Docker partners with AWS to improve container workflows

Docker and AWS today announced a new collaboration that introduces a deep integration between Docker’s Compose and Desktop developer tools and AWS’s Elastic Container Service (ECS) and ECS on AWS Fargate. Previously, the two companies note, the workflow to take Compose files and run them on ECS was often challenging for developers. Now, the two companies simplified this process to make switching between running containers locally and on ECS far easier .

docker/AWS architecture overview“With a large number of containers being built using Docker, we’re very excited to work with Docker to simplify the developer’s experience of building and deploying containerized applications to AWS,” said Deepak Singh, the VP for Compute Services at AWS. “Now customers can easily deploy their containerized applications from their local Docker environment straight to Amazon ECS. This accelerated path to modern application development and deployment allows customers to focus more effort on the unique value of their applications, and less time on figuring out how to deploy to the cloud.”

In a bit of a surprise move, Docker last year sold off its enterprise business to Mirantis to solely focus on cloud-native developer experiences.

“In November, we separated the enterprise business, which was very much focused on operations, CXOs and a direct sales model, and we sold that business to Mirantis,” Docker CEO Scott Johnston told TechCrunch’s Ron Miller earlier this year. “At that point, we decided to focus the remaining business back on developers, which was really Docker’s purpose back in 2013 and 2014.”

Today’s move is an example of this new focus, given that the workflow issues this partnership addresses had been around for quite a while already.

It’s worth noting that Docker also recently engaged in a strategic partnership with Microsoft to integrate the Docker developer experience with Azure’s Container Instances.

Kernel raises $53 million for its non-invasive ‘Neuroscience as a Service’ technology

LA-based bio science startup Kernel has raised $53 million from investors including General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Manta Ray Ventures, Tiny Blue Dot and more. The funding is the first outside money that Kernel has taken in, though it’s a Series C round, because founder and CEO Bryan Johnson has provided $54 million in investment for Kernel to date. Johnson also participated in this latest round alongside external investors.

The funding will go towards further scaling “on-demand” access to its non-invasive technology for recording brain activity, which consists of two main approaches. Kernel has distinguished these as two separate products: Flow, which detects magnetic fields created by the collective activity of neutrons in the brain; and Flux, which measures blood through through the brain. These are both key signals that researchers and medical practitioners monitor when working with the brain, but typically they require use of invasive, expensive hardware – or even brain surgery.

Kernel’s goal is to make this much more broadly available, offering access via a ‘Neuroscience as a Service’ (NaaS) model that can provide paying clients access to its brain imaging devices even remotely. Earlier this year, Kernel announced that this platform was available generally to commercial customers.

The technology sounds like sci-fi – but it’s really an attempt to take what has been a relatively closed and prohibitively costly, expert and potentially dangerous to its subjects tech, and make it available as an on-demand capability – in much the same way that many human genome companies have emerged to take advantage of the advances in the speed and availability of human genome sequencing to do the same, for the business and research community.

Johnson’s ambitious long-term goal with the company is to ultimately develop a much deeper understanding in the field of neuroscience.

“If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge,” Johnson writes in a press release.

It’s true that the brain’s inner workings are still largely a mystery to most researchers, especially in terms of how they translate to our cognition, feelings and actions. Kernel’s platform could mean significantly more people studying the

Kernel raises $53 million for its non-invasive ‘Neuroscience as a Service’ technology

LA-based bio science startup Kernel has raised $53 million from investors including General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Manta Ray Ventures, Tiny Blue Dot and more. The funding is the first outside money that Kernel has taken in, though it’s a Series C round, because founder and CEO Bryan Johnson has provided $54 million in investment for Kernel to date. Johnson also participated in this latest round alongside external investors.

The funding will go towards further scaling “on-demand” access to its non-invasive technology for recording brain activity, which consists of two main approaches. Kernel has distinguished these as two separate products: Flow, which detects magnetic fields created by the collective activity of neutrons in the brain; and Flux, which measures blood through through the brain. These are both key signals that researchers and medical practitioners monitor when working with the brain, but typically they require use of invasive, expensive hardware – or even brain surgery.

Kernel’s goal is to make this much more broadly available, offering access via a ‘Neuroscience as a Service’ (NaaS) model that can provide paying clients access to its brain imaging devices even remotely. Earlier this year, Kernel announced that this platform was available generally to commercial customers.

The technology sounds like sci-fi – but it’s really an attempt to take what has been a relatively closed and prohibitively costly, expert and potentially dangerous to its subjects tech, and make it available as an on-demand capability – in much the same way that many human genome companies have emerged to take advantage of the advances in the speed and availability of human genome sequencing to do the same, for the business and research community.

Johnson’s ambitious long-term goal with the company is to ultimately develop a much deeper understanding in the field of neuroscience.

“If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge,” Johnson writes in a press release.

It’s true that the brain’s inner workings are still largely a mystery to most researchers, especially in terms of how they translate to our cognition, feelings and actions. Kernel’s platform could mean significantly more people studying the

TikTok saw a rise in government demands for user data

Earlier this year, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance joined the raft of American tech giants that publish the number of government demands for user data and takedown requests by releasing its own numbers. The move was met with heavy skepticism, amid concerns about the app maker’s links to China, and accusations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security, a claim it has repeatedly denied.

In its second and most recent transparency report, published today, TikTok said it received 500 total legal demands, including emergency requests, from governments in the first half of the year, up 67% on the previous half. Most of the demands came from the United States.

TikTok also received 45 government demands to remove contents. India, which submitted the most takedown requests, earlier this month banned TikTok from the country, citing security concerns.

But noticeably absent from the report is China, where TikTok is not available but where its parent, ByteDance, is headquartered. That’s not an uncommon occurrence: Facebook or Twitter, neither of which are available in China, have not received or complied with a demand from the Chinese government. Instead, ByteDance has a separate video app, Douyin, for users in mainland China.

TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide told TechCrunch: “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

“We do not and have not removed any content at the request of the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked,” the spokesperson said.

But the company’s efforts to fall in line with the rest of the U.S. tech scene’s transparency efforts is not likely to quell long-held fears held by the company’s critics, including lawmakers, which last year called on U.S. intelligence to investigate the firm.

TikTok continues to contend that it’s not a threat and that it’s firmly rooted in the United States.

Earlier this week, the company said it was withdrawing from Hong Kong in response to the new Beijing-imposed national security law.

TikTok saw a rise in government demands for user data

Earlier this year, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance joined the raft of American tech giants that publish the number of government demands for user data and takedown requests by releasing its own numbers. The move was met with heavy skepticism, amid concerns about the app maker’s links to China, and accusations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security, a claim it has repeatedly denied.

In its second and most recent transparency report, published today, TikTok said it received 500 total legal demands, including emergency requests, from governments in the first half of the year, up 67% on the previous half. Most of the demands came from the United States.

TikTok also received 45 government demands to remove contents. India, which submitted the most takedown requests, earlier this month banned TikTok from the country, citing security concerns.

But noticeably absent from the report is China, where TikTok is not available but where its parent, ByteDance, is headquartered. That’s not an uncommon occurrence: Facebook or Twitter, neither of which are available in China, have not received or complied with a demand from the Chinese government. Instead, ByteDance has a separate video app, Douyin, for users in mainland China.

TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide told TechCrunch: “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

“We do not and have not removed any content at the request of the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked,” the spokesperson said.

But the company’s efforts to fall in line with the rest of the U.S. tech scene’s transparency efforts is not likely to quell long-held fears held by the company’s critics, including lawmakers, which last year called on U.S. intelligence to investigate the firm.

TikTok continues to contend that it’s not a threat and that it’s firmly rooted in the United States.

Earlier this week, the company said it was withdrawing from Hong Kong in response to the new Beijing-imposed national security law.

The TourBox adds a touch of tactile control to your editing workflow in a portable package

Now is a great time to be dipping back into creative projects you’ve had on hold, including editing archives of photos you promised you’d get back to ‘later.’ There are a number of different gadgets designed to help make that process easier, but one of the more accessible is the TourBox, a $169 hardware controller that includes a number of different hardware buttons, dials and switches which can be customized via software to work with a variety of creative applications.

The basics

TourBox is a device that occupies roughly the desk space of an Apple Magic Trackpad, with a USB-C connection to plug into your computer. It’s equipped with a D-pad, two dials, a scroll wheel, and seven buttons. The TourBox software provides customizable controls for each of these, allowing you to assign keys to each.

Built-in profiles support popular photo editing applications including Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One; video editing software like Final Cut Pro, Premiere and DaVinci Resolve; and drawing software including Clip Studio Paint. Each of the default configurations for these applications can also be customized depending on a user’s preferences and needs.

TourBox differs from other, more expensive devices in this category in a number of respects – it leans heavily on keyboard shortcuts, for instance, definitely simplifying software actions but not providing the same level of plug-in integration that competitors including the more premium Loupedeck+ and Loupedeck CT provide. Those are considerably more expensive, however, and what TourBox provides could suit the workflows of pros who are looking primarily to supplement, rather than replace their existing keyboard productivity workflows.

Design

The TourBox is compact, but feels sturdy. It’s heavier than I expected, which makes it more likely to stay put on the desk where you put it rather than shifting around during use. The exterior is a matte, rubberized plastic that has a nice aesthetic and a pleasant tactile feel, though it will pick up dust.

TourBox’s buttons and controls feature unique shapes and elements like raised spokes and ridges on the wheels to help you navigate the control surface entirely by feel. It produces a controller that looks very interesting because of its asymmetrical layout and exterior surface, but all of that actually makes it much easier to learn how to operate it entirely by feel after a little practice, which is key to long-term use in terms of actually ensuring the TourBox saves you time, by being something you can eventually basically commit to muscle memory.

While the design of the buttons and other controls makes a lot of sense, the actual feel of them isn’t all that great. There are some highlights, including clicky turning to help with fine-grained controls, but overall the buttons feel a bit mushy and generally don’t match up to the feel of the controls on other surfaces like the Loupedeck hardware mentioned above. Given the price difference, the lower-quality feel of the physical controls can be forgiven, and it doesn’t affect actual performance, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Performance

As with any new hardware controller, the TourBox takes some getting used to, and the software that the company provides, while it includes a basic tutorial, requires non-obvious user tweaks like manual switching of profiles to work with different applications. There’s a major 2.1 update in the works that will deliver auto-profile switching, among a number of other improvements.

Once you learn how to use the TourBox software and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the profiles for the applications you use, TourBox is indeed user-friendly, and can save you a lot of time and extra keystrokes on most common functions, including things like zooming and panning, adjusting brush size, undoing and redoing and much more.

As mentioned, the unique physical layout and button shapes appear initially odd, but ultimately mean that you can develop a very memorable workflow using the TourBox that becomes second nature. By default, some of the modifier key combinations that were shipped in the software profiles required a bit of unusual hand gymnastics for me, but all of these are customizable so it was easy to make changes that resulted in more ergonomically friendly usage.

Bottom line

While there are a growing number of options when it comes to hardware control surfaces to help you create an at-home editing suite, the TourBox at $169 is one of the most affordable out there. It’s also an extremely portable option, requiring just one cable, which you can easily pack in just about any bag.

More demanding and pro users would do well to look at Loupedeck’s offerings, and the Monogram Creative Console provides a lot more modular customizability for a system that can grow with your needs, but for on-the-road editing and for enthusiasts who are just looking for something to make their editing easier and faster but with minimal fuss, the TourBox is a solid option.

SUSE acquires Kubernetes management platform Rancher Labs

SUSE, which describes itself as ‘the world’s largest independent open source company,’ today announced that it has acquired Rancher Labs, a company that has long focused on making it easier for enterprises to make their container clusters.

The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition, but Rancher was well funded, with a total of $95 million in investments. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s only been a few months since the company announced its $40 million Series D round led by Telstra Ventures. Other investors include the likes of Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners, GRC SinoGreen and F&G Ventures.

Like similar companies, Rancher’s original focus was first on Docker infrastructure before it pivoted to putting its emphasis on Kubernetes once that became the de facto standard for container orchestration. Unsurprisingly, this is also why SUSE is now acquiring this company. After a number of ups and downs — and various ownership changes — SUSE has now found its footing again and today’s acquisition shows that its aiming to capitalize on its current strengths.

Just last month, the company reported that the annual contract value of its booking increased by 30% year over year and that it saw a 63% increase in customer deals worth more than $1 million in the last quarter, with its cloud revenue growing 70%. While it is still in the Linux distribution business that the company was founded on, today’s SUSE is a very different company, offering various enterprise platforms (including its Cloud Foundry-based Cloud Application Platform), solutions and services. And while it already offered a Kubernetes-based container platform, Rancher’s expertise will only help it to build out this business.

“This is an incredible moment for our industry, as two open source leaders are joining forces. The merger of a leader in Enterprise Linux, Edge Computing and AI with a leader in Enterprise Kubernetes Management will disrupt the market to help customers accelerate their digital transformation journeys,” said SUSE CEO Melissa Di Donato in today’s announcement. “Only the combination of SUSE and Rancher will have the depth of a globally supported and 100% true open source portfolio, including cloud native technologies, to help our customers seamlessly innovate across their business from the edge to the core to the cloud.”

The company describes today’s acquisition as the first step in its ‘inorganic growth strategy’ and Di Donato notes that this acquisition will allow the company to “play an even more strategic role with cloud service providers, independent hardware vendors, systems integrators and value-added resellers who are eager to provide greater customer experiences.”

‘No code’ will define the next generation of software

It seems like every software funding and product announcement these days includes some sort of reference to “no code” platforms or functionality. The frequent callbacks to this buzzy term reflect a realization that we’re entering a new software era.

Similar to cloud, no code is not a category itself, but rather a shift in how users interface with software tools. In the same way that PCs democratized software usage, APIs democratized software connectivity and the cloud democratized the purchase and deployment of software, no code will usher in the next wave of enterprise innovation by democratizing technical skill sets. No code is empowering business users to take over functionality previously owned by technical users by abstracting complexity and centering around a visual workflow. This profound generational shift has the power to touch every software market and every user across the enterprise.

The average enterprise tech stack has never been more complex

In a perfect world, all enterprise applications would be properly integrated, every front end would be shiny and polished, and internal processes would be efficient and automated. Alas, in the real world, engineering and IT teams spend a disproportionate share of their time fighting fires in security, fixing internal product bugs and running vendor audits. These teams are bursting at the seams, spending an estimated 30% of their resources building and maintaining internal tools, torpedoing productivity and compounding technical debt.

Seventy-two percent of IT leaders now say project backlogs prevent them from working on strategic projects. Hiring alone can’t solve the problem. The demand for technical talent far outpaces supply, as demonstrated by the fact that six out of 10 CIOs expect skills shortages to prevent their organizations from keeping up with the pace of change.

At the same time that IT and engineering teams are struggling to maintain internal applications, business teams keep adding fragmented third-party tools to increase their own agility. In fact, the average enterprise is supporting 1,200 cloud-based applications at any given time. Lacking internal support, business users bring in external IT consultants. Cloud promised easy as-needed software adoption with seamless integration, but the realities of quickly changing business needs have led to a roaring comeback of expensive custom software.

‘No code’ will define the next generation of software

It seems like every software funding and product announcement these days includes some sort of reference to “no code” platforms or functionality. The frequent callbacks to this buzzy term reflect a realization that we’re entering a new software era.

Similar to cloud, no code is not a category itself, but rather a shift in how users interface with software tools. In the same way that PCs democratized software usage, APIs democratized software connectivity and the cloud democratized the purchase and deployment of software, no code will usher in the next wave of enterprise innovation by democratizing technical skill sets. No code is empowering business users to take over functionality previously owned by technical users by abstracting complexity and centering around a visual workflow. This profound generational shift has the power to touch every software market and every user across the enterprise.

The average enterprise tech stack has never been more complex

In a perfect world, all enterprise applications would be properly integrated, every front end would be shiny and polished, and internal processes would be efficient and automated. Alas, in the real world, engineering and IT teams spend a disproportionate share of their time fighting fires in security, fixing internal product bugs and running vendor audits. These teams are bursting at the seams, spending an estimated 30% of their resources building and maintaining internal tools, torpedoing productivity and compounding technical debt.

Seventy-two percent of IT leaders now say project backlogs prevent them from working on strategic projects. Hiring alone can’t solve the problem. The demand for technical talent far outpaces supply, as demonstrated by the fact that six out of 10 CIOs expect skills shortages to prevent their organizations from keeping up with the pace of change.

At the same time that IT and engineering teams are struggling to maintain internal applications, business teams keep adding fragmented third-party tools to increase their own agility. In fact, the average enterprise is supporting 1,200 cloud-based applications at any given time. Lacking internal support, business users bring in external IT consultants. Cloud promised easy as-needed software adoption with seamless integration, but the realities of quickly changing business needs have led to a roaring comeback of expensive custom software.

Berlin’s Cavalry Ventures closes €80M, backed by DACH founders and EIF

Cavalry Ventures, the Berlin-based early-stage venture fund which was the lead inceptor into BRYTER, has closed its second fund of €80M, more than 3.5x the size of its maiden fund.

Geared somewhat like a large Angel syndicate, Cavalry’s LPs tend to be active founders and other LPs in early-stage funds in the DACH region, and the fund is best known for its focus on key SaaS and B2B infrastructure startups such as those in HR, sales, PR, fundraising, legal and internationalization.

In a statement Stefan Walter, managing partner at Cavalry, said: “Our mantra has always been ‘what’s best for the startup?’. If that is staying on the sidelines and letting you as a founder do your job, that’s what we’re going to do. But if you request our support, you can count on us to be there – any time of the day.”

Typically, Cavalry invests alongside angels, both external and from within its network.

Among these angels are Martin Henk (Pipedrive), Nico Rosberg (former F1 World Champion), Viktoriya Tigipko (TA Ventures), Myke Naef (Doodle), Emmanuel Thomassin (Delivery Hero), Gero Decker (Signavio), Joshua Cornelius & Mehmet Yilmaz (Freeletics), Tobias Balling (Blinkist) and Felix Jahn (Rocket Internet, McMakler).

The Cavalry II fund is the partnership’s first vintage with institutional funds including the European Investment Fund .

Cavalry was launched by Rouven Dresselhaus, Claude Ritter and Stefan Walter in 2016 and has since invested in McMakler, Rekki and PlanRadar among others.