Some news on VC fundraising, startup investment, corporate layoffs, and student entrepreneurship in this midweek rundown of items to catch up on:
—Matrix Partners, based in Waltham, MA, has confirmed that it’s raised $450 million for its 10th venture fund. The news first surfaced in mid-April, courtesy of Fortune’s Dan Primack. Matrix did have one bone to pick with that earlier report: although its ninth fund was $600 million, as Primack noted, Matrix says that included a $150 million “special opportunity fund” that didn’t actually wind up drawing any capital from Matrix’s investors.
—E-commerce startup The Grommet (no longer Daily Grommet) has added more investment from Japanese e-commerce site Rakuten. As Kara Swisher at AllThingsD reports, neither company is saying how much money was put into Grommet again (Rakuten led an unspecified Series B investment in the startup last fall). But the larger company is now Lexington, MA-based Grommet’s “majority stakeholder,” Swisher says.
—More cleantech blues: Newton, MA-based Ambient Corp. is charging $350,000 in costs to a restructuring plan, most of that in employee severance. The Boston Business Journal cites unnamed sources pegging the number of laid-off Ambient workers at more than 25, roughly a quarter of the company’s overall workforce. Ambient (NASDAQ: AMBT), which makes smart grid connectivity and communications equipment, also announced its CFO was resigning earlier this month.
—Highland Capital has picked the newest class of student entrepreneurs to participate in its Summer@Highland program, which offers free office space and a no-strings-attached stipend of $18,000 to work on a startup idea over the summer. The full list of participants includes some good hometown representation, with teams from Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Olin College. Cambridge, MA-based Highland recently filed paperwork outlining plans to raise a $400 million ninth fund.Comments | Reprints | Share:
A prominent leader in the tech-startup community is moving on.
Walt Doyle, the longtime CEO of Where, which was acquired by PayPal in April 2011, has left the company as of today. Doyle served as general manager of PayPal Media Network after the acquisition. It has been two years since the deal, so Doyle’s departure is not surprising.
I’ve reached out to Doyle and the local PayPal office for comments and an update on the company’s local progress and strategy.
There are two real stories here, and this isn’t one of them—they have yet to be written.
One is what Doyle (pictured below) will do next. He has been very active in the entrepreneurial community, serving on the boards of Celtra, EverTrue, and other companies, and serving as an advisor to other firms like Leaf and Auction Holdings. He is one of the Boston area’s leading experts in mobile technologies and payments, but more broadly he has strong business instincts in areas such as consumer products, media, and publishing.
The other story is about the future of PayPal in Boston. From what I’ve heard, a lot of PayPal’s mobile strategy is being driven locally. With Doyle’s departure, the local office is led by David Chang, the chief operating officer of PayPal Media Network. Chang originally joined Where as vice president of product back in 2009. Like Doyle, he is steeped in Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem (his previous experience includes TripAdvisor, m-Qube, and Mobicious) and is involved with a bunch of startups.
Where (originally called uLocate) was started in 2003 and relaunched in 2007 as a location-based mobile services platform. The company built its software business around local search and discovery, deals, and an advertising network, and became nicely profitable. The price tag for PayPal’s acquisition was about $135 million.Comments | Reprints | Share:
The online world can be a dangerous place for the unprepared. And it’s just going to get worse. It’s time to teach cyber security as integral part of the high school and college curriculum and to all corporate employees.
I grew up in New York City and for a few years heaven on earth for me was going to Boy Scout camp in the summer near the Delaware River. The camp had all the summer adventures a city kid could imagine, hiking, fishing, canoeing, etc. But for me the best part was the rifle range. For a 12-year old kid from the city shooting target practice and skeet with a .22 rifle meant being entrusted by adults with something you knew was dangerous—because they were beating gun safety into our brains every step of the way.
From the minute we walked onto the shooting range to even before we got to touch a gun, we learned basic rules of handling weapons I still haven’t forgotten. You screwed up and you got yelled at and if you did it again you got escorted out of the rifle range.
While target practice and skeet shooting were fun, safety was serious.
Over the years I would learn how to shoot an M-16 in basic training in the military, go through a basic combat course to go to Southeast Asia (when we acted like this was a lark, our instructor stopped our drill and said, “For your sake I hope the guys shooting at you were screwing around in their combat course.” It got our attention). When I bought my ranch, herds of wild boar still roamed the fields. While we were putting in the miles of fencing to keep them out, I bought much heavier weapons to deal with a charging 400-pound boar and hired an instructor to teach me how to safely use them. Each time gun safety was an integral part of training with new weapons. For me, guns and gun safety became one and the same.
Hacking and Cyber Security
For consumers, online surfing, shopping, banking and entertaining ourselves have become an integral part of our lives. And with that has come identify theft, hacking, phishing, online scams, bullying, and predators online. As well as a loss of privacy.
But for businesses, the threats are even more real. Go ask RSA, Northrop, Lockheed, Google, Amazon and almost every other company with an online presence. Intellectual property stolen, customer data hacked, funds illegally transferred, goods stolen, can damage a company and put them out of business.
I think we’re missing something.
In the last 20 years three billion people have gained access to the Web. Yet for most of them safety online remains a problem for other people. It pretty clear that for a company going online today is equivalent to playing with a loaded gun. The analogy of comparing the net with guns might seem stretched, but I think it’s an apt one. Guns have been around for hundreds of years, to provide food as well as wage war, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that gun safety rules were codified and taught.
I think we need the equivalent of gun safety training for online access.
We now know the basic tools online hackers use. We know enough to harden sites to stop the simple hacks and to educate employees about basic social engineering and phishing attempts. It’s time to teach cyber security as integral part of the high school and/or college curriculum—not as an elective.Companies need to make cyber security education an integral part of their on-boarding process.
The Air Force Academy basic Cyber Security course is a good place to start (Stanford and other schools have a similar syllabi). The class consists of basic networking and administration, network mapping, remote exploits, denial of service, Web vulnerabilities, social engineering, password vulnerabilities, wireless network exploitation, persistence, digital media analysis, and cyber mission operations.
There’s some more fuel for the online database arms race today: Boston-based Cloudant has secured a new $12 million investment round.
The money will bankroll Cloudant’s general growth, which includes a new office in San Francisco, complementing Cloudant’s previous footprint in Boston, Seattle, and Bristol, England.
New investors in the new Series B round are Devonshire Investors, Rackspace Hosting, and Toba Capital. Previous investors Avalon Ventures, In-Q-Tel, and Samsung’s venture arm also re-upped for the new round.
Cloudant’s three founders were MIT particle physicists, and have been working on “big data” since way before it was cool—think Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider. The company was part of the summer 2008 group at Y Combinator, when the startup accelerator still had an outpost in Boston.
Cloudant’s service helps Web and mobile developers handle big, complex, ever-changing sets of data without having to constantly manage the software behind it all. That frees up developers to work on their actual applications, rather than tinkering with the guts that keep them running.
Like most things cloud-related, the competition in this field is spread out from big to small. Amazon Web Services has its own database products, and big computing companies are getting into the game, alongside a crop of startups hoping to rise to prominence.
With this latest bet of confidence from investors, it looks like Cloudant will be one of the upstarts continuing to the next round.Comments | Reprints | Share:
A couple of years back, business software company LogMeIn bought a little startup called Pachube. This happens all the time, of course—a public company snapping up a small fry, hoping to bring some scrappier DNA or a promising product into the fold.
But this acquisition, more than many others, seemed to hint at an intriguing future.
Pachube, an early leader in the burgeoning “Internet of things” field, had developed online software that let tinkerers and hackers connect their electronic creations to the Internet.
LogMeIn, best known for its cloud-based remote access software, re-branded the service as Cosm last year, but it was still a “beta” test version. The future remained a little unclear.
Now, we can finally answer the nagging question of just what LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) wanted with that connected-devices startup. Today, the Boston-based company is unveiling Xively (rhymes with “lively”), another new name for the software service formerly known as Pachube.
And with it, LogMeIn hopes to build out its software business far beyond its current competition with companies like Box, Citrix, and Google for the inboxes and desktops of office workers around the world.
As a subsidiary of LogMeIn, Xively is using its parent company’s underlying cloud infrastructure to offer a connectivity hub for developers who want to build that “Internet of things” by connecting physical objects—temperature sensors, light switches, and much more—to the Internet.
If that sounds like a page out of the much-admired (and constantly cited) playbook for Amazon Web Services, then LogMeIn is starting to get its message across. “We’re going to do the same thing for the Internet of things,” says Chad Jones, a Xively vice president of strategy.
Time will tell if the new effort has the juice to make that lofty vision come into focus. But LogMeIn thinks it has some natural advantages.
It’s all part of a major trend that seems like it’s been on the cusp of happening for many years now. As Clive Thompson wrote in Wired, “Back in the ’90s, big companies built systems to do tricks like this, but they were expensive, hard to use, and vendor-specific. The hype eventually boiled away. The Internet of things turned out to be vaporware.”
That has changed, quite noticeably with some high-profile products aimed at the everyday home. A major one is the Nest thermostat, a slick-looking digital heating and cooling controller produced by some of the folks who cranked out the first iPods. It’s connected to the Web and spits out reports of how much energy is being used in a home, while using machine-learning software to adjust to the patterns of its owners.
Another example is the WeMo system, made by connectivity company Belkin, which allows consumers to link relatively cheap power outlets and motion sensors to Web applications, allowing users to turn on their appliances or lights from a smartphone, for instance.
Both of these items are widely available—Nest thermostats are sold at Lowe’s hardware stores, and WeMo setups are prominently displayed at Best Buy locations. So it’s pretty clear this stuff is moving out of the realm of nerdy hobbyists.
“The possibilities are endless for how the community can design new sensors and the meta apps that connect them in innovative and useful ways,” says Scott Miller, CEO of hardware manufacturing consultancy Dragon Innovation, which counts the the Pebble connected smartwatch among its clients.
That means there’s going to be some intense competition, especially on the typically lucrative software side of the equation. There are bigger players trying to get some communication standards in place, Cisco and IBM among them.
Meanwhile, a group of smaller companies jockeys for position as an online “platform” that handles the Internet-connection layer of programming, making it easier for product developers to bring their creations to life. … Next Page »Comments | Reprints | Share:
Yesterday, we ran the first part of a wide-ranging interview with Henri Termeer, the legendary biotech entrepreneur and former CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme. He spoke about what kinds of startups he likes to get involved in, the trend toward drug companies working on rare diseases, and efforts to repair pharma’s damaged reputation.
Today, he speaks in more depth about specific lessons from his final days at Genzyme.
Xconomy: I’d like to switch gears here for a second. Now that you’ve had some time to reflect, a couple of years have gone by since you left Genzyme, have you spent time reflecting on what happened to the manufacturing at Allston? Were there any lessons learned there, which you are taking forward?
Henri Termeer: Yes. The lessons learned, when this happened, we were short on manufacturing capacity because we were having very early success with a product called Myozyme for Pompe disease. A deadly disease, and it got approved very broadly, very early. In Europe, we utilized excess capacity we had in one plant while we were building new plants. While we were putting more through that one plant, we created a condition that reduced the provision of inventories for other products, and also quality concerns. We had too many things happening at one time. There was too much stress on the plant. In the middle of that, as inventories were low, we were hit by a virus. It was difficult.
You’re probably familiar with the Black Swan concept. It was our Black Swan. We had never had a virus in our plants. We hadn’t calculated that in, in terms of the need for inventories we’d need to recover from such a condition. When it hit, and we had to close down the plant, it was extremely painful. The second part was just as painful. Not only did we have to close down the plant, we had to take it apart. When we took it apart, we, of course, had to put it back together. And the productivity at the plant was very slow in coming up to the productivity we had before we closed it down.
When we recovered, we recovered very slowly. The plant just didn’t come up the way we had hoped. The new plants, meanwhile, were being completed. A new plant in Framingham, MA was completed shortly after Sanofi took over. Currently, we see Genzyme recovering in a very important way. It’s very interesting. Genzyme had that interruption, in a marketplace that was connected very closely, passionately, to Genzyme. But we couldn’t support all patients with the appropriate dose.
Competition came in during that period of time. The competition was in the process of coming for decades before this happened. You would have thought that Genzyme would have lost all its market share. It certainly would have been the case with some broad-based products. Generic products tend to take over very fast when they come in, on price. But Genzyme didn’t lose its market share. Last week when Sanofi announced its results for Genzyme, they were up 25 percent. They are regaining, continuously, in the market.
X: Are you still upset about what happened? Would you still be the CEO of Genzyme if this virus hadn’t hit Allston?
HT: I don’t speculate. Sanofi’s interest was of a strategic nature. That interest would have been there, independent of this. I can’t predict what would have happened without it. But the lesson here is if you get a condition of this kind, where you have products coming to market very early, manufacturing is something that has to keep up. Things can happen that may never have happened before. It happened to us. It was a setback.
X: How has that experience influenced you, and how might it affect the advice you provide to other entrepreneurs going forward?
HT: I know of many risks out there. This is part of what you do, you manage risk. The unexpected risk makes me very aware that amazing things can happen. You can think ahead to build in some protection. In this case, it would have been inventories.
X: Any chance you’ll take an operating role again in a biotech company?
HT: I kind of doubt it, because … Next Page »Comments | Reprints | Share:
Because it’s often so difficult for entrepreneurs to obtain seed funding for their startups, bootstrapping is one of the best methods to self-fund their projects. And offering a service is one of the best ways to go. This, by the way, remains a controversial point of view, and most industry observers will take the position that companies get distracted if they try to bootstrap a product with a service. At 1M/1M, we take a pragmatic and contrarian position, and back it up with numerous case studies. From where we sit, bootstrapping products with services is a tried and true method.
RailsFactory, a consulting and app development company that provides solutions for the web application framework Ruby on Rails, was co-founded by Senthil Nayagam and Dinesh Kumar in 2006. RailsFactory provides numerous services—primarily focusing on app development for the Ruby on Rails platform, but also including Rails version migration, e-commerce solutions, e-mail campaign system implementation, and iPhone and Android app development.
Senthil and Dinesh bootstrapped RailsFactory themselves, starting with about $1,250 in seed money. When they needed to, they each utilized other personal resources: Senthil reached into his savings, and Dinesh turned to his parents. But they started generating revenues fast—thanks to the services they offered, they were generating revenue by their second month, and they’ve been growing since. To date, RailsFactory has executed over 100 projects and has worked with clients in the US, Canada, India, Australia, Singapore, and the UK. Their services revenues have crossed a couple of million dollars, and the company has recently built a product that they have started validating with those 100 services customers. The productized offering enables them to offer a support package to the small- to medium-sized enterprise segment based on packs of trouble tickets.
Similarly, Mansa Systems is a SaaS-based IT company, founded by Siva Devaki in San Francisco in 2006. Siva founded Mansa Systems to focus specifically on cloud computing. Currently, Mansa publishes a number of apps to be used in conjunction with Salesforce.com through Salesforce’s AppExchange app marketplace.
AppExchange allows partners to create apps to enhance Salesforce for business, and Mansa Systems currently offers eight different apps for Salesforce. Each of the apps is designed to address a limitation with Salesforce; for example, cloud storage app Cloud Drop gives users additional cloud storage space, MassMailer allows users to circumvent Salesforce’s bulk e-mail limitations, and EaglEye provides Salesforce users with secure, trackable document filesharing. Mansa Systems remains entirely self-funded via the company’s service business, and there are currently no plans to use outside funding. The company already has achieved $2 million in annual revenue, and enough profitability to be able to develop and launch its apps at a steady clip.
AgilOne, a company that provides cloud-based predictive customer analytics, was founded by Omer Artun in 2006. Initially, the company relied entirely on services to get close to customers, understand and address their problems, and in the process generate revenues. Today, AgilOne’s product is a software-as-a-service platform. Much of what the company learnt about its customers in the services mode has been productized, although a percentage of revenues still comes from services.
AgilOne’s platform is designed to make it easier for companies to see how their customers are interacting with their products. For example, a company’s online retail customers can be broken into different “clusters” based on their search and shopping preferences. These clusters then enable the company’s marketing department to more accurately target those users with specific promotions.
Omer bootstrapped his company from no revenue or employees in 2005 to about 45 employees and over $15 million in revenue by the time AgilOne partnered with Sequoia Capital in 2011. Silicon Valley’s top venture firm made a sizable investment at a high valuation in a company that was bootstrapped using services.
I have often heard that capital intensive businesses are difficult to bootstrap. There is some truth to this observation. However, Finisar offers the counterpoint.
Finisar produces optical communications components and subsystems and was founded 25 years ago by Jerry Rawls and Frank Levinson. Jerry and Frank bootstrapped Finisar by first providing consulting services while doing product development in high-speed fiber optics for computer networks. They searched for a need in the computer industry that wasn’t filled, and discovered that need in the early 1990s when they … Next Page »Comments (1) | Reprints | Share:
For Radius Health, it’s all about September.
That’s when the Cambridge, MA-based biotech will unveil the mid-stage data on a version of its experimental osteoporosis drug, BAO58, which is administered through a patch affixed to the skin.
CEO Michael Wyzga makes no bones about it: the moment is huge for Radius, despite the fact that the patch isn’t the company’s most advanced drug program (an injectable version is currently in late-stage clinical trials). The way Wyzga sees it, good news could swing Radius’ value high enough to make its big move.
“It’ll be a killer drug when we get it out there,” says Wyzga, who was Genzyme’s CFO before joining Radius in December 2011. “As we go past that, we’ll see. But we’ll do it on the back of a good valuation and good results.”
Radius has raised $240 million in total funding through four separate financing rounds from investors such as MPM Capital, Brookside Capital, BB Biotech Ventures, and F2 Biociences III. F2 led its latest round last month, a $43 million haul just five months after Radius yanked a potential IPO.
Radius believes it can change the market for osteoporosis treatments by adding a skin patch armed with an effective anabolic drug to the mix.
Osteoperosis, a degenerative bone condition that the International Osteoperosis Foundation says affects roughly 200 million women worldwide, is typically treated with bisphosphonates such as risedronate (Actonel, Warner Chilcott) and ibandronate (Boniva, GlaxoSmithKline) that work by preventing the bones from decaying. Some patients who take bisphosphonates still suffer from bone fractures—about 2 million osteoporosis-related bone breaks occur in the U.S. alone every year, according to Radius.
This has left an opening for a new crop of drugs, such as Eli Lilly’s (NYSE: LLY) teriparatide (Forteo) and Amgen’s (NASDAQ: AMGN) AMG-785 (still in clinical trials), that work by building up the bones rather than preventing them from weakening. Teriparatide posted $1.2 billion in sales in 2012.
Both of those drugs are administered through injections, however. While Radius has developed an injectable version of BA058 that is currently undergoing a 2,400-patient, 18-month late-stage clinical trial that will wrap up in late 2014, Wyzga believes Radius can unlock its real value after the data on the patch comes out later this year.
“If we could find a way to keep it private at least until that point and maybe until a little time after that, we surmise that we’re going to have pretty good results,” he says. “[And] we surmise that can be a pretty good value driver.”
Radius is a little fortunate that it will even be able to consider such a thing, because it would’ve been a publicly traded company by now if Mother Nature hadn’t stepped in.
Radius, which already reports its results publicly after merging with an unlisted shell company in early 2011, has toyed with the idea of an IPO for almost two years now without pulling the trigger. Radius announced plans to go public and raise $86 million in February 2012, and it set a range of $8.50 to $10.50 apiece for 6.5 million shares in October.
Wyzga says the company was all set to price at the end of October, but Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York City and shut down the financial markets for days. Radius thought of pushing the offering back a week, but that would’ve put its IPO right in the middle of the pre- and post-election market turmoil. So Radius passed, and ultimately yanked the IPO altogether in November.
Instead, the company raised $43 million privately in April, and now hopes that bit of luck will help it create more value in September.
“[We] would have ended up inevitably giving away … Next Page »Comments | Reprints | Share:
It’s time to catch up with Dyn. You know, the once-bootstrapped tech dynamo from Manchester, NH, which raised a big venture round last fall and has been making some acquisitions as of late.
Today the Web infrastructure company said it has acquired fellow New Hampshire firm Trendslide, a business-analytics startup focused on mobile apps. No terms were given, but this is Dyn’s fourth acquisition since September.
Dyn says Trendslide co-founder Benjamin Petrin has joined the company as a lead developer in mobile tools. (Trendslide’s other co-founder, Jeffrey Vocell, spoke at last year’s XSITE conference; apparently he is not joining Dyn.)
It sounds like Trendslide’s mobile dashboard technology will be repurposed from a sales and marketing tool to an IT/development tool for Dyn’s core customers. But the common theme is mobility: data and analytics being pushed to business and enterprise users’ smartphones and tablets to help them keep tabs on their companies’ performance.
Dyn’s chief technology officer, Cory von Wallenstein, was an early investor in Trendslide. As is often the case, timing-wise, Dyn chose to buy the startup as it was about to raise more money.
Dyn was started in 2001 and became a leader in managed DNS (Domain Name System) and e-mail delivery services for big customers like Salesforce.com, Twitter, and Zappos. Back in October, the company announced its first venture funding round, $38 million from North Bridge Venture Partners.Comments | Reprints | Share:
Henri Termeer could have easily faded away into obscurity a couple years ago. The biotech pioneer could have relaxed at his oceanside home in Maine, played a little golf. Or, if he wanted, he could have made loads of money at a private equity firm.
Certainly, he didn’t need to mess around with hungry little biotech startups nobody has ever heard of.
At 65, Termeer had more money than anyone could reasonably spend, thanks to the more than $100 million fortune he amassed at Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme. His place as one of the key mover/shakers in biotech history was secure. He will always be known as the guy who figured out how to build a great business by making drugs for rare diseases. Legions of his protégés had moved on to lead other companies, greatly extending his influence. Genzyme grew to 10,000 employees under Termeer’s watch.
While he could have stopped there, Termeer also had reason to write a different closing act to his career. The final days at Genzyme had taken a toll. The company he built and loved was caught flat-footed in a manufacturing crisis in Allston, MA, that erupted in June 2009. That disaster created shortages of Genzyme drugs that people depended on, sparking an angry backlash among patients and shareholders who saw irresponsible, or arrogant, corporate behavior. The crisis prompted the FDA to levy a $175 million fine for the manufacturing deficiencies it saw at Genzyme. Competitors exploited the opening. Genzyme’s sagging stock price made it vulnerable to an unsolicited takeover, which ended in a $20 billion sale to Sanofi in February 2011.
Two years later, Termeer sounds like a man who’s come to terms with the Allston disaster, and is mapping out a second career. He’s landed on a bunch of boards, allowing him to provide advice and insight, without having to shoulder all the day-to-day operating burdens of a CEO. He’s on the boards of MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, and gets his biotech fix on the boards of Verastem (NASDAQ: VSTM), Abiomed (NASDAQ: ABMD), and Aveo Oncology (NASDAQ: AVEO). More recently, he joined the board of privately held Moderna Therapeutics, shortly after it inked a $240 million upfront cash partnership with AstraZeneca. He’s advised a few startups, and gave away $10 million to Massachusetts General Hospital to start a personalized medicine initiative.
The guy clearly still has a lot of energy, and isn’t ready to walk away from biotech.
Last week, I spoke with Termeer by phone for a wide-ranging interview about his latest startup pursuits, and thoughts on some of the biggest issues facing the industry. Here’s the first part of the conversation. Look for the second half here tomorrow, as Termeer reflects more specifically on the turmoil at the end of his run at Genzyme.
Xconomy: You joined the board of Cambridge, MA-based Moderna Therapeutics a couple weeks ago, right after it got a huge deal done with AstraZeneca for its messenger RNA drug technology with $240 million in upfront cash. What attracted you to this company?
Henri Termeer: I was familiar with the company because I have worked with Stephane [Bancel, the CEO of Moderna] before. From the beginning, a year and half or two years ago when I got introduced to it, it was a very fascinating possibility. It kept on proving itself. It’s a different way to introduce proteins into the body through synthetic RNA. For me, it was about the people involved, the possibilities, the early-stage nature of it, the significant financial muscle behind it, and the local part. I do a lot of things in Cambridge. I can really be involved without having to sit on planes.
X: I saw you spoke to the Boston Globe a couple months ago, and you said something about how you’re free now and can get a lot more done. What do you mean by that?
HT: When you run a company, and build a company, you have many balls in the air. It’s similar to what I have going on currently. But you have the structure and discipline of a company when you’re responsible for it. It ties you down. You just have to do the work. You have to do the quarterly things. You are very intimately involved with any transactions. It’s an enormous, 24/7 kind of activity. Genzyme was continuously in motion. It was intense for 30 years.
I always had interest in the outside world. I was part of the Federal Reserve, and MGH and MIT and other places. But I did much less. I’d go to board meetings and would run some meetings, but it was different. I didn’t have any time then. Now, I have all the time, and I don’t need … Next Page »Comments (2) | Reprints | Share:
In the rush to revolutionize taxicabs, the hot new property isn’t a fancy black sedan or a network of hustling cabbies. Instead, digital entrepreneurs are suddenly racing toward the 21st century version of hitchhiking.
So-called “ridesharing” services, which enlist everyday people to make some money by picking up other folks, have been spreading from the San Francisco area thanks to high-profile startups like Sidecar and Lyft.
But some startups haven’t bothered to change lanes—and that could be an advantage.
One of the most notable examples is Hailo, a London-based company that makes smartphone apps to connect consumers and cabbies.
“Simplicity is a beautiful thing,” Hailo CEO Jay Bregman says. “We believe that there is more than enough room to build a spectacular business just focused there. So we are laser-focused on doing yellow cabs and doing them perfectly, and nothing else.”
Considering the way taxi services are regulated around the country, that should be plenty of work.
In many cities around the U.S., local governments have strict laws and rules limiting the number of players in the car-for-hire industry. The regulations are meant to help protect consumers from unsafe drivers and wildly varying fares. But predictably, the highly regulated industry has become relatively closed-off, and hasn’t leapt ahead with the latest advances in technology.
There are also plenty of bad actors. An amazingly detailed Boston Globe investigation, for example, recently revealed the seedier sides of the taxi industry, replete with tales of bribes, driver gouging, and straw-man license owners cashing in on lucrative taxi leases.
The highly regulated, insular nature of the taxi industry has led to plenty of clashes around the country as entrepreneurs have attempted to shake up the old-school taxi and black-car system. And by far, the most pugnacious has been San Francisco-based Uber.
Uber’s early approach was to start hooking up drivers and passengers with more expensive sedan rides without getting officially blessed as a regulated black-car booking service, leading to some skirmishes with local authorities.
There’s a good reason why those people are so vocal—the Uber app, and others like it, can make a formerly frustrating task seamless. Whip out your smartphone, and up pops a little icon on the map where you’re standing. Push a button to call a car, and it arrives. When you leave, pay through the app with the credit card you have on file.
The established taxi industry, however, isn’t quite so sanguine. In Boston, for example, taxi interests have sued Uber in a case that has federal implications (Uber has asked that the civil lawsuit be dismissed).
Hailo, however, has mostly escaped that ire.
While Bregman says there have been some conflicts, he thinks his startup avoids spooking the entrenched taxi systems too badly because of its focus on getting more people into cabs when they’re empty, rather than trying to crowd out the cab companies or own the relationship with drivers.
For instance, Bregman says, taxi drivers spend 40 to 50 percent of their time “desperately seeking fares.” Hailo’s goal is to put riders in those empty cabs, but make it incremental business rather than cutting out a radio dispatch company or other entity that makes money by getting payments from cabbies.
Hailo can make that approach work when it has large numbers of cabbies signed up, Bregman says.
Hailo says it has about 1,400 drivers registered for its service in Boston, a significant number when compared to the 1,825 licensed taxis in the city. Hailo claims 32,000 drivers registered across all of its cities, and says it is on pace for $100 million in … Next Page »Comments (1) | Reprints | Share:
It was a busy week of big promise and big moves for biotechs on the East Coast. One biotech added to a string of partnerships and awaits results from a key mid-stage study for one of its own drugs. Another signed its first deal with Big Pharma. And one well-respected life sciences executive abruptly left. Details below:
—Deborah Dunsire was replaced as president of Millennium on Thursday by Anna Protopapas, an executive at parent company Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Dunsire departs after almost eight years at Millennium, where she oversaw the company’s rise to prominence in the cancer treatment field and sold the company to Takeda for $8.8 billion. Dunsire’s exit comes as part of a reorganization of Takeda’s R&D operations, Millennium spokeswoman Manisha Pai told Luke Timmerman.
—Lexington, MA-based Concert Pharmaceuticals formed the latest in what is now a string of drug development partnerships, inking a deal with Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) that could be its largest to date. Through the deal, Celgene will tap into Concert’s technology, which adds deuterium elements into existing drugs to boost their abilities. Concert will get an unspecified payment upfront as Celgene tests out the technology, and stands to receive up to $300 million in development, regulatory, and sales milestones for each drug the two advance as part of the collaboration.
—Cambridge, MA-based NeuroPhage raised another $6.4M to help develop its early-stage drug for Alzheimer’s, NPT002, and advance other potential treatments for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Merieux Developpement led the round, which included participation from all of Neurophage’s investors, including Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG). NeuroPhage’s technology is designed to prevent the buildup of amyloid plaques and to break up existing plaques. It hopes to file an application with the FDA next year to begin clinical trials.
—Cambridge, MA-based Good Start Genetics has raised $28 million in new financing to help continue rolling out GoodStart Select, a screening test for genetic disorders. Capital Royalty has offered Good Start a $28 million loan, bringing the total amount of capital the company has raised since its 2007 inception to $60 million. Good Start CEO Don Hardison told me that the company, which is on pace to generate $25 million in sales this year, will use the cash to help push GoodStart Select into OB/GYN offices and international markets, explore other potential applications such as prenatal and newborn screenings, and expand the number of diseases it can screen for.
—New York-based TG Therapeutics (OTC BB: TGTX) is gearing up for the most pivotal year of its existence as it prepares to present early stage data on its two cancer drugs at annual meetings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in June and the American Society of Hematology in December. TG CEO Mike Weiss told me that the company is following the model of Sunnyvale, CA-based Pharmacyclics (NASDAQ: PCYC) and Cambridge, MA-based Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI), both of which saw their values spike as their cancer drugs enrolled bigger trials and accumulated more data.
—Cambridge, MA-based Nimbus Discovery has inked a partnership with Shire to help tackle rare diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders. Shire will tap into Nimbus’ unorthodox drug discovery approach, which utilizes Schrodinger computer software to perform an efficient, virtual form of “high throughput screening,” a common industry practice to test millions of known compounds. The two will initially focus on one unspecified disease target, and then expand the collaboration if Shire likes what it sees.
—We detailed Cambridge, MA-based Aileron Therapeutics’ efforts to secure the $12 million needed to put ALRN-5281, the first of a new class of drugs called stapled peptides, into a clinical trial in January. Aileron announced on Wednesday that it has completed that early-stage study with good results, reporting no adverse events or tolerability issues among the trial’s 32 patients. Stapled peptides drugs are pieces of proteins that are locked into a specific shape to help them last longer in the bloodstream and penetrate the cell membrane.
—This week’s BioBeat column from Luke followed up on some of the issues raised by Cambridge, MA-based Aveo Oncology (NASDAQ: AVEO) in its recent appearance before an FDA advisory panel. While Aveo clearly made some mistakes, its experience also exposes some serious cracks in the clinical trial system as a whole, and common challenges small biotech companies face in drug development, Luke wrote.Comments | Reprints | Share:
Not every speech is improved by visual aids. Abraham Lincoln made do without PowerPoint at Gettysburg (though wags have tried to reimagine that), and Franklin Roosevelt’s voice on the radio in 1933 calmed a nation rattled by the Great Depression and cemented the New Deal.
But there’s high oratory, and then there’s the old-fashioned presentation, where the setting is usually no larger than a boardroom or lecture hall and the point is simply to enlighten, persuade, or entertain your listeners. In those situations, thoughtful visuals can have a big impact. No meeting between a startup entrepreneur and a potential investor would be complete without a chart showing that everything is going up and to the right, and nobody would remember statistics guru Hans Rosling’s 2007 TED talk if he hadn’t used his fancy Trendalyzer visualization software.
Sooner or later, you too will be asked to give a talk to a live audience, whether it’s your customers, your boss, your Girl Scout troop, or the local PTA. And chances are you’ll want to make some slides to go with it.
The good news is that there have been some big improvements lately in the world of presentation software. Microsoft and Apple continue to upgrade old standbys like PowerPoint and Keynote, which are now available in tablet-friendly form in addition to the traditional desktop versions. But even more encouraging, some new challengers are emerging. My colleague Ben Romano wrote recently about Seattle-based Haiku Deck, whose iPad app lets you build simple presentations around meaty bits of text and big, beautiful visuals. And lately I’ve been getting to know Prezi, a five-year-old, 130-employee startup with dual headquarters in San Francisco and Budapest, Hungary.
One of the first things that Prezi CEO and co-founder Peter Arvai tells any visitor is that despite the company’s name, “We don’t think of Prezi as a presentation tool.” To its creators, Prezi’s Web-, desktop, and tablet-based software—whose distinctive feature is its zooming interface—is all about telling stories, communicating ideas, and facilitating conversations.
But in real-world offices and classrooms, Prezi usually turns up first as an alternative to older, more linear digital-slideshow tools, and only then do users begin to discover more uses for it. That’s why I think it’s fair to talk about Prezi as part of a centuries-long lineage of presentation technologies, going back to the blackboard and the magic lantern and continuing all the way up to PowerPoint and Keynote.
The central innovation at Prezi was killing off pagination—the idea that a presentation should be a sequence of static pages or slides. Every prezi (the company’s lowercase noun for a presentation made using Prezi) starts with an infinite two-dimensional plane or canvas. Storytelling elements like text, pictures, or video can go anywhere on this plane.
Creating a prezi is basically a process of finding or creating the right elements, laying them out in some meaningful pattern, and then drawing a narrative path between them. During an actual presentation, the virtual camera’s viewpoint pans or zooms to each stop on the path, with all transitions handled by the Prezi animation engine.
It’s easier to show than to explain. Watch a bit of this video tutorial and you’ll get the idea:
I’m not yet a Prezi pro, but I’ve spent enough time immersed in the software over the last couple of months to see that it offers an unusual combination of power and simplicity.
Here’s the quick backstory: as early as February, I’d been considering using Prezi for a big talk I was preparing on the technology of storytelling. Then I visited Arvai at Prezi’s San Francisco office in early March, and we spent most of the interview talking about how today’s visualization technologies help people tell stories in more compelling and memorable ways. I went home more convinced than ever that Prezi was the right medium for my message, and that I should learn the software. Which I did—and you can watch the resulting talk here. Entitled “Stories About Storytelling: A Personal Journey in Technology,” it was part of the PARC Forum speaker series at the Palo Alto Research Center. (The Leonardo da Vinci image above comes from my prezi.)
[Updated 5/10/13] Today Prezi has 23 million registered users. But Arvai and his co-founders—who raised almost no outside money until 2011, when they collected $14 million from Accel Partners and Sunstone Capital—didn’t set out with much of a business plan or an aggressive mission to disrupt the incumbents in the presentation-tools industry. “It did not come from an analysis of how the market was tired of boring PowerPoints, or how we could impress people,” Arvai says. “We just saw that when people interacted with Prezi, it was like some visual passion had been lit. It was very emotional reasoning.”
The original inspiration for Prezi grew out of a 2001 project by Adam Somlai-Fischer, a Hungarian-born architect, artist, and programmer. “Adam was spending most of his time creating these stunning art projects, and one of them was … Next Page »Comments | Reprints | Share:
[Updated: 10:25 pm ET] Deborah Dunsire, the CEO who led Millennium Pharmaceuticals to prominence in cancer treatment, is leaving the company in an abrupt departure five years after it was acquired by Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Dunsire exits as the company is seeking to merge operations around the globe and cut costs as it braces for a sales decline.
Anna Protopapas, a Takeda executive vice president of business development who has been with the company since 1997, will replace Dunsire as president of Takeda’s Cambridge, MA-based cancer operation, effective immediately. Dunsire will also depart from Takeda’s board of directors at next month’s board meeting, just one year after she joined the board.
Dunsire’s exit comes as part of a sweeping reorganization in the Takeda R&D operation, says Millennium spokeswoman Manisha Pai. Takeda CEO Yasuchika Hasegawa decided to integrate the autonomous Millennium cancer R&D unit into the larger Takeda organization, as Takeda is seeking to streamline operations, standardize procedures around the world, and cut operating costs. The changes meant that Dunsire would no longer be a CEO of a fully-integrated cancer company that discovers, develops, and markets cancer products, Pai says.
Hasegawa and Dunsire discussed potential roles she might take in the revamped Takeda, but Dunsire didn’t accept.
[Update] “Since these structural changes remove the need for the CEO of an integrated company, I have chosen to leave to explore other opportunities where such a role exists,” Dunsire said in an email late Thursday. “My passion has always been to work across the value chain, from research through commercialization, to bring transforming medicines to patients. I have had just such a wonderful opportunity in my eight years at Millennium, five of which were as a part of Takeda, and am so grateful for the exceptional experience I have had there.” She added: “Boston is an amazing cluster for companies focused on transforming health, so it will be interesting to explore….”
The changes at Millennium could end up extending much further than the executive office. The review and reorganization of Takeda’s global R&D operations could run through the summer, and could include staff reductions, Protopapas says. Takeda feels the need to make such moves partly because it has lost patent protection on pioglitazone hydrochloride (Actos), a billion-dollar blockbuster for diabetes. Takeda reported today, in a separate statement, that it expects 2013 net income to drop by 28 percent. Shares of the company fell 9 percent on the announcement, according to a report in Marketwatch.
Dunsire joined Millennium Pharmaceuticals in July 2005 after a long career at Novartis. At Millennium, she oversaw a period of commercial expansion in which its flagship drug bortezomib (Velcade) reached billion-dollar blockbuster status as a treatment for multiple myeloma. Millennium agreed to be acquired by Takeda Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion in May 2008. Instead of just harvesting the crown jewel, Takeda kept Dunsire and most of her executive team intact in Cambridge, and enabled it to continue to grow and build a bigger pipeline of cancer drug candidates. Dunsire’s success in guiding Millennium through the acquisition has helped propel her to a position of industry leadership, as a member of the board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Takeda has about 30,000 employees worldwide, and about 1,200 at its Cambridge site, Protopapas says. While Takeda is considering staff cuts as it reorganizes, the company is committed to Cambridge and recently signed a new 17-year office lease, she says. Millennium currently has 11 pivotal-stage clinical trials ongoing for cancer patients.
“Takeda’s commitment to oncology is very significant. I think Takeda recognizes the achievements of this organization, recognizes the talent at Millennium, and the access to talent in Cambridge,” Protopapas says.
Takeda, however, has never made it into the top echelon of cancer drugmakers, and the lone product Millennium makes for cancer is now facing increasingly tough competition. South San Francisco-based Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ONXX) won FDA approval last year for a multiple myeloma drug carfilzomib (Kyprolis) and Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) more recently won clearance for its third myeloma drug, pomalidomide (Pomalyst). Onyx’s product in particular—a proteasome inhibitor like Millennium’s—has gotten off to a fast start in the market, generating $64 million in sales in the quarter ended March 31. Millennium has sought to fend that product off with a new subcutaneous injectable form of bortezomib (Velcade), as an alternative that patients can inject themselves, as opposed to taking an IV.
Dunsire addressed employees at Millennium in Cambridge today to talk about the changes and her departure, which came to many employees as a surprise, Protopapas says. Questions from employees came up about how Millennium will retain a culture that values science, and patients, and teamwork under a new leadership structure.
Protopapas noted that she’s always lived in the Boston area during her 16 years with Takeda, even though her business development job requires extensive travel. While she will be the administrative site head for Takeda’s Cambridge unit, Protopapas will remain the head of Takeda’s worldwide business development, and will continue to report to Hasegawa, the CEO. Karen Ferrante, the chief medical officer at Millennium, will now be the top R&D leader at the Cambridge site, and she will report to Tachi Yamada, the head of Takeda’s global R&D.
The employee meeting was emotional at times, Protopapas says.
“We are a very tight group. Many of us have worked together for many years,” Protopapas says. “Any change is emotional, and this change was emotional. This isn’t just about colleagues, and good colleagues. This is about friends, people who have been through ups and downs together.”
“This is obviously a bittersweet moment for the organization.”Comments (1) | Reprints | Share:
That brings us to ExtremeReach, a Needham, MA-based company that provides online video ad distribution systems. ExtremeReach, which has been profitable for some time and had all the marks of looking for a big expansion, has added more than $50 million in private investment from Spectrum Equity, a Boston-area growth equity investor.
ExtremeReach’s services allow advertisers to send out marketing campaigns across video platforms, from TV to Web to mobile devices, and measure how they perform.
That convergence is looking like a big deal in the future of advertising spending—while TV’s share of ad dollars overall has grown for many years, some are predicting that digital video ads will start truly eating into that share soon.
There are plenty of digital media companies ready to take the money. Facebook, for example, is reported to be targeting video ads as it tries to build out a solid business on top of its billion-user social network. AOL, still attempting a seemingly endless resurrection, recently said that it has finally started to see growth in video and other premium digital ads.
In a news release, ExtremeReach says the money will “support the company’s rapid growth and expansion through acquisitions.” The company, which has about 225 employees in 10 offices across North America, also says that it doubled revenues last year and is currently on pace for a $100 million year in sales.
ExtremeReach also says that it has more than 3,000 clients, “including the world’s largest retail, beverage and automotive brands.”
All together, those are the types of numbers that could make a public company. So keep an eye out to see which smaller players or competitors ExtremeReach rolls up with this new round of financing.Comments | Reprints | Share:
It’s as simple as A, B, C.
Akamai. Actifio. BzzAgent. Bolt. Crashlytics. Crunchbutton…
The list goes on and on, filled with Boston-area companies of old and new. The common theme? They have laid a strong foundation for the tech community to come together and embrace its strengths—and its challenges—as it seeks to lead the business world in emerging sectors like hardware design, education tech, data management, security, and mobile development. (I haven’t even touched on the end of the alphabet yet, with Veracode, Wanderu, Xamarin…)
All of these companies (and many more) will come together on June 19 at Babson College, for Xconomy’s fifth annual XSITE conference. The theme this year is “Boston’s Tech Revival.” And we want you—readers and leaders interested in the state of innovation and New England’s place in it—to be there and get involved with this rally.
Just a few highlights of the day:
—Akamai’s new CEO, co-founder Tom Leighton, will kick things off with a talk about how the tech-business landscape has evolved, and new lessons for innovators across the fields of cloud computing, mobile, video, and security.
—Our first plenary panel will feature four pillars of emerging Boston-tech leadership: Bob Brennan, CEO of Veracode (software security); Jean Hammond, co-founder of LearnLaunch (education tech); Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent (marketing tech); and Scott Savitz, founder of Shoebuy and Data Point Capital (e-commerce and retail). The goal is to look forward at what the real opportunities and pitfalls are in the tech-business landscape.
—Our spotlight panel looks at the future of software development, from a mobile perspective. Two titans of the field, Wayne Chang of Crashlytics (acquired by Twitter) and Miguel de Icaza of Xamarin, will share perspectives on where things are headed, and how startups can get a leg up in distribution, design, and developers.
—Another key panel looks at lessons learned from top entrepreneurs across different fields of innovation: Roy Rodenstein, CEO of TrueLens (social analytics); David Berry, partner at Flagship Ventures (sustainability and energy); and Ash Ashutosh, CEO of Actifio (data management).
—Our breakout panels will be stunningly diverse, with deep dives into software/IT founders’ stories (Diane Hessan from Communispace, Mike Baker from DataXu, and more); healthtech (Jeremy Delinsky of Athenahealth, John Walsh of CareCloud, and Chris Boyce of Virgin HealthMiles); and hardware/manufacturing (VC Axel Bichara, former Solidworks CEO John McEleney, Scott Miller of Dragon Innovation, Ben Einstein of Bolt, and robotics expert Martin Buehler from Vecna, previously with iRobot and Boston Dynamics).
—The afternoon’s plenary session will include an MIT Blackjack reunion panel, with lessons for entrepreneurs, and our annual startup “Xpo” featuring the area’s most intriguing seed-stage companies.
All in all, it’s going to be a jam-packed and super-exciting day of innovation lessons and networking with top people. I hope we come up with some concrete ways to work together and think realistically about Boston’s future—in other words, we can own it.
We are expecting a very full house, but you can still register here. We’ll have the full agenda very soon. See you all on June 19.Comments | Reprints | Share:
If you want to understand Amazon’s culture of innovation—and the lessons it holds for startups, big companies, and the tech world at large—you could do a lot worse than talk to Andy Jassy.
Jassy is senior vice president of Amazon Web Services (AWS). In his 16 years at the Seattle-based Internet giant (NASDAQ: AMZN), he has worked on every part of Amazon’s business.
Back in 2003, while serving as founder Jeff Bezos’s “shadow” —basically his chief of staff—Jassy wrote the original proposal for AWS, which offers computing resources and storage as a service over the Web. Amazon rolled out the program in 2006, and the rest is … well, the history of cloud computing as we know it.
In seven years, AWS has accumulated hundreds of thousands of customers. Amazon doesn’t break out its AWS revenues, but analysts say it’s been a billion-dollar business for at least the past year—with the potential to become Amazon’s biggest revenue center over time. Not bad for an internal startup (albeit a well-financed one with tons of infrastructure).
I saw Jassy speak on Wednesday in Boston, at venture capitalist Michael Skok’s “Startup Secrets” event series at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Skok, a general partner with North Bridge Venture Partners, brings in business leaders to talk to local entrepreneurs and students, in part to bridge what he calls a “mentorship gap” in helping startups “figure out how to get through critical milestones” in building a company.
Jassy, for his part, is a Harvard Business School alum from the ‘90s, and he has plenty of business in Boston now. At the event, he talked about everything from the early internal debates about AWS (it was controversial), to the inner workings of Amazon’s innovation “experiments,” to one prominent early customer.
It shed a lot of light on how a big company like Amazon can innovate, as well as how startups might try to operate.
Parts of the AWS story have been told before, but here are seven key points from Jassy that I hadn’t heard previously. A few are specific to Amazon’s cloud computing efforts, but most apply much more broadly:
1. “We write the press release and FAQ before we write any code.” For any new project, Amazon starts by laying out the long-term effect and why it’s meaningful, in a hypothetical PR release. The FAQ then helps determine the nuts and bolts of the proposed service or product, and how the development team should build it. In Amazon’s early years, Jassy says, they had “great high-level ideas,” but they’d get deep into a project only to find the result wasn’t going to be that important. Hence the new approach.
2. “There’s perpetual angst inside Amazon to move faster.” This was part of the impetus for starting AWS—to help software teams become nimbler through IT infrastructure services—but it also drives the company overall. It does create some tension with No. 1 (above), because the company has to balance letting its teams race ahead and build prototypes with the need to flesh out the long-term impact.
3. “To be successful, we had to be the first mover.” Keep in mind Amazon didn’t invent cloud computing; ideas from grid computing and utility computing had been around for years. The company wasn’t necessarily the best-positioned to lead the movement, either (there were far bigger IT companies with more Internet resources). That’s probably why AWS was so disruptive—no one suspected an online retailer would come out with it. “We felt like we were sitting on a secret,” Jassy says.
4. “We picked customers we knew well.” For startups, there’s always a question of who should test their early products. One of the first beta users of EC2 (part of AWS) was none other than former Microsoftie Paul Maritz, … Next Page »Comments | Reprints | Share:
The healthcare industry is slow moving. While beginning to adopt technology for logistical issues including electronic medical records and appointment scheduling, the focus of these efforts is narrow and off-base. True impact on human health now requires technology architecture which addresses the critical data issues faced by the healthcare industry today.
Over the last 10 years the healthcare data dilemma has unfolded to the detriment of the patient. The sad statistic: A primary care physician spends an average of 11 minutes with each patient. Currently, more than half of all patients do not get the recommended treatment necessary for their condition. More alarming; a staggering 40 million patients each year are faced with the potential consequences of delayed or inadequate care due to critical, missing information such as historical examinations, test results and medical reports.
Ironically, at the same time, medicine is experiencing its greatest advancements in human history. Over 34,000 new references are added to the National Library of Medicine every month, more than 500,000 new medical articles are published each year, and there are more than 100,000 scientific journals currently in publication. There are 30,000 new clinical trials funded each year; more than 50 starting every day, somewhere in the world.
What becomes of this unprecedented wealth of information? While a good deal of it might be available, it is generally not truly accessible as it lives behind paid subscription firewalls. Assuming a general practitioner paid for access to all the information available today (fiscally not feasible), staying current would still be impossible. If the practitioner were to spend just five minutes reading each new article published on primary care, this would amount to a ridiculous 600 hours each month.
So where does that leave the patient?
For the patient to be justly served, the healthcare industry must be open to a new model; leveraging the technology, scientific and academic communities. The new model enables engagement across all elements of human health; applying the most current findings from research and clinical studies worldwide to the results of individual patient data analysis, including genomic variation and metabolic functions, to achieve the best possible outcome for their health conditions. The new model enables doctors to partner with researchers, statisticians and mathematicians to collaboratively review and impact patient evaluations and treatment recommendations, providing a truly global, comprehensive and efficient healthcare experience. The new model is transparent and accessible for patients, engaging them in a pro-active way. Imagine the impact this strategy could have in the case of a serious illness; patient outcomes could potentially be dramatically changed.
Patients themselves seem more comfortable with the new model than the healthcare industry. With sites like www.patientslikeme.com booming it is clear that there is a desire by patients to have more information driven by technology. Patients are becoming smarter and more empowered and are taking matters into their own hands.
Innovation in the healthcare industry has been left in the hands of the well-meaning but ill-equipped healthcare people; doctors, nurses and administrators, whose expertise lies in treating and facilitating the care of patients, not technological architecture. In today’s environment, people alone are unable to manage this information overload; unable to take advantage of the wealth of scientific data available. As a result, the medical industry is failing the patient; depriving them of the best potential outcomes, while the solutions continue to lie just out of reach. It’s time for the new model.Comments | Reprints | Share:
Downsizing, buyouts, deals, and investors galore dot this run-through of recent news around the Boston area innovation sector:
—EMC is laying off about 1,000 people. The restructuring had been previously announced, but Hopkinton, MA-based EMC—which sells digital storage services—specified the number of job cuts in its latest quarterly report. The company (NYSE: EMC) says the jobs will affect its Information Storage, RSA Information Security, and Information Intelligence Group units. The Boston Globe notes that EMC has about 60,000 employees.
—MyEnergy, a small Boston startup that provides online software for tracking home energy use, has been acquired by smart thermostat maker Nest. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Nest, based in Palo Alto, CA, makes home thermostats that can “learn” how people use energy by tracking when they adjust temperatures. They also use motion sensors to detect when people are home. Nest says that it plans to “meld MyEnergy technology into Nest’s services.”
—Nuance Communications, the Burlington, MA, voice-recognition software company behind applications including (open secret alert) Apple’s Siri, is using its technology to help recognize bank customers. In a deal with Barclays, Nuance (NASDAQ: NUAN) will help identify money-management clients when they call customer service by matching their real-time voice with a recording on file. The companies say that means an end to the list of security questions callers might run through when they normally ring for help.
—The ever-busy Dave Balter (speaking at XSITE on June 19) is getting busier. Walter Frick at BostInno reports that Balter is heading up a new seed-stage investment fund for his employer, dunnhumby. Dunnhumby, a consumer-analytics subsidiary of U.K. retail giant Tesco, bought Balter’s marketing startup BzzAgent in 2011. Balter also helps run peer-to-peer learning project Intelligent.ly and is an advisor to Boston Seed Capital. Balter tells BostInno that his new dunnhumby Ventures gig won’t clash with the Boston Seed position.
—Forbes has published its annual Midas List, an attempt to rank the nation’s venture capitalists by performance. Of course, that’s not really possible to do because of the venture sector’s secrecy. But Forbes gets close by tallying up known “exits” that individual VCs were part of. Five Boston-area investors made this year’s list of the top 100: Ben Nye of Bain Capital Ventures at No. 24; Neeraj Agrawal of Battery Ventures at No. 27; Joel Cutler of General Catalyst at No. 38; Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital at No. 51; and Michael Krupka of Bain Capital Ventures at No. 83.Comments | Reprints | Share: