Top tech startup news for Monday, April 24, 2023: Apple, Epic Games, OpenAI, Sonet.io, and Stack Identity
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Monday, April 24, 2023.
OpenAI has applied for “GPT” trademark with USPTO
OpenAI, the creator of the popular chatbot ChatGPT, has applied for the “GPT” trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Not to be confused with copyright, which prevents the act of replicating someone’s work, while a trademark prevents individuals or entities from falsely claiming to be, or being linked to, the person or company represented by the mark. The trademark application was first reported by Hacker News.
On November 30, 2022, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a large AI language model based on the third-generation Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT-2) architecture. The chatbot was designed to generate human-like text in response to prompts or questions from users.
Just five days after its launch, ChatGPT crossed one million users. To put that in perspective, it took Netflix 3.5 years, Facebook 10 months, Spotify 5 months, and Instagram 2.5 months to reach the one million users mark. It took about nine months after its global launch for the popular short video app TikTok to add 100 million users.
That’s not all. In two months after its launch in November 2022 by OpenAI, ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. ChatGPT is based on the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT), a type of large language model (LLM) developed by OpenAI with support for up to 175 billion parameters. It is a neural network-based model that is trained to generate human-like text by predicting the next word in a sequence based on the words that come before it.
Cybersecurity startup Circle Security emerges from stealth with the launch of the first decentralized threat prevention platform
Circle Security emerged from stealth today with the release of the first credential-free decentralized threat prevention platform. Circle recently secured initial funding from strategic investors, enabling it to create this patented technology that transforms how companies access and protect data by overcoming the most pervasive cybersecurity challenges.
According to an article on TechRepublic, data breaches that result from compromised credentials continue to pose the greatest threat to many companies. The article suggests that preventing credential phishing attacks alone can yield a remarkable 82% return on investment to enterprises, potentially saving them over $680,000.
Circle Security was founded by Phani Nagarjuna, a seasoned 3x entrepreneur with numerous executive positions in venture- and private equity-backed firms, overseeing the launch of several successful software products and driving digital transformation initiatives. In addition, he also led two other early-stage companies to successful exits.
Prior to founding Circle, the individual was instrumental in building and leading Nuevora, a big data analytics/AI firm, and served as a founding executive at OneCommand, a leading customer marketing & loyalty automation company in the auto retail industry.
“The ultimate dream of security practitioners is to achieve true prevention of breaches,” said Founder & CEO Phani Nagarjuna. “The cybersecurity world is littered with several XDR, Zero-Trust & MFA technologies, and yet we continue to see a proliferation in identity-driven data breaches. It’s high time we augment these detection technologies with a foundational prevention-first technology that squarely addresses the root causes of the most common cyber threats.”
In a big blow to inventions generated by artificial intelligence (AI), the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday refused to issue patents for AI inventions created by computer scientist Stephen Thaler. The highest court in the country rejected Thaler’s lawsuit over AI-generated inventions.
According to a report from Reuters, Thaler has challenged the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its refusal to issue patents for inventions his artificial intelligence system created.
The justices on Monday turned away Thaler’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling, adding that patents can be issued only to human inventors and that his AI system could not be considered the legal creator of two inventions that he has said it generated, Reuters said.
The court ruled that patents can only be granted to human inventors and that Thaler’s AI system, which he calls DABUS (Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience), cannot be recognized as the legal creator of the two prototypes it generated. Thaler is the founder of Imagination Engines Inc, a technology company specializing in advanced artificial neural networks. He claims that DABUS independently created a beverage holder and an emergency light beacon.
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a federal judge in Virginia to reject Thaler’s patent applications for his inventions. They ruled that DABUS is not a person and, as per U.S. patent law, inventors must be human beings without any ambiguity.
Thaler told the Supreme Court that AI is being used to innovate in fields ranging from medicine to energy and that rejecting AI-generated patents “curtails our patent system’s ability – and thwarts Congress’s intent – to optimally stimulate innovation and technological progress.”
Silicon Vally tech startup Sonet.io exited stealth mode today with $6 million in seed capital co-led by The Hive and WestWave Capital. The startup will use the funding proceeds to accelerate customer acquisition and continue to invest in its SaaS platform to provide a seamless user experience, protect applications, servers, and data, and provide visibility into remote workforce activities.
Sonet.io was founded by CEO Dharmendra Mohan and Venu Banda to tackle the obstacles faced by the modern “workforce anywhere.” The company provides a simple and efficient solution for granting remote employees access to the necessary work tools. Prior to Sonet, Mohan launched two global security cloud services at Symantec and held leadership roles at Blue Coat as it grew from a startup into a $4.5 billion security company.
According to a recent Gartner study on the future of work, organizations are expected to encounter unprecedented challenges in 2023, including a highly competitive talent market, a fatigued workforce, cost control pressures, and the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence and automation. As a result, remote work is predicted to become a permanent fixture in the work landscape.
With Sonet.io, applications, and servers are protected through zero-trust access control, utilizing no-code policies and a user-friendly admin console that minimizes the need for expensive IT expertise.
The shift towards remote work has presented numerous challenges for organizations. With a distributed workforce, it’s essential to provide secure access to applications, intellectual property, and confidential data, all without hindering productivity or incurring excessive administrative costs.
Traditional approaches such as VDI servers, shipping secure devices, or installing security agents are often complicated, costly, and lack visibility into remote workforce activities. As such, Sonet is poised to help IT leaders seeking to provide their remote workforce with an exceptional experience, all while improving security and observability.
Commenting on the funding, Mohan said: “Our mission is to transform the remote work landscape by tackling its distinct challenges head-on. We are committed to enhancing remote worker productivity through a seamless, secure user experience that can be accessed from any device. Our innovative cloud-based solution eliminates the need for device agents, allowing comprehensive observability for remote workforces via a unified dashboard.”
Apple declares ‘resounding victory’ on Monday after an appeals court mostly sided with the iPhone maker over its App Store rules in a lawsuit with Epic Games. The verdict signals that Apple’s authority over the App Store and the fees it imposes are unlikely to undergo substantial changes as a result of an ongoing legal challenge by Epic Games.
In a ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court upheld the previous decision that mainly concluded that Apple did not breach antitrust laws by prohibiting rival app marketplaces on iPhones.
“Today’s decision reaffirms Apple’s resounding victory in this case, with nine of 10 claims having been decided in Apple’s favor,” a company spokesman said. “For the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple abides by antitrust laws at the state and federal levels.”
Following the ruling, Epic Games CEO Sweeney said in tweets, “Apple prevailed at the 9th Circuit Court. Though the court upheld the ruling that Apple’s restraints have ‘a substantial anticompetitive effect that harms consumers’, they found we didn’t prove our Sherman Act case.”
“Fortunately, the court’s positive decision rejecting Apple’s anti-steering provisions frees iOS developers to send consumers to the web to do business with them directly there. We’re working on next steps,” Sweeney added.
It all started back in 2020 when Apple Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after Epic Games lowered the cost of its V-Bucks. The new payment option appeared to have violated Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store rules, which require Epic to give up a 30% cut of the revenue made through the app. In response, Epic filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Northern California to end Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces.
Stack Identity emerges from stealth with $4M in funding to solve ‘shadow access’ problem and prevent cloud data breaches
Cloud data breaches are on the rise. According to the 2023 Thales Data Threat Report, 48% of IT professionals reported an increase in ransomware attacks while 22% of organizations have fallen victim to such an attack in the last year. The report also identified human error as the main cause.
In addition, Cloud data breaches could also be caused by ‘shadow access’ in the cloud environment, a situation where cloud identities, apps, and data create unauthorized, unmonitored, and invisible access to the cloud data. Unfortunately, existing cybersecurity tools are blind to many cloud identities and access pathways, creating vulnerabilities that are exploited to breach cloud data. It’s for this reason that one tech startup has created a solution to address the ‘shadow access’ problem and prevent cloud data breaches.
Enter Stack Identity, a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity startup that solves the ‘shadow access’ Problem with automated Identity and Access Management (IAM) operations. By enabling cloud security teams to swiftly prioritize and automate remediation efforts, Stack Identity empowers them to take a proactive approach to cloud security.
Founded by CEO Venkat Raghavan, Ambrish Deshpande, and Sanjay Kale, Stack Identity offers a solution that revolutionizes cloud IAM operations by proactively detecting, eliminating, and managing shadow access, which may otherwise remain unauthorized, unmonitored, and invisible. Raghavan is a cybersecurity industry veteran with decades of industry experience across Symantec, McAfee, IBM, Netskope, and BlueCoat
Today, Stack Identity announced it has emerged from stealth mode with $4 million in a seed funding round co-led by WestWave Capital and Benhamou Global Ventures, with participation from Plug and Play and notable cybersecurity investors.
Stack Identity will use the fresh capital infusion to scale product development, strengthen go-to-market strategies and expand customer reach, including SMBs, mid-market, and enterprises. Stack Identity will also use the funding to further invest in solving the challenge of automating cloud security as enterprises accelerate the development of data-centric and AI-powered applications.
Billionaire tech investor who claimed Bitcoin would reach $200,000 now says “crypto is dead in America”
In November 2021, Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $68,789.63. At the time, tech investors including Billionaires Tim Draper and Chamath Palihapitiya predicted that Bitcoin would soar to over $200,000. Draper said he’s confident Bitcoin would reach $250,000 in 2023, despite the ongoing chaos in the crypto market. Palihapitiya also predicted the world’s most popular cryptocurrency would surge to $200,000.
Fast forward two years later, Palihapitiya is walking back on his prediction. In the latest episode of the All-In podcast, the billionaire venture capitalist told his listeners that “Crypto is dead in America.”
Palihapitiya blamed the downfall of crypto mostly on regulators, who have intensified their efforts to catch bad actors in the space. Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has called for crypto trading platforms to adhere to stringent US securities regulations.
In a recent testimony with lawmakers, Gensler linked the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank with the crypto industry.
“You had Gensler even blaming the banking crisis on crypto,” Palihapitiya said. “The United States authorities have firmly pointed their guns at crypto.” They “were probably the ones that were the most threatening to the establishment,” said Palihapitiya, referring to crypto companies. “And they were the ones that, in fairness to the regulators, did push the boundaries more than any other sector of the startup economy.”
“Now they’re paying the price for that,” he said. “The bill has come due for them.”