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Cyber security training platform Immersive Labs closes $75M Series C led by Insight Partners

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Immersive Labs, a platform which teaches cyber security skills corporate employees by using real, up-to-date threat intelligence in a “gamified” way, has closed a $75 million Series C funding round led by new investors Insight Partners alongside Menlo Ventures, Citi Ventures and existing investor Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

The investment will be used to scale Immersive’s offering in the US and take advantage of the new wave of interest in cyber threats caused by so many people working remotely, post-pandemic. Founded in 2017, Immersive Labs now has 200 people, with joint operations HQs in Bristol, UK, and Boston, US. It plans to raise headcount to over 600 in the next two years and establish operations in new regions throughout APAC and Europe. Immersive’s ‘Cyber Workforce Optimization’ platform claims to offer board-level metrics and benchmarking to gauge how the skills inside organizations are coping.

Immersive has now raised a total of $123m in venture funding and counts HSBC, Vodafone, and the NHS as customers. The company says it is growing at “over 100% year-on-year”.

James Hadley, CEO and founder of Immersive Labs, said: “With cyber risk becoming a problem for a growing number of business functions, cybersecurity knowledge and skills should no longer be the preserve of a few technical people hidden away in a back office. Everyone from the teams who build software, to the CEO, now need to play their part in addressing a pervasive company issue. This requires unlocking and evidencing skills in a much broader group of people.”

Ryan Hinkle, managing director at Insight Partners, said: “With significant global customer and revenue growth over the last few years, Immersive Labs has established a strong position in the fast-developing cyber skills space. With influential leadership, an innovative product in a growing market, and strong user engagement, the company is in a position to continue to lead the cyber readiness market.”

Speaking to me over an interview, Hadley added: “We chose Insight Partners because they’ve got a real strength in enterprise B2B which is where we sell to CIOs and CEOs… We want to be the next Darktrace in terms of a successful UK cybersecurity company.”

The comparison might not be that fanciful. Immersive Labs came out of the CYLON cyber accelerator, similar to Darktrace, has the same investors as Darktrace, but has in fact attracted $75m for its Series C, whereas Darktrace didn’t manage that level until Series D. Darktrace has now IPO’d in the London for £1.7bn.

Hadley, a former GCHQ security researcher and trainer, came up with the idea for the cyber skills platform while leading cyber training himself. I asked him why he thinks Immersive has managed to come up with a ‘flywheel effect’ with its platform.

“People always talk about all the cyber threats getting worse, but it really is now and it’s in the public domain. We’ve got a strong belief that cybersecurity is no longer the responsibility of the geeks in the basement. Actually, it’s business-wide. And now the tidal wave is coming. Cybercrime is going to go off the scale this year and next because companies are paying the ransoms. And as a result of that, we’re putting in analytics to measure decision-making in a crisis. It’s just resonating really well with every company regardless of CIO or vertical,” he told me.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/13/cyber-security-training-platform-immersive-labs-closes-75m-series-c-led-by-insight-partners/

Techcrunch

Score a free month of Extra Crunch with your TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 pass

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Whether you’re just starting to build your SaaS empire or you’re further along in your journey, you don’t want to miss TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 on October 27. This day-long virtual event, dedicated to the increasingly sophisticated world of software-as-a-service, features some of the sector’s biggest names, plenty of actionable advice and ample opportunity to network for, well, ample opportunities.

Learn how to scale, how to manage growth — of your business and of the massive amount of data it generates — and how to keep your products and services safe in an increasingly cyber-hostile world. And that’s just for starters.

Bonus Alert: Buy a TC Sessions: SaaS pass and receive a free, one-month subscription to Extra Crunch, our members-only program featuring exclusive daily articles for founders and startup teams.

Extra Crunch membership gives you the inside scoop and helps you stay ahead of the tech, business and investing trends every startup founder needs to know. Since Extra Crunch launched in 2019, we’ve posted more than 2,000 articles.

You’ll have access to exclusive articles on topics like market analysis, growth and fundraising. Here’s a quick peek at just some of the recent titles available to Extra Crunch subscribers:

Your membership also includes access to our weekly virtual event series, Extra Crunch Live. We hosted more than 40 events during 2020, and we built more interactivity into our 2021 format. We added a bunch of new stuff, too — like Pitch Deck Teardowns. Check out what’s going on with Extra Crunch Live in 2021.

We’re not quite ready to share the TC Sessions: SaaS event agenda, but register for updates and you’ll know when we announce new speakers, add events and offer ticket discounts.

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 takes place on October 27. Join your global SaaS community to learn, inspire, connect and grow a stronger business. Buy your SaaS pass here and scoop up a free month of Extra Crunch goodness on us.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 – Marketing & Fundraising? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/score-a-free-month-of-extra-crunch-with-your-tc-sessions-saas-2021-pass/

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Techcrunch

Score a free month of Extra Crunch with your TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 pass

Published

on

Whether you’re just starting to build your SaaS empire or you’re further along in your journey, you don’t want to miss TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 on October 27. This day-long virtual event, dedicated to the increasingly sophisticated world of software-as-a-service, features some of the sector’s biggest names, plenty of actionable advice and ample opportunity to network for, well, ample opportunities.

Learn how to scale, how to manage growth — of your business and of the massive amount of data it generates — and how to keep your products and services safe in an increasingly cyber-hostile world. And that’s just for starters.

Bonus Alert: Buy a TC Sessions: SaaS pass and receive a free, one-month subscription to Extra Crunch, our members-only program featuring exclusive daily articles for founders and startup teams.

Extra Crunch membership gives you the inside scoop and helps you stay ahead of the tech, business and investing trends every startup founder needs to know. Since Extra Crunch launched in 2019, we’ve posted more than 2,000 articles.

You’ll have access to exclusive articles on topics like market analysis, growth and fundraising. Here’s a quick peek at just some of the recent titles available to Extra Crunch subscribers:

Your membership also includes access to our weekly virtual event series, Extra Crunch Live. We hosted more than 40 events during 2020, and we built more interactivity into our 2021 format. We added a bunch of new stuff, too — like Pitch Deck Teardowns. Check out what’s going on with Extra Crunch Live in 2021.

We’re not quite ready to share the TC Sessions: SaaS event agenda, but register for updates and you’ll know when we announce new speakers, add events and offer ticket discounts.

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 takes place on October 27. Join your global SaaS community to learn, inspire, connect and grow a stronger business. Buy your SaaS pass here and scoop up a free month of Extra Crunch goodness on us.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 – Marketing & Fundraising? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/score-a-free-month-of-extra-crunch-with-your-tc-sessions-saas-2021-pass/

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Automotive

Drivers for Elon Musk’s Loop get a script about their ‘great leader’

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Drivers for Elon Musk’s underground Loop system in Las Vegas have been instructed to bypass passengers’ questions about how long they have been driving for the company, declare ignorance about crashes, and shut down conversations about Musk himself.

Using public records laws, TechCrunch obtained documents that detail daily operations at the Loop, which opened in June to transport attendees around the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) using modified Tesla vehicles. Among the documents is a “Ride Script” that every new recruit must follow when curious passengers ask questions.

The script shows just how serious The Boring Company (TBC), which built and operates the system, is about controlling the public image of the new system, its technology and especially its founder, Elon Musk.

“Your goal is to provide a safe ride for the passengers, not an entertaining ride. Keep conversation to a minimum so you can focus on the road,” advises the document. “Passengers will pepper you with questions. Here are some you may be asked and the recommended responses.”

If riders ask a driver how long they have been with the company, they are instructed to respond with: “Long enough to know these tunnels pretty well!” The document goes on to note: “Passengers will not feel safe if they think you’ve only been driving for a week (even though that could mean hundreds of rides). Accordingly, do not share how long you’ve been employed here, but instead, find a way to evade the question or shift the focus,” the document advises drivers.

When asked how many crashes the system has experienced, drivers are told to respond: “It’s a very safe system, and I’m not sure. You’d have to reach out to the company.” Riders should expect similarly vague responses if they wonder how many employees or drivers TBC has, or how much the tunnels cost to dig. (About $53 million in total).

The use of Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system that is branded “Autopilot” is clearly a sore point at TBC. Clark County does not currently permit the use of the various driver assistance features anywhere within the Loop system, including automatic emergency braking or technologies that make the vehicle aware of obstacles and keep the vehicle in lane.

Officials even require mechanics to check the vehicles to ensure these are not activated.

“In addition to completing the actions under the initial inspection checklist, maintenance staff will verify that the automatic features of the vehicle, such as steering and braking/acceleration/deceleration assist (commonly known as Autopilot) are disabled for manual loop operation,” the document reads. The following checks will be conducted on a daily basis by CWPM technicians, according to the Vehicle Maintenance plan viewed by TechCrunch.

If a passenger should ask whether the Loop’s Tesla vehicles use Autopilot, drivers will give a response. However, this content was marked “Public Safety Related Confidential” in the documents TechCrunch received and was redacted, as were many other technical details.

TechCrunch’s repeated requests to officials to explain this decision went unanswered.

He who shall not be named

The script also covers responses to questions about Musk himself: “This category of questions is extremely common and extremely sensitive. Public fascination with our founder is inevitable and may dominate the conversation. Be as brief as possible, and do your best to shut down such conversation. If passengers continue to force the topic, politely say, ‘I’m sorry, but I really can’t comment’ and change the subject.”

Nevertheless, the script provides a number of replies to common Musk questions. Ask what Musk is like and you should expect the answer: “He’s awesome! Inspiring / motivating / etc.”

Follow up with: “Do you like working for him?” and you’ll get a response that could have come straight from North Korea: “Yup, he’s a great leader! He motivates us to do great work.”

Should a customer wonder how involved Musk is in the business, the driver will tell them: “He’s the company founder, and has been very involved and supportive.” Questions about Musk’s erratic tweets will be brushed off: “Elon is a public figure. We’re just here to provide an awesome transportation experience!”

One question, however, seems to hint that not everyone is happy working for Musk: “Is it true what I’ve read about him in the papers that he [is a mean boss / smokes pot / doesn’t let employees take vacations / etc.]?” Your driver’s rather equivocal response will be: “I haven’t seen that article, but that hasn’t been my experience.”

On a side note: While the hundreds of pages of training documents and operational manuals that TechCrunch obtained detail strong policies against drug use and harassment at the Loop, the word “vacation” does not otherwise appear.

Tech that’s allowed

Because Clark County currently forbids the use of automated driving features in the Loop, human drivers could be part of the system for some time. But the system is home to plenty of other advanced technologies, according to design and operational documents submitted to Clark County. Each of the 62 Teslas in the underground Loop has a unique RFID chip — as used in contactless payment systems — that pinpoints its location when it passes over one of 55 antennas installed in the roadway, stations and parking stalls.

Each vehicle also streams data to 24 hotspots through the system, sharing its speed, state of charge, the number of passengers in the car, and whether they are wearing seatbelts. Riders should be aware that every car is also constantly streaming real-time video from a camera inside the passenger cabin. All this data, along with video from 81 fixed cameras throughout the Loop, is fed to an Operations Control Center (OCC) located a few blocks away from the Convention Center. Video is recorded and stored for at least two weeks.

In the OCC, an operator is monitoring the camera feeds and other sensors for security threats or other problems — such as a driver using their own cellphone or speeding. The OCC can communicate with any driver via a Bluetooth headset or an in-car iPad that displays messages, alerts and a map of the car’s location in the tunnels. Vehicles have strict speed limits, ranging from 10 mph within stations to 40 mph on straight tunnel sections, and must maintain at least 6 seconds of separation from the car in front.

During testing this spring, the documents reveal that Clark County officials found some drivers were not following all the rules. “When asked about the speed limitations, several drivers replied with wrong straightaway and/or curved tunnel speeds. None provided at station, express lane, or ramp speeds,” reads one document. “Drivers were not announcing to the passengers to buckle their seatbelts. When asked, [some were saying] that they are optional or not required.”

Several drivers were also failing to maintain the 6-second safety margin with cars in front. TBC told Clark County that it would provide refresher training in those areas.

TBC, Clark County, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which oversees the LVCC, did not reply to multiple requests for comment for this story.

The LVCVA recently signed a contract with Alphabet’s spin-out urban advertising agency, Intersection Media, to sell naming rights to the Loop system, which it hopes will net it $4.5 million.

TBC is currently building two extensions to the Loop to serve nearby hotels and ultimately wants to build a transit system covering much of the Strip and downtown Las Vegas with more than 40 stations. That system would be financed by TBC and supported by ticket sales.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/read-the-script-every-driver-for-elon-musks-las-vegas-loop-must-learn/

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Techcrunch

Snapchat adds My Places feature to Snap Map, recommending spots to visit

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As more people are venturing out into the world this summer (safely, we hope!), Snapchat wants to make it easier for people to find restaurants, stores, parks, and other interesting spots in their neighborhood. Today, Snapchat is starting to roll out the My Places feature on its Snap Map, which connects users with over 30 million businesses. Users can log their favorite spots, send them to friends, and find recommendations.

My Places has three main tabs: Visited, Favorites, and Popular. Visited lists places you’ve checked into on Snapchat, and Favorites saves, well, your favorites. But the Popular tab is particularly interesting, since it marks the first time that Snapchat is using an algorithm to provide personalized recommendations to help people engage with the world around them. The algorithm considers where you are, what you’ve tagged or favorited already, and where your friends and other Snapchatters have visited.

This further differentiates the social-forward Snap Map from more established resources like Google Maps and Apple Maps, which you can’t really use to find out what restaurants your friends like. Sure, Snapchat can’t give you directions to that trendy sushi bar, but it’s not meant to, just like how Google Maps isn’t meant to show you what bar all your friends went to without you last night.

Image Credits: Snapchat

Snapchat shared survey results indicating that its users are more likely on average to engage in “post-pandemic” activities (is that a good thing?), and added that 44% of Snapchatters turn to the Snap Map to find places around them that they’re interested in.

With over 250 million monthly active users on Snap Map, the company announced an update in May called Layers, which lets partner companies add data directly to their own map. So far, Snapchat has collaborated with Ticketmaster and The Infatuation, a restaurant recommendation website — these partnerships help users see where they can find live entertainment, or what great restaurants are hidden in plain sight. Snapchat plans to further integrate Layers into Snap Map and My Places later this year.

Last week, Snap announced that during Q2 this year, it grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates it has achieved in the last four years. Year over year, the app grew 23%.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/snapchat-adds-my-places-feature-to-snap-map-connecting-users-to-businesses/

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