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India sends warning to Twitter over lifting block on accounts and noncompliance of order

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India has issued a notice to Twitter, warning the American social firm to comply with New Delhi’s order to block accounts and content related to a protest by farmers and not “assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance.” Failure to comply may prompt penal action against Twitter, the notice warns.

The warning comes days after Twitter blocked dozens of high-profile accounts in India to comply with New Delhi’s request, but later lifted the restriction.

Twitter “cannot assume the role of a court and justify non-compliance. Twitter being an intermediary is obliged to obey the directions as per satisfaction of authorities as to which inflammatory content will arouse passion and impact public order. Twitter cannot sit as an appellate authority over the satisfaction of the authorities about its potential impact on derailing public order,” the notice, a copy of which was seen by TechCrunch, said.

India’s IT ministry expressed concerns over what it deemed derogatory and factually incorrect tweets and hashtags that have been circulating in India this week that it said were designed to spread hate. “It is thus clear that, the offending tweets/ hashtag remained in public domain and must have been tweeted and re-tweeted several times at the risk and cost of public order and at the risk of incitement to the commission of offences,” the letter said.

Twitter did not immediately respond to request for comment.

For more than three months, tens of thousands of farmers (if not more) in India and elsewhere have been protesting against three laws passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that they say allow greater private sector competition.

Raman Chima, a senior international counsel and Asia Pacific Policy director at Access Now, a non-profit internet advocacy organization, said in a series of tweets that instead of threatening social media platforms, India’s IT ministry “needs to explain why blocking entire handles & seeking the banning of hashtags does not violate the Indian Constitution.” He said the ministry has neither been transparent nor respected the rights.

“You can choose to disagree, correct, ridicule, or engage with such fears, outcry. Seeking to ban & precensor such discussions is a travesty of India’s Constitution + international human rights law. This is not what 21st Century India should permit, nor what our founders envisaged. The Ministry of Electronics and IT should release its actual orders and all documentation behind the Govt’s decisions to – (1) issue these orders and (2) press the matter with Twitter and other social media platforms. Don’t hide; explain & justify how this is not unconstitutional.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more information…

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Making sense of the $6.5B Okta-Auth0 deal

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When Okta announced that it was acquiring Auth0 yesterday for $6.5 billion, the deal raised eyebrows. After all, it’s a substantial amount of money for one identity and access management (IAM) company to pay to buy another, similar entity. But the deal ultimately brings together two companies that come at identity from different sides of the market — and as such could be the beginning of a beautiful identity friendship.

The deal ultimately brings together two companies that come at identity from different sides of the market — and as such could be the beginning of a beautiful identity friendship.

On a simple level, Okta delivers identity and access management (IAM) to companies who use the service to provide single-sign-on access for employees to a variety of cloud services — think Gmail, Salesforce, Slack and Workday.

Meanwhile, Auth0 is a developer tool providing coders with easy API access to single-sign-on functionality. With just a couple of lines of code, the developer can deliver IAM tooling without having to build it themselves. It’s a similar value proposition to what Twilio offers for communications or Stripe for payments.

The thing about IAM is that it’s not exciting, but it is essential. That could explain why such a large number of dollars are exchanging hands. As Auth0 co-founder and CEO Eugenio Pace told TechCrunch’s Zack Whittacker in 2019, “Nobody cares about authentication, but everybody needs it.”

Putting the two companies together generates a fairly comprehensive approach to IAM covering back end to front end. We’re going to look at why this deal matters from an identity market perspective, and if it was worth the substantial price Okta paid to get Auth0.

Halt! Who goes there?

When you think about identity and access management, it’s about making sure you are who you say you are, and that you have the right to enter and access a set of applications. That’s why it’s a key part of any company’s security strategy.

Gartner found that IAM was a $12 billion business last year with projected growth to over $13.5 billion in 2021. To give you a sense of where Okta and Auth0 fit, Okta just closed FY2021 with over $800 million in revenue. Meanwhile Auth0 is projected to close this year with $200 million in annual recurring revenue.

Identity and access management market numbers from Gartner.

Image Credits: Gartner

Among the top players in this market according to Gartner’s November 2020 Magic Quadrant market analysis are Ping Identity, Microsoft and Okta in that order. Meanwhile Gartner listed Auth0 as a key challenger in their market grid.

Michael Kelly, a Gartner analyst, told TechCrunch that Okta and Auth0 are both gaining something from the deal.

“For Okta, while they have a very good product, they have marketing muscle and adoption rates that are not available to smaller vendors like Auth0. When having [IAM] conversations with clients, Okta is almost always on the short list. Auth0 will immediately benefit from being associated with the larger Okta brand, and Okta will likewise now have credibility in the deals that involve a heavy developer focused buyer,” Kelly told me.

Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon said he was enthusiastic about the deal precisely because of the complementary nature of the two companies’ approaches to identity. “How a developer interacts with the service, and the flexibility they need is different from how the CIO wants to work with [identity]. So by giving customers this choice and support, it’s really compelling,” McKinnon explained.

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Data is the world’s most valuable (and vulnerable) resource

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There’s no overstating it: 2020 was a hell of a year. When future generations learn about 2020, the pandemic, social tension and political unrest will take up most of the oxygen. But for those learning about the history of cybersecurity, 2020 and a midsize company from Austin, Texas — SolarWinds — will take center stage.

Malicious code in one update of a trusted software provider was the Trojan horse that enabled access to petabytes of private data across 18,000 organizations, including Fortune 500s and government entities.

Every business leader must acknowledge what many in cybersecurity have been saying — cyber strategy is company strategy.

Why will SolarWinds be so generationally important, and why am I talking about it? Because the large (and growing) impact of the hack and the substantial (and mounting) losses mean that every business leader must acknowledge what many in cybersecurity have been saying — cyber strategy is company strategy. It is not an audit, but an important part of C-suite strategies and best practices ranging from employee onboarding to mundane everyday coding.

I believe generational startups will be created from this reckoning with cybersecurity, just as they’ve been created coming out of market disruptions in the past. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but it is more clear than ever that we will see cyber go on a tear this next decade.

Forecasts suggest $100 billion of new market value by 2025 alone, putting total market size at close to $280 billion, but I think this figure is conservative. Cyber is — and will be — a massive business.

One key driver of growth in the cyber market is really easy to understand, but really hard to solve for: data. Cyber is often a second-order value proposition, after speed of development, managing IT assets or data. We’re familiar with the idea that “data is the new oil.” Since that phrase was coined by mathematician Clive Humby 15 years ago, the total amount of data in the world has increased 74x.

By 2025, IDC forecasts the data universe will consist of 175 zettabytes. In case you don’t know, one zettabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes. If you were to download 175 zettabytes of data on your computer, it would take you 1.8 billion years. Mind-boggling!

And it only increases exponentially from here. From likes, posts, profile views, follows and RTs for end consumers to time on site, conversion rate and bounce rate for websites to events, errors and anomaly tracking in IoT — all of this data is logged and tracked. We’ve seen billion-dollar companies built, taken public and acquired that ingest and visualize all of the data we capture.

The next generation of API startups is valuable proportionally to their ability to “talk” with apps in the ecosystem by sharing and ingesting data.

Image Credits: Upfront Ventures

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Asynchronous video startup Weet just launched to cement bonds, and know-how, within companies

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For founder Najette Fellache, coming to the Bay Area a few years ago from Nantes, France was a way to grow a company she’d founded and which was already was beginning to count major U.S. corporations like GE, Tesla, Amazon, and Medtronics as customers.

What that six-year-old outfit, Speach, sells is essentially knowledge sharing between colleagues via videos produced by the employees themselves, often to augment written instructions. The idea is to maximize learning, fast, and investors liked it enough to provide Speach with $14 million in funding.

But while the technology has only become more relevant in a world shut down by COVID-19, an internal project within the company began to interest Fellache even more after her children abruptly began attending school remotely from home. As she tells it, her aha moment came in the form of a drawing from her youngest son, who struggled to understand why his mother’s meetings kept taking precedent over him.

Like many parents trying to figure out how to balance work and family over the last year, Fellache wasn’t immediately sure of how to parent around the clock while also leading a company. Unlike a lot of parents, she had access to engineers who could put create a technology that enabled her, along with other members of Speach’s team, to create short videos that could quickly communicate important information and be viewed at the recipient’s convenience — as well as saved for future reference.

In fact, as sometimes happens with internal projects, the technology worked so well for Speach that it has since taken on a life of its own. Indeed, using a bit of that earlier funding from Speach — its backers are Alven and Red River West, a fund co-managed by Artémis, the investment company of the Pinault family — Fellache and a team of 10 employees this week launched Weet, a new asynchronous video startup.

It’s entering into a crowded field. Fellache is hardly alone in recognizing the power of asynchronous meetings as an attractive alternative to phone calls, real-time meetings, and even email, where tone is often lost and content can be misconstrued. Loom, for example, a six-year-old enterprise collaboration video messaging service that enables users to send short clips of themselves, has already raised at least $73 million from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Coatue.

Another, newer entrant is SuperNormal, a year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based work communication platform that employs video and screen recording tools to help teams create and send asynchronous video updates throughout the day and which raised $2 million in seed funding led by EQT Ventures in December.

Still, if you believe that the future of work is remote, it’s clear that the opportunity here is a big one. Further, Weet —  which is accessible for free via a browser extension and whose integrations with both Slack and Microsoft Teams are scheduled to go live next month — is fast becoming a better product than some of what’s available in the market already, says Fellache.

Weet already features instant recording, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, video filters, emoji reactions, commenting options, and auto transcription. For a premium paid version in the works, it is also developing features that will not make past exchanges easier to sift through but that can organize discussions for users.

Imagine, for example, a salesperson looking for communications about a potential client and wanting notes from those auto-transcriptions that are presented together in one email to him or her.

As for privacy, Fellache points to the data management expertise that Speach has developed over time working with clients like Airbus and Colgate-Palmolive that are acutely mindful of privacy. Weet — which Fellache says is already being used by units inside of Colgate-Palmolive — employs the same standards and practices.

Weet is seemingly taking a different approach on the marketing front, too. At least, Fellache says while some rivals enable users to publish one video at a time, Weet is a more conversational tool, where teammates and contacts can create sections of the same video for a back-and-forth, which enables not only the exchange of more critical information but can invite more interaction and, presumably, strengthen team relationships in the process.

As Fellache stresses, because there is nothing to download with Weet — there is no software or plugin to install — it can be used for both work and play within the enterprise. That’s important. As she has seen firsthand, in a world where teams are increasingly scattered around the globe, that kind of open communication is more central than ever to a company’s — and its employees’ — success.

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