RSA spins off fraud and risk intelligence unit as Outseer

RSA Security has spun out its fraud and risk intelligence business into a standalone company called Outseer that will double down on payment security tools amid an “unprecedented” rise in fraudulent transactions.

Led by CEO Reed Taussig, who was appointed head of RSA’s Anti-Fraud Business Unit last year after previously serving as CEO of ThreatMetrix, the new company will focus solely on fraud detection and management and payments authentication services.

Outseer will continue to operate under the RSA umbrella and will inherit three core services, which are already used by more than 6,000 financial institutions, from the company: Outseer Fraud Manager (formerly RSA Adaptive Authentication), a risk-based account monitoring service; 3-D Secure (formerly Adaptive Authentication for eCommerce), a card-not-present and digital payment authentication mapping service; and FraudAction, which detects and takes down phishing sites, dodgy apps and fraudulent social media pages.

Outseer says its product portfolio is supported by deep investments in data and science, including a global network of verified fraud and transaction data, and a risk engine that the company claims delivers 95% fraud detection rates.

Commenting on the spinout, Taussig said: “Outseer is the culmination of decades of science-driven innovation in anti-fraud and payments authentication solutions. As the digital economy continues to deepen, the Outseer mission to liberate the world from transactional fraud is essential. Our role as a revenue enabler for the global economy will only strengthen as every digital business continues to scale.”

RSA, meanwhile, will continue to focus on integrated risk management and security products, including Archer for risk management, NetWitness for threat detection and response, and SecureID for identity and access management (IAM) capabilities.

The spinout comes less than a year after private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG), which recently bought FireEye’s product business for $1.2 billion, acquired RSA Security from Dell Technologies for more than $2 billion. Dell had previously acquired RSA as part of its purchase of EMC in 2016.

It also comes amid a huge rise in online fraud fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission said in March that more than 217,000 Americans had filed a coronavirus-related fraud report since January 2020, with losses to COVID-linked fraud totaling $382 million. Similarly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fielded 542,300 fraud complaints in 2020, a 54% increase over 2019.

RSA said that with the COVID-19 pandemic having fueled “unprecedented” growth in fraudulent transactions, Outseer will focus its innovation on payments authentication, mapping to the EMV 3-D Secure 2.x payment standard, and incorporating new technology integrations across the payments and commerce ecosystem. 

“Outseer’s reason for being isn’t just focused on eliminating payments and account fraud,” Taussig added. “These fraudulent transactions are often the pretext for more sinister drug and human trafficking, terrorism, and other nefarious behavior. Outseer has the ability to help make the world a safer place.”

Valuation information for Outseer was not disclosed, nor were headcount figures mentioned in the spinout announcement. Outseer didn’t immediately respond to TechCrunch’s request for more information. 

Redefine Meat is moving plant-based proteins from patties to steaks

The Israeli startup Redefine Meat, which has developed a manufacturing process to make plant-based proteins that more closely resemble choice cuts of beef than the current crop of hamburger-adjacent offerings, has gotten a big vote of confidence from the investment arm of one of Asia’s premier food brands. 

The company has raised $29 million in financing from Happiness Capital, the investment arm backed by the family fortunes of Hong Kong’s Lee Kum Kee condiment dynasty, and Hanaco Ventures, an investment firm backing startups in New York and Israel.

Investors have stampeded into the plant-based food industry, spurred by the rising fortunes of companies like Beyond Meat, which has inked partnerships with everyone from Pepsico to McDonald’s, and Impossible Foods, which counts Burger King among the brands boosting its plant-based faux meat.

While these companies have perfected plant patties that can delight the taste buds, the prospect of carving up a big honkin cut of pea protein in the form of a ribeye, sirloin or rump steak, has been a technical hurdle these companies have yet to overcome in a commercial offering.

Redefine Meat thinks its manufacturing processes have cracked the code on the formulation of plant-based steak.

They’re not the only ones. In Barcelona, a startup called Novameat raised roughly $300,000 earlier this year for its own take on plant-based steak. That company raised its money from the NEOTEC Program of the Spanish Center for Industrial Technological Development.

Both companies are using 3-D printing technologies to make meat substitutes that mimic the taste and texture of steaks, rather than trying to approximate the patties, meatballs, and ground meat that companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible have taken to market.

Backing Redefine’s path to market are a host of other investors including Losa Group, Sake Bosch, and K3 Ventures.

The company said it would use the new funding to expand its portfolio and support the commercial launch of its products. Redefine aims to have a large-scale production facility for its 3-D printers online before the end of the year, the company said in a statement.

In January, Redefine Meat announced a strategic agreement with the Israeli distributor Best Meister and the company has been expanding its staff with a current headcount of roughly 40 employees.

“We want to change the belief that delicious meat can only come from animals, and we have all the building blocks in place to make this a reality: high-quality meat products, strategic partnerships with stakeholders across the world, a large-scale pilot line under construction, and the first-ever industrial 3D Alt-Meat printers set to be deployed within meat distributors later this year,” said Eschar Ben-Shitrit, the company’s chief executive, in a statement. 


How is the Air Force looking to spend its $60 billion R&D budget?

Dr. Will Roper, the man in charge of the purse strings for the Air Force’s $60 billion research and development and acquisition budget, oversees some 550 programs for the Air Force.

It’s a huge responsibility that has massive implications for the future of the American military, and as the priorities for the military’s air and space command shift, Roper says that acquisitions will require an emphasis on working “at a pace that today’s technology, trends and threats require.”

The keys to the future of Air Force acquisitions will be agility and flexibility, Roper told an audience last month at the Air Force Association 2020 Virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference, according to an Air Force report. “If you look at the world in which we live today, we must be agile,” Roper told the audience. “There are too many possible futures for us to pick one and build a force that’s geared to defeat it.”

That sentiment should give developers of new technologies $60 billion worth of reasons to pay attention when Roper joins us at TechCrunch’s Sessions: Space event this December 16-17.

Roper has placed an emphasis on what he calls digital engineering to create internal manufacturing capabilities within the Department of Defense and develop new defensive capabilities and offensive weaponry for a 21st century battlefield.

As the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics — and principal adviser to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for R&D, test, production and modernization efforts within the Air Force — Roper has a view into where the military is racing ahead to meet the challenges of the battlefield of the next millennium.

In Roper’s view that could encompass the presence of weaponized artificial intelligence, persistent drones, or even genetically edited bioweapons or human augmentation, he told his virtual audience in that September presentation.

For Roper, the first order of business is to find a way to get the military innovating faster than consumer technologies — a task made that much more complicated by the lack of bureaucratic constraints private companies enjoy compared to their military counterparts.

“The last area that we have to have strategic agility is in being able to computerize or virtualize everything about our development and production, assembly, even sustainment of systems, so that we can finally get past the tyranny of the real world and take learning and feedback into the digital one,” Roper said in his September address.

The Air Force is already turning to digital-first design with its eSeries of hardware, which has already notched a huge win with the design, assemblage and testing of its Next Generation Air Dominance aircraft — designed to replace the FA-18 Hornet.

Roper comes to his position in the Air Force after what has already been a long and storied career in the military. He previously served as the founding director in the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office. First created in 2012, the SCO was designed to imagine new applications for existing government and commercial systems. During his tenure, Roper. grew the budget of the SCO from $50 million to $1.5 billion.

Under the program Roper developed new concepts like hypervelocity artillery, multi-purpose missiles, autonomous fast-boats, smartphone-navigating weapons, big-data-enabled sensing, 3-D printed systems, fighter avatars, and fighter-dispersed swarming micro-drones.

The breadth of Roper’s vision about the capabilities that the U.S. will need to compete in a 21st century combat scenario will likely be one of the subjects we discuss — as well as the role Roper sees for startups in developing those technologies.

Those contributions could come through participation in programs like AFVentures, which paid out nearly $800 million to companies for programs like the Air Force’s flying car program, as well as the nation’s space launch program.

“This is how we provide our forces the capabilities they’ll need to win on the unpredictable, rapidly evolving innovation battlefield in this century by fundamentally changing how we build and acquire systems and with whom we build them, so that no matter what our adversaries do in the future, we will have the agility to overmatch and win,” Roper told his audience in September. “Then we will innovate faster, we will adapt quicker and ultimately stay ahead to disrupt and win.”

To hear Roper’s thoughts on the future of the Air Force’s technological innovations, you can grab a ticket to get exclusive access to watch this session (along with many others) live (with access to video on demand), network with the innovators changing the space industry, discover the hottest early-stage companies, learn how to score grants for your space company, recruit talent or even find a job.

Get an early-bird ticket for just $125 until November 13. And we have discounts available for groupsstudentsactive military/government employees and for early-stage space startup founders who want to give their startup some extra visibility.

IoT solutions are enabling social distancing

If you’re a business owner or investor and are wondering about the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business world, you’re not alone.

Today’s business leaders have been plunged into the deep end of telecommuting with little notice, and the way we do business has been impacted at almost every level. Travel is restricted, meetings are virtual and delivery of goods and even raw materials is being delayed. While some industries that depend on large gatherings are seeing extremely difficult challenges due to the pandemic, others such as the tech industry, see the opportunity and responsibility for innovation and growth.

As many states begin phased reopening, companies are trying to determine what the workplace and business environment will look like in a post-quarantine world. The first obvious step is the integration of personal protective equipment (PPE). Sanitization and face masks will become required and nonessential face-to-face meetings will be a thing of the past, along with shaking hands.

Additionally, relationship-driven careers such as sales and recruiting will have to find new ways to connect to be successful. Social distancing rules will have to be established, which may include employees coming in alternate days while telecommuting the other days of the week to keep offices at reduced capacity. Large offices of 10 or more may implement thermographic camera technology for fever screening or other real-time technology-based health screenings.

One thing is for sure: IoT devices that enable social distancing will become an integral part of reopening businesses, facilitating sales connections and embracing a different way of living.

Solutions for social distancing

There are a variety of IoT devices available that can help business leaders successfully implement social distancing in their offices. Thermographic camera technology coupled with facial recognition can create a baseline for each employee and then assist in determining if an employee has a temperature outside of their norm. Other remote health monitoring may also take place with healthcare providers, helping employees determine on a daily basis if they are well enough to go into work.

US patents hit record 333,530 granted in 2019; IBM, Samsung (not the FAANGs) lead the pack

We may have moved on from a nearly-daily cycle of news involving tech giants sparring in courts over intellectual property infringement, but patents continue to be a major cornerstone of how companies and people measure their progress and create moats around the work that they have done in hopes of building that into profitable enterprises in the future. IFI Claims, a company that tracks patent activity in the US, released its annual tally of IP work today underscoring that theme: it noted that 2019 saw a new high-watermark of 333,530 patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The figures are notable for a few reasons. One is that this is the most patents ever granted in a single year; and the second that this represents a 15% jump on a year before. The high overall number speaks to the enduring interest in safeguarding IP, while the 15% jump has to do with the fact that patent numbers actually dipped last year (down 3.5%) while the number that were filed and still in application form (not granted) was bigger than ever. If we can draw something from that, it might be that filers and the USPTO were both taking a little more time to file and process, not a reduction in the use of patents altogether.

But patents do not tell the whole story in another very important regard.

Namely, the world’s most valuable, and most high profile tech companies are not always the ones that rank the highest in patents filed.

Consider the so-called FAANG group, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google: Facebook is at number-36 (one of the fastest movers but still not top 10) with 989 patents; Apple is at number-seven with 2,490 patents; Amazon is at number-nine with 2,427 patents; Netflix doesn’t make the top 50 at all; and the Android, search and advertising behemoth Google is merely at slot 15 with 2,102 patents (and no special mention for growth).

Indeed, the fact that one of the oldest tech companies, IBM, is also the biggest patent filer almost seems ironic in that regard.

As with previous years — the last 27, to be exact — IBM has continued to hold on to the top spot for patents granted, with 9,262 in total for the year. Samsung Electronics, at 6,469, is a distant second.

These numbers, again, don’t tell the whole story: IFI Claims notes that Samsung ranks number-one when you consider all active patent “families”, which might get filed across a number of divisions (for example a Samsung Electronics subsidiary filing separately) and count the overall number of patents to date (versus those filed this year). In this regard, Samsung stands at 76,638, with IBM the distant number-two at 37,304 patent families.

Part of this can be explained when you consider their businesses: Samsung makes a huge range of consumer and enterprise products. IBM, on the other hand, essentially moved out of the consumer electronics market years ago and these days mostly focuses on enterprise and B2B and far less hardware. That means a much smaller priority placed on that kind of R&D, and subsequent range of families.

Two other areas that are worth tracking are biggest movers and technology trends.

In the first of these, it’s very interesting to see a car company rising to the top. Kia jumped 58 places and is now at number-41 (921 patents) — notable when you think about how cars are the next “hardware” and that we are entering a pretty exciting phase of connected vehicles, self-driving and alternative energy to propel them.

Others rounding out fastest-growing were Hewlett Packard Enterprise, up 28 places to number-48 (794 patents); Facebook, up 22 places to number-36 (989 patents); Micron Technology, up nine places to number-25 (1,268), Huawei, up six places to number-10 (2,418), BOE Technology, up four places to number-13 (2,177), and Microsoft, up three places to number-4 (3,081 patents).

In terms of technology trends, IFI looks over a period of five years, where there is now a strong current of medical and biotechnology innovation running through the list right now, with hybrid plant creation topping the list of trending technology, followed by CRISPR gene-editing technology, and then medicinal preparations (led by cancer therapies). “Tech” in the computer processor sense only starts at number-four with dashboards and other car-related tech; with quantum computing, 3-D printing and flying vehicle tech all also featuring.

Indeed, if you have wondered if we are in a fallow period of innovation in mobile, internet and straight computer technology… look no further than this list to prove out that thought.

Unsurprisingly, US companies account for 49% of U.S. patents granted in 2019 up from 46 percent a year before. Japan accounts for 16% to be the second-largest, with South Korea at 7% (Samsung carrying a big part of that, I’m guessing), and China passing Germany to be at number-four with 5%.

  1. International Business Machines Corp 9262
  2. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd 6469
  3. Canon Inc 3548
  4. Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC 3081
  5. Intel Corp 3020
  6. LG Electronics Inc 2805
  7. Apple Inc 2490
  8. Ford Global Technologies LLC 2468
  9. Amazon Technologies Inc 2427
  10. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd 2418
  11. Qualcomm Inc 2348
  12. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co TSMC Ltd 2331
  13. BOE Technology Group Co Ltd 2177
  14. Sony Corp 2142
  15. Google LLC 2102
  16. Toyota Motor Corp 2034
  17. Samsung Display Co Ltd 1946
  18. General Electric Co 1818
  19. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson AB 1607
  20. Hyundai Motor Co 1504
  21. Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co Ltd 1387
  22. Boeing Co 1383
  23. Seiko Epson Corp 1345
  24. GM Global Technology Operations LLC 1285
  25. Micron Technology Inc 1268
  26. United Technologies Corp 1252
  27. Mitsubishi Electric Corp 1244
  28. Toshiba Corp 1170
  29. AT&T Intellectual Property I LP 1158
  30. Robert Bosch GmbH 1107
  31. Honda Motor Co Ltd 1080
  32. Denso Corp 1052
  33. Cisco Technology Inc 1050
  34. Halliburton Energy Services Inc 1020
  35. Fujitsu Ltd 1008
  36. Facebook Inc 989
  37. Ricoh Co Ltd 980
  38. Koninklijke Philips NV 973
  39. EMC IP Holding Co LLC 926
  40. NEC Corp 923
  41. Kia Motors Corp 921
  42. Texas Instruments Inc 894
  43. LG Display Co Ltd 865
  44. Oracle International Corp 847
  45. Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd 842
  46. Sharp Corp 819
  47. SK Hynix Inc 798
  48. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP 794
  49. Fujifilm Corp 791
  50. LG Chem Ltd 791

Relativity, a new star in the space race, raises $160 million for its 3-D printed rockets

With $160 million in new financing, Relativity Space is now one step closer to fulfilling its founders’ vision of making the first rockets on Mars.

Tagging along for the ride are a motley assortment of millionaires and billionaires, movie stars and media moguls that are providing the money the rocket launch services provider and manufacturer of large-scale, 3-D printers needs to achieve its goals.

The new financing will give Relativity the cash to fully build its “Stargate” factory, a semi-autonomous, full-scale production facility that will house the company’s massive 3-D printers and produce its first rocket, the Terran 1.

Using its proprietary printing technology, Relativity says it can slash the time it takes to develop a rocket from design to launch by up to two years. Manufacturing can be done within 60 days, according to the company’s claims, and its vehicles have a payload capacity of up to 1250 kilograms (SpaceX’s largest rockets will have roughly 100 times that payload capacity).

Space startups and established companies alike are now rocketing forward with plans to support the race to establish a foothold on the surface of the Moon as a first step toward getting humanity’s first footsteps on Mars.

Even as Relativity was finalizing the details of this new financing round, Elon Musk was unveiling new details . about his Starship, designed to carry heavy payloads to the Moon and Mars; and NASA began doling out cash to companies that would provide transportation, infrastructure, and support for future lunar missions.

For now, Relativity remains focused on the clear, near-term business opportunity of getting more satellites into the Earth’s orbit for telecommunications companies.

The financiers funding the company’s plans are a mix of Silicon Valley venture capital firms and members of Hollywood’s elite, which is only fitting for a company whose headquarters are in Los Angeles, but whose business takes it to the far flung research centers and launch facilities which support the U.S. space industry.

From Hollywood, Relativity has managed to coax cash from the founder of the Creative Artists Agency, Michael Ovitz, and the Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto (whose venture capital portfolio is as impressive as it is diverse). Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff and Lee Fixel, the former superstar investor for Tiger Global, are also on board.

The two firms leading the deal are Bond Capital, a relatively new growth capital investment firm co-founded by the celebrated Wall Street financial analyst, Mary Meeker, and former private equity investor, Noah Knauf (after their stint running KPCB’s growth capital arm); and Tribe Capital, which was formed in the wake of the dissolution of Social Capital.

Screen Shot 2019 10 01 at 6.26.03 AM

Relativity Space chief technology officer Jordan Noone next to one of the company’s 3-D printers

If anything, the presence of a growth capital investment firm like Bond, which has not invested in companies operating in what some investors have considered to be frontier markets or technologies, speaks to the strength of the space industry as a whole.

“Our entire investment strategy is to invest at the inflection points where things cross over from froniter to mainstream investments,” says Knauf. “We’ve spoken to what amounts to billions of dollars in potential demand for the company over time… They need a faster, better, cheaper solution.”

Some of Bond’s fears are likely alleviated by the fact that Relativity has already signed a number of agreements with satellite companies looking to get their equipment into space. To date, Relativity has publicly announced contracts with four vendors including: Telesat and Mu Space for their low earth orbit constellations, and Spaceflight and Momentus, which provide ride-share and in-space shuttle positioning services for small and medium-sized satellites.

And, over the past year, the company has been steadily building out launch and manufacturing infrastructure to support its lofty ambitions and initial customers.

Relativity has already built fully printed first and second stage structures; assembled the second stage of the Terran 1;  completed its first turbopump tests; and conducted more than 200 engine hotfire tests at its facility in NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Relativity has also completed tests of its avionics architecture and hardware and conducted an analysis of the vehicle’s design and coupled loads.

Relativity’s launch, manufacturing and test facilities are spread among Cape Canaveral, NASA’s Stennis Space Center and the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. The company expects to secure a polar and Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) capable launch site by the end of 2019.

It also doesn’t hurt that the company has developed sophisticated manufacturing technologies that have terrestrial applications, if the rocket business fails to take off.

The fit here is perfect for rockets and perfect for aerospace categories,” Knauf says of the company’s proprietary 3-D printing technology. “These guys have built the world’s largest 3-D printer.” 

Those printers and the software-defined, flexible manufacturing capabilities that they enable have massive value on their own, but Relativity co-founders Tim Ellis (a former Blue Origin employee) and Jordan Noone (who worked at SpaceX previously) are focused on building and launching their own rockets — on Earth and eventually on Mars.

“We’re really really truly focused on the rockets for now,” says Ellis. “Being an application layer company is what’s more interesting … [and] we’re seeing so much demand for the rocket launches.”

Ellis also has his eyes fixed beyond the low Earth orbit launch services that the company currently provides. “We’re building the future of humanity space,” he says. “Everyone is on board with this vision of 3-D printing . on Mars.”

Screen Shot 2019 10 01 at 6.26.39 AM

Relativity Space co-founders Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone (Image courtesy of Relativity Space)