🔥 The Last Two Weeks in Boston Fundings: $811M Raised by 18+ Startups
Among those funded, an advanced carbon nano materials manufacturer, a self-applying skin patch for delivering vaccines, and a new (but of course, differentiated) AI-based personal assistant 🤑
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. Got events or fundings for me? Respond directly to this email!
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🍂 🍃 Happy Tuesday! It’s sweater weather (and sick season 🤒 - starting Sept. 25, households can order four free tests through COVIDTests.gov)! We’re back with 60 degree weather but still falling short on the foliage front — get it together, New England 🍁. Looking outside Boston, the Lookout Farm in Natick, Brooksby Farm in Peabody, and Langwater Farm in North Easton are all >20 miles outside of the city and ready to deliver on any pumpkin patch and apple picking flannel-weather dates this fall. Lots of macro stuff to cover this week spanning various economic indicator releases (Macro Briefing section below) to IPO stories, including Boston-founded Klayvio (the returns profile here)!!
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! And 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):
🏥 The state of automation in companies addressing health insurance claims denials. 🚢 What does the M&A market look like for maritime technology right now relative to pre-COVID? 💉 Why is female hormone testing so complex and what are the actual differences between common endocrine lab tests and testing methods?
Boston news: Klaviyo, a Boston-based marketing startup backed by Boston-based Summit Partners and Accomplice VC, went public in an offering that valued the company just over $9B. The commuter rail initiative that would create routes from Springfield to Boston is one step closer to reality as the federal government awarded the state up to $108M for upgrading the tracks. Boston University professor and founding member of the Center for Antiracist Research at BU, Ibram Kendi launched an ESPN+ series airing tomorrow called Skin in the Game, a five-episode series interviewing various professionals about racism and sports. Eric Paley, GP at Boston-based VC fund Founder Collective, contributed to the discussion on why the venture model is broken on the 20VC podcast last week.
Other news: The Federal Reserve (“The Fed”) paused interest rate hikes, but hinted at one more before year end (12 of 19 officials are leaning towards another before the end of 2024). Major film studios and over 11,000 Hollywood writers are closer to resolving a major strike estimated to have cost the economy over $5B so far. The US government faces the potential of a shutdown if they can’t come to a budget resolution by October 1st, the date by which current funding will dry up (in a shutdown, non-essential gov’t functions stop and these employees are furloughed until shutdown ends, while essential services like post, air traffic, military, and federally funded hospitals continue). Instacart, Klayvio, and ARM all went public after 21 months of an IPO dry spell of significant venture-backed companies (not counting CAVA or iRobot).
And so, with that, let’s get into it.
Boston Financings of 9/12-9/26
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 $811M
Tailbox | $1.5M | Consumer Travel
Consumer travel tech company employing generative AI for personalized recommendations in new cities and locations, Tailbox has raised a $1.5M Seed round led by Link Ventures. A member of the most recent cohort in MIT’s delta v Accelerator, Tailbox prompts users to input their mood or interests and then employs generative AI to curate a travel journey for you in a new location. The company describes itself as, “your best friend who is always ready to point out interesting things to you that you may find interesting”.
Porosome Therapeutics | $1.5M | Healthcare (Drug Development)
Developer of a new and distinctive therapeutic offering to treat cystic fibrosis, Porosome Therapeutics has closed $1.5M of a $5M total offering amount, according to a Form D filing. Porosome’s approach is the first therapeutic application of the porosome, the cell’s secretory apparatus, addressing the cell's secretory machinery and water transport regulation to treat secretion and hydration disorders, like cystic fibrosis.
Zakipoint Health | $1.7M | Healthcare IT
Provider of a platform for helping self-insured employers manage their healthcare spend, Zaki Health, has raised $1.7M from 33 investors. Zaki’s platform helps to identify causes of increased healthcare costs, engage with individual members, and proactively address wasted excess spend on healthcare. Their member-facing app leverages features like price transparency and member communications. The company was a cohort member of MassChallenge HealthTech cohort in 2018.
DeNexus | $2.4M debt | Cybersecurity
Provider of cyber risk modeling for insurance agencies and investors, DeNexus closed an additional $2.4M of convertible debt from HCS Capital, WGG Partners and VentureOut towards a total $10M offering, of which they have closed $7.9M. DeNexus allows industrial stakeholders and investors visibility into a facility’s exposure to cyber events, calculates the financial impact of potential cyber events, and identifies mitigation options to reduce cyber risk. DeNexus raised a Seed round in 2021.
Orca DB | $3M | AI
Orca DB, a stealth mode company on a mission to make AI systems more efficient, accessible, explainable, and safe using Hybrid AI methods, has closed $3M of a $4.5M total offering amount from 1 investor, according to a Form D filing. According to LinkedIn post by Founder and CEO, Stephen Kemmerling, the company aims to employ Hybrid AI methods for safe AI and AGI.
CHASM Advanced Materials | $7.6M debt | Materials
Manufacturer of advanced carbon nano materials, CHASM Advanced Materials has raised $7.6M in debt from 2 investors towards a total offering amount for $15M. CHASM’s four core products offer precision-engineered nanotubes for different specialty applications such as water purification, semiconductor manufacturing, and for use in batteries and construction. The company last raised just over $15M from WAVE Equity Partners in 2021.
DetraPel | $7.6M | Materials
Developer of PFAS-free commercial protective coatings, DetraPel has raised a $7.6M Series A round led by Material Impact for its recently rebranded industrial arm, Impermea Materials. The capital is reportedly earmarked for scale up of its fluorine-free commercial coatings production to meet the demand of customers, some of which are amongst the world’s largest packaged goods brands who want to offer eco-friendly packaging. The company last raised a $5.3M round from FitzGate Ventures.
Vaxess Technologies | $9M | Healthcare
Developer of a skin patch for delivering vaccines that patients will potentially be able to self-apply, Vaxess Technologies has raised $9M from RA Capital, The Engine, GHIC and Ulu Ventures. Vaxess’ patch is shelf-stable and delivers vaccines through a controlled release method that simulates the pace of a natural infection, helping the body to produce an immune response ramp. Vaxess raised $37 million in a Series B round within the last year, also growing its team by more than 30%.
JURA Bio | $16.1M | Healthcare (Drug Development)
George Church-founded biotech discovering and developing new oncology therapeutics using machine learning and synthetic biology, JURA Bio, has launched from stealth with a $16.1M Seed round from Michael Chambers, John Ballantyne, Fontus Capital, Josh Elkington, and others. JURA launched accompanied by an agreement with Syena, a Replay cell therapy product company, for the development of T cell receptor (TCR)-based therapies. The company is founded by two female founders, both MIT PhD’s.
Duckbill AI | $25M | AI
AI-based personal assistant, Duckbill AI, has raised a $25M Series A led by Forerunner with participation from General Catalyst, Inspired Capital, Greycroft, G9 Ventures, and Offline Ventures. Another AI personal assistant? I thought the same. But apparently, while Duckbill does use AI internally, it’s got an edge. The company harnesses LLMs as an aid to its network of human assistants, dubbed copilots, helping them respond to requests and get tasks done more efficiently. The product recently became available to the public after a year of beta testing.
AIRNA | $30M | Healthcare
AIRNA, a developer of RNA editing therapeutics, AIRNA, has launched from stealth mode with a $30M round led by ARCH Venture Partners. AIRNA’s RNA editing platform, RESTORE+™, optimizes each therapeutic’s sequence, chemistry, and delivery for more efficient RNA editing. This is the company’s first round of venture funding.
TileDB | $32.8M | Data Infrastructure
A company providing a universal data engine for datasets with multi-dimensional structures, TileDB, has raised $32.8M from 21 total investors. TileDB can model and store any type of data on any backend, addressing the challenges with complex data formats for point cloud, genomics, imaging, video, or location data. The company launched out of MIT and Intel Labs as a database project in 2017 initially targeting geospatial data and has since become a solution used by (and invested in by) companies like Amgen, Lockheed Martin, Verizon, and NTT Docomo.
Magnet Biomedicine | $50M | Healthcare (Drug Discovery)
Developer of molecular glues to treat various diseases such as cardiovascular disease, oncology, and immune disorders, Magnet Biomedicine, has raised a $50M Series A co-led by Newpath Partners and ARCH Venture Partners. Magnet’s core products, TrueGlues, are compounds that induce protein–protein interactions discovered by their TrueGlue platform. Newpath Partners was the founding investor. Magnet has more.
Openly | $100M | InsurTech/PropTech
Provider of home insurance distributed exclusively through independent agents, Openly has raised a $100M Series D round led by Eden Global Partners, with Gradient Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures also participating. In 2022, it generated $167M in premiums for its underwriter Rock Ridge Insurance Company, and the company also owns an insurance carrier. Openly has raised a total of $238M to date, including earlier funds from Boston-based firm PJC.
Indigo Ag | $250M | Agriculture
Provider of plant microbiome, digital platforms, and other agricultural services designed to increase crop yield, Indigo Ag has raised $250M in a round led by Flagship Pioneering. Founded in 2013 out of Flagship Pioneering, Indigo Ag started as Symbiota, using a database of genomic microbe information to predict which microbes are most beneficial in the form of seed coatings. They have since refined this product while also expanding their offerings into digital solutions for simplifying grain transactions and for generating income from carbon farming.
Generate: Biomedicines | $273M | Healthcare
Flagship Pioneering company using machine learning to engineer new medicines, Generate: Biomedicines has raised a $273M Series C round from from Amgen, NVentures, NVIDIA, MAPS Capital, and others. This was a down round from their $370M round in 2021. Generate: Biomedicines’ platform enables programing of protein-based modalities for the first time, and has one candidate in the clinic: GB-0669, an antibody targeting COVID-19.
VODA AI | Strategic Investment | Utilities
Provider of a platform for asset management addressing water and wastewater utilities, VODA AI has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Ferguson. VODA.ai's software focuses on risk modeling, lead line management, leak monitoring, condition assessment and capital planning. Founded by a masters student at Harvard while taking an innovation course taught by Jim Fitchett, VODA has analyzed over 1 million miles of pipe to date and last raised from Echo River Capital in 2022.
Praecipio acquired Gurnet Consulting, a management consulting firm. Financial terms not disclosed.
Gurnet Point Capital and Novo Holdings acquired Paratek Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical research company, for $462M.
General Atomics acquired EO Vista, developer of sensors used in satellites and aircraft. Financial terms not disclosed.
Cendana Capital, co-led by Boston-based partner, Graham Pingree, has raised $470M for its fund of funds investment practice. SF-based Partner Michael Kim sat down for a conversation with TechCrunch.
Spark Capital has hired Natalie Vais as a general partner from Amplify Partners.
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 (🆕).
Context: Last week, The Fed chose to pause interest rate hikes, waiting out the “full effects of our economic tightening”. This is a result of somewhat inconclusive economic indications recently that are prompting questions of, is our economy flatlining, declining, or what? This week's core PCE (the Fed's favorite inflation gauge), as well as personal income, spending and durable goods data releases will be closely watched in hopes that they will provide material for confirming US economic trends.
🔜 Economy watch this week:
📢 Number releases to watch:
🗓 Today, we’ll get CB Consumer Confidence. Tomorrow, we’ll get Durable Goods Orders. Thursday, we’ll get final US Q2 GDP. Friday, we’ll see core PCE, personal income and spending.
Note: On Friday, look out for the Fed's favorite inflation gauge, US core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index — expectations currently that the core PCE index will remain unchanged in August — following Thursday’s final Q2 GDP numbers. With somewhat inconclusive economic indications recently, this week's core PCE, personal income, spending and durable goods data will be closely watched and will likely provide material for confirming US economic trends.
🌎 Global number releases: Closely watched this week will be: China PMI releases, September inflation readings from the eurozone, Japan industrial production and retail sales, and final Q2 GDP numbers for the UK.
🔙 Economy watch last two weeks:
🏛 On the hill: Somewhat unsurprisingly given partisan dynamics, the US government faces a potential government shutdown if it can’t resolve a budgetary stand-off by October 1st, the date which current funding dries up.
💼 Jobs: Jobless claims, an economic indicator measuring applications for US unemployment benefits, fell to the lowest level since January last week, indicating a healthy labor market.
⚡️ Energy: Gas prices officially hit their highest levels all year, a concern as the post-Labor Day driving slowdown has historically eased gas prices. The peak is a result of
🌎 Global economy: Japan is the latest country to halt rate hikes, keeping short-term rates at -0.1%, after the US and England hit the breaks during the last few weeks. Japan historically has kept a negative interest rate policy (to encourage banks to lend more money to businesses and households, thereby stimulating economic growth and inflation).
🏡 Real estate: US Housing Starts fell by 11.3% last month to the lowest we’ve seen since 2020. Buyers are reluctant to buy and homeowners are reluctant to sell due to high mortgage rates, leaving the housing market with low inventory and therefore, higher prices. Since theoretically, more construction would alleviate this, lower housing starts (and lower applications for new builds) is a concerning indicator.
💰 Earnings snip-it: Concerning the life sciences market, Boston Properties President Douglas Linde said, "And so what we saw was a significant number of projects starting to get developed and built in the life science sector. You saw the capital just get starved. So what happened in the rest of the capital markets happened in spades in the life science market. And so you are now seeing the results that which are significant number of life science companies are going out and trying to do new, new capital raises and they're getting down valuations. In many cases, those companies are not able to raise capital productively relative to what their needs are.”
❌ AI disclosures: A proposed policy could force cloud giants such as Microsoft and Amazon to disclose customer purchases computing resources above a certain level, with the aim of preventing unchecked AI development. But if executed poorly, it presents a risk of becoming unintended AI surveillance.
🪐 Limp takes on Origin: Dave Limp, a current Amazon executive who focuses on outgoing devices, will replace Bob Smith as CEO of Blue Origin, the space company founded by Jeff Bezos.
🤑 Amazon’s all in: In the latest move by a corporate behemoth to achieve AI dominance (or whatever we think that means today), Amazon announced plans to invest $4B into an OpenAI chatbot competitor, Anthropic AI, the creators of Claude 2.
🎥 One step at a time: 150 days later, the massive strike of over 11,000 Hollywood’s writers has come to a tentative resolution that primarily outlines AI-protection and pay demands from the big studios. The strike has been estimated to have cost the economy around $5B.
🤖 “But I could be wrong, AI could save us.”: Bill Ackman, hedge fund billionaire, came out and said he’s short on 30-year bonds, as he expects long-term rates to rise due to increasing national debt, foreign bondholders offloading, the effects of outsourcing manufacturing, among other reasons.
🎶 “Yeah!”: Usher will be headlining this season’s NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show in Las Vegas.
🔥 Hefty cash burn: Intel has spent over $18B on R&D, a huge expense relative to R&D spend by NVIDIA ($7.3B) and AMD ($5B). This is likely due to the fact that Intel has been using glass-based substrates to address the communication issues of complex processors, particularly in AI applications.
🫂 Keepin’ it in the family: At 92 years old, Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as Chairman of Fox and News Corp. Replacing him is his son, Lachlan.
🇺🇦 Ukraine update: Ukraine targeted Russia's Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea in what they claimed was a “successful” missile attack on the naval HQ. A sign that despite slower progress in its counteroffensive, Ukraine can still do damage.
Poland has promised transit corridors that will allow Ukrainian grain shipments to move through its territory and reach the countries most in need. This comes shortly after a public dispute between the two countries over this grain issue and the question of supplying weapons.
US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine.
🌳 Backtracking? UK’s Rishi Sunak announced in a speech plans to make changes to the government's green commitments, but insisted that he was still committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (although these actions are more than likely to delay progress toward that target).
🧑💼 Tech and Biz
Monday, October 1st: EVCA will host an Equinox cycle class hosted by yours truly at 7:15AM next Monday morning! Reach out to Betsy Mulé at F-Prime or Kyle Dolce at Glasswing to secure a spot (:
October 10-13: Boston Fintech Week, organized by Fintech Sandbox, is back! The theme this year is "On the Brink: Building the Infrastructure We Need for a Bold Financial Future". Hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, a 2-day conference Oct 11 & 12 discusses how new pathways for products, services and new distribution channels are or maybe aren’t ushering in the golden age of financial services. Register here!
Tonight 9/26, 5:30PM: Climate Entrepreneurship Night hosted by MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship.
Saturday, September 30th: Funktoberfest at Bow Market with special food vendors and an all-market license to consume Remnant Beer! Live music from 12 - 8 pm Saturday and Sunday.
A list of free and discounted tickets to Boston museums and other attractions with your Boston Public Library card. The more you know!
Findings from Last Week’s Googling
Quick hits from my “To Google” list of last week:
🌍 History and relevance of the current-day global alliances and their roles in global conflict
What I found: All international alliances and their participants.
🧪 What are the levers driving the flow of funds and medical margins for specialty pharmaceutical drugs?
What I found: The Flow of Money Through the Pharmaceutical Distribution System was an interesting overview of how the pharmaceutical margins work in relation to specialty prescription drugs. TLDR: “For every $100 spent at retail pharmacies, about $17 compensates for direct production costs, $41 accrues to the manufacturer ($15 of which is net profit), and $41 accrues to intermediaries in the distribution system: wholesalers, pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers and insurers (with $8 of net profit split among them)”
☢️ Where are we at with nuclear power globally and what new tech stands the front?
🧬 How do generative AI tools for biology applications, like AlphaFold and Med-PaLM, compare?
Findings? “LLMs may be useful for certain biological knowledge extraction tasks, but that they may need to be augmented with domain-specific knowledge in order to achieve optimal performance.”