Boston Tech Watch: Amazon, Kayak, Runkeeper, Kaspersky & More
This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking Amazon’s local expansion plans, a new venture fund that will invest in women-led companies, executive moves at Asics-owned Runkeeper and The Finally Light Bulb Company, and more. Read on for details.
—At a press event, Amazon announced plans to hire 900 people that will work at an office opening next year in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, according to the Boston Globe and other media reports. That will mark its third office in Boston and Cambridge, MA, and will bring its employee count at those three offices to around 2,000 people, the Globe reported. [Disclosure: The author’s significant other is employed by Amazon in Boston.]
—Flybridge Capital Partners and a group of women entrepreneurs in Boston, New York, and the Bay Area have formed XFactor Ventures. The $3 million fund will invest $100,000 in 30 early-stage companies that have at least one female founder, the Boston Globe reported. The announcement follows a recent series of sexual harassment allegations against male venture capitalists, although Flybridge has been working on the new fund since February, the Globe reported.
—Boston-based voting technology startup Clear Ballot pulled in $18 million from Bessemer Venture Partners, Ventureforgood, DN Capital, mutual fund manager Peter Lynch, Harvard professor Michael Porter, and Steve Papa, the Endeca founder who is currently running Parallel Wireless. Read more about Clear Ballot in this Xconomy profile from last year.
—Wellframe, a Boston-based maker of healthcare management software, raised $15 million in a Series B funding round led by F-Prime Capital, along with contributions from earlier investors, including DFJ. Wellframe said it has raised $25 million total from investors.
—Cambridge-based Smartvid.io raised $7 million from a group of investors that includes Autodesk, Borealis Ventures, and Castor Ventures, according to BostInno. The company raised $3.4 million in seed funding two years ago. It makes photo and video management software for businesses such as construction firms.
—Drafted, a Boston job referral software company, said it raised $1.7 million from The Slack Fund and earlier backers, including Lightspeed Venture Partners. Drafted recently released a version of its product that runs within Slack’s chat platform.
Drafted, which employs six people, has raised just over $4 million total from investors, founder and CEO Vinayak Ranade said in an e-mail to Xconomy. Read more about Drafted’s origins in this Xconomy profile from last year.
—Boston-based Repsly said it raised $1.6 million in a round led by Launchpad Venture Group, along with contributions from LaunchCapital, Hub Angels, SideCar Angels, and Companyon. Launch Capital’s Woody Benson joined Repsly’s board as an observer.
Repsly, which makes software for field workforces, said it has nearly 1,000 customers worldwide. It became cash-flow positive earlier this year, according to a press release.
—The Finally Light Bulb Company named Michael Simon, a former executive at Panera Bread and several food and beverage companies, its new CEO. He takes over for founder John Goscha, who will become chair of the board. Boston-based Finally sells advanced light bulbs and raised $15 million in a Series C funding round in January, which valued the company at $75 million.
—Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs is stepping down from his role as head of global digital at Asics, the Japanese shoemaker that acquired his fitness app startup last year for $85 million. In a blog post, Jacobs said he will remain an advisor to Asics, and his previous role is being taken over by Dan Smith, who has led Runkeeper since January.
—Kayak added the ability for users of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices to book a hotel room with a voice command. Kayak executives hinted at the feature in a recent interview with Xconomy. It’s part of an extension of the online travel company’s capabilities to other platforms, such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Google Home, and Apple Watch.
—Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab was removed from a list of technology vendors approved for use by federal agencies, according to reports by Politico, Reuters, and other media outlets. Kaspersky’s Americas headquarters are in Woburn, MA. Kaspersky has faced scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials over fears that its software could be used by the Russian government to infiltrate U.S. government computers and American information networks.
In a statement published by Politico, Kaspersky said it “has no ties to any government” and “has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.”