Xconomy

Xconomy Report: E Pioneers!

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, May 4, 2012
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May 4, 2012


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — If you think there’s a bubble in higher education, well, it just might burst in Boston. Harvard and MIT have started a $60 million project, called edX, to offer free courses online and to study how students learn on the Web. It’s one of several big efforts around the country aimed at lowering barriers to top-tier education. And it fits with Boston’s growing ed-tech cluster, which includes companies like Alleyoop, Boundless Learning and TenMarks. Time will tell whether the Web causes radical changes in universities; but tuition costs aren’t going down anytime soon.

In other innovation news...

Jennifer Chayes, the managing director of Microsoft Research New England, will also lead the company’s newest lab in New York. Three former Yahoo scientists are founding researchers at the new lab, and will study the intersection of computer science and social science.

Our deal of the week goes to Hologic, a Bedford-based women’s health company that’s acquiring San Diego’s Gen-Probe for $3.7 billion.

And finally, all eyes are on Silicon Valley as the tech world prepares for Facebook’s IPO. But Boston-area investor Bill Warner, talking about the significance of the local innovation community, says our nation’s first social network was launched on the East Coast and now has 300 million users. That network was created by the U.S. Constitution.


 


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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: Fly the Googley Skies

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, April 27, 2012
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April 27, 2012

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — It’s been one year since Google completed its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software. The Cambridge tech company is widely seen as crucial to Google’s strategy in online travel. But from talking to the search giant and its competitors, it now appears that Google’s business is less about helping you find cheap airfares online, and more about managing the travel experience from end to end — while serving up personalized ads and content. Google and ITA are building a new campus in Kendall Square that should be finished next year.
 
In other innovation news, a report by the National Venture Capital Association shows that in the first quarter of this year, seed-stage investing had its worst showing since 2005.
 
There’s still hope for young companies, though. Local energy efficiency startup CoolChip Technologies nabbed a $500,000 seed investment from Founders Fund, a San Francisco firm cofounded by Peter Thiel. CoolChip CEO William Sanchez first met the prominent Facebook investor through a salsa dancing connection.  
 
And finally, in a talk at the MIT Media Lab, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman argued that the explosion we’re seeing in social technologies is just beginning — and that their ultimate purpose is to help us be better humans. When I ran into him on the street, though, Hoffman was furiously trying to keep up with messages on two smartphones.



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: (Re)generating Excitement

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, April 20, 2012
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April 20, 2012

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A couple of Cambridge companies are gaining ground with their regenerative medicine technology, which uses living cells and other natural materials to promote healing. InVivo Therapeutics says it will soon get the FDA go-ahead to start human trials of its implant for healing spinal cord injuries. Meanwhile, Pervasis Therapeutics, whose technology might help dialysis patients better withstand their treatment, is being acquired by the Irish pharmaceutical giant Shire. Both companies come out of the lab of MIT professor and prolific inventor Robert Langer.
 
In deals news, the venture capital numbers are in from the first quarter of 2012 and Bay State startups continue to outdo their rivals down the coast. In the last three months, VCs invested $650 million in 76 Massachusetts companies compared to just $333 million in 81 companies in New York state. Both states still trail California in VC investment, however.
 
And finally, what’s with all these companies looking to be Facebook killers? The social network is looking a bit vulnerable ahead of its rumored IPO next month. One local startup getting in on the action is Cambridge-based PowerInbox, which is trying to turn email into an interactive platform where you can access social media. Now if it could just get all of our inboxes down to a manageable size. …
 



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: Mobile Is Moving

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, April 13, 2012
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April 13, 2012


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — While most of the tech world is talking about Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram, a couple of local startups in mobile and social apps are making some noise of their own. Boston-based AisleBuyer, a maker of mobile commerce apps, is being acquired by California giant Intuit, for a rumored price of around $100 million. And Charlestown-based Springpad has released a new version of its smart notebook app. The software lets you share and discover things like books, movies, and restaurants with your friends. It’s all part of a wave of companies trying to build more useful ways to navigate the Web — and the real world.
 
In other innovation news…
 
Cambridge-based Flagship Ventures and the Merck Research Ventures Fund formed a new partnership to bankroll startups that are developing drugs for unmet medical needs. 
 
Our deal of the week goes to Waltham-based Harvest Power, which raised $110 million in venture funding for its technology that converts organic waste to energy.
 
And in our “distinguished visitor” category, Web startup GrabCAD hosted Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the president of Estonia, at its new Cambridge office this week. GrabCAD has operations both here and in its native Estonia; to stay connected, the teams use another Estonian-born service called Skype.



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: Remembering Norman Priebatsch

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, April 6, 2012
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April 6, 2012

norman priebatsch

Entrepreneur Norman Priebatsch, shown here with his two children, was remembered at an April 5 service. (Facebook)

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A local tech startup is drawing the attention of some big educational publishers — and not necessarily in a good way. Boston-based Boundless Learning is being sued in U.S. District Court by Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and Macmillan, over alleged copyright infringement. Boundless makes a software platform designed to let college students access free online course materials. The young startup has just raised an $8 million venture round and is looking to disrupt the entrenched textbook industry, but it’s now clear that publishers are not going down without a fight.
 
In other innovation news...
 
Local video-game companies such as The Tap Lab, Harmonix and Fire Hose Games will be showing off their wares this weekend at PAX East, the big gamer expo that’s in Boston for its third year. 
 
Our deal of the week is a $37 million funding round raised by OvaScience, a biotech startup using stem-cell science to treat infertility.
 
And on a sad note, Boston-area life sciences entrepreneur Norman Priebatsch is missing and presumed dead after an April 1 hiking accident on Mount Washington. Priebatsch leaves behind a wife, Suzanne; his son, Seth, who runs Boston tech startup SCVNGR and his daughter, Daniella, who works at Google. He was 67.



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The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report: Share and Share Un-Alike

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, March 30, 2012
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March 30, 2012

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — What’s so different about Kibits, the new social networking tool on the block? A focus on privacy, for one. Founded by Matt Cutler and Dave Greenstein, veterans of the Cambridge Web analytics company NetGenesis, Kibits makes a mobile app that lets users create private groups and share messages, documents and other media. Consumers control exactly what information gets shared with whom — so Kibits can be used to connect with friends, family and coworkers alike. It’s part of a new generation of smarter social consumer tech coming out of Boston firms like Springpad, HeyWire and FitnessKeeper.  

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