Xconomy

Xconomy Report: Mobile Cashes In

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Thursday, June 7, 2012
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June 8, 2012
 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Mobile technology is in the air this week, as a trio of Boston-area startups have announced significant deals. Local companies SCVNGR and Cartera Commerce have raised $12 million each to expand their mobile payment and local rewards programs. Their bigger idea is to work with banks and merchants to help create the digital future of money. Meanwhile, Cambridge-based Crashlytics is acquiring FireTower App, another Boston firm, in an effort to own a big slice of software development for smartphones and tablets — in other words, to go after the whole software industry in the post-PC era.
 
In other innovation news…
 
Despite the recent doom and gloom in the U.S. solar industry, a Salem, N.H., startup called AmberWave has spun out of an old semiconductor maker to focus on developing more efficient solar cells.
 
PerkinElmer has announced the creation of a Personalized Health Innovation Center, which will add about 100 new jobs to the life sciences company’s Hopkinton facility.
 
And finally, our quote of the week comes from investor Fred Destin of Atlas Venture. He says the Boston tech ecosystem “suffers from not being open enough and not selling itself well.” Destin will be speaking at Xconomy’s fourth annual XSITEconference at Babson College on June 14, which is our own effort to open some doors in the innovation community.
 


 


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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: Counting on 'Big Data'

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, June 1, 2012
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June 1, 2012

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Can Massachusetts own the emerging field of “big data”? That’s a buzz phrase for systems that make sense of huge amounts of information generated in markets like telecom, retail and social media. This week, Gov. Deval Patrick announced a new initiative that includes forming a big-data industry consortium, creating a matching-grant program for universities and supporting a tech-community space called HackReduce in Cambridge. Intel is also committing $12.5 million to support big-data research at MIT. This could all help revitalize the state’s tech economy — as long as big data doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own hype.

In other innovation news …

Vertex Pharmaceuticals revealed it had mistakenly overstated the benefit of an experimental treatment for cystic fibrosis when reporting on a clinical trial in early May. Vertex stock took a 21 percent tumble on the news but has since made up some of that ground.

Our deal of the week goes to GreenBytes, a data storage company in R.I. that raised $12 million in a round led by Al Gore’s venture firm, Generation Investment Management.

And finally, the startup accelerator MassChallenge has named 125 finalists for its third annual program in Boston, choosing from more than 1,200 applicants. It remains to be seen how many of the eventual winners will end up working on … big data.



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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: Full 'Metal' Funding

By Gregory T. Huang & Erin Kutz   |   Friday, May 25, 2012
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May 25, 2012

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — What’s catching Bill Gates’ attention these days? Liquid Metal Battery, a local startup spun out of MIT. Its technology could help the grid make better use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar and bring electricity to parts of the world that don’t have it, according to CEO Phil Giudice. The startup announced this week that it raised $15 million in new funding from Gates, the energy company Total and Khosla Ventures — a West Coast firm that Giudice says focuses on “clean tech with massive impact.”
 
In other innovation news…
 
It’s the end of an era for a Boston wireless-networking firm that started in 2001. Ember is being acquired by Texas-based Silicon Laboratories for $72 million, but will continue working in the energy and security markets.
 
Cambridge-based Recorded Future raised $12 million in venture funding to help organizations make decisions based on the Web. The company’s software tries to predict everything from the stock market to civil unrest.
 
And last week we told you about Thomas Massie, the MIT entrepreneur running for Congress. Well, he won the Republican primary in Kentucky this week, which means he’s a heavy favorite to make it to Capitol Hill. We’ll be watching to see if other techies follow his lead.
 



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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: From Technology to the Tea Party

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, May 18, 2012
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May 18, 2012

thomas massie
Technologist-turned-politician Thomas Massie. (Gene Linzy)

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Boston-area whiz kid starts a tech company and then moves West to seek fame and fortune. No, I’m not talking about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s monumental IPO. I’m talking about Thomas Massie, an MIT grad who founded SensAble Technologies in the 1990s. SensAble was recently acquired, but Massie has gone on to become a Tea Party political hero in his home state of Kentucky. He’s now running for Congress and is the favorite to win the Republican nomination in next week’s primary. Massie credits former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, a fellow MIT grad, for inspiring him to get into politics as an engineer.
 
In other innovation news …
 
Biotech firm Promedior, a maker of treatments for tissue damage known as fibrosis, is moving its headquarters from Pennsylvania to Boston and has hired a veteran of the Irish drug giant Shire as its new CEO.
 
MIT has elected provost L. Rafael Reif as its 17th president. The university also named Web startup CloudTop the winner of its $100K business plan competition and got a nice nod from U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. At the finale event, Park said the U.S. government was taking a play from MIT’s book by holding its own entrepreneurship competitions. If so, they might want to look out for a certain MIT grad from Kentucky, if he ends up making it to Washington, D.C.

 



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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: You Don't Have to 'Like' Him

By Gregory T. Huang, Editor, Xconomy Boston   |   Friday, May 11, 2012
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May 11, 2012

Facebook unlike

 
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — If you’re sick of hearing about Facebook’s IPO and Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie, you’ll be glad to know the social network has some stiff competition in emerging areas. One of them is social commerce. A number of Boston-area companies, including CustomMade, Daily Grommet and Krush, are trying to give consumers new ways to shop for, discover and even create new products online. They’re not Facebook competitors yet, but their progress suggests the social-networking giant will face big challenges as it looks for new revenue streams.
 
In other innovation news…
 
Shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals hit a 52-week high after the Cambridge-based biotech indicated its cystic fibrosis treatment could benefit many more patients when combined with another experimental drug.  
 
Speaking of drugs, Eleven Biotherapeutics and mobile advertising startup SessionM have more in common than you might think. Each company has just raised $20 million in venture funding this week.
 
And finally, what do you call startup founders who did exactly what they set out to do? Liars, says Len Schlesinger, the president of Babson College and co-author of a new book called "Just Start." Schlesinger said if entrepreneurs told their company stories the way they actually happened, it would lead to “less hero worship.” And maybe, just maybe, less hoodie-wearing, too.


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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: 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.

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