The 10 Hottest Tech Startups Of 2021 (So Far)

From cloud and edge to networking and security, here are CRN’s picks for the top tech startups that solution providers should know about right now.

Startups To Watch

Even as economic uncertainty continues, up-and-coming startups in Silicon Valley and beyond are pushing as hard as ever to make their innovations a commercial reality. At CRN, we’ve been tracking the major developments at disruptive startups in segments from cloud and edge to security, networking and big data. Some of these tech companies have scored venture capital funding rounds in the first six months of 2021, while others have been making their mark by launching new products and announcing major customer traction. Among the startup innovators making our list are companies including semiconductor startup Ampere Computing, IoT security company Armis, cloud networking-as-a-service startup Alkira and edge computing startup EdgeQ.

In the following slides, CRN rounds up 10 of the hottest tech startups of 2021 so far.

For more of the biggest startups, products and news stories of 2021 so far, click here.


CEO: Amir Khan

Cloud networking-as-a-service startup Alkira emerged from stealth mode in 2020 with its consumption-based Cloud Services Exchange (CSX), a unified, on-demand offering that lets cloud architects and network engineers build and deploy a multi-cloud network in minutes. Since then, the company has announced a close collaboration with the Microsoft for Startups program, a select group of emerging businesses hand-picked by Microsoft for the benefits they offer to Microsoft Azure customers in their journey to the cloud. San Jose, Calif.-based Alkira is funded by Sequoia Capital, as well as Kleiner Perkins and GV. Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital jointly led Alkira’s Series A investment round in August, with GV investing in a follow-on round of financing totaling $30 million so far. The three-year-old startup is going to market primarily through channel partners, Alkira has told CRN.

Ampere Computing

CEO: Renee James

An up-and-coming player in the semiconductor space, Ampere Computing is taking on Intel and AMD in the data center with Arm-based CPUs it says can outperform competing processors. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup recently disclosed it has landed Tencent, Bytedance, Equinix, CloudFlare and uCLoud as customers in addition to previously disclosed engagements with Microsoft and Oracle. At the same time, the chipmaker is expanding its OEM coverage beyond Gigabyte and Wiwynn to Foxconn and Inspur Group. The company is also starting to design its own custom cores for processors, going beyond its original strategy of using core designs from Arm for its 80-core Altra and 128-core Altra Max CPUs. The company’s CPUs are now publicly available in public instances provided by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.


CEO: Yevgeny Dibrov

In the IoT space, Armis is building out its team to expand vertical coverage and securing new deal opportunities across the world for its agentless device security platform. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup in February announced that it had raised $125 million from investors, including Brookfield Technology Partners, the investment arm of Brookfield Asset Management, which will give the startup access to more than 100 Brookfield-owned businesses across the world. With a $2 billion valuation now, the startup says it plans to eventually go public.


CEO: Vinay Ravuri

Santa Clara, Calif.-based EdgeQ came out of stealth mode in November with what it’s calling the world’s first 5G Base Station-on-a-chip--with the goal of bringing AI to the edge of the network with 5G. EdgeQ offers its AI-5G SoC for building 5G private wireless networks for IoT and industrial use cases, while the semiconductor startup’s RISC-V-based chip can perform AI functions for edge computing applications and improve network capabilities. The startup is led by former Broadcom, Intel and Qualcomm executives including its CEO Vinay Ravuri who left Qualcomm as vice president of product management in 2018 to create EdgeQ.


CEO: Yadhu Gopalan

Founded in 2017, Esper is bringing together popular mobile OS Android with best-in-class features of enterprise device fleet management available via API, according to the company. Esper’s cloud-based platform lets developers move their app and device management from a portal-based approach into code. The company offers scalable APIs with SDKs, tools, and a specially designed Console for the entire application lifecycle, including development, testing, deployment, and management. Bellevue, Wash.-based Esper in May raised a $30 million Series B round, led by Scale Venture Partners.


CEO: Adam Pettit

Founded in 2018, Kandji offers an Apple device management solution that focuses on automating many of the time-consuming tasks involved with managing Apple devices, including Macs, iPhones and iPads. The company provides a library of more than 200 prebuilt automations that IT administrators can leverage—ranging from automations for security and compliance requirements to automations for mundane tasks such as renaming devices. Kandji says it now has customers across more than 40 different industries, with customers including Belkin, Netskope, Rackspace and Noom. In April, the San Diego-based startup announced a $60 million Series B funding round led by Felicis Ventures.

Nimble Robotics

CEO: Simon Kalouche

Nimble Robotics offers fleets of autonomous robots that provide assistance with fulfillment for e-commerce. Nimble says its robots can perform picking, packing and handling of products, using the company’s deep imitation learning technology. The ability to perform piece-picking—where items are picked off a shelf and packed into an order—distinguishes the company’s robots from other warehouse automation technologies, which mostly focus on transporting bins of products and still require human pickers, according to the company. Nimble Robotics counts “several Fortune 500 retailers” among its customers, and in March, the San Francisco-based startup announced a $50 million Series A funding round led by DNS Capital and GSR Ventures.

Orca Security

CEO: Avi Shua

Founded in 2019, Orca Security closed a $210 million Series C funding round in March led by CapitalG and Redpoint Ventures. The funding will go toward expanding Orca’s identity and access management capabilities and bolster its alerting around attacks already in progress. The startup is focused on having its product natively spot essential risks from vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and exposed data as well as identify overprivileged users and incorrectly assigned permissions. Orca Security additionally wants to move from its present focus on prevention to detecting attacks as they unfold by examining the risk around critical attack vectors.

Salt Security

CEO: Roey Eliyahu

Founded in 2016, API security provider Salt Security closed a $70 million Series C funding round in May to scale the company’s sales organization globally and enhance security earlier in the development lifecycle. The Palo Alto Calif.-based startup is using the proceeds to consolidate more spending around runtime protection, enhance training and enablement for channel partners, and deliver more to companies that are ready to extend their security strategy beyond production environments. The $70 million funding round was led by private equity firm Advent International.


CEO: Bill Cook

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yugabyte is the developer of YugabyteDB, a distributed relational database designed to handle huge amounts of data spanning multiple geographic regions and availability zones. The database supports global, business-critical applications – such as in cybersecurity and financial services – that require low query latency and extreme resilience against failures. Yugabyte’s founders, including President Kannan Muthukkaruppan, CTO Karthik Ranganathan and Software Architect Mikhail Bautin started Yugabyte in 2016 after developing business-critical database technology at Oracle and Facebook. In March, Yugabyte raised $48 million as part of a Series B round of funding, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.