Boston Tech Watch: HourlyNerd, Uber, Noncompetes, Akamai, & More
We hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend. After all the fireworks last night, it’s time to catch up on some of the hot news in Boston-area tech from the past week:
—Boston-based HourlyNerd said Tuesday it raised $22 million in a Series C round led by General Catalyst Partners, with contributions from Highland Capital Partners, GE Ventures, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Greylock Partners, and Bob Doris of Accanto Partners.
To date, HourlyNerd has raised more than $33 million from investors. The startup provides an on-demand service that draws from a global pool of business consultants and matches them with big companies looking for outside expertise.
—Massachusetts regulations for ride-hailing app companies like Uber, Lyft, and Fasten came closer to reality last week after the state Senate passed a bill that would require drivers to undergo a background check performed by the state (in addition to the company’s background check), and would enact a fee of 10 cents per ride that would not be passed on to the customer, among other provisions. The ride-sharing companies seemed to favor the legislation, which stopped short of requiring fingerprinting of drivers, but advocates for local taxi companies thought it didn’t go far enough, according to various media reports.
To become law, the Senate bill must now be reconciled with a related bill previously passed by the House, and then must be approved by the governor.
—In other tech legislation news, the Massachusetts House passed a noncompete reform bill that opponents claim doesn’t do enough to even the scales between workers and employers. The bill, according to media reports, would limit noncompete agreements to 12 months, exempt hourly workers, require notifying prospective employees that they would be subject to a noncompete, and implement a “garden leave” clause that would require employers to pay half the salary of ex-employees during the duration of the noncompete agreement’s enforcement period. A late amendment added the option for employers to pay “other mutually-agreed upon consideration” instead of the garden leave.
—A federal judge in Boston awarded Akamai about $51 million in a final judgment in a 10-year patent lawsuit against Tempe, AZ-based Limelight Networks involving intellectual property licensed from MIT. Akamai also has a different patent lawsuit pending against Limelight, with a trial scheduled for January, the Boston Globe reported.
—Solar power components maker 1366 Technologies snagged $15 million in yet another extension of its Series C round, which now stands at $47.5 million. The Bedford, MA-based company raised $10 million in early May. It has raised $95 million from investors to date.
The new equity investment comes from Germany-based Wacker Chemie AG. The partnership also involves a technical collaboration and a silicon supply agreement.
—Boston-based Allied Minds and MITRE announced an expansion of their technology licensing and commercialization partnership. Allied Minds is a holding company that forms, funds, and operates companies in tech and life sciences. MITRE—which has main offices in Bedford, MA, and McLean, VA—is a nonprofit that runs several federally funded research and development centers. The deal gives Allied Minds “a first look and exclusive access to certain technologies” coming out of MITRE.
The two-year-old partnership previously led to the formation of Allied Minds subsidiary Percipient Networks, a Boston-area cybersecurity startup.
—Hoyos Labs named its first chief technology officer: John Callahan, who has held several university and government-funded research posts. He previously was the Associate Director for Information Dominance at the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, through an assignment from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. He is also the former vice president of engineering and CTO of Baltimore-based BDMetrics.
Hoyos Labs makes biometrics-based identity authentication software. The company has offices in the Boston area; New York; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Oxford, England; and Bucharest and Timisoara in Romania.
—Yet another venture fund has popped up in the Boston area. BostInno spotted a new fund listed on AngelList called Operator.VC, led by former HubSpot chief marketing officer Mike Volpe and Yoav Shapira, a former executive at HubSpot, Jana, and other firms. HubSpot fired Volpe nearly a year ago in connection with alleged attempts to gain access to a draft manuscript of a book about the company.