Boston Tech Watch: Endeavor, Building Ventures, LearnLux, ETQ, Cogito
[Updated 12/07/18, 10:30 a.m., and 12/10/18, 10:45. See below.] The spigot is still wide open for venture funding as cash continued to flow into Boston startups this week. Smart scooters and military robots rounded out the week in tech news. Read on for more:
—IBM (NYSE: IBM) is dealing away two Massachusetts-founded enterprises it shelled out big bucks for in 1995 and 2010, selling marketing management business Waltham, MA-based Unica and email and low-code development tools from Cambridge, MA-founded Lotus to India IT giant HCL Technologies along with other products for $1.8 billion.
Big Blue bought Lotus Development Corporation in 1995 in a $3.5 billion takeover. IBM purchased Unica in 2010 for $480 million. Unica was founded in 1992 by three MIT grads, and it went public in 2010.
The other products HCL is picking up include secure app development tool Appscan, device management product BigFix, e-commerce tool Commerce, digital experience tool Portal, and collaboration tool Connections. The HCL deal is expected to close in mid-2019. [This section added.—Eds.]
—Akumina, a Nashua, NH-developer of intranet platforms for companies, says it has raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by Richard Berthy and RJB Investments and joined by strategic investors Avanade, through Accenture Ventures, and Stage 1 Ventures, the company says. Akumina’s hub aims to replace company’s shared drives and intranets with a platform for employee cloud applications. The company says its clients include the Boston Red Sox, Whole Foods Market, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, and the U.S. Department of Defense. [This section added.—Eds.]
—Luminoso, a Cambridge, MA-based natural language processing startup that helps businesses digest customer feedback, says it has raised a $10 million Series C funding round led by Tucson, AZ-based DVI Equity Partners with participation from Liberty Global Ventures, DF Enterprises, Raptor Holdco, Acadia Woods Partners, Accord Ventures, and others. In March, Luminoso closed an $11.8 million funding round. The MIT-spinout says its artificial intelligence software that reads in 14 languages slashes the time it takes to glean insights from unstructured customer feedback.
—Defense and security technology company Endeavor Robotics unveiled the design of its Scorpion robot. The military robot will be key as Endeavor competes against one other firm for a $429 million U.S. Army contract to build 3,000 multipurpose units for the battlefield.
“In the same way every Army unit has long had a soldier designated to carry a radio on his or her back, fighting units will soon include a robot operator with a Scorpion-like [unmanned ground vehicle] carried in their rucksack,” Sean Bielat, Endeavor Robotics CEO, says in a prepared statement.
Endeavor, based in Chelmsford, MA, says the Scorpion has a number of unique features, including an arm that protects it from damaging drops; lightweight, rugged composite materials, some of which can be 3D-printed in the field; and seven video cameras that pan, tilt, zoom and support thermal imaging.
The other contractor competing for the contract is Waltham, MA-based QinetiQ North America.
—Building Ventures, a new venture capital firm focusing on real estate, construction and smart infrastructure startups, has closed its first fund with $53 million to invest in early-stage companies. The firm spun out of Hanover, N.H.-based Borealis Ventures and has offices in Boston and San Francisco.
—German enterprise software company LeanIX has raised $30 million in a Series C funding round, which will help accelerate the company’s U.S. expansion at its Boston offices. New York-based Insight Venture Partners led the funding round with participation by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners based in Hamburg, Germany; Capnamic Ventures based in Cologne, Germany; and Iris Capital based in Paris.
—Compliance management software provider ETQ announced this week it has moved its headquarters to Burlington, MA, from the Long Island town of Farmingdale, NY. ETQ was bought in August 2017 by Menlo Park, CA-based growth equity firm TCV for an undisclosed amount. In addition to the move, ETQ announced a new slate of top executives: Robert Gremley as CEO; Richard Russo as CFO; Nina McIntyre as CMO; and Brian Testa as VP of People Operations. ETQ says since the move it has increased its global headcount to 300 employees.
—Cogito, a Boston-based A.I. technology company that analyzes voice conversations to help improve customer call-in experience, added $8 million to its already $37 million Series C. Cogito also announced its acquisition of Seattle-based Tenacity, which develops employee engagement tools for call centers. Both startups spun out of the MIT Media Lab. Goldman Sachs led the previously announced $37 million Series C, and the additional $8 million included investments from new partners Hearst Ventures and Battery Ventures.
—Rekener, a Charlestown, MA-based data analytics startup, raised $2.1 million, according to a SEC regulatory filing. The company, founded in 2016, sells software to help boost businesses’ recurring revenue. Rekener closed its second seed round in September 2017 with a $1.75 million investment from previous backers Pillar, Accomplice, Founder Collective, and unnamed individuals.
—Finance education startup LearnLux says it raised $2 million in a seed round from Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, Underscore VC, former Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash, and other investors. The Boston-based company founded in 2015 by siblings Rebecca and Michael Liebman makes software that teaches personal finance to promote financial wellness.
—Lumeon, a healthcare pathway management startup, says it closed a $28 million investment round led by one Europe’s largest healthcare investment firms, LSP. The company says it will use the funding to grow its U.S. team and Boston headquarters, while scaling up operations and boosting customer deployments. Swiss venture capital firm MTIP, U.K.-based Amadeus Capital Partners, and Swiss IPF Partners also participated in the funding round.
—ICYMI: Micro-transit technology company Superpedestrian has unveiled a smart, self-repairing e-scooter for sale to companies managing shared-scooter platforms.
—ICYMI: Forge AI came out of stealth and announced an $11 million Series A round. The company aims to make the mountains of unstructured data—think Twitter streams, Facebook feeds, news reports, regulatory filings—more readable by machine learning systems.
—ICYMI: Google’s A.I. fund Gradient Ventures made its second Boston-area investment, leading a $7 million Series A for route logistics technology firm Wise Systems.