Boston Tech Watch: Tufin, Facebook, RightHand, Diameter & Jebbit
[Updated 4/15/19, 10:50 AM. See below.] A cybersecurity IPO could raise up to $124 million for an Israeli-based company with its US headquarters in Boston. Facebook’s Boston office wants to map the world’s population in high def, starting with Africa. More venture cash is flowing into Bay State startups. Read all this and much more in this week’s roundup of local tech news.
—Tufin Software Technologies, a cybersecurity company based in Israel with its US headquarters in Boston, went public this week and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange as TUFN. Its shares priced at $14 apiece, the top of the price range it outlined in SEC filings. The sale to the public markets will raise $124 million if underwriters exhaust all their share-buying options. During its first day of trading Thursday, Tufin’s share price jumped to just shy of $20 and closed the day at $19.10.
Tufin’s investors from Catalyst Private Equity Partners will have 20 percent; entities affiliated with Marker LLC—which merged with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors in August 2017—will have 21.9 percent; state-owned Russian bank Sberbank will own 5 percent; and Israeli venture firm Vintage Investment Partners will own about 7.9 percent.
Tufin—which says it competes with products offered by AlgoSec, FireMon, Skybox Security, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO)—reported $85 million in sales in 2018 and a net loss of $4.3 million. The company has 424 employees, with 217 based in Israel and 121 in the US at offices in Boston and Akron, Ohio.
—Researchers and data scientists at Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) offices in Cambridge, MA, have released high-resolution maps of population density for the whole African continent. The information—not based on any data collected by Facebook’s social media platform, the tech giant says—is designed to assist relief agencies responding to disasters. The company says it used “machine learning techniques, high-resolution satellite imagery, and population data” to map “hundreds of millions of structures distributed across vast areas, and then used that to extrapolate the local population density.” Facebook says it intends to map all of the world’s population this way.
—Precision weather forecasting startup ClimaCell is raising more funds not too long after its $45 million Series B round last October. The Boston-based company this week reported to the SEC that it raised $7 million so far of what could be a $10 million funding boost.
Climacell said the investment came from SB Energy Corp, a subsidiary of Japanese-based SoftBank Group, with the intention of using the forecasting system in the renewable energy industry and also with IoT and mobility applications. [Added.]
After closing up its last round, the company said its venture capital haul sat at $65 million. ClimaCell counts companies like JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) and Ford (NYSE: F) among its investors. The company says its software develops forecasts with data from satellites, radar, and traditional weather stations, as well as changes in wireless signals between cellular towers that are affected by certain atmospheric conditions.
—SEC filings show that advanced microphone startup Vesper Technologies has tacked an additional $10 million onto the $23 million Series B funding round, led by American Family Ventures, that it announced in May 2018. The Boston-based company added more than $4 million in September and another $6 million this week. In response to an email from Xconomy about the funds, a Vesper spokeswoman said the money was a “preemptive investment by a insider investor to fuel Vesper’s accelerated growth.” [Info added about investment.]
—Diameter Health, a clinical data company based in Farmington, CT, has raised a $9.6 million Series “A-1” round led by the corporate venture arm of Optum Ventures, a healthtech venture investing arm of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH). Diameter extracts and classifies data from electronic health records for use in healthcare analytics. The company raised $2.1 million in February 2016 from Connecticut Innovations, Activate Venture Partners, Excelerate Health Ventures, and LRVHealth.
—Disruptor Beam, a mobile video game developer based in Framingham, MA, has hired new finance and product chiefs as it pushes its new platform that enables outside developers to create games. Claire Wadlington joins the company as CFO, and Trapper Markelz joins as chief product officer. Disruptor Beam has produced games spun off from popular television and big-screen productions such as “Star Trek,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The Walking Dead.”
—Boston data analytics platform Jebbit has closed a $12 million Series B round led by K1 Investment Management, which was joined by Manifest Investment Partners and The Yard Ventures, according to a press release. The company has raised over $20 million since its founding in 2011. It plans to use the proceeds to boost hiring and grow in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and London. Jebbit last raised funds in August 2017 through a $6.8 million Series A. The company enables businesses to gather their own data to avoid the messy world of third-party data and increasing regulatory concern around consumer privacy.
—Boston fintech company TimePayment has acquired Burlington, MA-based equipment leasing platform LeaseQ, the companies said this week. TimePayment is owned by Fortress Investment Group, itself owned by Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group. The companies say the terms of the deal are not being disclosed.
—RightHand Robotics, a Somerville, MA-based developer of piece-picking robots for order fulfillment logistics, has released its next-generation product, the RightPick2. The new collaborative robot—meant to work alongside people—comes with AI-enabled vision and motion control software, an updated gripper hand that can lift a 2-kilogram object, and updated depth cameras.
—Boston growth equity firm M/C Partners has raised $350 million for its eighth fund. The telecommunications- and IT-focused investment firm says it has invested $2.2 billion in nearly 100 companies.
—Klaviyo, a Boston email marketing startup, has raised $150 million to help retailers ease their dependence on advertising giants like Alphabet-owned Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Facebook. Klaviyo, which developed a platform to personalize email communications between online retailers and shoppers, is aiming to move into the web and mobile channels to let businesses “own” their marketing rather than shell out so much money for third parties to distribute advertising.
—Affectiva, a Boston-based developer of emotion-measuring AI tech, has closed a $26 million funding round led by vehicle technology company Aptiv (NYSE: APTV) to rev up operations as its customers deploy smarter cars that try to sense the moods of their occupants.