All posts in “Acquisition”

VMware acquires ML acceleration startup Bitfusion

VMware today announced that it has acquired Bitfusion, a former participant in our Startup Battlefield competition. Bitfusion was one of the earliest companies to help businesses accelerate their complex computing workloads on GPUs, FPGAs and ASICs. In its earliest iteration, over four years ago, the company’s focus was less on AI and machine learning and more on other areas of high-performance computing, but unsurprisingly, that shifted as the interested in AI and ML increased in recent years.

VMware will use Bitfusion’s technology, which is vendor- and hardware-agnostic, to bring similar capabilities to its customers. Specifically, it plans to integrate Bitfusion into its vSphere platform.

“Once closed, the acquisition of Bitfusion will bolster VMware’s strategy of supporting AI- and ML-based workloads by virtualizing hardware accelerators,” writes Krish Prasad, Senior Vice President and General Manager of VMware’s Cloud Platform Business Unit. “Multi-vendor hardware accelerators and the ecosystem around them are key components for delivering modern applications. These accelerators can be used regardless of location in the environment – on-premises and/or in the cloud.”

Prasad also notes that to get the most out of hardware accelerators like GPUs, most enterprises deploy them on bare metal. VMware, however, argues that this leads to poor utilization and poor efficiencies (as it would, of course, given that it is in the business of virtualization). “This provides a perfect opportunity to virtualize them—providing increased sharing of resources and lowering costs,” writes Prasad.

The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition. Bitfusion had raised $5 million in 2017 and a smaller, strategic investment from Samsung Ventures in 2018.

Nvidia outbids Microsoft, Intel to acquire chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9 billion

Nvidia will acquire supercomputer chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9 billion, beating out companies like Microsoft and Intel.
Nvidia will acquire supercomputer chipmaker Mellanox for $6.9 billion, beating out companies like Microsoft and Intel.

Image: LightRocket via Getty Images

Nvidia has come out on top in a bidding war for chipmaker Mellanox.

In a press release on Monday, Nvidia announced its $6.9 billion acquisition of Mellanox, an Israel and California-based networking technology and supercomputer chipmaker. The all-cash acquisition is the largest ever for Nvidia, a company best known for its graphics processors for high-performance gaming.

Mellanox’s focus is on technology for networking and data storage. The company creates InfiniBand and Ethernet products for use in the cloud and data centers as well as in the artificial intelligence sector. It boasts that its technology is used in half of the top 500 most powerful supercomputers.

“The emergence of AI and data science, as well as billions of simultaneous computer users, is fueling skyrocketing demand on the world’s datacenters,” said Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang in a statement. “Addressing this demand will require holistic architectures that connect vast numbers of fast computing nodes over intelligent networking fabrics to form a giant datacenter-scale compute engine.”

Some of the industry’s biggest players were interested in acquiring Mellanox and had submitted offers before Nvidia swooped in to make a bid over the last day. Microsoft, Intel, Xilinx, and Broadcom had all emerged as potential buyers before the Nvidia deal was announced. 

Microsoft is one of Mellanox’s biggest customers, as it uses the company’s products for its Azure cloud. 

In Intel’s case, the tech giant was likely looking to “corner the market” with its bid as Engadget points out. The company develops a number of products which overlap with Mellanox’s offerings. Intel reportedly offered $6 billion for the chipmaker.

Nvidia ended up outbidding the other suitors, paying $125 per share.

“We’re excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform with Mellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions,” said Huang.

With the acquisition, the combination of Nvidia and Mellanox will have “every major cloud service provider and computer maker” as a customer.

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About.me acquired by mobile-first small business startup Broadly

Personal homepage startup About.me has been acquired. Again! The company, once bought by Aol for a reported $35 million, decided a couple years after the deal to go it alone, and spun About.me back out to become an independent company. Today, About.me announced it’s being acquired by the Oakland-based startup Broadly.

About.me founder and True Ventures partner Tony Conrad called the deal “definitely a meeting of the minds,” as About.me has been more recently focused on helping people and companies showcase their professional talents and skills, while Broadly creates tools that help small businesses stay connected to their customers.

Today Broadly offers web chat, text, email, online review collection, and team messaging – all in its own mobile app.

However, it’s biggest draw is its online review platform that makes it easier for happy customers to quickly leave the business a positive review on any review site, including Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and others.

Last September, Broadly raised $10 million in Series B funding co-led by original investor Foundry Group and new partner Calibrate Ventures. The funding was allocated towards further product development and hiring – both things which an About.me acquisition can now help to speed up. The company also last year launched its small business-focused web chat feature in its app, and snagged the #107 spot on the 2018 Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., which cited its 2017 revenue as $4.7 million.

Terms of the About.me deal were not disclosed, but it is an all-stock acquisition we understand and one Conrad feels positive about.

In addition, the majority of About.me’s team is joining Broadly as a result of the acquisition which will bring Broadly’s total team to over 75. This includes About.me’s CEO Mindy Lauck, whose background includes time at Adobe Systems, NBC-Universal, and E*Trade Financial. She becomes Broadly’s Vice President of Product following the deal’s closure.

Conrad said he wanted to find About.me a new home with a company that was a good fit.

“It was important to the About.me leadership team to join forces with a company that had a strong go-to-market strategy and a similar level of passion for serving small business owners, who are an integral part of
keeping our economy strong and vibrant,” said Conrad. “We found that in Broadly and see the very real potential for powerful future growth as a result of this alignment,” he added.

At Broadly, Lauck will be focused on expanding the company’s existing product suite to support the full range of the small business owners’ needs – that will include About.me’s technology. The plan is to offer the About.me pages to Broadly’s small business user base going forward.

“The About.me product is another frictionless mechanism for helping small businesses promote themselves and start capturing leads, which aligns well with our mission and brand,” said Josh Melick, CEO and Co-founder of Broadly, in a statement. “More personally, we’re thrilled to welcome the About.me team to the Broadly family – we’re even stronger together,” he added.

Powtoon acquires Showbox.com to extend its video-creation platform

Powtoon, an online platform that allows its users to easily create videos for digital marketing, YouTube ads or business presentations, today announced that it has acquired Tel Aviv-based Showbox.com, a cloud-based video-editing platform for amateurs that had raised $12.4 million before this acquisition and currently holds six video technology patents.

Powtoon, which says that it has more than 25 million users, plans to integrate into its own products many of Showbox.com’s features, including its green-screen technology.

This is quite a departure for Powtoon, which always focused on letting its users create videos without having to ever appear in them. That made it great for explainer videos, but also limited its appeal. To gain market share and expand its feature set, Powtoon clearly recognized Showbox.com as a logical acquisition, given that its focus is squarely on making amateur video look good.

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“When the possibility arose for us to acquire the company, we jumped on this unique opportunity,” said Ilya Spitalnik, Powtoon’s founder and CEO. “This acquisition positions Powtoon to deliver so much more value to our customers. Our users will soon be able to create videos using dynamic green-screen technology, making it appear as though they were produced in a professional studio, even if they were shot at their office desk or in their basement.”

Datadog acquires app testing company Madumbo

Datadog, the popular monitoring and analytics platform, today announced that it has acquired Madumbo, an AI-based application testing platform.

“We’re excited to have the Madumbo team join Datadog,” said Olivier Pomel, Datadog’s CEO. “They’ve built a sophisticated AI platform that can quickly determine if a web application is behaving correctly. We see their core technology strengthening our platform and extending into many new digital experience monitoring capabilities for our customers.”

Paris-based Madumbo, which was incubated at Station F and launched in 2017, offers its users a way to test their web apps without having to write any additional code. It promises to let developers build tests by simply interacting with the site, using the Madumbo test recorder, and to help them build test emails, password and testing data on the fly. The Madumbo system then watches your site and adapts its check to whatever changes you make. This bot also watches for JavaScript errors and other warnings and can be integrated into a deployment script.

The team will join Datadog’s existing Paris office and will work on new products, which Datadog says will be announced later this year. Datadog will phase out the Madumbo platform over the course of the next few months.

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“Joining Datadog and bringing Madumbo’s AI-powered testing technology to its platform is an amazing opportunity,” said Gabriel-James Safar, CEO of Madumbo. “We’ve long admired Datadog and its leadership, and are excited to expand the scope of our existing technology by integrating tightly with Datadog’s other offerings.”