News

Berkeley’s SkyDeck Offers Chip Design Support Worth Millions to Startups

Chip Track, the microchip design innovation segment of Berkeley startup accelerator SkyDeck, is profiled in an Xconomy article titled "Berkeley’s SkyDeck Offers Chip Design Support Worth Millions to Startups."  Unlike software developers, chip inventors need cash up front to produce prototypes to show how they run.  “We’re talking about many millions of dollars,” says SkyDeck's Chong Tang. “Very few investors are willing to give you many millions of dollars just to hit run.”  SkyDeck has enlisted two companies that will give its chip startups access to an array of services that would ordinarily cost customers as much as $2 million.  Advisors to Chip Track's startups include CS Profs. Krste Asanović and David Patterson (emeritus).

Turnitin Acquires Gradescope

Turnitin, a leading provider of academic integrity and writing solutions, has acquired Gradescope, a class grading platform co-founded by CS Prof. Pieter Abbeel and alumni Arjun Singh (B.S. EECS '10/Ph.D. CS '16), Sergey Karayev (CS Ph.D. '15), and Ibrahim Awwal (EECS B.S. '12/M.S. '15).   The platform reduces the time associated with grading in college courses via an optimized online workflow and clever application of artificial intelligence. Developed at Cal when the alumni were teaching assistants, Gradescope is now used in most CS, Math, and Chemistry classes at Berkeley, and has quickly been adopted at many top higher-ed institutions, including half of all Ivy League schools, as well as at over twenty-five leading R1 universities. “Bringing Gradescope into the Turnitin family allows us to realize our mission across more subjects, with more instructors and students than ever before. Gradescope represents Turnitin’s first formal foray into STEM education, an area of increasing importance, that must also be held to high standards of academic integrity," said Turnitin CEO Chris Caren.

Corelight wins 2018 Network Security Innovation Award

Corelight, a cybersecurity startup co-founded by CS Prof. Vern Paxson, has won the 2018 Network Security Innovation Award from CyberSecurity Breakthrough, an independent organization that recognizes the top companies, technologies and products in the global information security market.  Corelight delivers "network visibility solutions for cybersecurity" by merging the power of an open source framework called Bro with a suite of enterprise features to create a line of sensors.  These sensors make Bro dramatically easier to deploy in physical and virtual enterprise environments.  The CyberSecurity Breakthrough Awards recognize "the world's best information security companies, products and people."

Explore UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship with Hriday Kemburu

CS alumnus Hriday Kemburu (B.A. '16) is featured in a Daily Cal article about UC Berkeley’s start up ecosystem titled "‘Dream, build and start up’: Exploring UC Berkeley’s culture of entrepreneurship.'   Kemburu is the CEO of Wildfire,  which began as a UC Berkeley-specific safety app during Kemburu's senior year and branched out into a communications platform spanning more than 30 campuses.  Wildfire is used for spreading the word about anything from crimes to celebrity sightings.  Berkeley's network of startup incubators, accelerators, investors and classes have helped launch hundreds of companies.

Hanzhong (Ayden) Ye builds VR sharing platform

CS alumnus Hanzhong (Ayden) Ye (M.S. '12, advisor: Björn Hartmann) is profiled in an ejinsight article titled "Former Silicon Valley executives build VR version of YouTube."  In 2016, Ye gave up his lucrative job with Sierra Ventures in Silicon Valley to establish VeeR VR, a Virtual Reality content sharing platform in China.  The platform allows the growing number of content-creating VR enthusiasts to share their work with viewers via the web and mobile devices. In less than two years, the company has grown to 70 employees, while the number of its registered users around the globe has reached more than 20 million.  Customers include corporate users such as travel companies, news agencies, restaurants, and hotels.

Oasis Labs raises $45M for ‘privacy-first’ cloud

Oasis Labs Inc., a startup co-founded and led by Prof. Dawn Song to build a high-performance cloud computing platform on blockchain, announced that it has raised $45 million in funding. Oasis is building a cloud-based blockchain platform intended to outdo existing distributed-ledger implementations in two key areas: performance and privacy. Song elaborated in a statement that “the Oasis platform aims to give users control over their data, without the underperformance and lack of privacy of existing blockchain platforms.”  The funding round saw the participation of more than 70 investors including Accel and a16z crypto, an Andreesson Horowitz fund.

Startup Elph secures $875K in pre-seed funding

The House Fund has backed a $875,000 pre-seed round for Elph, a startup co-founded by two EECS alumni:  Ritik Malhotra (B.S. '15) and Tanooj Luthra (B.S. '13).  Elph operates a portal for accessing decentralized apps known as Ethereum dApps.  It provides a place to store digital assets (cryptocurrencies, tokens, collectibles), find dApps without having to scour the web, and use them natively.  Elph also plans to roll out a software development tool to simplify the process of building dApps.  The House Fund is a berkeley-based AI-focused startup accelerator.

AJ Shankar's startup Everlaw raises $25M in series B funding

Everlaw, a legal-tech startup founded by alumnus AJ Shankar (CS Ph.D. '09, advisor: Rastislav Bodik), has raised $25 million in a series B funding round.  Berkeley-based Everlaw was established in 2011 as a cloud-based e-discovery platform that lets lawyers easily organize and search through millions of documents, videos, emails, and pictures exchanged between legal teams before a trial.  Shankar, the company's CEO, said the money will be used to invest in AI which which they hope can be used to determine what documents will be a priority or what documents should be looked at next. The funding round was led by existing investors and Silicon Valley venture firm Andreeseen Horowitz.

Alessandro Chiesa named one of MIT TR's 35 Innovators Under 35

CS Assistant Prof. Alessandro Chiesa has been named to the 2018 roster of MIT Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35."  The list acknowledges "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Chiesa, who co-founded Zcash, was cited in the Pioneers category for "a cryptocurrency that’s as private as cash."  Zcash employs a cryptographic protocol called a succinct zero-knowledge proof--an efficient way to convince both parties to a transaction that something is true without divulging any other information. It allows people to do transactions online without risking their privacy or exposing themselves to identity theft.  Launched 4 years ago, Zcash now has a market cap of over a billion dollars.

John Schulman named MIT TR Pioneering Innovator Under 35

CS alumnus John Schulman (Ph.D. '16, adviser: Pieter Abbeel) has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2018 list of "35 Innovators Under 35," an honor which recognizes "exceptionally talented young innovators whose work we believe has the greatest potential to transform the world."  Schulman, whose dissertation was on "Optimizing Expectations: From Deep Reinforcement Learning to Stochastic Computation Graphs," is cited in the Pioneer category for "training AI to be smarter and better, one game of Sonic the Hedgehog at a time."   He is the co-founder of OpenAI, where he has created some key algorithms in reinforcement learning: he trains AI agents in the same way you might train a dog, by offering a treat for a correct response--in this case, by racking up a high score in a video game.  These algorithms, once trained, might be applied in the real world, where they can be used to improve robot locomotion.