Boston Tech Watch: Uber Driver Appeals, NFL Wearables, Drone IPO
[Updated 4/26/17, 2:58 pm. See below.] This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking appeals by Uber and Lyft drivers who failed state background checks; a deal between a local wearable device startup and the National Football League Players Association; an Australian IPO by a Massachusetts underwater drone company; and much more. Read on for details.
—More than 450 Uber and Lyft drivers who failed background checks by the state of Massachusetts have won appeals and can begin driving again for the ride-hailing app companies, according to a report last week by the State House News Service. In early April, 8,206 of the 70,789 driver applicants—more than 11 percent—were rejected for reasons including having suspended driver’s licenses, being licensed for less than three years, and having more serious offenses on their record, such as drunk driving or violent or sexual crimes.
—NFL players will get access to Whoop’s wearable devices that monitor their body strain, recovery, and sleep patterns, under a new partnership between the Boston-based startup and the NFL Players Association. Players will own their personal data and can choose to sell it.
The deal is the first for OneTeam Collective, the NFL players union’s startup accelerator, which takes equity in sports-related companies in exchange for the rights to use NFL players’ images, according to Bloomberg.
—Southborough, MA-based PrismHR has sold a majority stake in the company to Summit Partners for more than $100 million, according to a report by Axios. PrismHR makes software for human resource outsourcing service providers.
—Vionx Energy, a Woburn, MA-based energy storage company, tacked on $12.75 million to a funding round that it started raising last year, bringing the round to $21.5 million in total, according to a securities filing.
—UUV Aquabotix, a Fall River, MA-based underwater drone company, raised $5.5 million in an initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange. CEO Durval Tavares told the Boston Business Journal his company chose the Australian stock exchange because it’s more open to small-cap companies like his, and he sees strong demand for underwater drones in the south Pacific region.
—CollegeVine, a Cambridge, MA-based education technology startup, said it raised an additional $3.6 million from Morningside Technology Ventures, University Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank. The money is an extension of CollegeVine’s Series A round, which now totals $6.7 million. [This paragraph added.]
—Boston-based OwnerIQ recently laid off some of its staff amid weaker-than-expected sales, according to a Boston Business Journal report. (The story is behind a paywall, but BostInno said OwnerIQ let go of around 60 employees, or a quarter of its staff.) The company provides digital marketing tools and consumer data analytics. [This paragraph updated with number of layoffs.]
—LearnLaunch announced the nine startups selected for its latest “Boost” program, a four-month accelerator for edtech startups. Each company receives up to $70,000 in funding. The latest class includes companies from around the U.S.—and one from India—that are working on products in computer-aided design, test preparation, personalized learning, games that teach financial literacy, and more.
—Bedford, MA-based Progress (NASDAQ: PRGS) hired Dmitri Tcherevik to be its chief technology officer. Tcherevik previously founded two tech startups, including Infostoria, which was acquired by FatWire; FatWire went on to be acquired by Oracle.
Tcherevik’s hire is the latest move by new Progress CEO Yogesh Gupta to remake the 36-year-old software company. Gupta and Tcherevik worked together at both FatWire and CA Technologies, according to their LinkedIn profiles.