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Thursday, November 9, 2017

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Dylan: 50 on Fire is tonight! See you all at Liberty Hall in the Revere Hotel at 7 p.m. (you can still get tickets here). Make sure to check out all the 50 on Fire profiles we have recently posted.

The Big One

A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.

Dylan: With 50 on Fire happening tonight, we’re going to take one last look at a finalist in the civic/social impact category: Hack.Diversity. After launching last year with the goal of boosting black and Latino tech talent, the program run by the New England Venture Capital Association is getting ready for its second cohort of students.

Among the companies that will host internships for students next year is DraftKings, whose CEO and co-founder Jason Robins said diversity is an “essential ingredient to our success.”

“I think that anybody would agree that having a homogenous company, a homogenous culture —with the same ideas recycled over and over again, the same perspectives are brought to the table every day, nothing new, nothing different — that’s not going to drive a lot of innovation,” Robins added.

Joining DraftKings for Hack.Diversity’s 2018 host companies are Liberty Mutual, Carbonite, Vertex and HubSpot. The latter three participated in the program’s first year while two others from 2017, Wayfair and DataXu, have yet to commit to a second year. A Wayfair spokesman told me that the company is still evaluating its plans for 2018 while DataXu did not respond to a request for comment.

One of Hack.Diversity’s success stories from its inaugural cohort this year is German Martinez, who moved to the Boston area from El Salvador when he was 14 years old. After completing community college and enrolling at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Martinez said he applied for internships at 50 companies and only got callbacks with four. None of them ended up hiring him.

But after participating in Hack.Diversity, Martinez landed an internship at Wayfair, one of Boston’s hottest consumer tech companies, which led to even more good news: a full-time job.

Hack.Diversity, which is a nonprofit, aims to raise $500K in donations by the end of 2020 to support the program’s future. Read more: DraftKings Joins Effort to Boost Black & Latino Students in Tech

In The Know

The Inno stories you need to read today.

Making Moves

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

Lucy: New VC program alert. Started by Underscore.VC_U First was created to put less emphasis on the business itself, and more on the entrepreneurs behind the business. The program promises to give entrepreneurs education and mentorship to grow their ideas, or even just themselves. “That’s what I value most as a young entrepreneur,” Abigael Titcomb, founder of _U First, told our intern Fran Albanese. “Capital will get me to a prototype, but I’ll get the wrong prototype” without proper education and training first. Read more: This New VC Program Focuses on Developing Entrepreneurs, Not Startups 

Dylan: There’s a lot of M&A related news today.

— First off, Sonian, a cloud archiving and security startup based in Waltham, has been acquired by Barracuda Networks for an undisclosed amount. The company said the deal with supply Barracuda with over 32,000 new customers. Sonian was founded in 2007 and had raised about $51M in venture funding.

— The price tags for two local M&A deals from earlier this year were recently revealed in new filings with the SEC. First, HubSpot disclosed that it had paid $9M for Motion AI, a Chicago-based visual chatbot builder that will play a big role in its new platform. Then Grubhub showed that it paid $51M in cash for its Boston-based competitor Foodler.

A new report by The Information says that VMware was reportedly eyeing local companies Carbon Black, Cybereason and CounterTack for potential acquisitions. Talks with Carbon Black apparently ended over the summer (BBJ recently reported the company is aiming for a 2018 IPO) while Cybereason CMO Mike Volpe says his company is not for sale.

Lucy: Last but not least, Waltham-based Dynatrace is acquiring Qumram, a privately held company offering advanced session replay technology for mobile and web applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dylan: In other news, Keolis, the operator of MBTA’s commuter rail whose North American HQ is in Boston, is the operator of a new self-driving shuttle in Las Vegas in partnership with AAA. The self-driving shuttle is made by Navya, a French company that Keolis invested in earlier this year. About an hour after the shuttle service launched last night, a human driver crashed their car into it.

Lucy: Tactile, a device that translates printed text into braille invented by an all-women engineer team, won the $5,000 top prize in the MIT $100K Pitch CompetitionThe team is now beta testing the product in the Boston area. In April, Tactile co-founder Jessica (Jialin) Shi told me that Tactile works similarly to a smartphone camera. To translate the text, users take a picture of the page they want to read. Afterward, Tactile will be displaying the braille translation on its refreshable surface.

Dylan: Deloitte’s Fast 500 list of the fast-growing private companies was released today, and 32 Massachusetts companies made the cut, BBJ reported. The list, which measures revenue growth between 2013 and 2016, includes Toast (No. 3 at 31,250%), Maxwell Health (No. 100 at 1,366%), Qstream (No. 139 at 1,097%), Definitive Healthcare (No. 152 at 707%), and ViralGains (No. 156 at 701%).

Lucy: In late summer 2016, Christopher Buck and Andrew Macaulay were both making the most of their engineering degrees by holding product management positions at Digital Lumens. One day, Buck – father of Jaiden, 4 and Olivia, 3 – was telling Macaulay how difficult it was to prepare lunches for his little girls as a busy parent. Specifically, he remarked that lunches had to be “healthy and relatively convenient” every day. That remark struck a chord for Macaulay. By combining both parents’ and children’s needs, Buck and Macaulay came up with Nomsly – a food delivery service that targets children and high school students as final consumers, which officially launched in the first week of March 2017. Read more: How Two Former Digital Lumens Engineers Launched a Food Delivery Service for Kids 

Player Personnel

Who’s moving where.

Lucy: Trish Fontanilla said she is leaving Freight Farms to start a restaurant and run a new group called BOSFilipinos, which aims to elevate Filipino culture in BostonIt was an incredibly difficult decision for me, but I had to go with the thing that radiates from the top of my head to the tips of my toes,” Fontanilla wrote in a LinkedIn post.

In The Community

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

Lucy: Brightcove is hosting an event tonight at 5:30 p.m. called Boston Video Collective. The guest speaker will be Ben Whitmore of DraftKingsRegistration is free.

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Meet The Authors

Dylan Martin

Lucia Maffei

Kyle Gross

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