By Mike Rogoway

The Oregonian

Intel-backed startup raises $8.75M

Beaverton startup Eclypsium reported $8.75 million in funding Tuesday to help the company develop technology to protect the built-in software that runs computers and other electronics.

Seattle investment firm Madrona Venture Group led Tuesday’s round, backed by prior Eclypsium investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ubiquity Ventures and Intel Capital, the chipmaker’s investment arm.

Eclypsium’s technology works to protect the computer firmware, the elemental software that controls a machine’s basic functions. The Beaverton company said its research suggests firmware is a neglected element of computer security, with many devices running outdated software vulnerable to attack.

Co-founders Yuriy Bulygin and Alex Bazhaniuk worked as security researchers at Intel before starting Eclypsium last year. They said they will use Tuesday’s funding to hire across the company.

Eclypsium has 25 employees, split between its headquarters in Beaverton and an office in Argentina. The company said it expects to employ 40 by the end of next year. Eclypsium had previously reported $2.3 million in backing.

— From wire reports

Investigators remain “befuddled” over a pair of hazardous materials scares that prompted Intel to evacuate part of its Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro and sent 21 people to local hospitals.

Intel closed down a 400,000-square-foot manufacturing support building Monday due to a second health scare in just four days, and the facility remained closed Tuesday. The company said workers reported “respiratory irritation” and “minor breathing difficulty.”

Emergency responders treated at least three dozen people in Monday’s incident, only six of whom went to the hospital. None were reported to have experienced serious health problems, and Washington County officials have said there is no indication of any hazardous material exposure outside the building.

Intel said it doesn’t expect the incident or the closure will have a material impact on its Oregon production.

The company said it continues to investigate.

Nathan Leek, division chief with the Hillsboro Fire Department, said neither his experts nor Intel’s have been able to determine what caused the workers’ symptoms.

“What we are being told is they have detected nothing that has shown up on their detectors as a concern,” Leek said. “They were a little befuddled as what could have caused this irritant.”

Though semiconductor production takes place in “clean rooms,” scrupulously maintained to avoid even microscopic contamination, the manufacturing process involves heavy equipment and many hazardous chemicals.

There have been several serious incidents during the four decades that the semiconductor industry has manufactured chips in the Portland area. Last year, a man working for an Intel contractor was crushed by a production tool inside a factory at Ronler Acres.

Tracing atmospheric issues like those responsible for the recent Intel incidents can be very difficult, according to Leek.

“Sometimes we find ourselves unable to determine what the cause is but that’s usually after some pretty exhaustive searching,” he said. For example, Leek said investigators tracking a mysterious odor at Intel a couple years ago searched for a long period before ultimately tracing it to a contractor.

It’s possible the source of the recent Intel incidents may forever remain mysterious.

“Sometimes we don’t have the cause and we just have to put safety measures and continuous monitoring in place,” Leek said.

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