🆕 The Last 2 Weeks in Boston Tech Deals: 16 Companies' Private Financings Topped $375M+ Collectively
Among them were an EpiPen competitor, a Harvard Medical School spin-off revamping the academic publishing system, an AI video editor for TikTokers, and an international payments enablement tool 💸
If you’re new here, I’m Abigail! A mechanical-engineer-turned-investor at Hyperplane, an AI/ML-focused seed-stage venture capital firm in Boston. Every two weeks, this newsletter lists Boston’s latest financings and highlights local and macro news.
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🍂 🍃 Happy Sunday! We’re shifting to this new release date after the feedback (and stats) last week. The best kind of day for curling up on the couch and watching movies (I recommend skimming the NYTimes’ list of 2023’s best movies) and football (or reading one of 2023’s best books). Hoping everyone was able to enjoy their Thanksgiving holidays and that we’re all thoroughly prepared for the season of out of office emails. I’ll be adding myself to this list for a bit as well, so there won’t be an issue of Boston Tech Deals for the weeks covering the end of December after the next issue out on the 17th. That being said, we have plenty to pack in this issue. Over these last two weeks, we saw 16 Boston-based startups raise over $375M in private financings across several industries, although, across the healthcare and life sciences industries we saw a pretty notable emphasis (surprise, surprise).
I’m incessantly adding things to my “To Google” list. So I’m listing some stuff I’m looking into this week, please reach out if interested in chatting about any of it! Check out the bottom of this email to see findings from last week’s topics.
Interests this week (all of the random stuff I’m Googling and thinking about):
🛢What has been the history, timeline and most influential policy decisions concerning modern oil production? 💉 In light of the seemingly recent influx of startups that claim to offer efficiency hacks for new medspas — what are the economic levers of medspas, and how different are these from traditional pharmacies? 🌍 What is status of yellow fever and malaria relative to the last 10 years?
Boston news: Spotify’s local listening stats came out last week, and Boston’s top artists were Taylor Swift, Drake, and Morgan Wallen (“Last Night” was the most played song by Bostonians). Some other stories: MA's labor committee heard a proposal in November that if passed, would set up a pilot program for employers to opt-in for a 4 day work week, offering those companies tax breaks and other benefits if elected. If the House and Senate do approve the measure, the pilot program could launch as soon as 2025. Separately, the European Commission objected to Amazon's $1.7B acquisition of Bedford, MA-based Roomba maker, iRobot, on Monday, saying it could restrict competition in robotic vacuum cleaners.
Other stuff: Big day for UMich football fans yesterday winning the Big Ten championship, now we wait for the two teams who will play either them or Washington in the playoffs to be selected today. The 2-week COP28 UN Climate Summit kicked off over the weekend, and it started off with some big moves as some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies signed a pledge to reduce methane emissions to near-zero by 2030. In other news, Black Friday and Cyber Monday asked, and consumers delivered. Consumers topped the shopping record previously held by last year’s numbers, spending $9.8B shopping online on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics. The TV numbers were also record breaking, as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast set a record with 28.5M viewers, while the Dallas Cowboys' game saw 41.8M viewers (making it the most-watched program since Super Bowl LVII), and the Packers-Lions game garnered 33.7M viewers. Who said traditional TV was dead?
And so, with that, let’s get into it.
Boston Financings of 11/20-12/3
Financings are listed from smallest to largest. Biotech financings over $80M+ are usually not covered.
The total amount of disclosed funding over the last two weeks hit over $375M
Cuebric | $ TBD | Media Tech
The first generative AI system to produce and edit images for film and TV volumes, Cuebric, has filed a Form D on behalf of an indefinite round of funding in the form of a convertible SAFE note and has yet to have a first close (I recognize this is probably the most nonmaterial funding description ever). Launched out of an AI creative production studio called the Seyhan Lee Collective, Cuebric allows filmmakers to construct 2.5D environments and operationalizes production processes, in part by generating images from the Stable Diffusion model. The company has partnered with XR Studios to pilot the tool’s capabilities.
Sute Media | $25K | Media Tech
Sute Media, a social media platform for “edu-creators” to monetize and build communities, has raised $25K from 1 investor in the form of options, debt, equity, and other securities towards a total offering amount filed for $500K. Currently in beta, the product allows vetted edu-creators, content creators that focus on educational subjects, to build communities across financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career development. The company was founded by two Wake Forest alums who originally started Sute as a messenger product.
Intelligent Science Group (presumably ScienceBank?) | $205K | Stealth
Intelligent Science Group (ISG), presumably the registered legal name for a Harvard Med School Faculty spin-off addressing academic publishing, ScienceBank, has raised $205K in debt and other securities from 5 total investors. Founded by the two folks listed as the Directors on the ISG filing, Associate Professor at Harvard Med, Joseph Arboleda-Velasquez, and ex-AI researcher at Schepens Eye Research Institute, Joshua Sandhu, ScienceBank aims to solve the problems of the traditional peer review process in academic publishing, offering a new community-centric publishing system built on transparent, collaborative peer-review from a global community of reviewers and researchers.
Sware | $1.5M Debt | Healthcare IT
A company formerly known as Boston Technology Company, offering a platform for life sciences companies to help internal compliance processes, Sware, has raised $1.5M in debt towards a total offering filed for $3.5M. Founded in 2010, Sware’s digital platform, Res_Q, automates the many required compliance processes for life sciences companies when they implement new technology or software vendors that could meaningfully affect patients or outside stakeholders. They recently announced the appointment of a new CEO, Ellen Reilly, and last raised a $15M Series A led by Insight Partners in 2022.
Basil Systems | $2.3M | Healthcare IT
Developer of a data analytics platform enabling better product development for healthcare companies, Basil Systems has raised an additional $2.3M towards an offering amount of $5.1M filed back in 2021. According to Pitchbook, Wild Basin Investments led the investment. Founded by a team of MIT alumni and serial entrepreneurs, Basil’s platform aggregates information from disconnected sources to build a comprehensive industry knowledge-base of medtech and pharma data, ultimately providing insights for medical product development. They last raised a $1.5M Seed round in 2021 from Golden Ventures and Looking Glass Ventures.
Windgap Medical | $2.3M Debt | Medical Devices
Developing a temperature-resilient rival to the EpiPen called the Andipen, Windgap Medical, has raised $2.3M in the form of debt, options, and other securities towards a total offering amount filed for $22.4M. Like EpiPen, Windgap’s product will package epinephrine, or adrenaline, in a delivery format for emergency situations. The difference is Windgap’s device should be smaller and have a longer shelf-life. They were founded in 2011 and last raised a $39M Series B round from Taiwania Capital in January of 2022.
QSimulate | $2.5M | R&D Tech
QSimulate, the company behind a quantum physics-based drug-discovery and materials R&D platform called QSP, has raised $2.5M in a round led by quantum technology investment firm 2xN. Founded by a quantum chemistry researcher and associate professor at Northwestern, QSimulate’s platform integrates quantum chemistry and quantum computing to simulate molecular interactions for industry R&D applications. They last raised an early stage venture round of undisclosed amount in 2022 with participation from Embark Ventures, Abies Ventures, and Kyoto University Innovation Capital.
Pepper Bio | $6.5M | AI Drug Discovery
Pepper Bio, a company that calls itself “the world’s first transomics company,” for drug discovery, has raised a $6.5M Seed round led by NFX with participation from Merck and Silverton Partners, among others. A cohort member in Merck’s early-stage startup accelerator and collaborating with Stanford’s Felsher Lab for treatment development, Pepper Bio analyzes multiple layers of biological data including DNA, RNA, proteomics, and phosphoproteomics in order to discover new drugs, coining the term “transomics”. They last raised a $4.8M round in January of this year, according to Pitchbook.
Panoptic | $7M | Crypto
Decentralized finance protocol for perpetual options trading of crypto assets, Panoptic, has raised a $7M Seed extension round led by a European crypto firm, Greenfield Capital. Founded in July of 2022 by a Cornell professor and a former Advanced Blockchain AG executive, Panoptic’s platform is built on top of Uniswap, a decentralized trading platform, and allows users to trade perpetual options (a financial derivative similar to perpetual futures) between two Ethereum ERC-20 tokens. The raised a $4.5M Seed round in December 2022.
Ozone | $7.1M | Media Tech
AI-powered and cloud-based collaborative video editor, Ozone, has raised a $7.1M Seed round from NEA, General Catalyst, SOMA Capital and Olive Tree Capital, among others. Founded by an MIT sophomore, Max von Wolff, in 2021, who subsequently dropped out to attend Y Combinator for the idea, Ozone provides content creators with AI assistance for accelerating repetitive editing tasks. The team is launching an open beta version and releasing new features in the coming months.
Almond FinTech | $7M | FinTech
Developer of a platform that aims to enable better international payments in developing countries, Almond FinTech has raised a $7M round with participation from SBXi. Almond’s mobile-based platform identifies optimal routing for international currency transfers through their Settlement Optimization Engine (SOE) by tracking hundreds of digital currencies and blockchains for achieving near-instant settlements, protecting against forex risk, and minimizing international float requirements. The company was founded by two MIT MBA students in 2019 as a financial inclusion startup.
Malta | $21.6M | Climate Tech
Malta, a climate tech spin-out from X, Google’s Moonshot Factory (formerly Google X) developing a Pumped Heat Energy Storage (PHES) system to provide super-long-duration energy storage, has raised $21.6M from 5 investors towards a total offering amount of $75M. Malta’s Nobel Prize-based technology addresses complexities of renewable energy demand by using grid power to compress energy and store it as heat inside large tanks of high temperature molten salt and as cold in large tanks of chilled liquid. They last raised a $50M Series B in 2021 led by Proman, a Swiss energy firm with participation from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and others.
Judo Bio | $25M | Biotech
Stealth-mode precision therapeutics company seeded by Atlas Venture and The Column Group, Judo Bio has raised an additional $5M from Atlas and Column Group towards a total offering amount filed for $25M. According to their LinkedIn page, Judo is developing a new class of precision therapeutics targeting specific cell populations, a platform that will ultimately have the potential to address significant unmet medical need in genetic diseases and beyond.
Eleos Health | $40M | Digital Health
Provider of an AI-based platform turning behavioral health conversations into automated documentation, Eleos Health has raised a $40M Series B led by Menlo Ventures with participation from F-Prime Capital, Eight Roads, Arkin Digital Health, and SamsungNEXT. Based between Boston and Tel Aviv, Eleos’ platform leverages the data captured through directly collected and nondisruptive methodologies to describe the client's characteristics and needs and inform clinical decision-making. They last raised a $20M Series A led by F-Prime Capital and Eight Roads in April of 2022.
Quotient Therapeutics | $50M | Biotech
Quotient Therapeutics, a company leveraging somatic genomics to develop new drugs by identifying new links between genes and disease, was unveiled by Flagship Pioneering last week and has raised a $50M round led by the incubation firm. Created in partnership with geneticists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern, Quotient claims to be the first company to systematically study the genetic variation and evolution of the trillions of cells inside the human body to produce novel new drugs.
Cambrian Innovation | $200M | Natural Resources Management
Cambrian Innovation, a wastewater treatment, water reuse and energy recovery-as-a-service company, has raised a $200M late-stage round from Pennybacker Capital Management. Founded in 2011 and an Elemental Excelerator Cohort 9 alumni, Cambrian helps companies extract resources like clean water and energy from wastewater streams and has implemented solutions with companies like Anheuser-Busch, Sapporo, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. They last raised $18M in development capital from Spring Lane Capital in 2019.
INNO4, a company designing, installing and supporting custom mission-critical systems and technology solutions for large enterprise customer, has raised an unknown amount of strategic capital from ServicePoint and Mill Point Capital.
Caraway Therapeutics, a company developing treatments for neurodegenerative and rare diseases, is being acquired by Merck for up to $610M.
New Heritage Capital, a private equity firm focused on founder-owned businesses in the middle market, raised $438M for its fourth fund.
All for now!
Your Macro Briefing + Headlines 📉
Covering the upcoming numbers to watch for (🔜) , the relevant numbers of last week (🔙), and the tech headlines of the last two weeks (🆕).
🔜 Economy watch this week:
📢 Number releases to watch:
🗓 Tomorrow, we’ll get US factory orders. Tuesday, we’ll see U.S. services PMI and job openings. Thursday, jobless claims, consumer credit, and wholesale inventories. And on Friday, we’ll get the US jobs report and preliminary consumer sentiment numbers.
Deeper: Analysts predict that the tick up in November jobs growth will be a function the impact of the United Auto Workers strikes in October rather than a resurgence in the labour market.
🔙 Economy watch last two weeks:
Last week’s number releases at-a-glance: The S&P 500 closed at a 20-month high on Friday, and the US Q3 GDP numbers were stronger than expected. India crushed their GDP expectations in Q2. Meanwhile, US inflation as measured by consumer spending through the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, and the ISM Manufacturing PMI, measuring manufacturing activity in the US were both in line with expectations: PCE rose slightly, and the manufacturing index stayed below 50, which indicates contraction in manufacturing.
🛍 Consumer activity: Cyber Monday e-commerce totals amounted to $12.4B in consumer spending, a 9.6% rise from last year, and Black Friday online sales reached $9.8B, up 7.5% from last year. Consumers continue spending with a significant portion of it from borrowing, as seen by the Buy Now, Pay Later stats.
🏡 Real Estate: Home prices are back up and rising, up 4% on an annual basis in September due to demand still outpacing supply.
🌍 International: China’s economic releases again didn’t look too good, as factory activity further contracted and consumer spending activity in the services sector shrank for the first time this year. Economic data has been showing that China’s global heft is declining for the first time since 1994.
⚡️ Energy: Members of OPEC+ released an odd combination of individual statements indicating some member countries’ voluntary reduction of oil production (they usually release statements cohesively in one go), pointing to a potential future increase in oil and gas prices.
🤑 Earnings notables: Snowflake reported $698.5M in sales in the October quarter, up 32% from the same period last year and higher than the company’s own predictions. Meanwhile, Nuuly, the online clothing rental arm of Urban Outfitters’ brands, reported a gross profit of $17M in Q3, doubling its profit from last year. Sales reached $65M, also nearly doubling.
⚖️ Cutting more than weight: On Friday, Pfizer announced a decision to discontinue the development of the twice-daily experimental weight loss medication after side effects shown in clinical trials.
Meanwhile, Eli Lilly’s new weight loss drug, Zepbound, is reportedly more effective and will cost ~20% cheaper than Novo Nordisk's Wegovy.
✈️ A losing incumbent: The U.S. Air Force has eliminated Boeing from its competition to develop a successor to the E-4B Nightwatch (a mobile command post capable of withstanding nuclear blasts). The only publicly known company still in the race is Sierra Nevada Corp.
🇺🇸 A controversial passing: A Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and secretary of state under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, serving both as a controversial and key figure in US foreign policy strategy in Vietnam and the Cold Wars, has died at 100 years old.
🚢 Shifting sides of the field: Walmart is cutting dependence on Chinese imports (currently, 60% of its US shipments) and shifting focus to Indian imports (currently, 25% of its U.S. imports).
💳 Swing and a miss: Apple will end its credit card collaboration with Goldman Sachs in the next 12-15 months, marking a significant setback in Goldman’s efforts to expand into consumer lending.
🏀 It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later (on the court): After 24 years, Mark Cuban is selling his Dallas Mavericks stake. Cuban still plans to keep shares in the team and fully control basketball operations.
📈 A Berkshire Hathaway passing: Billionaire investor Charlie Munger (a figurehead behind Berkshire Hathaway’s investments, CEO of Wesco Financial, a publisher of the Daily Journal Corp., a member of the Costco board, a philanthropist, a real estate attorney, and an architect) has passed away at 99.
🔋 Big moves for solar: SB Energy Global, a solar company backed by SoftBank and Ares, will be the first to qualify for federal tax credits tied to buying components made in America after secured solar modules made in Ohio, steel from Texas and Georgia, and other devices produced in the states.
🤖 “I wouldn’t touch that board with a ten-foot pole” were the soothing words from Sasha Luccioni, an AI ethics researcher at HuggingFace in response to the possibility of joining OpenAI's all-male three-member board. The makeup reflects the AI industry's diversity problem.
😬 Cringe: Elon Musk had some tough words for the advertisers who pulled back from Twitter (X, whatever) in response to Musk saying an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory was the "absolute truth." Onstage at the NYTimes Dealbook Summit, Musk said, “If someone is going to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f**k yourself. Go F**K yourself.”
🇺🇦 Ukraine update: Ukrainian officials said Russia launched its biggest drone attack on Kyiv since the war began. The attack last Saturday wounded several people and caused damage to buildings across the city’s districts.
“Basically, we are in the First World War situation, where you have two entrenched armies, neither of which is going to be able to break the other,” says Frank Ledwidge, a former British military intelligence officer as an impending harsh winter and vulnerable power grid loom in the background.
🧑💼 Tech and Biz
Tuesday, December 5th 2-3PM: Geospatial Data Science at Scale with Esri and AWS hosted by Data Science Connect.
Wednesday, December 6th, 1:30-7PM: Greentown Labs’ hosts Manufacturing Sector Pitch Day
Wednesday, December 6th, 9-10:30AM: The InnoCrew, Venture Daily, and Fidelity’s Shoobx hosts, December Boston Tech Breakfast Club.
Tuesday, December 12th, 5:30-7:30PM: The InnoCrew and Founder Collective are hosting a Boston-Cambridge Healthtech Mixer with help from Alexa Murray and Tracy Lahey.
Thursday, December 7th, 7PM: The Nutcracker ballet is on at the Boch Center.
Now open: Deck 12 at YOTEL Boston in the Seaport District has transformed their heated rooftop for the season with gondolas, chair lifts, and ski-themed Adirondack chairs for APRÈS @ Deck 12.
Findings: Things I’m Googling
🚼 Why are maternal mortality rates in the U.S. at their highest level since 1965?
What I found: The U.S. is the most dangerous place among high-income countries to give birth. In 2021, the number of women who died during pregnancy or shortly after rose by 40% compared to 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Why is this? Compared to other wealthy nations, the U.S. underinvests in things like social services, primary care and mental health. Further, a lack of proper health care and existing health complications -- like diabetes, obesity and hypertension -- are among the factors that can make pregnant women more likely to have a preterm birth. More pointedly, Covid-19 exacerbated certain longstanding problems including access to care and heart health.
🚢 Checking in on the state of the supply chain issues in the US and abroad.
What I found: A few days after I put this down as a research question, Biden announced a new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience that will take over 30 announced actions to improve access to medicine and needed economic data. From what I read, it seems like most of the issues are still rampant and that disruptions to supply chain operations are set to stay — notably, materials shortages have been driving increased concern. Interestingly, Forbes’ contributor Harry Broadman has some opinions here about why COVID wasn’t truly the root cause. An outlook for Q4 2024 can be found here.
🌐 While still an extremely fresh topic for research, what are the hypotheses about the postwar plan for Gaza (i.e. what happens globally if Hamas is removed as a political/military power)?
What I found: Not too many official hypotheses yet, but a ton of speculation. More concrete findings included that recently, Israel said it wants a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of Gaza's border to prevent future attacks as part of proposals for the enclave after war ends, according to Egyptian and regional sources. And the US doesn’t seem to agree with that idea. Another article linked here. This will be an ongoing question of interest.