San Francisco – based Samba TV, provider of smart TV applications have acquired Polish Filmaster. The company’s personalization, recommendation and analytics solutions for the entertainment industry will compliment Samba’s smart TV platform in such a way, among other functionalities, that viewers will be able to determine what content is trending with real-time analytics. Samba TV has already begun deploying Filmaster technology in its products and the acquisition now represents the company’s largest presence in the European market. Warsaw joins San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Tokyo, Taipei among the operational hubs for Samba TV. Warsaw will be Samba TV’s primary product development group for products focused on the European market. Borys Musielak, CEO and Founder of Filmmaster added, “When I heard Ashwin present at Bitspiration Festival in Poland, I knew right away that we shared the same vision. Exactly one year later, we’re excited to join Samba TV, participate in its rapid growth and contribute to its launch in Europe.”
Borys is well-known promotor of Polish tech ecosystem and has been running Warsaw-tech hub Reaktor for several years. The venue regularly hosts founders, entrepreneurs, investors, consultants for its Wednesday evening OpenReaktor networking events fuelled with pizza, beer and last but not least – 3 quality presentations.
Gdańsk and Mountain View based experts in online prototyping and wireframing will use the funding to grow the team. Currently the company employs 40 people across its Polish and US offices. The company was founded in 2010 when the team of former employees of Polish ecommerce service Nokaut decided to focus on developing collaborative online and mobile design tools.
Their first investor was Kraków based Innovation Nest who concentrate on scaling Polish startups through the US market and Silicon Valley in particular. Piotr Wilam, one of the founders of Innovation Nest, sits on UXPin’s board of directors.
True Ventures invests in early stage startups and has three funds with approximately $600 million in capital under management. “I’ve known the Founder and CEO, Marcin Treder, for a while now, and have watched as he built his team across two continents and 12 time zones using the very platform they were developing. UXPin has excellent tools for developing early mockups using the included extensive UI libraries, along with animation tools to help visualize interaction on desktop and mobile designs. Commenting and collaborating are intuitive, letting everyone on your team contribute—and there’s much more in the works.” – commented on True Ventures -led round A investment Jeff Veen, Design Partner in the fund.
Sotrender – Polish service provider of social media analytics – will get 1.6 mln PLN (ca. 400k EUR) investment for international expansion.
Jan Zając, company’s founder and CEO, and his team decided to partner with Inovo VC backed by Polish entrepreneurs Maciej Duda, Rafał Brzoska and the National Capital Fund. As Jan reports in a blog post, the capital raising was a long and difficult process. The team have met with about 100 VCs in Poland and abroad in the past 2 years. In the meantime Sotrender kept on growing. The company broke even, then reached positive cashflow and eventually posted 1 mln USD revenue.
Currently the growth strategy is focused on inbound marketing sales .
“Excellent sales result have increased the valuation of the company. In the meantime we have also validated our vision, growth strategy and understanding of markets where we want to take on competition. Honestly speaking, only in the recent months I have a feeling that we know what and how to continue. Does this mean we are not a startup anymore?”– Jan sums up in the announcement.
Prometheus – the new supercomputer to be installed by HP in Kraków AGH University of Science and Technology will be one of the thirty fastest supercomputers in the world and the twelfth in Europe. Consisting of 1 700 servers of the HP Apollo 8000 platform, linked by superfast Infiniband network with a bandwidth of 56 Gbit/s the computer will will boast just under 1.7 Pflops (Petaflops). The 10 mln EUR project announced in October last year is going forward and the latest news from AGH is that the machine will start working in April this year.
Before it starts Prometheus will need some water as it uses direct liquid cooling technology. The liquid-cooled design will enable achieving extremely high computing density, due to which the computing part weighing in excess of 30 tonnes will fit into fifteen rack cabinets, whereas in the case of traditional air cooling there would be at least twice as many.
The most powerful Polish supercomputer, just like Zeus, will support scientists from different fields, i.e. chemistry, physics, astrophysics, biology, energetics or nanotechnology, in performing their computations. It will also execute tasks for the purposes of large scale research projects with the participation of Cyfronet AGH, inter alia PLGrid (where Cyfronet is the project leader), CTA (astrophysics), LHC (high energy physics) and EPOS (geophysics). As
with Zeus, the computer resources of Prometheus will be at the scientists’ disposal free of charge. In 2013, 2500 registered users of Zeus carried out nearly eight million computing tasks thanks to it. With “conventional” computers these computations would take 11,000 years. Prometheus will contribute to increasing the computing potential with regard to both the number of performed tasks and their complexity by more than four times.
In a great interview with Gazeta Wyborcza Bohdan Oppenheim (world class specialist in Lean for Systems Engineering) gives a fantastic overview of the origin of SpaceX success. Back in the 60s the aerospace industry was booming in the US but gradually it caught so much bureaucratic fat that eventually became highly inefficient. Three corporations: Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman split major contracts among themselves and started to subcontract to smaller companies, who then subcontracted them further on. Monstrous supply chain made it impossible to implement changes, efficiency, innovation as they all required hectic paper trail and dynamic decision making. Eventually the situation resulted in the space shuttle Columbia disaster and closure of the space shuttle program. SpaceX does not subcontract. The company has only 3000 employees and only one production facility. SpaceX only buys metal sheets, wires, and chips. All the rest is built by its own engineers. And the engineering process is quite different to what is happening in large corporations. First of all, the lead engineers are not only responsible for design of particular components but also need to ensure that the component will fit in perfectly into the whole system. It all happens within a process of negotiations and working out a compromise that eventually to the best solution possible. “In SpaceX systems engineering is a the engineering of perfection”, says Oppenheim. Another advantage is that the development process from idea, through project, prototype, computer analysis and real-life tests is extremely short. In other companies it takes years. In SpaceX most components are 3D-printed and in some cases components are tested and ready within few days. “The whole engine of the spacecraft was 3D-printed in just one day” – explains Oppenheim. Moreover, SpaceX completely automated the process of space flight control. In the Dragon’s control room there are only several people compared to hundreds in NASA’s control facilities. One of the reasons for that is that the Dragon is completely autonomous on the orbit after rockets are disconnected, though it does require assistance in space station docking. Bohdan Oppenheim says that in order to build a similar company in Poland, a lot of support would be needed for young ambitious scientists and engineers. He’s already worked with Polish scientists and says that they are very talented. What else is needed is building competencies in systems engineering. Unfortunately none of the Polish universities have such a faculty. Certain elements of systems engineering are used in the Polish Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Professor Oppenheim is also working on cooperation in that area with the Warsaw Technical University and Military University of Technology. In our opinion, it is just not possible to build such a company as SpaceX in Poland. For a number of reasons. For a start, there is not enough capital and not enough engineers with required experience. However, Polish companies CAN play significant roles in certain niche segments of space exploration. We already have fantastic examples of Polish teams dominating recent University Rover Challenge – not one but 2 Polish teams on the podium!!! And it’s not the first time it has happened so there’s definitely huge amount of talent and drive among Polish technology universities’ students to build world-class vehicles that can explore Mars. It’s only one example of a niche, however important in space exploration, but still, a niche, where Polish engineers and scientists may thrive. There are several more examples like that (programming, graphene, etc.) that may become significant strengths for Polish technology, science and engineering sectors.
Image courtesy of SpaceX