joins the company from ServiceSource, and also had served at WNS North America and Exult. Guidance said that Ackerman had been head of worldwide sales and customer success for ServiceSource, heading up those efforts as that company grew from $25M to $285M in revenues, and through that company's IPO in 2011.

 
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Monday, December 15, 2014

AdRev Buys DashGo

Monday, December 15, 2014

Los Angeles-based AdRev, which provides digital rights management for large music publishers on YouTube, said Monday that it has purchased DashGo, a service that allows artists, labels, and publishers to distribute, promote, market, and license music across digital retailers, subscription services and internet radio. Financial terms of the buy were not disclosed. DashGo distributes music to iTunes, Spotify, YouTube Music Key, Pandora, Amazon, Google Play, Beats, Rdio, Rhapsody, Sound Exchange, BeatPort, and elsewhere, and was founded by Ben Patterson. AdRev is led by Ryan Born, and is venture backed by DFJ Frontier and Fotolia.

 
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RealD Loses CTO

Monday, December 15, 2014

Los Angeles-based RealD said late Monday that its Chief Technology Officer and Chief Innovation Oficer, Gary Sharp, is leaving the company. RealD said that Sharp will leave the firm effective March 31st. The reason for the departure was not given, and RealD said that it would not be replacing Sharp. RealD is a developer of 3D movie projection systems.

 
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The Digital Family Reunion and the socalTECH 50 In Pictures

Monday, December 15, 2014


Miss our big technology and media industry holiday party last week, the Digital Family Reunion? Here are some photos from the event, which brought together over 800 people from the industry to rub elbows, meet old friends, network with others, and honor the socalTECH 50 for 2014. Highlights included a panel discussion led by our own Ben Kuo and featuring Abhi Nemani, Oded Noy, Erik Rannala, Matt Kozlov and Chet Pipkin, which inspired our audience with insights into where LA tech is headed in 2015. Chet Pipkin was also honored with the Outstanding Achievement Honor from DFR.























See more photos on Facebook....

 
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Western Digital Buys Skyera

Monday, December 15, 2014

Irvine-based Western Digital said this morning that it has acquired San Jose-based Skyera>, which develops solid state storage systems for the cloud and enterprise markets. Financial terms of the buy were not disclosed. Skyera is becoming part of WD subsidiary HGST. Skyera was already backed by Western Digital, and also had received funding from Dell Ventures.

 
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Hulu Channels Holiday With Animated GIF Creator

Monday, December 15, 2014

Los Angeles-based streaming television site Hulu has rolled out a fun new tool to help you channel your holiday spirit (or lack of holiday spirit) into an animated GIF, with a new service called the Hulu Perfect GIF Generator. The new tool lets users share animated GIFs--all clips from Hulu's extensive video library--to help express their holiday feelings, whether a user really loves the holidays, or even if the user really doesn't like holidays at all. The tool lets users share those animated GIFs via email and social networks.

 
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LaunchpadLA Shifts Away From Accelerator Model

Monday, December 15, 2014

One of the highest profile startup accelerators in Los Angeles, LaunchpadLA, is officially shifting its model and getting out of the startup accelerator market--handing over its space to General Assembly, with its various partners embarking on different activities. According to a blog post from Mark Suster, one of the founders of LaunchpadLA, the decision to shift away from being an accelerator came after the startup accelerator either had to decide to "triple down and raise another fund" to pay for operations--or move to a different model. Suster said that there is "too much supply" in the market in terms of accelerators, and that investors have been "demo'd to death", and that there is "only so much room in the market for accelerators".

 
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