Last Week in Boston Tech Deals

Seven Tech Companies Raised Over $172M

Happy Monday!

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If you’re a new face, welcome! My name is Nick Stuart and I’ve been writing a weekly newsletter about Boston-area technology companies that have raised capital for about a year now. The goal is to provide more consistent coverage of a geography that many think is criminally under-reported. I don’t think I’m single-handedly solving the problem, but this newsletter helps me learn more about these quiet companies and hopefully teaches you something as well.

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Stuff I’m Reading:


Boston VC Financing Deals:

Foundation Devices 🔒

I wrote about Boston-based Bitcoin wallet company Foundation Devices briefly when I covered that Nebulous had recently raised some new funding. I forgot to include last week that the startup, founded by ex-COO of Nebulous, also just closed a seed round. They raised an undisclosed amount from Animal Ventures, Fulgur Ventures, Great American Mining, Inflection, Visary Capital, and several individual investors. They make a Bitcoin hardware wallet that differentiates itself by focusing on security, transparency, interoperability, and a good UX.

I think Foundation’s product is interesting because it highlights a recurring theme in crypto these days: compromises. The Bitcoin network is censorship-resistant. You can send anyone money, whenever you want, but most choose to send and store their crypto on a centralized exchange that could freeze the accounts and block the transaction at any time. A less discussed compromise is how Bitcoin’s entire ledger is verifiable by anyone, but many store their crypto on a hardware product that hasn’t disclosed its own source code.

What makes Bitcoin so cool is that you don’t have to rely on one company’s ability to make it a secure digital asset. It’s security can be tested and verified by anyone. Wouldn’t it be cool if the same was true about the wallet storing that Bitcoin? That seems to be the premise behind Foundation Devices. A sovereign storage solution for a sovereign currency, just how Satoshi wanted it.

Foundation’s CEO, Zach Herbert, made a thread in July outlining his issues with the current cold wallet landscape:

“Don’t Trust. Verify.”

In short, his problem is that many wallets on the market don’t have open source hardware and software, so you’re taking a private company’s word that there’s no possible way your data could be compromised. (Yes, I know you already do this with all of your personal data — but Bitcoin makes it way easier not to, so you might as well.)

Of course if a leading wallet company like Ledger revealed that they had a security vulnerability, or if a whistle-blower from the company came out and said they were secretly accessing user information, people would flee from the product. That’s just how free markets work. But it would be pretty strange for them to purposely build an inferior product.

My biggest question is why it isn’t commonplace to build completely open-source wallets already? Why would other cold wallet companies purposely build a product doesn’t have verified security? There’s no way that these companies see an ideological problem with being transparent and secure, otherwise they probably wouldn’t proponents of Bitcoin in the first place.

That’s why I think it’s more of a technical challenge surrounding a mixture of quality security chips and a simple UX. Addressing a technical challenge that solves a real pain point in the market seems like a pretty good reason to start a company.

More:

Crypto Exchange Kraken Receives a Bank Charter


Devo 💽

Nine-year-old data analytics firm Devo just raised $60M in Series D funding from Georgian Partners, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and Insight Partners. Devo’s analytics platform helps companies drive down the cost and labor associated with collecting and analyzing historical data to improve IT operations and security. It was originally founded in Madrid, Spain in 2011 as LogTrust and later moved its headquarters to Cambridge in 2018, shortly after rebranding. Along with the new funding comes the appointment of a new CEO, Marc van Zadelhoff. Marc is the ex-COO of LogMeIn, which was acquired in 2019 for $4.3B.


Demand Sage 🔍

Demand Sage, the creator of a no-code tool that pulls HubSpot data into Google Sheets, just raised $3M in seed funding from Eniac Ventures and Underscore VC. It’s run by Raj Aggarwal, who previously grew mobile marketing analytics startup Localytics from 2009 until its acquisition back in February. The freemium tool allows sales and marketing teams to automatically upload HubSpot data into Google Sheets files with pre-built reporting templates and dashboards.


Form Energy 🔋

Somerville-based battery technology company Form Energy has raised $52M, per a Form D. The three-year-old company is building hardware and software products to enable long-duration energy storage and energy optimization on the grid. They’ve previously raised $49M from Eni Next, The Engine, Prelude Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and others. The company is led by Mateo Jaramillo, ex-VP of Product on Tesla’s energy team.

A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility. TechCrunch


Airworks 🗺️

Airworks, a Boston-based spatial analytics company, just raised $2.7M led by MetaProp, with participation from Innospark Ventures, Creative Ventures, and Met Fund — according to Strictly VC. The four-year-old startup specializes in building CAD drawings of job sites using 3D aerial scans from drones. The product uses AI to convert existing aerial datasets into tagged and segmented CAD drawings that can be used in a built environment by surveyors and land developers. They also offer image stitching and photogrammetry services to clients. Previous investors include FM Global, Roughdraft Ventures, and MIT Delta v.

More:

Boston-based drone analytics company Raptor Maps raised $5M earlier this month.


Humatics 🛰️

Micro-location sensor developer Humatics just raised a $30M Series B from Blackhorn Ventures, with participation from Tenfore Holdings, Fontinalis Partners, Airbus Ventures, Lockheed Martin, and Presidio Ventures. The company develops extremely accurate sensors and location systems that can help bridge the divide between the physical and digital world, giving computers true spatial awareness.

Their two main products are a Rail Navigation System for improving the efficiency of railway operations and a microlocation system that helps computers precisely understand where objects are in relation to each other. They’re ideal for industrial applications like manufacturing and transportation, but also for things like precision-dependent filmmaking techniques and high-accuracy VR applications.


Perfect Health 🏥

Tech-enabled home-based primary care company Perfect Health raised $25M out of a $45M round, according to a Form D. The Woburn-based startup focuses on providing affordable home healthcare solutions for seniors.


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That’s all from me until next week — If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on Linkedin and Twitter or check out my website at nickstu.art.

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