Ms. Healey, a Democrat, is the most well known of the candidates who are running to replace Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who is not seeking re-election.
The Massachusetts senator defends her plan to tax billionaires and break up Big Tech.
Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis.
Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis.
Back in 2013, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a “right to repair” law that required carmakers to sell their proprietary diagnostic tools and software to third-party repair shops. During the 2020 election, the voters of that state voted, three-to-one, in favor of expanding the law to include the connected aspects of new cars.
From model year 2022, any new car sold in the state that features connected car services or telematics capabilities must have a standardized open data platform as a way of accessing those online services. Now, though, two bills seek to tweak the law in the hopes of getting OEMs to comply.
MY2022 cars have been on sale across the country for some months now. However, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy has held off on enforcing the new provisions of the law due to an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by a coalition of automakers who claim that the current law is incompatible with widely accepted cybersecurity practices (a view shared by a horrified-sounding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
A man bought a yellowing picture of the Virgin Mary and Child at an estate sale in Massachusetts. Experts believe it is by the renowned German artist Albrecht Dürer.
Mr. Baker, a moderate Republican in a deep-blue state, faced a Trump-backed primary challenge and a potentially difficult general election.
Theodore J. Conrad pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history. The case eluded officials for decades, until an obituary appeared online and family secrets began to unravel.
What has prompted Merriam-Webster to add the longstanding term for a mostly regional sandwich to the dictionary?
After battering the New York area, the storm knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers across New England on Wednesday.
Meteorologists said that a bolide, a type of large meteor explosion in the atmosphere, might have been the source of a disturbance that was widely reported on Sunday.
Property records don’t go back far enough to date some houses. But experts can pinpoint a house’s age by studying tree-ring patterns in the house’s timber.
When people talk about “online food delivery” services, chances are that they’ll think of the Uber Eats, Instacarts and Getirs of this world. But today a startup that’s tackling a different aspect of the market — addressing the supply chain that subsequently turns the wheels of the bigger food distribution machine — is announcing a big round of funding as it continues to grow.
GrubMarket, which provides software and services that help link up and manage relationships between food suppliers and their customers — which can include wholesalers and other distributors, markets and supermarkets, delivery startups, restaurants, and consumers — has picked up $120 million in a Series E round of funding.
The funding is coming from a wide mix of investors. Liberty Street Funds, Walleye Capital, Japan Post Capital, Joseph Stone Capital, Pegasus Tech Ventures, Tech Pioneers Fund are among the new backers, who are being joined by existing investors Celtic House Asia Partners, INP Capital, Reimagined Ventures, Moringa Capital Management, and others, along with other unnamed participants
Mike Xu, GrubMarket’s founder and CEO (pictured, above), tells me that the company is currently profitable in a big way. It’s now at a $1 billion annualized run-rate, having grown revenues 300% over last year, with some markets like New York growing even more (it went from less than $10 million ARR to $100 million+).
With operations currently in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and some 40 warehouses nationwide. GrubMarket had a pre-money valuation of over $1 billion, and now it will be looking to grow even more, both in terms of territory and in terms of tech, moving ahead in a market that is largely absent from competitors.
“We are still the first mover in this space,” Xu said when I asked him in an interview about rivals. “No one else is doing consolidation on the supply chain side as we are. We are trying to consolidate the American food supply chain through software technologies, while also trying to find the best solutions in this space.”
(And for some context, the $1 billion+ valuation is more than double GrubMarket’s valuation in October 2020, when it raised $60 million at a $500 million post-money valuation.)
Longer term, the plan will be to look at an IPO provisionally filing the paperwork by summer 2022, Xu added.
GrubMarket got its start several years ago as one of many companies looking to provide a more efficient farm-to-table service. Tapping into a growing consumer interest in higher quality, and more traceable food, it saw an opportunity to build a platform to link up producers to the consumers, restaurants and grocery stores that were buying their products. (Grocery stores, incidentally, might be independent operations, or something much bigger: one of GrubMarket’s biggest customers is Whole Foods, which uses GrubMarket for produce supply in certain regions of the U.S. It is currently is the company’s biggest customer.)
As we wrote last year, GrubMarket — like many other grocery delivery services — found that the pandemic initially provided a big fillip, and a big rush of demand, from that consumer side of the business, as more people turned to internet-based ordering and delivery services to offset the fact that many stores were closed, or they simply wanted to curtail the amount of shopping they were doing in-person to slow the spread of Covid-19.
But fast forward to today, while the startup still serves consumers, this is currently not the primary part of its business. Instead, it’s B2B2C, serving companies that in turn serve consumers. Xu says that overall, demand from consumers has dropped off considerably compared to a year ago.
“We think that restaurant re-openings have meant more people are dining out again and spending less time at home,” Xu said, ” and also they can go back to physical grocery stores, so they are not as interested as they were before in buying raw ingredients online. I don’t want to offend other food tech companies, but I think many of them will be seeing the same. I think B2C is really going to slow down going forward.”
The opening for GrubMarket has been not just positioning itself as a middleman between producers and buyers, but to do so by way of technology and consolidating what has been a very regionalized and fragmented market up to now.
GrubMarket has snapped up no less than 40 companies in the last three years. While some of these have been to help it expand geographically (it made 10 acquisitions in the Los Angeles area alone), many have also been made to double down on technology.
These have included the likes of Farmigo, once a Disrupt Battlefield contender that pivoted into becoming a software provider to CSAs (an area that GrubMarket sees a lot of opportunity), as well as software to help farms manage their business staffing, insurance and more: Pacific Farm Management is an example of the latter.
GrubMarket’s own in-house software, WholesaleWare, a cloud-based service for farmers and other food producers, saw its sales grow 3,500% over the last year, and it is now managing more than $4 billion in wholesale and retail activity across the U.S. and Canada.
There will be obvious ways to extend what GrubHub does deeper into the needs of its customers on the purchasing end, but this is in many ways also a very crowded market. (And not just crowded, but crowded with big companies. Just today, Toast, the company that builds software for restaurants, filed for a $717 million IPO at potentially a $16.5 billion valuation.) So instead, GrubHub will continue to focus on what has been a more overlooked aspect, that of the suppliers.
“I am focused on the food supply chain,” Xu said. “Operators in the food supply chain business most of the time don’t have any access to software and e-commerce technology. But we are not just a lightweight online ordering system. We do a lot of heavyweight lifting around inventory management, pricing and customer relations, and even HR management for wholesales and distributors.” That will also mean, longer term, that GrubMarket will likely also start to explore connected hardware to help those customers, too: robotics for picking and moving items are on that agenda, Xu said.
“GrubMarket has built a profitable, high-growth business underpinned by its best-in-class technology platform that’s reinventing how businesses access healthy, fresh foods,” said Jack Litowitz, director of strategic investments at Reimagined Ventures, in a statement. “We’re proud to support GrubMarket as it continues to expand into new regions and grow its WholesaleWare 2.0 software platform. At Reimagined Ventures, we always seek to invest in businesses that are disrupting inefficient industries in innovative ways. Mike Xu and the GrubMarket team have built one of these businesses. We’re excited to back their vision and work in making the food supply chain more efficient.”
“GrubMarket is transforming the trillion-dollar food distribution industry with unprecedented speed by implementing advanced digital solutions and operational discipline. The company’s scale, growth, and profitability are extraordinarily impressive. Pegasus is delighted and honored to be part of GrubMarket’s exciting journey ahead,” added Bill Reichert, partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures.
Koyo, a fintech startup using open banking to offer loans to people with poor credit histories, has closed a Series A funding round of $50m in debt and equity led by Force Over Mass, with participation from existing investors Forward Partners, Frontline Ventures and Seedcamp. New investors in Koyo include Force Over Mass, Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless, founder of Nested), and angel investors from the banking and lending sectors. It last raised $4.9 million in 2019. With many sectors of the population having racked up debts during the pandemic, Koyo is likely to benefit from this underclass of consumer, normally rejected by the main loans companies.
The startup says it uses Open Banking data (bank transactions), rather than credit agency scores to underwrite risk for lending to consumers. In other words, it looks at how customers spend their money on a day-to-day basis, rather than what a credit agency says about them. The idea is to offer attractive rates and cheaper borrowing to a usually underserved market, usually known as ‘thin file’ customers (short or no credit history) or ‘near prime’ customers. The near-prime market equates to c13-15m people in the UK.
Thomas Olszewski, Koyo’s founder and a former VC with Frontline Ventures in London and Cavalry Ventures in Berlin, said in a statement: “Koyo launched at the start of the global pandemic and has proven that innovative use of open banking data results in better risk decisioning and ultimately has enabled us to grow the business during one of the toughest economic times the UK has faced. I’m proud to have continued to give many people in the UK access to competitively priced credit, during a time where most traditional lenders were quick to scale back their lending.”
Filip Coen, Force Over Mass partner, said, “We invest in companies that combine transformational technology with strong business models, and Koyo indexed strongly in both of those departments. Koyo has built a first-class foundation over the last 18 months of operation, and we’re excited to be part of its future”.
How many of us have not switched insurance carriers because we don’t want to deal with the hassle of comparison shopping?
A lot, I’d bet.
Today, Insurify, a startup that wants to help people make it easier to get better rates on home, auto and life insurance, announced that it has closed $100 million in an “oversubscribed” Series B funding round led by Motive Partners.
Existing backers Viola FinTech, MassMutual Ventures, Nationwide, Hearst Ventures and Moneta VC also put money in the round, as well as new investors Viola Growth and Fort Ross Ventures. With the new financing, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Insurify has now raised a total of $128 million since its 2013 inception. The company declined to disclose the valuation at which the money was raised.
Since we last covered Insurify, the startup has seen some impressive growth. For example, it has seen its new and recurring revenue increase by “6x” since it closed its Series A funding in the 2019 fourth quarter. Over the last three years, Insurify has achieved a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 151%, according to co-founder and CEO Snejina Zacharia. It has also seen consistent “2.5x” year-over-year revenue growth, she said.
Insurify has built a machine learning-based virtual insurance agent that integrates with more than 100 carriers to digitize — and personalize — the insurance shopping experience. There are others in the insurtech space, but none that we know of currently tackling home, auto and life insurance. For example, Jerry, which has raised capital twice this year, is focused mostly on auto insurance, although it does have a home product. The Zebra, which became a unicorn this year, started out as a site for people looking for auto insurance via its real-time quote comparison tool. Over time, it has also evolved to offer homeowners insurance with the goal of eventually branching out into renters and life insurance. But it too is mostly focused on auto.
Zacharia said that since Insurify’s Series A funding, it has expanded its home insurance marketplace, deepened its carrier integrations to provide users an “instant” purchase experience and launched its first two embedded insurance products through partnerships with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions and Nationwide (the latter of which also participated in the Series B funding round).
Last year, when SkyScanner had to lay off staff, Insurify scooped up much of its engineering team and established an office in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Zacharia, a former Gartner executive, was inspired to start the company after she was involved in a minor car accident while getting her MBA at MIT. The accident led to a spike in her insurance premium and Zacharia was frustrated by the “complex and cumbersome” experience of car insurance shopping. She teamed up with Chief Product Officer Tod Kiryazov and her husband KAYAK President Giorgos Zacharia to build Insurify, which they describe as a virtual insurance agent that offers real-time quotes.
“We decided to build the most trusted virtual insurance agent in the industry that allows for customers to easily search, compare and buy fully digitally — directly from their mobile phone, or desktop, and really get a very smart, personalized experience based on their unique preferences,” Zacharia told TechCrunch. “We leverage artificial intelligence to be able to make recommendations on both coverage as well as carrier selection.”
Notably, Insurify is also a fully licensed agent that takes over the fulfillment and servicing of the policies. Since the company is mostly working as an insurance agent, it gets paid new and renewed commission. So while it’s not a SaaS business, its embedded insurance offerings have SaaS-like monetization.
“Our goal is to provide an experience for the end consumer that allows them to service and manage all of their policies in one place, digitally,” Zacharia said. “We think that the data recommendations that the platform provides can really remove most of the friction that currently exists in the shopping experience.”
Insurify plans to use its fresh capital to continue to expand its operations and accelerate its growth plans. It also, naturally, wants to add to its 125-person team.
“We want to build into our API integrations so customers can receive real-time direct quotes with better personalization and a more tailored experience,” Kiryazov said. “We also want to identify more embedded insurance opportunities and expand the product functionality.”
The company also down the line wants to expand into other verticals such as pet insurance, for example.
Insurify intends to use the money in part to build brand awareness, potentially through TV advertising.
“Almost half of our revenue comes from self-directed traffic,” Zacharia said. “So we want to explore more inorganic growth.”
James “Jim” O’Neill, founding partner at Motive Partners and industry partner Andy Rear point out that online purchasing now accounts for almost all of the growth in U.S. auto insurance.
“The lesson from other markets which have been through this transition is that customers prefer choice, presented as a simple menu of products and prices from different insurers, and a straightforward online purchasing process,” they wrote via email. “The U.S. auto market is huge: even a slow transition to online means a massive opportunity for Insurify.”
In conducting their due diligence, the pair said they were impressed with how the startup is building a business model “that works for customers, insurers and white-label partners.”
Harel Beit-On, founder and general partner at Viola Growth, believes that the quantum leap in e-commerce due to COVID-19 will completely transform the buying experience in almost every sector, including insurance.
“It is time to bring the frictionless purchasing experience that customers expect to the insurance space as well,” she said. “Following our fintech fund’s recent investment in the company, we watched Insurify’s immense growth, excellent execution with customer acquisition and building a brand consumers trust.”
A cybersecurity company says a popular smart home security system has a pair of vulnerabilities that can be exploited to disarm the system altogether.
Rapid7 found the vulnerabilities in the Fortress S03, a home security system that relies on Wi-Fi to connect cameras, motion sensors, and sirens to the internet, allowing owners to remotely monitor their home anywhere with a mobile app. The security system also uses a radio-controlled key fob to let homeowners arm or disarm their house from outside their front door.
But the cybersecurity company said the vulnerabilities include an unauthenticated API and an unencrypted radio signal that can be easily intercepted.
Rapid7 revealed details of the two vulnerabilities on Tuesday after not hearing from Fortress in three months, the standard window of time that security researchers give to companies to fix bugs before details are made public. Rapid7 said its only acknowledgment of its email was when Fortress closed its support ticket a week later without commenting.
Fortress owner Michael Hofeditz opened but did not respond to several emails sent by TechCrunch with an email open tracker. An email from Bottone Riling, a Massachusetts law firm representing Fortress, called the claims “false, purposely misleading and defamatory,” but did not provide specifics that it claims are false, or if Fortress has mitigated the vulnerabilities.
Rapid7 said that Fortress’ unauthenticated API can be remotely queried over the internet without the server checking if the request is legitimate. The researchers said by knowing a homeowner’s email address, the server would return the device’s unique IMEI, which in turn could be used to remotely disarm the system.
The other flaw takes advantage of the unencrypted radio signals sent between the security system and the homeowner’s key fob. That allowed Rapid7 to capture and replay the signals for “arm” and “disarm” because the radio waves weren’t scrambled properly.
Vishwakarma said homeowners could add a plus-tagged email address with a long, unique string of letters and numbers in place of a password as a stand-in for a password. But there was little for homeowners to do for the radio signal bug until Fortress addresses it.
Fortress has not said if it has fixed or plans to fix the vulnerabilities. It’s not clear if Fortress is able to fix the vulnerabilities without replacing the hardware. It’s not known if Fortress builds the device itself or buys the hardware from another manufacturer.
- Many smart home device makers still won’t say if they give your data to the government
- Window Snyder’s new startup Thistle Technologies raises $2.5M seed to secure IoT devices
- Peloton’s leaky API let anyone grab riders’ private account data
- Amazon says government demands for user data spiked by 800% in 2020
The elevation of Greg Epstein, author of “Good Without God,” reflects a broader trend of young people who increasingly identify as spiritual but religiously nonaffiliated.
Ali Jaafar and his sons Mohamed and Yousef cashed in more than 13,000 Massachusetts lottery tickets, prosecutors said, allowing the actual winners to potentially avoid paying taxes or child support.
The storm was expected to continue dumping rain across the region through Monday night, prompting flood watches in several states.
An eighth-grade class in North Andover, Mass., is seeking to clear the name of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who was convicted of witchcraft in 1693.
Noetic Cyber, a cloud-based continuous cyber asset management and controls platform, has launched from stealth with a Series A funding round of $15 million led by Energy Impact Partners.
The round was also backed by Noetic’s existing investors, TenEleven Ventures and GlassWing Ventures, and brings the total amount of funds raised by the startup to $20 million following a $5 million seed round. Shawn Cherian, a partner at Energy Impact Partners, will join the Noetic board, while Niloofar Razi Howe, a senior operating partner at the investment firm, will join Noetic’s advisory board.
“Noetic is a true market disruptor, offering an innovative way to fix the cyber asset visibility problem — a growing and persistent challenge in today’s threat landscape,” said Howe.
The Massachusetts-based startup claims to be taking a new approach to the cyber asset management problem. Unlike traditional solutions, Noetic is not agent-based, instead using API aggregation and correlation to draw insights from multiple security and IT management tools.
“What makes us different is that we’re putting orchestration and automation at the heart of the solution, so we’re not just showing security leaders that they have problems, but we’re helping them to fix them,” Paul Ayers, CEO and co-founder of Noetic Cyber tells TechCrunch.
Ayer was previously a top exec at PGP Corporation (acquired by Symantec for $370 million) and Vormetric (acquired by Thales for $400 million) and founded Noetic Cyber with Allen Roger and Allen Hadden, who have previously worked at cybersecurity vendors including Authentica, Raptor and Axent. All three were also integral to the development of Resilient Systems, which was acquired by IBM.
“The founding team’s experience in the security, orchestration, automation and response market gives us unique experience and insights to make automation a key pillar of the solution,” Ayers said. “Our model gives you the certainty to make automation possible, the goal is to find and fix problems continuously, getting assets back to a secure state.”
“The development of the technology has been impacted by the current cyber landscape, and the pandemic, as some of the market drivers we’ve seen around the adoption of cloud services, and the increased use of unmanaged devices by remote workers, are driving a great need for accurate cyber asset discovery and management.”
The company, which currently has 20 employees, says it plans to use the newly raised funds to double its headcount by the end of the year, as well as increase its go-to-market capability in the U.S. and the U.K. to grow its customer base and revenue growth.
“In terms of technology development, this investment allows us to continue to add development and product management talent to the team to build on our cyber asset management platform,” Ayers said.
“The beauty of our approach is that it allows us to easily add more applications and use cases on top of our core asset visibility and management model. We will continue to add more connectors to support customer use cases and will be bringing a comprehensive controls package to market later in 2021, as well as a community edition in 2022.”
The vaccines are effective, but they are not a golden shield against the coronavirus, particularly not the Delta variant.
The owners of Apt Cape Cod, a farm-to-table restaurant in Brewster, Mass., drew a line in the sand against customers’ rude behavior since being allowed to fully reopen.
The states, including Massachusetts and New York, agreed to drop opposition to the bankruptcy organization plan of the company, the maker of OxyContin.
A group of 37 attorneys general filed a second major multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday, accusing the company of abusing its market power to stifle competitors and forcing consumers into in-app payments that grant the company a hefty cut.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is co-leading the suit alongside with the Tennessee, North Carolina and Utah attorneys general. The bipartisan coalition represents 36 U.S. states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
“Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of Android users turn to Google, and only Google, for the millions of applications they may choose to download to their phones and tablets,” James said in a press release. “Worse yet, Google is squeezing the lifeblood out of millions of small businesses that are only seeking to compete.”
In December, 35 states filed a separate antitrust suit against Google, alleging that the company engaged in illegal behavior to maintain a monopoly on the search business. The Justice Department filed its own antitrust case focused on search last October.
In the new lawsuit, embedded below, the bipartisan coalition of states allege that Google uses “misleading” security warnings to keep consumers and developers within its walled app garden, the Google Play store. But the fees that Google collects from Android app developers are likely the meat of the case.
“Not only has Google acted unlawfully to block potential rivals from competing with its Google Play Store, it has profited by improperly locking app developers and consumers into its own payment processing system and then charging high fees,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said.
Like Apple, Google herds all app payment processing into its own service, Google Play Billing, and reaps the rewards: a 30 percent cut of all payments. Much of the criticism here is a case that could — and likely will — be made against Apple, which exerts even more control over its own app ecosystem. Google doesn’t have an iMessage equivalent exclusive app that keeps users locked in in quite the same way.
While the lawsuit discusses Google’s “monopoly power” in the app marketplace, the elephant in the room is Apple — Google’s thriving direct competitor in the mobile software space. The lawsuit argues that consumers face pressure to stay locked into the Android ecosystem, but on the Android side at least, much of that is ultimately familiarity and sunk costs. The argument on the Apple side of the equation here is likely much stronger.
The din over tech giants squeezing app developers with high mobile payment fees is just getting louder. The new multi-state lawsuit is the latest beat, but the topic has been white hot since Epic took Apple to court over its desire to bypass Apple’s fees by accepting mobile payments outside the App Store. When Epic set up a workaround, Apple kicked it out of the App Store and Epic Games v. Apple was born.
The Justice Department is reportedly already interested in Apple’s own app store practices, along with many state AGs who could launch a separate suit against the company at any time.
The men, who wore military-style gear and claimed in a livestream to be “foreign nationals,” were part of an hourslong standoff with police officers.
Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.
Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.
Proving that Central and Eastern Europe remains a powerhouse of hardware engineering matched with software, Gideon Brothers (GB), a Zagreb, Croatia-based robotics and AI startup, has raised a $31 million Series A round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), the venture and growth arm of Koch Industries Inc., with participation from DB Schenker, Prologis Ventures, and Rite-Hite.
The round also includes participation from several of Gideon Brothers’ existing backers: Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise), Pentland Ventures, Peaksjah, HCVC (Hardware Club), Ivan Topčić, Nenad Bakić, and Luca Ascani.
The investment will be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of GB’s AI and 3D vision-based ‘autonomous mobile robots’ or ‘AMRs’. These perform simple tasks such as transporting, picking up, and dropping off products in order to free up humans to perform more valuable tasks.
The company will also expand its operations in the EU and US by opening offices in Munich, Germany and Boston, Massachusetts, respectively.
Gideon Brothers make robots and the accompanying software platform that specializes in horizontal and vertical handling processes for logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, and retail businesses. For obvious reasons, the need to roboticize supply chains has exploded during the pandemic.
Matija Kopić, CEO of Gideon Brothers, said: “The pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of smart automation, and we are ready to meet the unprecedented market demand. The best way to do it is by marrying our proprietary solutions with the largest, most demanding customers out there. Our strategic partners have real challenges that our robots are already solving, and, with us, they’re seizing the incredible opportunity right now to effect robotic-powered change to some of the world’s most innovative organizations.”
He added: “Partnering with these forward-thinking industry leaders will help us expand our global footprint, but we will always stay true to our Croatian roots. That is our superpower. The Croatian start-up scene is growing exponentially and we want to unlock further opportunities for our country to become a robotics & AI powerhouse.”
Annant Patel, Director at Koch Disruptive Technologies said: “With more than 300 Koch operations and production units globally, KDT recognizes the unique capabilities of and potential for Gideon Brothers’ technology to substantially transform how businesses can approach warehouse and manufacturing processes through cutting edge AI and 3D AMR technology.”
Xavier Garijo, Member of the Board of Management for Contract Logistics, DB Schenker added: “Our partnership with Gideon Brothers secures our access to best in class robotics and intelligent material handling solutions to serve our customers in the most efficient way.”
GB’s competitors include Seegrid, Teradyne (MiR), Vecna Robotics, Fetch Robotics, AutoGuide Mobile Robots, Geek+ and Otto Motors.
“Science doesn’t support prosecution of second graders,” one lawyer said. Still, in New York, children as young as 7 can be charged with a crime.
“Science doesn’t support prosecution of second graders,” one lawyer said. Still, in New York, children as young as 7 can be charged with a crime.
For many Americans, having enough marijuana was as essential as stocking up on toilet paper. And suppliers found a way to get it to them.
Carrington Moore signed up for a dating app to better understand user preferences for a start-up business. Then he came across Schnelle Shelby’s profile.
Young progressives are an unpredictable new factor in Massachusetts elections. They’re ardent, and organized, and they don’t take orders.
Two new exhibitions at Mass MoCA created over the past year offer insights into our new normal.
Officer Patricia Lio of the Milton Police Department in Massachusetts is accused of berating her son’s 14-year-old Black friend about his stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Local officials nationwide are announcing plans to step back from elected office. Many offer the same explanation: Covid burnout.
A bipartisan group of governors decided to flex its muscle and get students back into classrooms, despite union resistance and bureaucratic hesitancy.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law late last week one of the nation’s most sweeping climate bills, putting the state on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The law sets emissions limits of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 75 percent cuts by 2040 with interim limits every five years. To achieve those goals, the Bay State will add gigawatts of offshore wind power, spur cities and towns to adopt a net-zero building code, and set targets for electric vehicles, charging stations, and energy storage.
The state expects that it will be able to fully eliminate 85 percent of all carbon emissions by 2050. For the remaining 15 percent, it will have to find other options, including tree planting or direct air capture of carbon dioxide. The net-zero target of 2050 is encouraged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to avoid warming of greater than 1.5˚ C.
Kaitlyn Greenidge and her sisters achieved success in their respective fields. In her historical novel, “Libertie,” she focuses on a Black woman who doesn’t yearn to be the first or only one of anything.
In 1966, a Massachusetts mother of three began writing to young men serving in Vietnam. One became her most steadfast pen pal, writing her 77 letters over seven years.
Some public health officials say it’s time for the C.D.C. to loosen its social distancing guidelines for classrooms, but the idea has detractors.
Founded in 2005, Appfire was bootstrapped until it got $49 million from Silversmith Capital Partners last May. Since that time, Appfire has acquired six companies in the Atlassian “ecosystem,” including Botron, Beecom, Innovalog, Navarambh, Artemis and Bolo.
The Boston-based company has been profitable for over a decade, according to Randall Ward, co-founder and CEO of Appfire. And while Ward declined to reveal valuation or hard revenue numbers, he did say that Appfire has seen its ARR more than double over the past year.
Since last June alone, the company says it has experienced:
- A 103% year over year increase in ARR.
- A 258% YOY increase in enterprise subscription revenue (data center only).
- A 182% YOY increase in all subscription revenue (data center and cloud).
So why the need for institutional capital? With the latest funding, Appfire intends to extend its buying spree of complementary apps.
Appfire has been acquiring businesses every six to eight weeks, and it plans to continue scooping them up at that pace, according to Ward.
It’s also looking to let shareholders cash in on their options.
Fun fact: Atlassian itself was bootstrapped for nearly a decade. The Australian enterprise software company was profitable from its inception in 2001 before taking its first round of external capital, a $60 million financing led by Accel, in July 2010. The financing was primarily secondary.
Appfire was initially a professional services company before transitioning into products in 2013. The company says it has “developed domain expertise in creating, launching and distributing apps” through the Atlassian marketplace. Today, the company has 85 products on that marketplace and more than 110,000 active installations globally spanning workflow automation, business intelligence, publishing and administrative tools.
Specifically, the company’s Bob Swift, Feed Three and Wittified brand apps aim to help companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks streamline product development through improved collaboration, security, reporting and automation.
“We started this business 15 years ago with the goal of building software applications for customers,” Ward told TechCrunch. “At that time, there were no marketplaces, so iTunes marketplace didn’t exist, Google Play didn’t exist, but yet we were seeing that applications were getting smaller in size, Mozilla was putting out plugins. My co-founder and I were sitting on the floor of a warehouse in Maynard, Massachusetts and we conceived of this company called Appfire, and boy did we pick the right name.”
The pair then stumbled upon a project by which a friend of a friend was looking for them to integrate two pieces of software with software from Atlassian.
“It was brand new to us — we had never heard of it — a software called JIRA and another piece of software called Confluence,” Ward recalls. “About three months later we launched a project and then got introduced to the co-founders of Atlassian.”
In 2017, Appfire decided it wanted to focus full time on becoming “the biggest app platform and aggregator.”
“So we decided to wind down all the other little special side projects for Atlassian delivering services to customers, and really put all of our eggs in this marketplace basket,” Ward recalls.
It was at that point the company began looking for external capital. With this last raise, though, Ward says Appfire was not necessarily looking for more cash.
When approached by TA, Appfire asked if it could create more employee equity programs so the company could be an employee-led business. It also asked if it could take 1% of its equity and contribute to the Pledge 1% initiative.
“They said yes,” Ward said. “So that led us to this latest funding.”
Appfire is also moving into business intelligence and data analytics apps for Tableau and Microsoft Power BI.
As mentioned above, some of its latest funding will go back to existing shareholders, Ward said. The remainder will go into continuing to grow the business.
“We have a lot of organic and inorganic growth opportunities,” he added. “…That obviously takes some momentum.”
Michael Libert, a principal of TA Associates, said his firm had been tracking Appfire’s progress for “quite some time.” The company’s apps, he said, do not require complex training, allowing customers to improve productivity “at a low cost,” leading to further customer adoption and enabling “a solid land-and-expand strategy.”
“We found the company’s high-quality business model, impressive organic growth and recent significant acquisitive activity particularly attractive,” Libert told TechCrunch.
From distributed homes in Cambridge, Mass. and Cambridge, England, inBalance Research is joining Y Combinator as it looks to accelerate its business as the oracle for independent energy providers, utilities, and market makers.
Selling a service it calls Delphi, the very early stage startup is hoping to provide analysis for power producers and utilities on the demand forecasts of energy markets.
The orchestration of energy load across the grid has become a more pressing issue for utilities around the country after witnessing the disastrous collapse of Texas’ power grid in response to its second “once-in-a-century” storm in the last decade.
“If we want to address the solution longterm, it’s a two part solution,” said inBalance co-founder and chief executive, Thomas Marge. “It’s a combination of hardware and software. You need the right assets online and you need the right software that can ensure that markets operate when there are extreme market shocks.”
Prices for electricity change every 15 minutes, and sometimes those pries can fluctuate wildly. In some places, even without the weather conditions that demolished the Texas grid and drove some companies out of business, prices can double in a matter of hours, according to inBalance.
That’s what makes forecasting tools important, the company said. As prices spike, asset managers of finite responsive resources such as hydro and storage need to decide if they will offer more value to the market now or later. Coming online too early or too late will decrease the revenue for their clean generation and increase peak prices for consumers.
The situation is even worse, according to the company, if storage and intermittent renewables come online at the same time. That can create downward price pressure for both the storage and renewable assets, which, in turn, can lead to increased fossil fuel generation later the same day, once cleaner sources are depleted.
The software to predict those pressures is what inBalance claims to provide. Marge and his fellow co-founders, Rajan Troll and Edwin Fennell have always been interested in the problems associated with big data and energy.
For Marge, that began when he worked on a project to optimize operations for wind farms during a stint in Lexington, Mass.
“Fundamentally we’re a data science solution,” said Marge. “It’s a combination of knowing what factors influence every single asset on every single market in North America. We have a glimpse into how those assets are going to be working one day before to one hour before in order to do price forecasting.”
So far, one utility using the company’s software in the Northeast has managed to curb its emissions by 0.2%. With a focus on renewables, inBalance is hoping to roll out larger reductions to the 3,000 market participants that are also using its forecasting tools for other services. Another application is in the work inBalance is conducting with a gas peaker plant to help offset the intermittency of renewable generation sources.
The reduction in emissions in New England is particularly impressive given that the company only began working with the utility there in December. Given its forecasting tools, the company is able to provide a window into which assets might be most valuable at what time — including, potentially, natural gas peaking plants, hydropower, pumped hydropower (basically an energy storage technology), battery or flywheel energy storage projects and demand response technologies that encourage businesses and consumers to reduce consumption in response to price signals, Marge said.
Already, six companies have taken a trip to see the Delphi software and come away as early users. They include a global renewable asset manager and one of the top ten largest utilities in the U.S., according to Marge.
“We use machine learning to accurately forecast electricity prices from terabytes of public and proprietary data. The solution required for daily power system stability is both hardware—like storage and electric vehicle charging—and the software required to optimally use it. inBalance exists to be that software solution,” the company said in a statement.
Tobey Pearl’s “Terror to the Wicked” describes a 1638 trial in which three colonists were convicted and executed for murdering a Native American.
The woman who says the enslaved people are her ancestors plans to appeal the decision “about the patriarch of a family, a subject of bedtime stories.”
Massachusetts is one of the first states to put legislative guardrails around the use of facial recognition technology in criminal investigations.
Massachusetts allows caregivers to be vaccinated if they accompany residents who are 75 and older. This has given rise to an online market for mature companions.
“We intend to build the Standard Oil of renewable energy,” said James McGinniss, the co-founder and chief executive of David Energy, in a statement announcing the company’s new $19 million seed round of debt and equity funding.
McGinniss’ company is aiming to boost renewable energy adoption and slash energy usage in the built environment by creating a service that operates on both sides of the energy marketplace.
The company combines energy management services for commercial buildings through the software it has developed with the ability to sell energy directly to customers in an effort to reduce the energy consumption and the attendant carbon footprint of the built environment.
The company’s software, Mycor, leverages building demand data and the assets that the building has at its disposal to shift user energy consumption to the times when renewable power is most available, and cheapest.
It’s a novel approach to an old idea of creating environmental benefits by reducing energy consumption. Using its technology, David Energy tracks both the market price of energy and the energy usage by the buildings it manages. The company sells energy to customers at a fixed price and then uses its windows into energy markets and energy demand to make money off of the difference in power pricing.
That’s why the company needed to raise $15 million in a monthly revolving credit facility from Hartree Partners. So it could pay for the power its customers have bought upfront.
There are a number of tailwinds supporting the growth of a business like David Energy right now. Given the massive amounts of money that are being earmarked for energy conservation and energy efficiency upgrades, companies like David, which promise to manage energy consumption to reduce demand, are going to be huge beneficiaries.
“Looking at the macro shift and the attention being paid to things like battery storage and micro grids we do feel like we’re launching this at the perfect time,” said McGinniss. “We’re offering [customers] market rates and then rebating the savings back to them. They’re getting the software with a market energy supply contract and they are getting the savings back. It’s is bringing that whole bundled package together really brings it all together.”
In addition to the credit facility, the company also raised $4.1 million in venture financing from investors led by Equal Ventures and including Operator Partners, Box Group, Greycroft, Sandeep Jain and Xuan Yong of RigUp, returning angel investor Kiran Bhatraju of Arcadia, and Jason Jacobs’ recently launched My Climate Journey Collective, an early-stage climate tech fund.
“Renewable energy generators are fundamentally different in their variable, distributed, and digitally-native nature compared to their fossil fuel predecessors while customer loads like heating and driving are shifting to electricity consumption from gas. The sands of market power are shifting and incumbents are poorly-positioned to adapt to evolving customer needs, so there’s a massive opportunity for us to capitalize.”
Founded by McGinniss, Brian Maxwell and Ahmed Salman, David Energy raised $1.5 million in pre-seed financing back in March 2020.
As the company expands, its relationship with Hartree, an energy and commodities trading desk, will become even more important. As the startup noted, Hartree is the gateway that David needs to transact with energy markets. The trader provides a balance sheet for working capital to purchase energy on behalf of David’s customers.
“Renewables are causing fundamental shifts in energy markets, and new models and tools need to emerge,” said Dinkar Bhatia, Co-Head of North American Power at Hartree Partners. “James and the team have identified a significant opportunity in the market and have the right strategy to execute. Hartree is excited to be a commodity partner with David Energy on the launch of the new smart retail platform and is looking forward to helping make DE Supply the premier retailer in the market.”
David now has retail electricity licenses in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts and is looking to expand around the country.
“David energy stands to reinvent the way that hundreds of billions of dollars a year in energy are consumed,” said Equal Ventures investor Rick Zullo. “Business model creativity and finding ways to change user behavior with new models is just as important if not more important than the technology innovation itself.”
Zullo said his firm pitched David Energy on leading the round after years of looking for a commercial renewable energy startup. The core insight was finding a service that could appeal not to the new construction that already is working with top-of-the-line energy management systems, but with the millions of square feet that aren’t adopting the latest and greatest energy management systems.
“Finding something that will go and bring this to the mass market was something we had been on the hunt for really since the inception of Equal Ventures,” said Zullo.
The innovation that made David attractive was the business model. “There is a landscape of hundreds of dead companies,” Zullo said. “What they did was find a way to subsidize the service. They give away at low or no cost and move that in with line items. The partnership with Partree gives them the opportunity to be the cheapest and also the best for you and the highest margin regional energy provider in the market.”
Folx Health is leveraging the explosion of virtual care services to offer greater access to healthcare focused on the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, and has raised $25 million in new funding to help it grow.
It’s part of a revolution in care that’s targeting the needs of specific communities with access to physicians that understand those needs. And it’s all made possible by virtual interactions.
“We have a good sense of the nature of the need and the depth of the pain in the community,” said A.G. Breitenstein, the founder and chief executive of Folx Health. “As a non-binary lesbian and healthcare industry veteran, I have seen and experienced firsthand just how broken the current system is for the queer and trans community,”
Breitenstein said Folx would be using the cash to try and expand to all fifty states and increase the available products and services the healthcare company would look to make available to the queer and trans community.
“Whether it’s HRT, PrEP, sexual health or family creation, health care is essential for us to be who we are. It’s about time we build a platform for ourselves, so Queer and Trans people feel seen, heard, and celebrated,” she said in a statement.
That was one reason why Bessemer Venture Partners leapt at the chance to lead the new financing round for Folx, according to Morgan Cheatham, an investor out of Bessemer’s New York office. The other was the size of the market.
“At a high level, 2% of the population identify as transgender,” said Cheatham. “At that math, when we looked at that, we were able to see a multibillion dollar market opportunity not just to provide [hormone replacement therapy], but to provide a healthcare destination for this community.”
Telescoping out to the opportunity to provide care to the LGBTQ community broadly, when that population represents about 10% to 20% of the population is a “deca-billion opportunity,” said Cheatham.
Breitenstein envisions offering family planning services, broad primary care, and sexual health and wellness care in addition to the hormone therapies that the company currently offers.
Folx joins a cohort of companies tackling health issues specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community which include the mental healthcare service, Violet; Included Health, an employee benefit service; and Plume, which focuses on care for the transgender community.
“We believed in the vision and the approach that she’s taking. She’s building a healthcare experience that is celebratory and dignified rather than one that pathologizing healthcare,” said Cheatham.
For Bessemer and Cheatham, the investment speaks to broader opportunities to identify specific populations that need care tailored to their specific experience. That includes companies like Spora Health and Live Chair Health, which focus on providing healthcare specifically to people of color.
“Our individual identities whether it be socioeconomic status, race, gender… All of these things inform how we interface with the medical industrial complex,” Cheatham said.
Previous investors Define Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners will also participate in the round, which follows quickly on the heels of Folx’s launch from stealth in December 2020.
For its patients, Folx Health is offering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT: testosterone or estrogen) with monthly plans starting at $59 a month. Folx Health will also begin releasing its sexual health and wellness offerings starting with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) treatment, soon to be followed by at-home STI Testing and Treatment, all customized for the specifics of Queer and Trans bodies, the company said.
The services will include unlimited on-demand clinical support with at-home lab testing (for most plans) and home-delivered medications (costs may vary based on medication). The company’s services are now available in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The company is also launching a Folx Library, which will serve as a content hub and resource for Queer and Trans health, written by Folx clinicians and its broader community.
“Our partnership with Folx is a historical moment. It’s challenging to articulate how transformative Folx is for our community. We do so mindful of the brilliant and brave Queer and Trans people who fought for this moment to happen,” said Cheatham in a statement.