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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Lucy: Your friendly neighborhood Ace Hardware is getting into the startup acquisition business.

Dylan: The 94-year-old company today announced that it has acquired a majority stake in Somerville ecommece startup The Grommet. Ace gained majority ownership by purchasing shares of The Grommet from its previous investor, Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten.

Founded in 2008 by Jules Pieri and Joanne Domeniconi, The Grommet provides an ecommerce website that showcases new products created by entrepreneurs. With 3.5M supporters and early adopters, the website has served as the launching pad for brands like FitBit, IdeaPaint, OtterBox and other brands with coincidentally camel-cased names.

In an interview, Pieri told me the deal happened after the two companies started working together in 2016 as a way to bring The Grommet’s curated products into select Ace stores. The relationship has been mutually beneficial, giving Ace improved buying power with emerging companies while providing The Grommet a solid retail presence.

“For Ace, our ability to identify, test and validate unheard of and innovative products is like competitive gold because they compete locally against big-box stores,” Pieri said. If a certain Grommet product is performing well at Ace, she added, it will give the hardware store an easier way to develop a relationship with the supplier.

Lucy: On the other hand, the acquisition will give The Grommet an even larger physical presence in the United States. With The Grommet displays at 400 Ace stores now, Pieri said they will eventually cover a majority of the retailer’s 5,000 stores. Read more: Ace Hardware Acquires The Grommet to Gain ‘Competitive Gold’ in Retail

Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.

Lucy: Boston-based entrepreneur Bryanne Leeming launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund Unruly Splats, a game that’s supposed to get children active while teaching them coding skills. Currently, the Kickstarter campaign has raised almost $18K out of a goal of $40K.

Dylan: Level Ex, a Chicago startup that creates educational video games for doctors, is expanding to Boston with the announcement of its $11M Series A round (See Chicago Inno’s story here). A spokesperson told us the company is opening an office in Boston to better service its pharmaceutical and medical device partnerships on the East Coast.

Lucy: Mautic, an open source marketing software provider, today announced a new product called Maestro. According to the company, Maestro increases scalability and saves time for the marketers. In addition, Mautic announced an upcoming beta program for Maven, a marketing intelligence product that will apply machine learning to help marketers optimize campaigns and content delivery, coming later this year.

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

After bidding war, Cambridge gene therapy firm Dimension accepts $151M buyout [BBJ]

MIT professor Rainer Weiss awarded Nobel Prize in Physics [BBJ]

Starbucks has ‘unequal’ parental leave policy, Boston investor says [BBJ]

BostInno Departed: Boston Startups That Were Acquired or Shut Down in September [BostInno]

These 28 Boston Startups Raised More Than $418M in September [BostInno]

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Infinidat, the Waltham-based data storage startup founded by EMC veteran Moshe Yanai, has raised a $95M Series C round led by a Goldman Sachs investment group. The latest round, announced on Tuesday, brings the company’s valuation to $1.6B, Infinidat said. The new funding comes as the company has been profitable with 13 consecutive quarters of revenue growth, with a 250% year-over-year increase in the second quarter. Read more: Infinidat Raises $95M Series C Led by Goldman Sachs at $1.6B Valuation

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Lucy: Susan Graham Johnston is joining 128 Technology as president. She was formerly with the Linde GroupOracle and Bain & Company.

Dylan: LearnLaunch has named Mark Miller as its new chairman, BBJ reported. Miller, who’s taking over from Jean Hammond, is one of the edtech accelerator’s co-founders.

Lucy: Jeffrey Immelt retired as chairman and left the board of GE about three months ahead of schedule, The Boston Globe reported. He had been expected to step down at the end of the year. The new chairman is CEO John Flannery.

Dylan: Two more quick items: Smart contracts startup Adjoint has hired Somil Goyal, a former associate partner at EY, as its COO. Last but not least, New York retail tech startup Custora added former Demandware CEO Tom Ebling to its board of directors.

In The Community

The events and happenings to know about tonight and this week.

Lucy: Amazon said its second HQ will create 50,000 new jobs, but could the city of its choice be Boston? While we’re waiting for the Seattle giant to announce its decision, we’ve compiled a curated list of who’s hiring in the Boston tech hub in October. In a nutshell: CarGurus is looking for senior engineers, EF Education First for developers and Microsoft Cambridge for a tech solution professional. Read more: Boston Startups and Tech Companies Hiring in October 

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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