Boston Tech Watch: Cybersecurity, Drones, Silent Discos, & More
[Updated 12/12/16, 2:54 pm. See below.] It’s mid-December, and that means a rush of tech news, as companies work feverishly to get deals done before the end of the year.
Recent moves in the Boston area include American Express’s purchase of a local cybersecurity startup, more funding for the new cloud storage startup from Carbonite’s founders, the first announced investment by fintech fund Vestigo Ventures, EzCater’s publication of its workforce diversity stats, and other news. Read on for details.
—First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) has acquired Gradifi, a student loan repayment software startup based in Boston. The price wasn’t disclosed, but it was a cash deal, according to a press release. Two-year-old Gradifi had raised at least $500,000 from investors, according to SEC filings. [This paragraph added.]
—American Express (NYSE: AXP) acquired InAuth, a Boston-based cybersecurity startup that makes mobile device authentication software. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. Founded in 2011, InAuth has about 60 employees and had raised more than $23.8 million from investors, including American Express Ventures, the Boston Business Journal reported.
—The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded several contracts totaling $9 million to Cambridge, MA-based Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) to develop technologies to detect and respond to cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid infrastructure.
—BlueArchive, a quiet new startup from Carbonite founders Jeff Flowers and David Friend, raised $6.2 million from investors, according to an SEC filing. BlueArchive raised $1.9 million in May. There’s not much information available on the startup; its website says it’s “creating the next generation cloud archive.”
—Wireless headphones startup Eversound announced it raised $3 million in seed funding from The Shelter Group, Red Bear Angels, and 10X Venture Partners. The Woburn, MA-based company sells its headphones to senior living communities, enabling the elderly to tune directly into the audio from a movie, a presentation, or some other group activity. Eversound CEO Jake Reisch also co-founded Party Headphones, which rents out wireless headphone systems for “silent disco” parties.
—Boston financial technology firm LifeYield raised $2.5 million in a Series F funding round, according to the Boston Business Journal. The funding was led by Vestigo Ventures—a new fintech-focused venture firm based in Cambridge, MA—and an undisclosed financial services company, the Business Journal reported.
—Raptor Maps raised an undisclosed amount from a venture fund affiliated with drone software startup Airware. Cambridge, MA-based Raptor Maps is working on a system that uses drones, tractor-mounted sensors, and software to help farmers measure crop yield and other data. Raptor Maps went through Y Combinator’s startup accelerator over the summer and won the grand prize in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition last year.
—As part of signing the White House’s Tech Inclusion Pledge earlier this year, Boston online catering company EzCater posted statistics about the diversity of its staff. The results show the company has work to do. Over 82 percent of its employees are white, while 9.7 percent are of Asian descent, 4 percent are Hispanic or Latino, 2.4 percent are black, and less than 1 percent are native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. About 52 percent of EzCater’s employees are men.
Besides publishing its diversity data each year, EzCater has pledged to implement goals to boost its diversity and to invest in partnerships to strengthen the diversity of the talent pipeline. EzCater’s formal and public diversity strategy puts it in the minority among tech companies—a recent survey of 700 startup executives found that only 14 percent of their companies have a formal policy in place to promote diversity and inclusion, while 54 percent have an informal plan. Another 23 percent said they have no diversity strategy, and they don’t have any plans in the works.