Boston Tech Watch: Indigo Ag, GE, Algo Capital, Solo.io, Cybric
Venture capital deals, acquisitions, and spin-offs made up much of this week’s Boston technology news.
—Boston-based agtech startup Indigo Ag has acquired TellusLabs, an A.I. satellite technology company that was founded in Somerville, MA. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Indigo says it plans to integrate TellusLabs’ agricultural technology with its on-the-ground data to hopefully help growers increase crop yields. In September, Indigo raised a $250 million Series E funding round and launched a marketplace for farmers to sell grain online.
“Understanding each field on its own terms, identifying the features that make them unique, and predicting the best products and growing practices for every acre of land are tricky, nebulous agricultural questions,” Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Indigo CIO and co-founder, said in a press release. “With Indigo’s acquisition of Tellus, a farmer looking to grow his or her best crop can receive personalized data and recommendations that change the course of a growing season for the better.”
—General Electric (NYSE: GE) has announced it will spin off its industrial Internet-of-Things platform Predix and other software assets into a new company, which will be wholly owned by the Boston-based conglomerate. GE also agreed to sell a majority stake in service management software unit ServiceMax to tech-focused private equity firm Silver Lake. GE bought ServiceMax in late 2016 for $915 million. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. GE says it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2019.
—Crypto-focused venture capital fund Algo Capital says it raised a $100 million fund to invest in startups working on Algorand’s digital currency and blockchain-based transaction system. The Algorand system was built by Silvio Micali, an MIT computer engineering professor and cryptographer who has won the prestigious A.M. Turing Award. Arul Murugan, the Boston-based fund’s managing director, said in a press release that Algo Capital will help seed “real business and uses cases” on Algorand and hopefully attract “hundreds of millions of users to wider blockchain adoption.” Algorand, led by former Fuze chief executive Steve Kokinos, closed a $62 million funding round in October.
—Retail inventory optimization startup Celect closed a $15 million Series C funding round led by Palo Alto, CA-based NGP Capital and existing investor Fung Capital, which is based in San Francisco. The Boston-based company says its technology helps retailers predict future buying patterns and more efficiently make inventory and fulfillment decisions. ALDO Group, Lucky Brand, Neiman Marcus, Polo, and Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ: URBN) use Celect, the company says. The investment will help the company expand and penetrate new retail markets, Celect says. In March 2017, the company said it had raised $10 million in a Series B funding.
—Cybric, a Boston-based software development security company, raised $6 million in a funding round, according to a Form D filing with the SEC. In October 2016, the company closed on $6.3 million in a seed round.
—Cambridge, MA-based Solo.io, a startup helping enterprises adopt cloud technologies, closed a new $11 million Series A funding round led by Redpoint Ventures. Founded in 2017 by former Dell EMC chief technology officer Idit Levine, the software company tries to help companies sort out building new cloud-based tools without having to abandon legacy systems. True Ventures, a seed investor in Solo.io, also joined in the round, which the company said would be used to develop its enterprise product and invest in sales and marketing.
—McAfee chief technology officer Steve Grobman took up election hacking, information warfare, and adversarial A.I. in a wide-ranging conversation with Xconomy.
One sobering takeaway: “A lot of the election infrastructure at the county and state level is lacking even the most basic cyber hygiene controls and is really a disaster waiting to happen.”
—Machine-learning startup Aiera took in $3.5 million in seed funding led by Flybridge Capital Partners. The New York- and Boston-based company uses artificial intelligence to help investment managers with decisions and has started to crack A.I.’s “black box” problem by having the program explain what market signals form the basis of its recommendation.
—Suspect Technologies, a Cambridge facial recognition startup working with law enforcement and security clients, raised $810,000 in a round led by billionaire investor Mark Cuban and Chaac Capital. The startup is developing facial recognition software to help police with the mountain of video-based busy work. But down the road, though, it wants to facilitate real-time public monitoring.
—While concerns swirled about declining sales of its golden-goose smartphones, Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) announced it would make thousands of new hires across the U.S. and plans for a new $1 billion campus in Austin, TX. The Boston area will see some of the wave of new hires, but how many is unclear. Apple would only say it is adding “hundreds of new jobs in Pittsburgh, PA; New York; Boulder, CO; Boston; and Portland, OR.”
—A.I.-powered industrial Internet-of-Things platform Machine Metrics raised a $11.3 million Series C funding round. With offices in Cambridge, MA, and Northampton, MA, the manufacturing software company plans to double its 25-employee headcount within the next few months.
—Alcohol-on-demand app Drizly doubled its venture haul to date by raising a $34 million funding round, according to an SEC filing.