Earlier this year, Olloclip released the Connect X system that supported mounting two lenses on the corner of the Apple iPhone X. Olloclip recently released lens mounting solutions for iPhone SE, 7/7 Plus, and 8/8 Plus and with the Multi-Device clip we can now use Connect X lenses with many popular Android smartphones.
Smartphones today help you capture fantastic images and video, but these thin phones also have physical limitations for camera lenses. Thus, third party add-on lenses extend and enhance the functionality of modern smartphones and help you get even more creative than you can with just the phone alone.
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Olloclip released a new affordable Intro Lens that provides the two most popular lens configurations, wide-angle and macro, in one lens. In addition, two Pro Series Connect X lenses, super wide and telephoto, were also announced. All of these lenses work with Connect X mounts and the new Multi-Device Clip.
At first I was sent a pre-production sample to start evaluating and after a couple weeks of use the clip kept binding up and would not clamp down on my phones. A release version of the Multi-Device Clip was sent out last week and is significantly improved with flawless open and close performance. It was interesting to see the evolution of the product and gives me confidence that Olloclip designed and tested the clip to work to your satisfaction.
Todd Williams, global sales director at Olloclip, stated:
The Multi-Device Clip is unlike any product on the market. It remains our goal at olloclip to continually enhance consumer’s mobile photography experience through the most compact, accurate and easy-to-use products. We designed the Multi-Device Clip to serve the greatest range of smartphones, including those with a screen protector or a thin case, for ultimate versatility.
While having corner mounts for various iPhone models may offer an optimized experience, being able to use the Olloclip Connect X lenses on various smartphones significantly improves the value of purchasing individual lenses.
The lens mounting system works by pressing in on a button to spread the clamp open. You then line up the lens opening with the phone camera opening that you want to use with the lens. Many phones today have multiple cameras and the great thing about this new Multi-Device system is that you can move the clip around and line up your Connect X lens with different front and rear cameras.
Lenses can be mounted in either direction in the opening of the clamp so you can insert it either way to ensure the lens fits properly over your desired camera. Slide the large button in towards the lens to move the spring and release the tab on one side to then lift out the lens. Lens caps are included with each lens to help protect it as well.
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I’ve had success using the Multi-Device Clip with the iPhone XR and Pixel 3 XL. Some phones have cameras too far away from the edges or have a number of lenses that make it difficult to line up the Olloclip lenses properly. One thing I noticed with the heavier Pro Series is that the lens can slide down a bit if mounted in a way where gravity takes over. The Multi-Device Clip is a reasonably priced, $19.99, solution for many smartphones, but I prefer using the Connect X system designed specifically for corner mounting as it lines up perfectly and is the most secure solution.
Connect X Intro Lens
The Connect X lens system is Olloclip’s lens offering that works with a number of phones and provides Olloclip’s newest lens technology and quality. The new Intro Lens provides both a wide-angle and 15x macro lens in one for just $19.99. You can also purchase it with the Multi-Device clip for a $39.95 price.
The wide-angle lens is mounted on the clip attachment when you open the retail package. Unscrew the wide-angle lens to reveal the 15x macro lens. This is the first Olloclip lens that offers this combination and these are the two most popular lenses I use with my phones.
The Intro Lens has slightly more distortion than the Essential Series Super Wide lens with a price less than half that lens. Olloclip states that this lens provides more of a photographic effect. I compared this Intro Lens with the Super Wide lens and saw very similar results between the two.
Also: 17 ways to recycle or sell your smartphone TechRepublic
The macro functionality provided by these add-on lenses helps produce some interesting results. I’ve been experimenting more with this Intro Lens macro functionality and the Fisheye/Macro lens. Both provide the same 15x macro performance and you can capture some very cool close-ups. You need to hold your phone with the lens within about an inch of your subject so this lens is primarily for extreme close-up encounters with your subject.
Connect X Pro Series Lenses
Just a day before a vacation, Olloclip sent along its two newest Pro Series lenses, super wide and telephoto. The Pro Series super wide lens offers a wider field of view with the least amount of distortion of any Olloclip lens. It is available for $99.99 or $119.95 with any Olloclip Connect X attachment clips.
The Pro telephoto lense offers the same 2x magnification of the previous Olloclip telephoto lens, but gathers more light for a brighter photograph. It is priced the same as the super wide Pro Series lens.
I brought these three new lenses with me on vacation in order to test them out so will update this article in the future with more results and samples of photographs taken with the lenses and various phones.
Previous and related coverage:
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Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch
The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.
The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).
Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.
“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on] all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)
The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.
The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.
Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.
Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.
“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”
Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.
These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)
Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.
Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.
If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.
“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”
Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch
Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.
Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.
In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.
Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.
On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.
It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.
Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.
“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”
downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch
As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).
Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital.
Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.
The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.
The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.
Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories. and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.
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