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Monday, October 30, 2017

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Dylan: Hey folks, we wanted to thank everyone who attended our Meet the Judges event on Thursday, which helped us get fired up for 50 on Fire on Nov. 9. We’re currently running a $15 off discount with the code 2WEEKS. Buy tickets here. Code expires at midnight.

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: Mr. Robot is one of those TV shows that like to rewards fans who dig deep into its cyberpunk rabbit hole of a story, usually by giving viewers on-air clues they can hunt on the internet, such as a QR code that leads to a fictional Reddit page.

The latest trick from the Emmy Award-winning show is an Amazon Alexa skill called “Mr. Robot: Daily Five/Nine.” It was made possible by Earplay, a Boston startup led by video game industry veterans that create interactive audio experiences akin to choose-your-own-adventure stories for Amazon Alexa, Google Home and mobile devices. All of Earplay’s stories are fully voice acted and include branching paths depending on your response.

Inspired by the Five/Nine hack that destabilized the American economy in the show, the Mr. Robot Alexa skill is an interactive audio experience that USA Network, which airs the show, promises will provide a “mind-bending narrative of Mr. Robot like never before.”

This isn’t the first time a Boston company has been associated with Mr. Robot. Previously, the show has used products by local cybersecurity companies Pwnie Express and Rapid7 as part of its goal to tell an authentic story about hackers.

Jonathon Myers, Earplay’s CEO and founder, told me that he first connected with members of USA’s digital experiences team when he and Earplay Chief Creative Officer Dave Grossman, a LucasArts veteran, were giving a talk about interactive audio storytelling at USA Network and Syfy’s office in New York for a private event.

“What happened is we know how to make the story happen on this platform,” Myers said. “There was a concept, and we had the tools and design chops to make that come together.”

While it’s still early for Earplay and interactive audio as a medium, the company is already seeing traction. Its standalone skill, which includes access to multiple stories, has received an average rating of four-and-a-half stars from nearly 600 users, and Earplay has racked up a total of more than 300,000 users. Read more: This Boston Startup Teamed up with Mr. Robot’s Creators to Make a ‘Mind-Bending’ Alexa Skill

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

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

Lucy: Human-resources software firm Kronos will celebrate its HQ move to Lowell next week, showing that local tech companies can thrive outside of Greater Boston, The Boston Globe reported. The company pledges to add 400 jobs in Lowell over the next five years.

Dylan: WeWork is expanding to One Beacon Street, making it the co-working giant’s sixth location between Boston and Cambridge, The Boston Globe reported. The space will be about 60,000 square feet across the office tower’s 14th and 15th floors.

Lucy: TiE Boston, the local chapter of the global nonprofit organization fostering entrepreneurship, has recently announced the startups that have been selected for the fourth edition of its accelerator program ScaleUp. The goal of the program is to help growth stage companies overcome common obstacles and barriers to scale, as well as to equip them with the resources and the connections to raise follow-on capital. So it should not come as a surprise that some of the startups accepted in the program sound pretty familiar. Rendever, for example, presented at the MIT $100K competition early this year and Spiro Technologies announced its $3M seed round in early October. Read more: 15 Startups Selected for the TiE ScaleUp Fourth Cohort

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Trilio Data, a provider of data protection, backup and recovery solutions for OpenStack, has raised a $5M Series A round led by .406 Ventures. The company will use the funding to expand its sales, engineering, and marketing teams, and increase channel support.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: First up, we have our own announcement to make. BostInno is hiring an event coordinator to promote and run all of our events, which includes 50 on Fire, Boston Fest and Tech Madness. Our current event coordinator, Morgan O’Brien, is moving on to an exciting new opportunity, and we’re going to miss her a lot. Apply for the job here.

Lucy: Chris Nugent joined Framingham-based Definitive Healthcare as director of digital strategy. Previously, Nugent held marketing roles at Nuance Communications and Unitrends.

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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