Boston Roundup: Gov. Patrick, Benu, iZotope, Dorm Room Fund, edX
We’ve got some significant tech-industry political news this week, along with fundraising announcements, VC expansions, and a new online education product:
—Gov. Deval Patrick is suddenly championing the causes of many in the Massachusetts tech sector. In separate announcements yesterday, Patrick said he wants to make non-compete agreements unenforceable in the state and also wants to repeal a tax on software services that many tech businesses found burdensome. Patrick hadn’t been that actively opposed to non-competes before, and he originally proposed a larger tech-services tax as part of a transportation financing package. After an outcry from tech interests, which weren’t present for much of the Beacon Hill debate, Patrick is now singing their tune.
—Benu Networks, a Billerica, MA-based network infrastructure startup, says it has raised a $26.6 million Series B round. The financing was led by Sutter Hill Ventures, along with previous investors Spark Capital and Comcast Ventures. Last month, we reported on an SEC filing that indicated Benu had raised $5 million, and Sutter Hill’s Stefan Dyckerhoff was listed as a director at that time.
—iZotope, a Cambridge-based maker of audio editing software, has raised $12 million from private equity firm ABS Capital Partners. Founded in 2001, iZotope has several products in the market that are used by professionals, including big-name artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Skrillex, and Depeche Mode, along with major TV productions. IZotope says the money will help it expand in several directions as the market for audio software moves increasingly out of big, expensive studios and into smaller systems powered by software, reaching professional and consumer markets.
—The Dorm Room Fund, a student-focused venture program from First Round Capital, is adding Boston to its list of cities. The $500,000 program invests in seed-stage companies with at least one full-time student among the founding team. Although it’s backed by a VC firm and includes access to other entrepreneurs and advisors, Dorm Room Fund also boasts that its investment team is student-run as well. It typically makes investments of about $20,000 in the form of a convertible note. The Dorm Room Fund’s CeCe Cheng tells The Boston Globe that most of the student investment team will be drawn from MIT and Harvard, although students at other schools in the area are welcome to apply. The fund is holding information sessions in the area next week.
—edX, the $60 million nonprofit education project founded by Harvard and MIT, is getting a boost from Google. The search and online ad titan is going to build and run MOOC.org, a website that will allow schools, businesses, governments, and others who aren’t part of the edX program to contribute their own online lessons. The name of the site refers to massive open online courses, one of the hottest tools in edtech. MOOC.org says it expects to begin operating in the first half of 2014.