Boston Tech Watch: Dell-EMC, Wayfair, Monster, GE, Harvard, & More

There was lots of Boston-area tech news during the past few days, but we’ve got it covered. Read on for details on the closing of the Dell-EMC deal, trouble for Monster’s proposed sale, a pair of big funding rounds, a GE donation to MIT, Bridj’s robotics play, and more.


—It’s finally happening: Dell’s proposed merger with EMC (NYSE: EMC) is expected to close on Sept. 7, after receiving regulatory approval in China. The deal, first announced last October, is the largest tech tie-up in history.

—Wayfair (NYSE: W) scooped up Trumpit, a Boston mobile photo and video sharing startup, for an undisclosed price. Trumpit’s seven employees will join the online home goods seller, a spokeswoman said in an e-mail message. Trumpit previously raised $1.2 million from investors.

It’s not the first time Wayfair has looked in its backyard for technology and talent. It hired most of the staff of Cambridge, MA-based CustomMade last year, and it recently hired HelloShopper founder and CEO Matthew Zisow after his startup shut down. Wayfair’s first major acquisition was three years ago, when it bought New York-based DwellStudio.

—Meanwhile, another local acquisition faces some controversy. The proposed $429 million sale of Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW) to Dutch firm Randstad Holding is being opposed by Monster’s self-described largest shareholder, MediaNews Group.

In a letter to shareholders, MediaNews called the deal the “textbook definition” of “selling at the bottom,” and instead suggested the company make cuts, simplify its products, and take other measures to improve its stock price. In response, Monster CEO Tim Yates called MediaNews’ actions a “reckless” attempt to defeat a transaction that would provide shareholders with “immediate and certain cash” at a premium to its recent stock price.

New money

—In the largest local tech funding announcement so far this week, Zillion said it raised $28 million in a Series C round led by TwinFocus Capital Partners. Zillion provides cloud-based software that helps patients interact with healthcare providers and manage their care via video conferencing, alerts and reminders, tracking health goals, analyzing data, and more.

Zillion has raised $35 million total from investors, a spokeswoman said in an e-mail to Xconomy. The company employs 50 people, around 40 of them located at its headquarters in Norwalk, CT, and the rest in Boston. The plan is to hire another dozen or so people in the next year and a half, the spokeswoman said.

—Another local healthtech company, Shyft Analytics, also raised a sizable chunk of money—$12.5 million, to be exact. The Series B round was led by McKesson Ventures and Medidata Solutions, with contributions from previous investors Health Enterprise Partners and Milestone Venture Partners. Waltham, MA-based Shyft provides software that helps life sciences companies analyze data when studying drug safety, comparing the effectiveness of different treatments, and so on.

—In other funding news, Visible Measures raised $1 million in debt financing, according to an SEC filing. The online video analytics and advertising startup has raised over $70 million from investors to date, according to CrunchBase.

New technologies

—In an interview with the Boston Globe, Bridj CEO Matthew George shared plans to launch a service that would deliver goods to people’s doorsteps using a combination of private buses and package-toting robots that can roll down sidewalks. Bridj currently operates an urban transit service that uses a private fleet of shuttle buses coordinated by mobile app. George also wants to eventually turn the buses into driverless vehicles.

—Boston machine learning and data analytics startup Indico is working with Manulife (which goes by John Hancock in the U.S.) to create software tools to analyze unstructured financial data. Read more about Indico in this recent Xconomy profile of CEO Slater Victoroff, a young and adventurous engineer.

—The Boston Globe profiled Little Leaf Farms, the latest cleantech startup from Paul Sellew, the co-founder and former CEO of Harvest Power. Little Leaf Farms produces food using hydroponics and an automated assembly line.


—Harvard University struck a six-year, $8.4 million research and leadership development program in partnership with a group of companies owned by India-based Tata, including Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel. The initiative aims to initially study and potentially commercialize technologies in robotics, wearables, and the Internet of Things, while also educating visiting tech business leaders.

—In other industry-education collaborations, GE committed $7.5 million to the MIT Energy Initiative and will help further its research into solar energy, energy storage, electric power systems, carbon capture, and other technologies.


—Boston-based Drizly expanded its alcohol delivery service to Calgary, Canada, the company’s second international location. The other is also in Canada (Edmonton). The move comes after Drizly raised $15 million from investors in early August.

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