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Monday, November 20, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: Another Boston startup is planning to create its own virtual token through an Initial Coin Offering. I bet you wouldn’t have expected it to come from Skedaddle, a bus charter startup that counts early Lyft investor Paige Craig as a backer.

Business Insider has the story on Skedaddle’s ICO, which the company will use to fund a side project called the “Kudos Project,” a service that will run on the Ethereum blockchain with the controversial goal of eliminating tipping within the service industry.

Adam Nestler, the startup’s CEO and co-founder, told BI that the service will allow users to rate any worker within the service industry — Uber driver, grocery store worker, you name it — and those ratings get “instantly published to a decentralized database that allows anyone using the system to see the ratings that then follow an employee from one job to another throughout the full gig economy.” The ratings will also function as a “reward” for the worker in the place of a tip, and those rewards will only work within Skedaddle’s system.

There has been a lot written about tipping and whether it needs to change, but I’m skeptical as to whether this is the answer. As someone who previously worked in the service industry, I’m nervous about the idea of part of someone’s income being replaced by some kind of unit maintained by a private company. What kind of rewards can people get? Is it a token that can be converted into real currency?

There’s also the whole thing about having a system that tracks people across multiple jobs they hold. On one hand, I can see the value of knowing how reliable someone is on Lyft based on their TaskRabbit work. But what about workers who get unfairly targeted by customers with ill intent? What if a worker isn’t having a good day and they make a mistake? Does that become a part of their permanent record? And does that increase the likelihood of them being shut out completely?

Skedaddle’s proposal is very ambitious and intriguing, but it could also have some serious implications for workers depending on how it’s implemented. There is a need for a better system to ensure that we are receiving service from good actors — the less we have to deal with people who are racist, sexist, etc., the better — but such a system could also be ripe for abuse. What are your thoughts?

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.


Making Moves

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

Lucy: GE and Microsoft have committed to supporting edX students who are also Massachusetts residents in their education and career development in the tech industry. GE will guarantee a job interview for Massachusetts residents who complete a MicroMasters program offered by edX in one of four critical fields: artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, cloud computing or supply chain. As for Microsoft, the tech giant will contribute toward the cost for any community college student in Massachusetts to complete the entry-level professional certificate in computer science on edX. Read more: edX, GE and Microsoft Partner to Help Local Students Get Tech Jobs 

Dylan: Qvidian, a provider of cloud-based RFP and sales proposal automation software, has been acquired by Austin-based Upland Software for $50M in cash. Upland says it expects the acquisition to bring it an additional $19.5M in annual revenue, $17.3M of which is recurring. Qvidian, which is headquartered in Chelmsford, had raised $31M in capital. Investors included Commonwealth Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners and Kodiak Venture Partners.

Lucy: Remember former BostInno editorial intern Natasha Mascarenhas? Now at the Boston Globe, she wrote a story about an alleged infestation of bedbugs at Boston home security company SimpliSafe. Employees accuse management of downplaying the problem and spraying chemicals in the office during business hours, but the company denies the claims.


New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Locus Robotics, a Wilmington-based provider of collaborative robots that help fulfill ecommerce orders, has raised a $25M Series B round led by Scale Venture Partners.


Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Lucy: Salsify announced four additions to its leadership team: Mary Jefts as its new CFO, Malcolm Faulds as VP of marketing, Steve McKenzie as VP of sales for commercial & enterprise accounts, and Doug Bleszinski as VP of sales for global accounts. Previously, Jefts was CFO for Unidesk, Acquia and OpenPages; Faulds was SVP of marketing at Drizly; McKenzie was the VP of sales at InsightSquared; and Bleszinski held sales leadership roles at Elastic, beqom and Salesforce.


In The Community

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

Dylan: Dude, we have Michael Dell coming to Boston next week. The CEO and founder of Dell Technologies will speak at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Boston Harbor Hotel. He’s expected to have some media availability after his talk, so let me know if you have any questions for him.

Lucy: No shortage of tech events in Boston during Thanksgiving week. Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., for example, the MIT Museum hosts an interactive virtual reality exhibit called “The Enemy” (tickets are $10). For more options, take a look at BostInno Approved. Read more: BostInno Approved: November’s Top Tech & Startup Events in Boston 

Dylan: For all the crypto folks out there, Boston Crypto Traders is holding a meetup on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6 p.m. to 9 at WeWork South Station, and it will feature Stephen McKeon, a finance professor at the University of Oregon who teaches valuation, financial analysis, and VC/fintech.


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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