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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: General Electric is in more trouble than we previously knew, and it could lead the company to split itself up into separate units. (CNBC reports that the breakup is likely and could happen this spring.)

This morning’s news that GE is reconsidering its strategy and structure comes after the company previously announced plans to divest $20B in assets, which could result in the sale of the company’s “startup-like” Current division in Boston, among other things.

What’s spelling new trouble for GE is a newly disclosed $6.2B charge from the company’s legacy insurance business that happened in Q4, Bloomberg reported. The company also said it would have put aside $15B over seven years to fill a shortfall within the unit.

“We are looking aggressively at the best structure or structures for our portfolio to maximize the potential of our businesses,” CEO John Flannery said in a conference call this morning.

The big question locally is what this means for GE’s Boston headquarters and the commitments that were made as part of its $145M tax deal with the city and state of Massachusetts. The company has already postponed completion of its HQ by two years. And while Flannery has said he is still committed to the new HQ, there may come a point where the company has to prioritize its fiduciary duties and make difficult decisions.

My other question is whether this will impact any kind of tax deal the city and state offer win Amazon’s bid for HQ2. As of right now, the Seattle ecommerce giant seems to be too big to fail, but does it too have holes that could lead to bigger problems? What do you think?

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

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

Lucy: Ready for another “Shark Tank” success story? Mark Cuban did it again. After financing Babson startup Detrapel (together with Lori Greiner), the owner of the Dallas Mavericks opened his wallet – with fellow “shark” Sara Blakely – to fund $250K in another local startup: Alice’s Table, which went through TechStars Boston as a member of the 2017 class and has a presence in over 30 U.S. states. “For me, it really felt like another meeting with investors,” Alice Rossiter Lewis, CEO and founder of Alice’s Table, told me about her experience in the tank. “The difference is you’re under hot lights and have cameras around, right? So that, obviously, increases the nerve.” Read more: Techstars Boston Alum Alice’s Table Accepts $250K Offer from the ‘Sharks’

Dylan: Noncompete reform in Massachusetts may finally see the light of day. The Boston Globe reported that state lawmakers are nearing a deal after previous efforts to curb noncompete agreements collapsed. If lawmakers could weaken noncompetes (or get rid of them altogether), it would be a huge boon to the Boston startup community since noncompetes can forbid someone from starting or joining a new company if it’s in a sector similar to their most recent employer. While that is a major deal for our readers, I think state lawmakers need to figure out something for the sake of low-paid workers, students and teenagers who still have to deal with noncompetes. If they don’t figure out something for those groups, it would be incredibly unfortunate.

Lucy: Accenture is celebrating the opening of a new Back Bay “innovation hub” where existing employees have been working since October, BBJ reported. The professional service firm is looking to hire 400 tech-focused employees in Boston in the next three years.

Dylan: VentureApp, the Boston-based business messaging platform started by the founders of BostInno’s parent company, has pivoted its focus to real estate and changed its name to HqO, short for Headquarters Optimized. I talked to Chase Garbarino, HqO CEO and co-founder, about why the company decided to ditch its messaging platform for professionals, and he said, “They just didn’t need another digital community. That was the harsh reality.” Now with HqO, the company is working on a tenant engagement platform that’s aimed at helping commercial real estate owners catch up with WeWork, which has set the standard for technology-enabled amenities and community building. Read more: Accomplice-Backed VentureApp Pivots to Become Real Estate Tech Startup

Lucy: You may have heard of Asimov. No, not Isaac “Pioneering Science Fiction Author” Asimov: Asimov the startup, a new, MIT-born biotech startup that raised a $4.7M seed round led by top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. On its website, Asimov said that it uses its in-house expertise to program “living cells with genetic circuits.” I asked CEO and co-founder Alec Nielsen what this means. “Literally… every animal, every plant, every bacteria has genetic circuitry running inside of it that allows them to perform remarkable tasks,” he told me. “In order to access the next generation of biotechnologies – things like intelligent therapeutics, or crops that can sense and respond to extreme weather conditions, or even just advanced molecular manufacturing – we need to be able to engineer genetic circuits.” Read more: How Cambridge Startup Asimov Is Doing Business With ‘Genetic Circuits’ 

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Lots of funding rounds to note for today. First up, True Fit, a local startup that provides a footwear and apparel personalization software platform for retailers, has announced a $55M Series C round led by Ontario-based growth equity firm Georgian Partners. CEO Bill Adler told me that the company relocated its HQ from Woburn to Boston late last year and that it plans to increase its headcount from 110 to 155 by the end of 2018. Read more: True Fit Raises $55M to Bring A.I. to Fashion Recommendations

Lucy: Newton startup 18moons plans to raise as much as $10M in an initial coin offering for its new cryptocurrency in February, The Globe reported.

Dylan: Medumo, a member of the PULSE@MassChallenge accelerator, has raised a $2M round from Cherrystone Angel Group, Launchpad Ventures and Sky Ventures for its patient instruction automation software. The startup is trying to solve the problem of people not following the proper preparation instructions for medical procedures, which can cost hospitals a lot of money. Read more: Medumo Raises $2M to Better Prepare Patients for Hospital Visits

Lucy: Centerity announced it has received $10M in funding from Merlin International. The new investment will be used to double the company’s R&D center, among other things.

Dylan: Vicarious Surgical, a stealthy Cambridge-based company that is developing virtual reality applications for surgical procedures, has raised a $12.7M round, according to a new Form D. Adam Sachs, the company’s president, did not respond to a request for comment.

Lucy: Last but not least, Connected2Fiber announced that it has closed $8M in additional funding from Ascent Venture Partners, Nauta Capital, NXT Ventures and Osage Venture Partners. 

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Lucy: Michele Szabocsik is the new VP of marketing at BlueConic. Szabocsik comes to BlueConic from Visual IQ.

In The Community

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

Dylan: If you’re an entrepreneur about to start your next company, you should know about the On Deck dinner event that’s coming to Boston on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. It’s basically an invite-only event where entrepreneurs are encouraged to openly discuss their ideas in an off-the-record setting (don’t worry, I won’t be there). The event has a capacity for 30 people, so make sure to submit your application here.

Lucy: How will major institutions change the crypto scene in 2018? T3 Advisors is hosting a discussion tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. The event is free, but you’re supposed to register. For more tech and cryptocurrencies-related events, check out BostInno Approved. Read more: BostInno Approved: January’s Top Tech & Startup Events in Boston

Featured Jobs

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

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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