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A former Google engineer lands $20 million for his internet-of-things startup

Samsung is the lead investor in Afero, led by Danger co-founder Joe Britt.

Afero's secure radio chip
Afero is licensing its secure radio chip to Japan's Murata to manufacture.

Joe Britt, who worked with Andy Rubin at Danger and Google, has landed $20 million to fund Afero, his internet-of-things startup.

The Los Altos, Calif.-based outfit, which has been in business for about two years, is one of many companies arguing it has the right approach for connecting all manner of home and commercial devices.

"A lot of wheels have been reinvented," acknowledges Britt, who worked for a time at Google trying to put Android on various home electronics. He also worked at Apple in the early 1990s and was the first employee at WebTV.

As for what makes his reinvented wheel any better than the others rolling around Silicon Valley, Britt says that Afero's approach has a couple of advantages, including security. For example, Britt said hackers are able to tell what devices are on a network by noticing how often they are sending information packets and for how long.

Afero, he said, automatically adds a little bit of time to its transmissions to make it harder to guess what's inside the encrypted packets.

The system is also designed to allow all of the devices to be managed via the cloud and mobile devices, with Afero-compatible devices having the option to use what Afero has built or customize their own options.

"As a developer, you can choose how little or much you customize each piece," Britt said.

To connect to other devices, Afero has designed a secure radio chip that can add intelligence to existing devices or be built into new products. The company has licensed its design to Japan's Murata, which will manufacture the chip.

The new funding, Britt said, will let Afero move beyond beta testing its approach, which has been in development since 2014. The funding round is being led by the Samsung Catalyst Fund, with other investors including Fenox Venture Capital, Presidio Ventures, Sanshin Electronics and Assembly Partners.

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