Boston Tech Watch: Nuance, Relayr, Markforged, Grapevine & More

Time to catch up on recent Boston-area tech headlines:

—Relayr, a Boston-based company developing software and services for connected devices, is being acquired for $300 million by German insurance and reinsurance company Munich Re through its Hartford Steam Boiler subsidiary. Munich Re said Relayr will help it create new business models for the “industrial Internet of Things.”

—Affectiva and Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN) are teaming up to enhance virtual assistants for vehicles and improve the in-car experience for riders. Boston-based Affectiva’s technology uses visual and voice analysis to try and monitor people’s “emotional and cognitive states” and respond appropriately; the technology is being applied to the automotive industry, among other sectors. Affectiva’s tech will be combined with Burlington, MA-based Nuance’s conversational virtual assistant for vehicles.

Meanwhile, Affectiva also announced a partnership with GreenRoad Technologies, a developer of driver safety products, which will use Affectiva’s sensing technology to detect driver drowsiness and distraction and alert them of the potentially dangerous behavior.

—Grapevine Logic, a Cambridge, MA-based marketing technology startup that connects brands and advertisers with popular social media “influencers,” announced it was acquired by Seven Stars Cloud Group (NASDAQ: SSC). Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

New York-based SSC is a financial technology company developing services, powered by blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies, for digital assets. The company, which is changing its name to Ideanomics, is led by Bruno Wu, who is also chief executive of Sun Seven Stars, an investment group that acquired a majority stake in Grapevine last year. Grapevine is an alum of the Techstars Boston and MassChallenge startup accelerator programs.

Solo.io, a Belmont, MA-based maker of app management tools, pulled in $11.35 million in venture funding, according to an SEC filing. CEO Idit Levine will receive $1 million of that money as a bonus payment, the filing shows.

—India-based software company Persistent Systems purchased Herald Health for an undisclosed price. The Boston-based healthcare analytics startup was created at a Brigham and Women’s Hospital hackathon in 2015 and later went through the MassChallenge HealthTech accelerator program, formerly known as Pulse@MassChallenge.

—2020 On-site, a Boston-based operator of mobile eye clinics serving businesses and schools, said it hired former Luxottica Retail executive Alexis McLaughlin as its CEO. She takes over for founder Howard Bornstein, who will remain on the board.

2020 On-site also revealed that it closed a $5 million-plus Series B funding round in June, which was led by Morningside Ventures.

—3D printing startup Markforged said it leased additional space in Watertown, MA, bringing its total footprint to 80,000 square feet—room for up to 500 employees, the company said. It also contracted with a Massachusetts manufacturing facility to boost its ability to meet the demand for its products.

In addition, Markforged said it hired Bryan Semple, former SmartBear Software chief marketing officer, as its CMO, and Brian Nadeau—a veteran of EqualLogic and Simplivity—as vice president of engineering.

Markforged recently prevailed in the first of two lawsuits brought by competitor Desktop Metal related to alleged patent infringement.

—ECi Software, a Texas-based business management software provider, said it bought Burlington, MA-based Vineyardsoft for an undisclosed price. Vineyardsoft was founded in 1999 and makes business activity monitoring software; its flagship product is called KnowledgeSync.

Jeff Engel is Deputy Editor, Tech at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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