Boston Tech Watch: Workbar, Modo, Locus Robotics, Zagster & More

Robots, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality laboratories, and lab product e-commerce all brought in venture cash this week. This and much more in the week’s Boston tech news:

—Self-driving car startup Optimus Ride has raised $20 million of what it hopes to be a $60 million round, according to SEC documents filed this week by the Boston company. In recent months, the startup has announced pilot roll outs of its vehicle systems on private developments in Virginia, New York, and California. In November 2017, Optimus Ride raised $18 million in a round led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Emerson Collective, Fraser McCombs Capital, and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito.

—Cambridge, MA-based Modo Labs, which has developed a mobile app development platform currently used by colleges and universities, has bought Ulyngo, another campus tech company that helps schools launch marketplaces for student organizations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Modo, an MIT spinoff, last raised money in July 2016 when it took in a $10 million Series B funding round.

—Co-working space developer Workbar plans to open two more Boston-area locations: one in the city’s Downtown Crossing district (slated to open in September) and the other 13 miles away in the town of Norwood (expected to open in June). The company says its urban-suburban mix of working spaces are a show of its commitment to a “hub and spokes” model for its footprint. In April 2016, Workbar and Staples announced plans to collaborate on such “spokes” in Brighton, Danvers, and Norwood by building out workspaces at the office supply stores in those towns. But that agreement was canned in February 2019 when Staples said it would go on with the co-working spaces in those locations without Workbar.

—Lab supply marketplace Zageno raised $20 million in a Series B round led by General Catalyst with additional investments from Grazia Equity and Capnamic Ventures. The startup has more than 8 million research materials and products in its Amazon-like online store to make it easier for researchers get their hands on what they need to run their labs. Zageno is targeting the $130 billion lab supply market. Florian Wegener, co-founder and CEO of Zageno said in a press release the company plans to expand in Cambridge and Berlin, Germany, as part of the funding. In 2017, the company raised about $8 million, according to SEC documents.

—Warehouse logistic startup Locus Robotics landed $26 million in Series C financing from Zebra Ventures and Scale Venture Partners, which led its last $25 million round in 2017. The cash puts Locus Robotics’ total venture haul at $66 million since its founding in 2014. The Wilmington, MA-based company says its robots are used by DHL, GEODIS, Port Logistics Group, Verst Logistics, Radial, and others.

—Censinet, a Boston startup helping hospitals and other healthcare providers manage the cyber risk of their hundreds of third-party vendors, has launched its system and announced $7.8 million in funding to double its headcount in a year, further develop its platform, and market its software. The Series A funding round is led by Boston-based HLM Venture Partners and the Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles.

—Waltham, MA-based cybersecurity company Digital Guardian has raised $30 million in a round led by private equity firm and earlier investor LLR Partners. The cash come with the announcement of an enlarged management team and follows the naming of a new CEO, Mo Rosen, in February.

—Micro-mobility startup Zagster hired a new CEO with a long automotive resume including years spent at both Ford (NYSE:  F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM). Dan Grossman was appointed chief executive replacing interim CEO Daniel Herscovici, who resumes his place on the board of directors.

—Athenahealth, taken private by Veritas Capital and Elliott Management in a $5.7 billion deal that closed in February, is laying off about 4 percent of its 5,000-employee workforce, according to reports. The Watertown, MA-based healthcare software company was pressured by Elliot Management to boost earnings, a crusade that led to the ouster of co-founder and CEO Jonathan Bush. Veritas and Elliott Management said at the time the deal was announced that it planned to combine Athenahealth with its Virence Health “value-based care” business.

—VionX Energy, a Woburn, MA, flow battery company has taken in $14 million in a debt offering, according to an SEC filing. The company did not respond to a request for information about the funding.

—Labster, a virtual laboratory simulation company, raised $21 million in a Series B funding led by Owl Ventures. Balderton Capital, Northzone and Swisscom Ventures also participated in the round, while Nordic Makers, David Helgason, EduCapital and Entangled Group made follow-on investments, the company said. Labster’s simulation system is used by 200,000 students worldwide, and 150 universities and high schools added the system last year, the company says.

Brian Dowling is a Senior Editor at Xconomy, based in Boston. You can reach him at bdowling [at] xconomy.com. Follow @be_d

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