Twilio buys two-factor authentication shop to boost security

Twilio, the cloud-based communication service provider that lets developers craft messaging applications, is buying security startup Authy for an undisclosed price. As part of the deal, announced Tuesday, Authy’s entire twelve-person team will move over to Twilio.

Authy focusses on two-factor authentication, which adds a second step to the password verification process commonly used to log into online accounts. In addition to filling out a password to access a sensitive website or application, a user might receive a ping via his or her phone that contains an extra code that acts as a secondary password.

The Authy team developed an API that, in theory, makes it easier for developers to build two-factor authentication into their applications, explained Authy president and COO Marc Boroditsky in an interview. Using the API provided by Authy — which scored a $2.3 million seed funding round in September –a development team can basically embed its application with two-factor authentication technology.

Authy founder Daniel Palacio

Authy founder Daniel Palacio

“The Authy API gives an answer as to where the code is valid,” said Boroditsky in reference to how the API verifies the correct password sent to a user’s mobile device.

Now that Authy is part of the Twilio team, Twilio will be working on “incorporating the Authy APIs into the Twilio APIs,” and developers with Twilio accounts should now be able to use the Auhty API as well when they are building their messaging applications, said Twilio co founder and CEO Jeff Lawson.

Authy will keep its name for the two-factor identification product, and Authy users will now get access to Twilio’s platform, said Boroditsky.

For Authy, the small startup gets access to Twilio’s developer base, which Twilio said now has over 500,000 coders, while Twilio gets a security feature that companies are interested in due to data breaches that have plagued organizations in the past few years.

With Authy’s founder Daniel Palacio hailing from South America, Twillio also gets a new office in Bogota, Columbia. Columbia is a apparently a good place to scout for development talent at “reasonable prices,” said Boroditsky.

Konekt gets $1.3M to create a Twilio for cellular connectivity

The cellular industry has been plugging the internet of things for years under the “machine to machine” moniker, but it never caught on until smartphones, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, and cheaper sensors finally made the technology more accessible for makers and mainstream consumers. Yes, you can find M2M applications in industrial settings where high-dollar goods are monitored but, for the most part, the bulky expensive cellular modules and pricey data plans made the telco’s vision of the internet of things a non-starter.

That’s a shame, because there are some applications where a cellular connection is the best option. Maybe it’s for a backup connection in the home gateway if your wireline internet goes out, or for a tracking device that needs a range far beyond your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios. Which is why I’m interested in the news Thursday that Konekt, a Chicago-based startup founded in 2013, has raised $1.3 million. The company offers what could be an essential service for startups trying to add cellular connectivity to their devices — a universal SIM card and cloud that lets you manage those connections.

I think of it like a Twilio for the cellular world that lets anyone buy access to 2G or 3G networks for a rate that Konekt CEO Ben Forgan called “competitive.” Forgan said the company has a deal with Vodafone and a few smaller carriers that provides the SIM cards and the connectivity, which Konekt resells. But Konekt isn’t just a reseller, it has built a cloud service with a web portal and APIs that let a customer build the SIM into his or her product, and then manage the connection via the APIs and cloud.

That’s a level of service that the telcos or other M2M services providers such as Kore or Raco Wireless often would provider to smaller companies without a lot of complicated negotiations and minimum orders. Konekt will serve customers that want to build 20 devices or provision 2,000. Already Forgan said he has over 200 customers, but he can’t disclose them. Based on the contract with Voadafone, customers of Konekt would find their devices surfing the AT&T and T-Mobile networks in the United States.

I’ve seen a few startups attempt to do this in the past, and it was often the carriers and their onerous terms that held them back, so I’m hopeful that now is finally the right time for smaller companies to have agile access to cellular connectivity in a way that lets them build and prototype devices —  even if they may never grow to be huge businesses. If not, I expect that as the internet of things grows, the amount of cellular connectivity used to connect devices may not grow as quickly as it could have.

Konekt’s investors include NextView Ventures; Mucker Capital; Tyler Willis Syndicate including Maiden Lane; and several former Groupon executives.

SendGrid adds Parse, Stackmob, Azure integrations

SendGrid is inching towards ubiquity with new integrations to Parse, Stackmob and Windows Azure mobile backend services. SendGrid is popular with developers who want easy email integration for their mobile apps and who don’t want to rely too much on Amazon services.

Twilio turns on global SMS service

Twilio, a cloud communication platform, is finally offering its most requested feature: global SMS support. Now, developers will be able to enable their apps and services to send and receive SMS text messages from the U.S. and Canada to more than 150 countries around the world.

Bed Battles wants to make waking up … social?

The early bird catches the worm – and then posts about it on Facebook: Bed Battles is a new web app hack that aims to gamify getting out of bed. Are you ready to challenge your friends to get up on time?

A preacher, 500 startups, and a dream to change it all

What Billy Beane is to baseball, Dave McClure wants to be technology startups. And like Beane, he is willing to go anywhere in the world to find a slight edge to beat his richer, bigger and fancier rivals on Sand Hill Road.