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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: There may be a time in the near future when you board a ship that can drive itself.

That’s something I got to experience myself in early November when I boarded a former Coast Guard boat operated by Sea Machines Robotics, an early-stage startup that is developing autonomous systems for self-driving boats in an East Boston shipyard.

Retrofitted with sensors and a “computerized brain,” the boat was driven to the middle of Boston Harbor by a Sea Machines employee. The employee then let go of the steering wheel and then, within a few minutes, the boat started navigating the waters by itself, with the ability to change course if the system detected another boat coming through.

Michael Johnson, CEO and founder of Sea Machines, told me that while the company is currently focusing on providing autonomous systems for commercial vessels, Sea Machines will eventually play a role in making self-driving boat technology for recreational use.

“A lot of folks do not get that good at driving a boat,” said Johnson, who sees an opportunity in using Sea Machines’ technology as an advanced autopilot system for a safer and more predictable boating experience.

“We’re bringing our technology first to the commercial market — which is merchant ships, [tugboats], workboats, utility craft — and then from there we see the progression of this technology adoption from commercial going to recreational,” he said. Read more: Sea Machines Sees a Path to Recreational Self-Driving Boats

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

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

Lucy: A few local CEOs have made the list of “Best CEOs in America” compiled by USA TODAY. In the top 50 executives of large companies, Brian Halligan of HubSpot ranked second, right after Salesforce‘s Marc Benioff, and was followed by Alan Trefler of Pegasystems (#27) and Niraj Shah of Wayfair (#44). As for the top 50 CEOs of small- and mid-sized companies, the list includes Matt Westgate of Lullabot in Providence, R.I. (#11), Nick Francis of Help Scout (#19), Paul Brady of Unitrends (#28), Kirill Evdakov of Fasten (#32) and Lior Div of Cybereason (#35).

Dylan: GE Healthcare announced that it is expanding its partnerships with Intel and NVIDIA. For the Intel deal, GE Healthcare will increase the use of the Intel’s Xeon processors to “build both on-premise and off-site data storage arrays for customers,” BBJ reported, with the goal of lowering the cost of medical imaging device ownership. In the other deal, GE Healthcare will use NVIDIA’s artificial intelligence tech for a new CT scanner the company introduced.

Lucy: What do the local CEOs included in the USA TODAY list have in common? Among other things, they’re all men. Life is still tough for women in Boston’s startup community, according to a BBJ special report. In 2012, 32.7 percent of all Boston businesses were women-led; experts say change hasn’t happened quickly enough.

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Lucy: Cambridge-based BetterLesson announced it has raised a $10M Series B round led by Owl Ventures, with the participation of existing investors Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, New Markets Venture Partners and Reach Capital. “We’re going to be investing heavily in the product,” co-founder and CEO Alex Grodd wrote in an email. San Francisco-based Owl Ventures, which invests only in education technology, recently took part in several local rounds of funding, as a participant in Panorama Education’s $16M Series B in early November and as the primary backer of Tinkergarten’s $5.4M Series A in August. Read more: BetterLesson Raises $10M Series B with Owl Ventures to Scale its Coaching Program for Teachers

Dylan: Yottaa, a web and mobile optimization software company based in Waltham, has raised a $3.4M round of funding, according to a new Form D. This comes about a year after the company raised a $13M financing round and named Endeca vet Rich Stendardo as its new CEO, which you can read about here. 

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: Athenahealth has hired Marc Levine as its new CFO, BBJ reported. Levine, who was previously EVP and CFO at JDA Software Group, is the company’s third CFO in two years. The company’s previous CFO, Karl Stubelis, stepped down in July to take on the same role at Arcadia Healthcare Solutions. 

Lucy: Dina Routhier has joined Stanley Ventures – the venture capital arm of Stanley Black and Decker – as its Boston-based investment manager. Most recently, Routhier was in corporate development at Autodesk, and prior to that spent 11 years as an early-stage VC at Mass Ventures.

Dylan: Following the passing of Centage Corporation‘s CEO and President Barry Clapp, the company announced today that it has hired Ken Marshall to serve as the company’s interim leader. Marshall, who has been an advisor to Centage, was most recently CEO of QuickPivot and has served in top leadership roles at other companies. Clapp died on Nov. 16.

Read This Right Now

Insight and analysis from the community and beyond.

Lucy: In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, Janeiro Digital CEO Jonathan Bingham wrote a blog post about the efforts that Sailors Helping is doing to mobilize boaters to bring supplies to people in needs. “To help coordinate this massive effort, we at Janeiro are honored to be working with Tory, Jon, and the team to build a “Ports & Projects” component of the Sailors Helping website. Ports & Projects is an interactive map that directs sailor-volunteers to the islands affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria to see where it logistically makes the most sense to travel based on residents’ needs. The site will also host up-to-date information on safety, fuel, provisions, harbor status, and other important updates.”

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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