Robotic Kitchens, Sports Apps, Hedge Fund Bets & More Boston Tech
[Updated 8/2/16, 3:18 p.m. See below.] We’ve officially entered the dog days of summer, although it already felt like that with the recent heat wave. Now that temperatures in Boston have cooled down a little, take a moment to catch up on some recent local tech headlines that you might’ve missed:
—In one of the more interesting funding deals we’ve seen in a while, hedge fund manager Steven Cohen will give Boston-based Quantopian up to $250 million to invest using the fintech startup’s crowdsourced trading algorithms. Cohen’s venture capital fund, Point72 Ventures, is also taking a stake in Quantopian’s business through a reported $2 million investment.
—And in other hedge fund tech news, CargoMetrics Technologies raised $9.7 million from investors, according to an SEC filing. The Boston firm’s website is sparse, but according to a February profile by Institutional Investor, the company is running a hedge fund that invests in commodities, currencies, and equity index futures based on analysis of satellite and historical shipping data.
—Medium acquired Boston-based Embedly, maker of tools for sharing content online, for an undisclosed price. Four of Embedly’s 10 employees will relocate to Medium’s San Francisco headquarters, VentureBeat reported. Embedly previously raised $700,000 in equity funding and participated in the Y Combinator and MassChallenge accelerators. [This paragraph added.]
—BevSpot, a Boston startup that makes software for bars and restaurants, recently laid off 15 sales and marketing employees, or about 17 percent of its 85-person staff, BostInno reported. The layoffs happened shortly after BevSpot raised $11 million in a Series B round. At the time, CEO Rory Crawford told Xconomy that he was focused on driving efficiency in the business and getting it cash-flow positive because the capital markets are putting “a real premium on businesses focusing on the bottom line, or at least a path to profitability.” Crawford told BostInno the layoffs were aimed at making the sales team more efficient and letting go of employees who weren’t performing as well as desired. [This paragraph added.]
—Despite heavy competition, investors continue to pour money into apartment rental websites. The latest beneficiary: Somerville, MA-based Rental Beast raised $5 million in a round led by New England Development’s corporate venture arm, BostInno reported.
—More funding news for Somerville startups: Spyce raised almost $2.6 million from investors, according to an SEC filing. The company, founded by MIT engineering students, has developed a robotic system that serves up freshly prepared meals. Spyce previously won $10,000 for its creation from the Lemelson-MIT program.
—Accomplice continued its streak of backing cybersecurity startups, this time leading a $2 million round for Cyberhaven, a Swiss startup whose technology protects sensitive documents. The company spun out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is setting up a Boston-area office. Accomplice has also backed security firms like Carbon Black, Threat Stack, and Veracode.
—AirFox scored about $1.1 million from investors, a new SEC filing shows. The startup, a graduate of the most recent Techstars Boston accelerator session, enables people to earn mobile phone data by interacting with sponsored content from brands and advertisers.
—Waltham, MA-based Cambridge Sound Management said it acquired competitor Dynasound, of Norcross, GA, for an undisclosed price. The two companies offer “sound masking” products for offices, hospitals, schools, and other environments. The systems help protect the privacy of conversations and reduce noise by “emitting a uniform, barely perceptible background sound at the frequencies of human speech,” Cambridge Sound Management said. Other capabilities of the technology include office paging and playing background music.
Cambridge Sound Management is owned by two private equity firms and is profitable, a spokeswoman told Xconomy. After the acquisition, the combined company will have close to 50 employees, she said. [This acquisition announcement added.]
—A few months after laying off its entire 14-person staff, Boston sports app startup Fancred sold its assets to Boston-based sports website Football Nation, according to Yahoo Finance. Fancred reportedly has 100,000 users of its app, which enables people to stream live video and connect with other sports fans.
—And in other sports tech news, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox has invested an undisclosed amount in Waltham, MA-based Fanzcall, maker of an app that enables baseball fans to predict the outcome of every at-bat and compete against each other. Fanzcall has raised about $1.6 million from investors, the Boston Globe reported.
—Boston-based Bridj is expanding its technology-enabled urban transit service to Austin, its fourth location. Bridj, which operates a private fleet of shuttle buses, already operates in Boston, Kanas City, and Washington, DC.
—Three weeks after raising $22 million in Series C funding, Boston-based HourlyNerd changed its name to Catalant Technologies. The name is a combination of the words catalyst, brilliant, and talent, the company said. Catalant’s software helps businesses quickly find and hire expert freelancers and consultants. The company’s small business offering will keep the HourlyNerd name alive—it’s now dubbed “HourlyNerd powered by Catalant.”