Memfault raises $24M to help companies manage their growing IoT device fleets

At the same time internet of things (IoT) devices and embedded software are becoming more complex, manufacturers are looking for ways to effectively manage the increasing volume of edge hardware. According to Statista, the number of consumer edge-enabled IoT devices is forecast to grow to almost 6.5 billion by 2030, up from 4 billion in 2020.

Capitalizing on the trends, Memfault, a platform that allows IoT device manufacturers to find issues in their edge products over the cloud, has closed a $24 million Series B funding round led by Stripes with participation from the 5G Open Innovation Lab, Partech and Uncork. The investment brings Memfault’s total raised to more than $35 million following a $8.5 million cash infusion in April 2021.

“We sharpened our go-to-market motion in 2022 and saw a clear acceleration in the business,” Memfault co-founder and CEO François Baldassari told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We feel confident that our playbook for sales-led growth is at a level of maturity where we can double down on our investment and accelerate growth. This was not the case a year ago; there is more talent available on the market than at any time since we started the company.”

Baldassari first conceived of Memfault while at smartwatch startup Pebble, where he worked alongside Memfault’s other two co-founders, Tyler Hoffman and Chris Coleman, for several years. At Pebble, the trio had to investigate hardware issues that were often difficult to fix remotely, which led them to create cloud-based software and performance monitoring infrastructure to improve the process.

After leaving Pebble, François joined Oculus as head of the embedded software team while Hoffman and Coleman took senior engineering roles at Fitbit. The infrastructure they created at Pebble stuck with them, though, and in 2018, the three reunited to found Memfault.

“We offer the tools to de-risk launch, prepare for the inevitability of post-launch issues and deliver a continuously improving, higher-quality product overall,” François said. “We can help companies ship more feature-rich products with continuous feature updates after the devices are in the field while helping companies stay in compliance with environmental, privacy and security regulations and avoid service-level agreement and warranty violations.”


Image Credits: Memfault

Stripping away the marketing fluff, Memfault provides software development kits (SDK) that let manufacturers upload performance data and error reports to a private cloud. There, it’s stored, analyzed and indexed so engineers can access it via a web interface to look for anomalies and troubleshoot problems as they occur.

François acknowledged that some manufacturers try to extend software reliability tools to cover hardware or build in-house teams to tackle bugs. But he argues that both approaches end up being more expensive and require more technical resources than deploying a service like Memfault.

“You can never anticipate every use case that a user might subject your device to, and there are some bugs that only surface in one in 10,000 instances. Trying to replicate that is nearly impossible,” François said. “Using Memfault, engineers react to issues in minutes rather than weeks, the majority of issues are automatically deduplicated and a clear picture of fleet health can be established at all times.”

While cybersecurity isn’t its main focus, Memfault has sometime rivals in startups like Sternum, Armis Shield-IoT and SecuriThings, whose platforms offer remote tools for monitoring security threats across IoT device fleets. More directly, Memfault competes with Amazon’s AWS IoT Device Management, Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge, Google’s Cloud IoT and startups like Balena and Zededa, which sell utilities to seed over-the-air updates and perform high-level troubleshooting.

Memfault claims to have a sizeable market foothold regardless, with “hundreds” of companies in its customer base including Bose, Logitech, Lyft and Traeger. And it’s not resting on its laurels.

To stay ahead of the pack, Memfault plans to use the proceeds from its Series B to expand its platform’s software support (it recently announced Android and Linux SDKs) and invest in out-of-the-box integrations, adding to its existing partnerships with semiconductor manufacturers including Infineon, Nordic Semiconductors and NXP. Memfault also intends to expand its headcount, aiming to roughly double in size from 38 people to 80 by the end of the year.

François said that Memfault is also exploring ways it could build AI into future products, although that work remains in the early stages.

“We see promise in AI’s ability to help us develop sharper anomaly detection and error classification capabilities,” François said. “We’ve accumulated the largest corpus of hardware and firmware errors in the industry and hope to train AI systems on that data in the future.”

Asked about macroeconomic headwinds, François — who wouldn’t discuss revenue — admitted that the pandemic-spurred chip shortage affected Memfault’s customers and market “quite a bit.” But it turned out to be an blessing in disguise.

“In some cases, customers have been unable to find enough chips to produce the number of devices they planned on. In other cases, they’ve had to switch to new chips they’ve not previously had on their devices,” François explained. “In these cases, Memfault has been a huge help to our customers. Many engineers tell us that they aren’t sure what their firmware will look like running on these ‘Frankenstein’ devices — but with visibility into fleet data, diagnostics and debugging info from Memfault, they’ve been able to ship confidently.”

François volunteered that Memfault has maintained “high” gross margins and a low burn multiple — “burn multiple” referring to how much the company’s spending in order to generate each incremental dollar of annual recurring revenue. (The lower the multiple, the better.) Of course, it’s all tough to evaluate without firmer numbers. But when pressed, François stressed that Memfault hasn’t been growing at any cost.

“We’ve always been focused on building a long-term sustainable business,” François said. “Although there is a broader slowdown in tech, the global trend is going towards more automation. Most customers and prospects have told us how they are willing to spend on software and automation to stay ahead of competition.”

Memfault raises $24M to help companies manage their growing IoT device fleets by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

SecuriThings is bringing order to IoT device management with $21M investment

As companies deploy more security devices like cameras, access control systems, intercoms and many other tools throughout their organizations, they are often disconnected from traditional IT, and may lack any way of managing the equipment in a systematic way. SecuriThings has built a solution to solve this problem with a platform that helps building operations understand and control what’s happening on physical security devices across a company.

Today the company announced a $21 million Series B.

Roy Dagan, company CEO and co-founder, says that while companies are spending inordinate amounts of money on this equipment, they often don’t know if they are even working because they lack visibility. “We built the ultimate system to help them automate the management of these devices at scale, and really provide the equivalent of an IT type of system for managing these kinds of devices,” Dagan told TechCrunch.

The system automates a bunch of management tasks that are typically done manually including firmware upgrades, managing certificates and rotating passwords. What’s more, it can help find and troubleshoot issues with these devices as they happen.

“It can also perform things like root cause analysis. So we can tell when an issue occurs, and we can tell you what’s at fault,” he said.

“You may think it’s a [camera], but it’s actually a switch and it’s affecting 15 [cameras], which are all down.

And that’s a problem because while building operations manages the broken cameras, the broken switch is under the purview of IT, and they need to know about it to fix it. SecuriThings includes ways to communicate with IT about these issues.

“You can collaborate with your counterparts in IT. So it can be integrated with ServiceNow or other ticketing systems…and that helps you also start working better with the rest of the enterprise,” Dagan said.

He believes that in spite of the economic uncertainty we are seeing, his company is well positioned to deal with it. “One of the cool business outcomes is really around cost reduction. Because if you look at the enterprise, and you look at the amount of spend they have today on these devices, and the way things are done manually and reactively, it’s almost a no brainer. The cost savings are huge,” he said.

While he wouldn’t discuss revenue growth, he said the company currently has dozens of customers using the platform and the number of customers has grown over 300% year over year.

The startup currently has 70 employees with plans to add more with the new investment. He says that being diverse is built into the company’s values. “So it’s just part of our culture, and it’s core to the company. It really is, and just looking at stats that we have today where 40% of leadership is female, and 40% of the company is female…But then also our HR team is constantly evaluating the numbers and looking at different opportunities and how we create that diversity even more,” he said.

Today’s investment was led by U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) and participation from Swisscom Ventures existing investors Aleph, Firstime VC and Cresson Management. The startup reports it has now raised a total of $39 million.

SecuriThings is bringing order to IoT device management with $21M investment by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Zededa lands a cash infusion to expand its edge device management software

Factors like latency, bandwidth, security and privacy are driving the adoption of edge computing, which aims to process data closer to where it’s being generated. Consider a temperature sensor in a shipyard or a fleet of cameras in a fulfillment center. Normally, the data from them might have to be relayed to a server for analysis. But with an edge computing setup, the data can be processed on-site, eliminating cloud computing costs and enabling processing at greater speeds and volumes (in theory).

Technical challenges can stand in the way of successful edge computing deployments, however. That’s according to Said Ouissal, the CEO of Zededa, which provides distributed edge orchestration and virtualization software. Ouissal has a product to sell — Zededa works with customers to help manage edge devices — but he points to Zededa’s growth to support his claim. The number of edge devices under the company’s management grew 4x in the past year while Zededa’s revenue grew 7x, Ouissal says.

Zededa’s success in securing cash during a downturn, too, suggests that the edge computing market is robust. The company raised $26 million in Series B funding, Zededa today announced, contributed by a range of investors including Coast Range Capital, Lux Capital, Energize Ventures, Almaz Capital, Porsche Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Juniper Networks, Rockwell Automation, Samsung Next and EDF North America Ventures.

“There were two main trends that led to Zededa’s founding,” Ouissal told TechCrunch in an email interview. “First, as more devices, people and locations were increasingly being connected, unprecedented amounts of data were being generated … Secondly, the sheer scale and diversity of what was happening at the edge would be impossible for organizations to manage in a per-use case fashion. The only successful way to manage this type of environment was for organizations to have visibility across all the hardware, applications, clouds and networks distributed across their edge environments, just like they have in the data center or cloud.”

Ouissal co-founded Zededa in 2016 alongside Erik Nordmark, Roman Shaposhnik and Vijay Tapaskar. Previously, Ouissal was the VP of strategy and customer management at Ericsson and a product manager at Juniper Networks. Nordmark was a distinguished engineer at Cisco, while Shaposhnik — also an engineer by training — spent years developing cloud architectures at Sun Microsystems, Huawei, Yahoo and Cloudera.

Zededa’s software-as-a-service product, with works with devices from brands like SuperMicro, monitors edge installations to ensure they’re working as intended. It also guides users through the deployment steps, leveraging open source projects designed for Internet of Things orchestration and cyber defense. Zededa’s tech stack, for example, builds on the Linux Foundation’s EVE-OS, an open Linux-based operating system for distributed edge computing.


Image Credits: Zededa

Zededa aims to support most white-labeled devices offered by major OEMs; its vendor-agnostic software can be deployed on any bare-metal hardware or within a virtual machine to provide orchestration services and run apps. According to Ouissal, use cases range from monitoring sensors and security cameras to regularly upgrading the software in cell towers.

“The C-suite understands that digital transformation is critical to their organization’s success, particularly for organizations with distributed operations, and digital transformation cannot happen without edge computing. The ability to collect, analyze and act upon data at the distributed edge makes it possible for businesses to increase their competitive advantage, reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, open up new revenue streams and operate within safer and more secure environments,” Ouissal said. “As a result of this, edge computing projects are accelerating within organizations.”

Some research bears this out. According to a June 2021 Eclipse Foundation poll, 54% of organizations surveyed were either using or planning to use edge computing technologies within the next 12 months. A recent IDC report, meanwhile, forecasts double-digit growth in investments in edge computing over the next few years.

Zededa’s customers are primarily in the IT infrastructure, industrial automation and oil and gas industries. Ouissal wouldn’t say how many the company has currently but asserted that Zededa remains sufficiently differentiated from rivals in the edge device orchestration space.

“In terms of the ‘IT down’ trajectory, we are complementary to data solutions from the likes of VMware, SUSE, Nutanix, Red Hat and Sunlight, but these solutions are not suitable for deployments outside of secure data centers. From the ‘OT up’ standpoint, adjacent competitors include the likes of Balena, Portainer and Canonical’s Ubuntu Core. However, these solutions are more suitable for ‘greenfield’ use cases that only require containers and lack the security required for true enterprise and industrial deployments,” Ouissal argued. “Despite the economic downturn, the strategic and transformative potential of edge computing to create new business opportunities is leading investors across verticals to increase their commitment, at a time when they may be more reluctant to invest in other avenues.”

In any case, Zededa, which has a roughly 100-person team spread across the U.S., Germany and India, is actively hiring and plans to expand its R&D, sales and marketing teams within the year, Ouissal said. To date, the eight-year-old startup has raised a total of $55.4 million in venture capital.

“[We aim to increase] the use cases and integrations that we support. Within our product, we will continue to focus on innovation to improve ease of use and security. As the edge computing market evolves and matures,” Ouissal said. “We are also focused on enabling applications including updating legacy applications and bringing new solutions to the market that simplify technologies like AI and machine learning.”

SecuriThings snares $14M Series A to keep edge devices under control

Managing IoT devices in a large organization can be a messy proposition, especially when many of them aren’t even managed directly by IT and often involve integrating with a number of third-party systems. SecuriThings wants to help with a platform of services to bring that all under control, and today the startup announced a $14 million Series A.

Aleph led the round with participation from existing investor Firstime VC and a number of unnamed angels. The company has raised a total of $17 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Roy Dagan, company CEO and co-founder says that he sees organizations with many different connected devices running on a network and it’s difficult to manage. “We enable organizations to manage IoT devices securely at scale in a consolidated and cost efficient manner,” Dagan told me.

This could include devices like security cameras along with access control systems and building management systems involving thousands — or in some instances, tens of thousands — of devices.”The technology we build, we integrate with management systems, and then we deploy our capabilities which are focused on the edge devices. So that’s how we also find the devices, and then we have these different capabilities running on the edge devices or fetching information from the edge devices,” Dagan explained.

SecuriThings Horizon - Screenshot - Device view

Image Credits: SecuriThings

The company has formed partnerships with a number of key device manufacturers including Microsoft, Convergint Technologies and Johnson Controls, among others. They work with a range of industries including airports, casinos and large corporate campuses.

Aaron Rosenson, general partner at lead investor Aleph, says the company is solving a big problem managing the myriad devices inside large organizations. “Until SecuriThings came along, there were these massive enterprise software categories of automation, orchestration and observability just waiting to be built for IoT,” Rosenson said in a statement. He says that SecuiThings is pulling that all together for its customers.

The company was founded in 2016 originally with the idea of being an IoT security company, and while they still are involved in securing these devices, their ability to communicate with them gives IT much greater visibility and insight and the ability to update and manage them.

Today, the company has 30 employees, and with the new investment it will be doubling that number by the end of the year. While Dagan didn’t cite specific customer numbers, he did say they have dozens of customers with deal sizes of between five and seven figures.