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Blockchain startups woo Enterprises with a private chain audit trail

By placing all the information about services or complex manufacturing and assembly processes on a private, permissioned blockchain, the idea is that a company can create an “immutable” audit trail of data. When you think about it, currently this involves a labor-intensive combination of paper and networks. But initial trials with private blockchains in the last couple of years have shown there is potential to reduce the identification process of a data trail from several days to minutes.

Indications that this is becoming a hot issue amongst startups arrives today in two pieces of news.

Firstly, London-based “Gospel”(yes, that really is their name…) has raised £1.4m in seed funding from investors led by European-focused LocalGlobe.

The blockchain startup says it has been working with an unnamed “aerospace and defence manufacturer” to develop a proof of concept to improve record keeping for its supply chain. What’s the betting it’s British Aerospace? They aren’t saying.

At any rate, Gospel says it has developed a way of securely distributing data across decentralised infrastructures, offering companies the potential to automate records for complex products that usually require significant manual management. The idea is that is shares only the information it needs to, securely, with other partners in its supply chain, potentially leading to improved efficiency and lower costs of information recall.

Founded in December 2016 by entrepreneur Ian Smith, Gospel uses a private blockchain that requires users to set up a network of “nodes” within their ecosystem. Each party controls their own node and all the nodes must agree before any transaction can be processed and put on the blockchain. The node network acts as a consensus and provides a mechanism of trust.

Smith says: “For manufacturers and other businesses dealing with critical data there is a problem of trust in data systems, particularly when there is a need to share that data outside the organization. With Gospel technology we can provide an immutable record store so that trust can be fully automated between systems of forward-thinking businesses.”

Prior to this seed round, Gospel was backed by a number of angel investors including Gumtree co-founder Michael Pennington and Vivek Kundra, the Chief Information Officer for the US Government during Barack Obama’s

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Kaspersky pulls plug on Europol joint venture after EU parliament vote to ban its software

Fresh political woes for Russian security firm Kaspersky, which has reacted angrily to a vote in the European Union Parliament last week to ban its software — on the grounds that it has been “confirmed as malicious“.

Kaspersky denies this characterization of its software, saying it’s “untrue”.

It has also retaliated by pulling the plug on an existing collaboration with Europol, at least temporarily.

In a statement, a company spokesperson said: 

Today, the European Parliament voted on a report in which Polish representative, MEP Fotyga included an amendment referencing Kaspersky Lab which is based on untrue statements. Although this report has no legislative power it demonstrates a distinct lack of respect for the company which has been a firm friend of Europe in the fight against cybercrime. It is for that reason that Kaspersky Lab has taken the difficult decision to temporarily halt our numerous collaborative European cybercrime-fighting initiatives, including that with Europol, until we receive further official clarifications from the European Parliament .

On account of this news, we will regretfully have to pause one of our successful joint initiatives – NoMoreRansom project – recognised by the European Parliament Research Services as a successful case of public-private cooperation in their recent report – helped many organisations and users to decrypt files on their devices, saving them from financial losses. We hope to be able to resume this and other European collaborative efforts soon.

Founder Eugene Kaspersky added that the company has been “forced to freeze” its co-operation as a result of the parliament’s vote.

The way we conducted public-private partnership is unfortunately ceased until the withdraw of the European Parliament decision.

— Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) June 13, 2018

“This decision from the European Parliament welcomes cybercrime in Europe. I do not wish to do anything to further encourage the balkanization of the internet, but I feel that the decision taken in Europe leaves me with no choice but to take definitive action. Kaspersky Lab has only ever tried to rid the world of cybercrime. We have showed time and again that we disclose cyber threats regardless of origin and author, even to our own detriment. This is a setba

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Plum the fintech chatbot that helps you save adds theme-based investing

Plum, the fintech startup co-founded by early TransferWise employee Victor Trokoudes, is continuing its mission to help you manage your finances and save money. The AI-powered Messenger chatbot already offers savings functionality, including round-ups and regular savings, and today is launching an investment tool that lets you choose fund investments based on themes, such as ethical companies or technology.

Similar to competitors Cleo and Chip, Plum connects to your bank accounts and its algorithm then analyses your spending patterns to work out how much you can afford to set aside. It is able to identify things like income and bills, and can take a number of actions on your behalf.

This includes ‘micro-savings’ — rounding up any purchases you make — and other forms of regular saving, in which money is moved from your bank account to a segregated Plum savings account. From there you’re able to optionally put money into RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lending platform, if you wish to earn interest.

However, savings is only one pillar of Plum’s three pillar strategy. The other two are investments and spotting when you are paying too much for things like credit or utilities. Investing is getting an official launch today (having been announced in wait-list form a few months ago), and Trokoudes tells me energy switching, in partnership with green energy company Octopus, has been live for a while. If Plum detects that a user could reduce their home energy bill, it sends them a message offering to initiate the switch on their behalf.

Along with letting you invest at three different risk levels, Plum’s new investment tool provides theme-based investing. At launch these are ‘Tech’, ‘Emerging Markets’, and ‘Ethical Companies’. Other themes the platform will add in the coming months include ‘AI’, ‘Nutrition’, and ‘Robotics’. You can invest from as little as £1.

Notably, Plum is charging a monthly fee of £1 for accessing the feature, along with 0.15 percent annually on the amount you have invested. If you choose the themed fund option there is an additional fund fee. However, Trokoudes says investing via Plum is still one of the cheapest options on the market, where higher percentage annual management fees soon add up.

Plum is also disclosing its latest user numbers. In the last year, the chatbot has gr

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Trayio raises a 143M funding round led by GGV Capital

Companies spend a lot of time and money manually transferring data between services, while developer resources are constantly in demand. Firms like Mulesoft, Informatica, Boomi, Tibco, Workato, Zapier and others via for business against the likes of Informatica, Boomi and Mulesoft.

UK/US startup tray.io, a next-generation cloud integration provider, raised a $5m in a Series A two years ago.

The startup has now raised a $14.3 million round investment led by GGV Capital, bringing the company’s total financing to $21 million. Additional investors include True Ventures, Mosaic Ventures, and AngelPad. Glenn Solomon, Managing Partner, GGV Capital will join the company’s board of directors.

The company’s “General Automation Platform” claims to put complex integrations and enterprise-scale automation into the hands of businesses. This is, supposedly, “drag-and-drop ease-of-use.” The solution is built in a severless environment and is entirely API driven, affording the ability to scale faster. It claims it’s now beating companies like Segment and Udemy.

The funds will support Tray.io’s strategic hiring initiatives and drive continued development of its integration and automation platform.

Commenting, Glenn Solomon of GGV Capital said: “The success of Tibco, Webmethods and the recent $6.5 billion Mulesoft acquisition by Salesforce shows the pivotal role of integration in today’s cloud-based world. The talented Tray.io team has tapped into the demand for bespoke integrations and has established itself as a clear leader in this category.”

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Razer leads 33M investment in Australia’s Esports Mogul

Razer, the gaming hardware company that went public in Hong Kong last year, is resuming its investment strategy after it led a $3.3 million deal for Australia-based Esports Mogul.

Esports Mogul is, as the name suggests, focused on e-sports. The company operates a platform for organizing e-sports competitions — called Mogul Arena — and a gaming news website. The firm is focused on Asia and Latin America and it went public in Australia via a reverse listing that raised it $7 million.

The new money will go towards developing Mogul Arena for mobile, and funding user acquisition and monetization pushes, Esports Mogul said.

Razer already works with Esports Mogul, and now this deal will increase the collaboration which will focus on integrating Razer’s payment system, which itself was created by the recent acquisition of MOL, according to both companies.

Others in the round include Singapore’s Cloud Alliance, which develops software systems for gamers. It recently raised $15 million from an ICO and it said it plans to work more closely with Esports Mogul and Razer going forward.

Esports Mogul said the round was over-subscribed, with existing investors and local Australian institutions also taking part. The deal is priced at AU$1.8 per share, which represents a 20.55 percent discount on the company’s volume-weighted average share price over the last 15 days. Esports Mogul shares were priced just below $2 when it joined the ASX in late 2016.

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