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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: Is Hopper poised to become one of Boston’s next big consumer tech companies? That’s a question I find myself asking more and more after everything I’ve heard about the Cambridge travel startup’s progress over the past few years. Granted, the company has declined to disclose revenue, but it has some other intriguing facts and figures: users across 126 countries now use Hopper’s airfare prediction app to book $500M in annual flight travel, revenue from repeat customers now eclipses business from new customers, and its Android and iOS apps currently rank No. 2 and No 3. in the travel aggregation category over Kayak, and Priceline (on iOS, it also outranks Expedia), according to App Annie.

Having built a proficiency in predicting flight prices, Hopper is now expanding that forecasting know-how to hotels — funded in part by the company’s massive $61M Series C round last year — so if you want to know when hotel prices are the cheapest, Hopper could become your go-to source. When you look up hotels using the app, it will tell you which hotels are at their lowest prices, along with which hotels will either drop or rise in price soon, thanks to historical pricing data.

In my interview with Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde, he said what gives Hopper a big advantage over competitors is its mobile-only experience, which does a better job of capturing an individuals’ travel ambitions. That, in turn, has allowed the company to collect a deep trove of data that now lets the app extrapolate a user’s travel ambitions and recommend new trip ideas, making it kind of like a “Netflix for travel.” For instance, if a user has been watching the flight prices for a trip from Boston to Rome to see when they drop, the app may eventually suggest a trip to Milan that is $400 cheaper. Hopper has been able to figure this out through machine learning and AI that can determine how interchangeable destinations are.

The result, Lalonde said, is that Hopper acts as a conversation about travel ambitions instead of a search tool. With over 90% of sales coming from push notifications and 20% coming from its AI-driven trip recommendations, the company is starting to prove why the mobile-only experience is so important. Read more: Hopper Has Nailed Airfare Forecasting, Now It’s Taking on Hotels

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

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

Lucy: Another acquisition to report today after yesterday’s news that Delphi would acquire nuTonomyImprivata has acquired the identity and access management department of Caradigm, a GE Healthcare company, BBJ reported. Financial details were not disclosed.

Dylan: Speaking of nuTonomy, the self-driving car startup has been approved to start testing Boston’s roads with passengers. The Boston Herald reported that testing with partners could begin within a matter of weeks. It remains unclear as to when nuTonomy will start testing with Lyft, a partnership that will remain in place after the acquisition. Also of note, WBUR’s Bostonomix has a story about why Singapore is a key part of nuTonomy’s strategy for driverless cars.

Lucy:  To address the lack of communication between people on different sides of the political spectrum, Laura Carpenter and her longtime friend and classmate David Byas-Smith created Abridge News, a website – still in beta version – where readers can find balanced summaries of selected opinions on a variety of topics. Based in the Harvard Innovation Lab, the startup is currently bootstrapping and exploring three different ways to make revenue: adding advertising to the website, selling data about readers to third parties or a subscription model for readers. Read more: This Media Startup Is Building a Bridge Between Liberals and Conservatives 

Dylan: If you follow the esports industry like I do, you’ll be interested to know that the Overwatch League just announced the name, logo and colors for Boston’s team, which is owned by Robert Kraft. Say hello to Boston Uprising. Of note, Uprising won’t actually be based in Boston for the first season of the video game competition’s league.

New Money

Your daily funding roundup.

Dylan: Four funding items today:

Ultimaker, a 3D printing startup with its U.S. HQ in Cambridge, has received a “significant” investment of an undisclosed amount from private equity firm NPM Capital. A press release says NPM is now a majority shareholder of the company.

JazzHR, an HR software startup with offices in Pittsburgh and Boston, has raised a $6.6M round led by Volition Capital. Other investors included Birchmere Ventures and Rincon Venture Partners.

TankUtility, a provider of propane tank monitoring software, has raised $575K out of a $1M offering, according to a new Form D.

Podimetrics, a startup developing tech focused on the early detection and preventing of diabetic foot ulcers, has raised a $1M round, according to a new Form D.

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Dylan: Bradley Shaw, a Wayfair vet who was most recently the company’s director of engineering, has been hired by PatientPing for the same role, according to his LinkedIn page.

Lucy: Mark Quinlivan has joined Interactions, a Franklin-based provider of virtual assistant software, as president. Most recently, Quinlivan was CEO and co-founder of Confer, which was acquired by Carbon Black last year.

Dylan: Cybereason has hired Caroline Murphy as its director of partner marketing, according to her LinkedIn page. She was previously director of marketing at Intrepid Pursuits, which was acquired by Accenture this year.

Lucy: Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures, has been named chief innovation officer for GE, effective immediately. In addition to her new role, Siegel will continue to lead GE Ventures.

Mea Culpa

This again? Yup…

Dylan: I got my days confused in yesterday’s Beat and accidentally said that Talla’s ICO Pitch Night was on Tuesday. It’s actually on Thursday at the Granary Tavern, and it’s now sold out. Apologies y’all.

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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