Sometimes—when it comes to launching a startup—the less said, the better. That’s the mindset behind staying in stealth mode, a term that refers to an emerging company’s temporary state of secretiveness. By keeping certain key details about its purpose, products, personnel and even funding under wraps, that startup can avoid giving competitors the chance to develop competing technologies. Not to mention, a lack of publicity can have an almost opposite effect: Secrecy suggests those startups have something big in the works, thus fueling the hype machine.
There are quite a few local companies currently in stealth mode, and with notable people in the Boston tech scene involved as well as backing from reputable investors, they already look promising.
Here are the stealthy startups we think may become important down the road:
This stealth software startup has been pretty quiet about a lot of key info. But what we do know based on a LinkedIn search is that it has at least six co-founders, including the founders of Acme Packet, Andy Ory and Patrick MeLampy; Oracle acquired Acme Packet, a publicly traded company, for $2.1 billion in 2013.
Ory has listed himself as the CEO at 128 Technology, while MeLampy’s title is COO. It’s also clear from LinkedIn that a slew of other Acme Packet vets have jumped on board, including VP of Engineering Bob Penfield, Chief Software Architect Michael Baj, VP of Solutions Architecture Prashant Kumar and VP of Product Management Patrick Timmons. 128 Technology was incorporated last June, and the office is located in Burlington. In December, the startup raised $12 million from 49 unnamed investors.
According to a Massachusetts incorporation filing, this company will provide data storage products and services. The startup was co-founded by Ellen Rubin (CEO), former VP of marketing at Netezza, and Lazarus Vekiarides (CTO), former senior engineering manager at EqualLogic (acquired by Dell in 2007). Rubin, a 50 on Fire finalist, was also a founder of CloudSwitch, which was acquired by Verizon in 2011, while Lazarus was a former executive director at EqualLogic, which was bought by Dell for $1.4 billion. The startup’s board includes serial entrepreneur Paula Long, as well as David Orfao from General Catalyst, Sean Dalton from Highland Partners and Jit Saxena, Rubin’s former boss at Netezza who’s an investor in CloudSwitch.
A website for this venture only tells us that it’s “coming soon.” But a state filing reveals that Drafted, which incorporated in August, will provide some form of technology-enabled HR service. Founder Vinayak Ranade is an MIT science/electrical engineering grad (both bachelor’s and master’s) who worked at Kayak from 2010 to 2014, most recently acting as director of engineering for mobile. The office is located on the 9th floor at 401 Park Drive in the Fenway area (the same address/floor as LAUNCH, from Rue La La vets Ben Fischman and Ted McNamara). Drafted has already raised funding from Atlas Venture’s Boston Syndicates arm as well as from former HubSpot engineering VP (and current Driftt co-founder) Elias Torres.
Incorporated last May, this stealth startup is categorized on AngelList under both mobile and artificial intelligence. EveryLabs lists four co-founders, among them Michael Sheeley, RunKeeper co-founder also formerly of Kickscout/Mobee, and RunKeeper lead Android Developer Adam Stroud. Investors include Blade CEO and co-founder Paul English, Objective Logistics CEO and co-founder Phil Beauregard, Boston Syndicates, BostInno co-founder Chase Garbarino and Bridge Boys. According to the incorporation filing, the company is based in Chelmsford.
While Layer3 TV was founded in 2013, the startup has remained in stealth mode, only recently revealing more details around its operations. The company, which claims to be “a next generation cable provider spearheading a new era of home media, combining the best of television, social and digital life,” raised $21 million in Series A financing last March. Evolution Media Growth Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners both participated in the round. Layer3 TV’s founders include a bevy of seasoned cable and media vets: Jeff Binder, the founder of on-demand television company Broadbus Technologies, which was sold for $200 million to Motorola; Dave Fellows, the former CTO at Comcast and AT&T Broadband; Chuck Hasek, Time Warner Cable engineer; Eric Kuhn, who social media head for United Talent Agency and CNN; and Vic Odryna, former CEO of Idea Arc and ZeeVee, according to Re/Code.
“Layer3 TV merges the television experience with consumers’ digital lives in ways that engage and enhance the programming and distribution eco-systems. We intend on delivering that promise,” said Binder in a statement. Back in March, the company posted multiple job openings on its website for both Boston and Denver, Colorado.
The team told Light Reading in December that it plans to launch its next-generation television service sometime this year. Alread, Layer 3 TV has signed an agreement with SeaChange International that entails use of its Nucleus video gateway software, as well as a contract for integration and testing services to bring the Nucleus platform to Layer3’s “chosen 4K IP set-top.” As such, Light Reading concluded that Layer3’s service service “aims to integrate 4K IP-based television with social media features and IoT applications,” leveraging RDK and multiscreen service delivery, and won’t likely won’t be compatible with legacy cable set-tops.
In 2013, Boston ad tech firm Jumptap was acquired by Millennial Media—and last August, we learned that Jumptap’s chief product officer, Adam Soroca, was leaving the parent company to start his own venture. Details have largely been scant on the company—nToggle—but according to a corporations division filing and incorporation filing, the startup is involved in digital advertising technology, was incorporated mid-September, and its office is located on the 14th floor at 500 Boylston St.
On his LinkedIn profile, Soroca said that nToggle aims to “help buyers and sellers trade with greater efficiency and transparency as the programmatic era comes of age.”
Now that Boston-founded streaming TV startup Aereo is finished—following a high-profile legal battle and bankruptcy last year—its founder Chet Kanojia is getting ready to launch Project Decibel.
The company was incorporated in August, and a LinkedIn company profile reveals that the company has between 11 and 50 employees; a search shows that a number of them used to work at Aereo. Among them is Aereo co-founder and CTO Joe Lipowski, and former Aereo engineer Jen Webb. According to the website, Project Decibel has an office at 745 Atlantic Ave in Boston, and 79 Madison Ave in New York City. Sources close to Project Decibel have described it as an “incubator or lab for Kanojia and his former engineers to work on new ideas and technology,” Re/code reported.
National Tech Editor Kyle Alspach contributed to this article. Image of businessman via Shutterstock. Photo of Chet Kanojia by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm TECH; used under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Disclosure: BostInno co-founder Chase Garbarino is an investor in Every Labs, as mentioned above, as one of the investors taking part in Atlas Venture’s Boston Syndicates program.