5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

For the week ending Jan. 5, CRN takes a look at the companies that brought their ‘A’ game to the channel including SentinelOne, Intel, Hatz AI, Aqua Security and Microsoft.

The Week Ending Jan. 5

Topping this week’s Came to Win list is a trifecta of cybersecurity companies, led by SentinelOne, that announced strategic acquisitions that will expand their technology portfolios and ramp up their competitive stance in the heated security space.

Also making this week’s list are Intel for a savvy hire that builds the company’s executive talent around AI, startup Hatz AI for its efforts to develop a platform that will help MSPs build an AI-as-a-Service business, Aqua Security for an impressive funding round, and Microsoft for making AI a bit more accessible with a new AI Copilot key on PC keyboards.

SentinelOne’s PingSafe Purchase Leads Trifecta Of Strategic Acquisitions In The Cybersecurity Space

Three leading companies in the cybersecurity arena lead off this week’s Came to Win list for striking acquisition deals that will help each expand their technology portfolio and strengthen their competitive positions.

Cybersecurity all-star SentinelOne struck a deal to acquire application protection specialist PingSafe, a move that will help SentinelOne become a cloud security market leader by adding PingSafe’s technology to the SentinelOne Singularity Platform. The acquisition will combine PingSafe’s CNAPP (cloud-native application protection platform) technology with SentinelOne’s cloud workload security and cloud data protection capabilities.

SonicWall, meanwhile, has acquired Banyan Security, a security service edge (SSE) vendor that is focused on enabling adoption of a zero trust security posture. The deal will allow SonicWall to bring such technologies as ZTNA (zero trust network access) into its technology portfolio and ultimately helping the company to expand its offerings in SASE (secure access service edge).

Completing the acquisition trifecta is Mimecast, which this week acquired Elevate Security, a startup developer of technology used to identify and secure risky users. The Elevate technology will be integrated with Mimecast’s security awareness training platform.

Intel Hire Of Hotard Is Seen As Major Win In AI Talent Battle

Intel has hired Hewlett Packard Enterprise executive Justin Hotard to lead its Data Center and AI Group in a move that solution providers are saying is a big win for Intel in what is shaping up to be a fierce battle for AI talent.

This week Intel disclosed that it had hired Hotard, a nine-year HPE veteran who most recently headed up that company’s high-performance computing and AI business. Hotard will become executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Data Center and AI Group effective Feb. 1.

AI has become a major front in the battle amongst leading IT companies. Intel is battling rivals Nvidia and AMD in the AI and server processor arena, as well as against Arm-based server processors from Ampere Computing, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

“This is a huge coup for Intel,” C.R. Howdyshell, CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company, told CRN. “There is a talent war for executives and technologists that have AI experience and vision for the future. It’s a challenge to get AI talent, which is why you are going to see acquisitions of AI companies.”

Startup Hatz AI Launches To Help MSPs Build An AI-As-A-Service Business

Hatz AI officially launched this week and is developing a platform – due in March – that the startup says will enable MSPs to build an AI-as-a-Service business with AI applications and agents, vector storage and custom large language models.

As they do with IT in general, small businesses are turning to their managed service providers as they look for help in leveraging AI to improve their productivity. But Hatz co-founder and CEO Jimmy Hatzell told CRN that there is a gap in the AI tools and expertise that MSPs can take to their customers.

MSPs that partner with Hatz AI will get a system of engagement – a set of applications MSPs can use to sell and manage for their end customers. The first two applications being released are an AI chat assistant and an AI application builder that MSPs can use to build custom applications for end customers.

Hatz AI will also provide MSPs with a system of record that will have custom LLMs and vector storage, all managed through the Hatz AI platform.

The platform will be powered by an LLM operation called Mido and include multi-tenant management through an MSP administration dashboard. MSPs will be able to integrate AI into their product offerings by building specialized AI applications and workflows for their customers and offer organizationally managed AI assistants.

Aqua Security Raises $30M In Funding, Surpasses $1B Valuation

Cloud native security provider Aqua Security this week said it had raised $60 million in an extension of its Series E round, bringing the company’s total funding since its 2015 founding to $325 million.

The new funding places Aqua’s valuation above $1 billion, the company said.

The latest funding round was led by new investor Evolution Equity Partners with participation from existing investors Insight Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and StepStone Group.

Aqua Security said that in 2023 in realized a 65 percent increase in new business and now has more than 500 enterprise company customers worldwide.

Microsoft’s New Copilot Key For Windows Will Launch AI Chatbot

In a move to make AI more accessible to everyday users, Microsoft this week said it is adding a new key to Microsoft keyboards on new Windows 11 PCs that will provide instant access to its AI-powered Copilot chatbot.

The move marks the biggest change in keyboard design in nearly 30 years, according to the company.

Starting in February, many new laptops and personal PCs that run on the Windows 11 operating system will have a ‘Copilot key.’ The Microsoft Copilot key will join the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in a user’s daily life, Microsoft said.

Over the past year Microsoft has added its AI-powered Copilot chatbot into Microsoft 365, Bing and other flagship products. Microsoft has also invested billions of dollars in generative AI startup OpenAI and in enhancing its strategic partnerships with AI market leaders – part of the heated competition among Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google for leadership in the AI space.