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The iPad Mini: Power and portability for when you shouldn’t phone it in



Five reasons why the new iPad Pro can replace your laptop
Ahead of the holidays, Apple makes its case for the iPad Pro to be your next computer, even though it’s not one. Read more:

Comparing how the iPad was positioned at its introduction to how it is positioned now, it is tempting to say that Microsoft won the war for the soul of the tablet as something that is not a standalone category but a laptop variant. Rather than the iPad being a “post-PC” device, Apple in effect has two PC lines in iPad and Mac. They are so close in functionality that apps for them will soon spring forth from the same application programming interfaces and they will soon likely run on the same processor architecture. Those who cast their lot with an iPad as their main computer suffer few compromises.

Also: Review: iPad Mini is back and Apple’s 2019 update offers new mojo for small tablets CNET

The iPad had to climb the value ladder up to the size and functionality of a laptop because it was most pliable barrier between the rock of the growing smartphone and the hard place of the 2-in-1. But that doesn’t make the iPad’s original scenario — a device that lives in between the smartphone and notebook — less valid. Apple now has a lineup of five different iPads. The nearly 13-inch iPad Pro may be Apple’s most powerful alternative to the laptop, while the baseline iPad may most closely resemble the original. However, the iPad Mini best carries on the idea of a tweener product in the current device landscape.

One couldn’t be faulted for thinking Apple would never release another iPad Mini. Its last iteration was released back in 2015. It used Apple’s A9, a chip three generations behind the one in the new iPad Mini. So Apple has addressed at least some of modern tech gaps of the Mini. However, like all non-Pro iPads, the new Mini features large bezels {a minus}. In part used for a Touch ID-enabled home button (a plus). Also like the other non-Pro iPads, the Mini uses Lightning ports. That’s a disadvantage from the point of pure functionality. However, the Mini is unlikely to appeal to those who don’t already have some investment in Lightning cables.

Indeed, the reason many thought the Mini had faded into the sunset was that it was outrageously priced compared to, say, small Amazon Fire tablets. The few companies still making Android tablets have tended to focus on larger screen sizes. That doesn’t include Google, which threw Android out of its latest tablet altogether. And even within its own product line, the Mini costs the same as the baseline iPad, which offers a much larger work area.

But that iPad and everything further up the line start running up to the space requirements for a notebook while falling short of some of a notebook’s functionality. In contrast, particularly among Apple products, the iPad Mini offers an advantage over phone in the other end of the device spectrum. Despite the Mini’s LTE capability, it’s unlikely to substitute as a smartphone for anyone and is effectively a two-handed device.

But it is Apple’s best minimalist computing product, packing in almost all of the niceties of Apple’s iPad iOS extensions in a small form factor with a wide aspect ratio, with significantly more screen real estate than even Apple’s iPhone XS Max at a fraction of the price. Particularly with the new Apple Pencil support, that makes it a strong option for field applications. Cramped in coach? Nettled by notches? The iPad Mini grants you reprieve.

Also: A Best Buy salesman told me it’s iPad or don’t bother 

Competitively, the iPad Mini costs a lot more than similarly sized tablets, but there really isn’t anything else in its class. Compatibility with the Apple Pencil has opened up a new world of note-taking and sketching applications such as a new offering from Moleskine. And while there’s no smart keyboard cover connector, one can scrape by typing on the iPad Mini with a number of Bluetooth keyboard cases and add-ons.

Alas, Apple’s long neglect in updating the iPad Mini seems to have dampened accessory makers’ excitement of the new device. The launch — featured but still crunched among a host of Apple hardware announcements prior to a portfolio of media services that complement the iPad line — attracted no major third-party case announcements that might accommodate the Apple Pencil. That said, the product matches the dimensions of the iPad Mini 4 so cases for that device — should you be able to find them at retail — should work. (Of course, you can also make your own.)

Also: Apple unveils new 10.5-inch iPad Air and iPad Mini with Apple Pencil support 

Apple was slow to embrace the idea of a tablet with smaller dimensions than the original iPad; it was persuaded to pursue the Mini in part after reading coverage of the first small Galaxy Tab tablets by former ZDNet contributor Kevin Tofel. The combination of consumer tablet softness, growing smartphones and the better value of the baseline iPad conspire to keep it a fringe product for Apple. It is not the iPad for everyone. Its appeal would be even further enhanced if it adopted the slim bezels and modern connectivity of the Pro line. But, even today, the iPad Mini’s charms justify its share of supporters. To prevent their ranks from shrinking further, Apple needs to update it in cycles shorter than leap-year intervals.

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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.”

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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.”

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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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