It’s been six years since I tested out the UE Boom speakers and they continue to perform well today. Ultimate Ears released the Boom 3 in September 2018 and just recently made available a more personalized version that you customize in the myBoom Studio.
The various Ultimate Ears speakers have always had vibrant color options and unique styles, but with the new myBoom 3 users can come up with their own combinations to personalize the look and feel of the speaker. Rather than send out random options, reviewers were given the opportunity to try out the myBoom Studio themselves and then use a promotional code to finalize the speaker creation for testing.
Customizing with myBoom Studio
A few weeks ago I let my family walk through the myBoom Studio site with me and help select a review speaker to test out. Thousands of variations are available thanks to the ability to customize six parts of the Boom 3 speaker, as follows:
- Fabric pattern: 12 options
- End caps: 8 options
- Volume buttons: 8 options
- Spine: 8 options
- Loop: 8 options
- Text: 20 characters can be entered
My family selected Frozen Kingdom for the fabric, Seashell end caps, Seashell volume buttons, Ultraviolet spine, and Ultraviolet loop. For the text I entered my Twitter handle, @palmsolo.
The Frozen Kingdom colored ferns are not as vibrant in real life as the image on the website, but all the rest of the selections look about the same as shown. The text is very subtle with cutouts in the rubber material.
Retail package and hardware walk around
The UE myBoom 3 arrived with a white sleeve that details the Magic Button, Party Up mode, and other key features of the speaker. Slip off the sleeve and a colorful inner box is revealed. Open up the lid to see the speaker you customized through the myBoom Studio website. The retail package also includes a nice quality USB charging cable, unfortunately still of the microUSB variant.
The first thing I noticed were the very large plus and minus buttons used to control the volume. Although the buttons are large, you still have to press the center to activate the button. On the opposite side you will find the loop and spine. At the bottom of the spine is a rubber port cover for the microUSB port. Given that everything, including Apple products, is moving to USB-C, I was a bit disappointed not to see a USB-C port on this speaker.
On the top of the speaker is the power button, center large Magic Button, and small Bluetooth pairing button. The Magic Button can be used to play, pause, and skip a track when playing music.
There is a metal assembly in the bottom of the speaker that you can use to charge up the speaker using a Power Up stand.
The UE myBoom 3 has top of the line specifications that include:
- Support to connect two speakers for stereo sound, eight devices (for individual or stereo playback), or more than 150 Boom or MegaBoom speakers for Party Up mode
- Maximum sound level of 90 dBA
- Frequency range of 90Hz to 20 kHz
- Drivers measuring 2 inches and two 2 inch by 4 inch passive radiators
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with up to 15 hours battery life
- Drop resistant to five feet (1.5 meters)
- IP67 water resistance
- Dimensions of 184 mm tall and 73 mm in diameter with weight of 608 grams (1.34 pounds)
The speakers also comes with a two year warranty and is built to last.
In order to connect more than one speaker, you need to connect an iOS or Android device through the UE Boom application. There is no way to have both speakers connected physically, through daisy chaining, or wirelessly without the UE Boom application. As you can see in my screenshots, the UE Boom application lets you pair to two speakers wirelessly and then have the speakers work in stereo with a left and right channel or in stereo individually with both speakers powering your audio experience.
In addition to controlling the pair of speakers, the mobile application lets you manage the name of the speakers, view battery level, set the alert language, change equalizer settings (loud, vocals, or intimate), toggle alerts sounds on or off, and view/manage the speaker firmware. You can also use the app to manage more than 150 speakers with PartyUp or let up to two of your friends be the DJ with Block Party settings.
At first I just setup the single myBoom 3 speakers and played audio from an iPhone XS, Galaxy Note 9, and Pixel 3 XL. It worked flawlessly and the volume was better than any other speaker I have tested before. In addition to loud volume, the music was crisp and clear with a good level of bass. I was very impressed by the audio quality and found it to be a bit better than the original UE Boom speakers I have had for a few years.
While I have Google Home devices sprinkled around the house and a Cavalier Maverick Alexa speaker, the myBoom 3 sounds better. It is handy to control the music selection with my voice, but the myBoom 3 is perfect for beach or patio parties.
I was then able to use the smartphone app to connect a UE Boom speaker to a myBoom 3 speaker to enjoy audio in stereo mode and in dual playback mode. Other phones were connected for DJ mode too in order to test out this functionality.
I was unable to test the speaker out in a pool, but understand it is waterproof and will also float for up to 30 minutes. The speaker has a greater diameter than the UE Boom, but is still able to easily be carried around for portable use.
The UE Boom 3 is available for $149.99 in seven colors while you can come up with thousands of combinations for the myBoom 3 at a price of $179.99. Thus, there is a $30 premium to customize this speaker. Be aware that you cannot return or exchange customized products like this, unless there is some defect that is part of the warranty coverage. Make sure you select what you like before placing your custom speaker order.
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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