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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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Dylan: Two reminders: 1) We announced our Tech Madness finalists yesterday (see them here and get tickets for the March 8 event here). 2) We’re hosting a State of Innovation event on Feb. 28 on the Future of the Payments Industry at The Yard in Back Bay. The speakers are BlueSnap CEO Ralph Dangelmaier, Jim Cunha of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, crypto investor Gayatri Sarkar and Flywire VP of Global Payments Ryan Frere. Buy tickets here.

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: You may have seen Soofa’s smart benches and signs in Kendall Square and Faneuil Hall, and they’re certainly neat to look at. Plus, the signs can provide helpful information, such as MBTA arrival times, directions to nearby attractions and local event listings. The benches let you charge your smartphone. But is that all there is to it?

While the Cambridge-based startup is putting a modern spin on city amenities, there’s a lot more happening under the hood, with the goal of using sensor data collected by the benches and signs to help cities with urban planning. The MIT-born startup, which raised a $2.5M seed round from local venture capital firms Underscore.VC, Accomplice and Pillar last year, also has big ideas of how these modern amenities can transform spaces.

“The whole idea was how can we create actual smart cities that are consumer-focused,” CEO and co-founder Sandra Richter told me in a recent interview.

The bigger play for Soofa, however, is the data collected from the bench and sign. Beyond being able to track how many people use the bench to charge mobile devices, both the bench and the sign have the ability to measure how much cell phone noise is in proximity, which the company uses to indicate the level of activity in the area.

Richter said the sensor data, which does not collect personally identifiable information, is meant to help urban planners and other entities who want to take a more data-driven approach to understanding and developing spaces over time.

For instance, the city of Las Cruces in New Mexico paid for seven Soofa units — at $30,000 a piece, according to a GovTech story from last April — to measure downtown pedestrian activity for a few purposes: quantifying the potential number of users for a future public Wi-Fi network, tracking the attendance of events and collecting data for community planning and development decisions, according to a Soofa blog post from last year. Read more: How Soofa Is Taking a Consumer-Friendly Approach to Smart City Tech

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.


Making Moves

Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves in Boston.

Dylan: Harvard University and MIT are among universities introducing courses aimed at focusing on the moral implications of technology, The New York Times reported. The two schools have teamed up for a course on the ethics and regulation of artificial intelligence. “As we start to see things, like autonomous vehicles, that clearly have the ability to save people but also cause harm, I think that people are scrambling to build a system of ethics,” MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, who is co-teaching the course, told the Times.

Lucy: What are the emerging technology trends in Boston? The annual technology report from Accenture, which surveyed more than 100 Boston-based IT executives, has the answers. Around 23% of executives in Boston strongly agree that their organization is increasingly using data to drive decision-making. Then, 84% of local execs admit that organizations are basing their most critical systems and strategies on data, yet many have not invested in the capabilities to verify the truth within it. Lastly, 22% of them say that their organization has likely been the target of adversarial AI, including fraud and falsified location data, but are unable to verify.

Dylan: Carbonite’s M&A spree continued yesterday with its $145M acquisition of Mozy Inc., a subsidiary of Dell Technologies, BBJ reported. Mozy had been brought into Dell through its 2016 merger with EMC, which has acquired Mozy in 2007 for a reported $76M. Last year, Carbonite acquired two companies, Double-Take Software and Datacastle. Read more: Carbonite Acquires Seattle Startup & Strikes Deal to Siphon Customers from Minneapolis Company

Lucy: New Office Envy alert. This time, my camera and I went to Downtown Crossing to check out the headquarters of cybersecurity firm iboss, which are the definition of a super modern, all-glass-and-sunlight workplace. The only piece of furniture that stood out as different in terms of design is the table in the main conference room, which is made of Torrey pine — a dark, knotty wood that’s typical of California, where iboss CEO and co-founder Paul Martini is from. Now, a call to action: if you work in a Boston tech office that you think it’s worth envying (and you want me to stop by & ask completely out-of-the-blue questions like “What wood is this table made of?”), just let me know at lmaffei@americaninno.com. Without further ado, here’s my latest Office Envy about iboss (and its conference table). Read more: Office Envy: Inside the HQ of iboss, Where Nobody Has an Office

Dylan: Everbridge announced that it has reached a deal to acquire a Norway-based competitor, Unified Messaging Systems, for $33.6M in cash, a deal that would allow the company to grow its international footprint, Xconomy reported.

Lucy: Have you ever thought of your 50-mile daily commute as an unbearable waste of time and resources? Tawheed Abdul-Raheem, co-founder of new local carpooling app tripBuddy, did. “It just drove me nuts, because most of the time when I looked to my left and my right there was only one person sitting in the car,” he told us. Launched in November 2017, tripBuddy lets people carpool together to their workplaces or even just to the grocery store. Users simply organize a ride stating where they are coming from, where they are going and how many seats they have to offer. If you want to know more about tripBuddy, our superstar editorial intern Rebecca Szkutak has the full story. Read more: Boston Carpooling Startup Wants to Reduce the Number of Cars on the Road


Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: HubSpot announced that CFO John Kinzer, who helped the company with its 2014 IPO, is stepping down at the end of the year, BBJ reported. A company spokeswoman said Kinzer, who was previously CFO at BackOffice Associates, “will be spending more time with his family, and will also be focusing more on the nonprofit and board work that he’s passionate about.”


In The Community

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

Dylan: Jake Knapp, a former designer at Google and design partner at Google Ventures, is coming to Boston for a day-long Design Sprint Workshop at Harborside Salon on March 15. The event is being hosted by Rocket Insights, and tickets range from $910 to $1,299. Find more info here. Find Boston tech and startup events for this month in BostInno Approved.


Featured Jobs

Featured startup and tech jobs on BostInno’s new Careers Directory.




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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin
dmartin@americaninno.com

Lucia Maffei
lmaffei@americaninno.com

Kyle Gross
kgross@americaninno.com

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