May it Please the Court
Court win for taxi companies probably won't help Uber, Lyft
Image: Reuters
Massachusetts’ top court says it’s fine to treat taxi drivers as independent contractors, rather than actual employees of the cab companies. But the ruling probably won’t help the taxi industry’s nemesis, Uber, because the heavily regulated cab business is so complex. Read More
Rooms on demand
Got a gap in your day? Take a Breather
The room at 715 Boylston St. is blissfully quiet. The tastefully appointed 650-square-foot space has huge glass windows. The caramel-colored leather couch and rough-hewn table are seemingly plucked from an Anthropologie catalog. Yoga mats are stacked in the corner, a few charging stations line the sill. And it’s all mine for an hour for a mere $25 through Breather, a two-year-old startup that provides short-term access to private spaces in Boston and Cambridge starting Wednesday. Read More
Bloomberg Philanthropies unveils $42m What Works Cities initiative
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it was partnering with the Harvard Kennedy School's Government Performance Lab for the What Works Cities initiative.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the launch of its $42 million What Works Cities initiative, a program that aims to help 100 midsize cities use data to improve how they govern. The foundation, which represents all charitable-giving of New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, will be working with several policy groups on the effort, including the Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School. The Lab will offer support to cities hoping to improve the efficiency of their dollars in the procurement of contracts. Read More
Beyond Kendall and the Innovation District
New CityStart hackathon wants to spread innovation to more neighborhoods
(Photo by David L. Ryan / Globe Staff)
A coalition of universities, tech companies, and the City of Boston are planning a new hackathon next month that aims to spread entrepreneurship and innovation to more corners of the city. CityStart Boston will take place May 30 at MassChallenge in the Innovation District, with a final judging session happening several weeks later. The plan, says organizer Monique Fuchs of the Wentworth Institute of Technology, is to bring together college students and entrepreneurs to tackle the problem of fostering startup activity in areas of the city that today have little. Read More
Opening Up
For tech CEOs, personal stories can have a big public impact
Dunwello CEO Matt Lauzon
The cultural idea of an American chief executive still contains strong notes of the 1950s, when an ascendant country was led by hard-charging businessmen projecting corporate power from the corner office to the country club. Public crusades about intensely private issues were not really part of the script. Some of today’s entrepreneurs and executives, however, are challenging that corporate stereotype. Read More
A zap in time
PureTech's Tal Medical gets $14m to develop brain stimulation for depression
About 6.7 percent of American adults encounter depression each year. But the major drugs available to treat the disorder can take weeks to work. A local company called Tal Medical is investigating a speedier alternative approach — the use of pre-programmed low-intensity electromagnetic pulses directed at the brain — which has shown early promise in providing people with depression and bipolar disorder a rapid sense of relief. On Tuesday, the company announced $14 million in new funding to continue research and expand its team. Read More
Hazmat Helper
908 Devices has a hand-held approach to thwarting chemical attacks
The M908 mass spectrometer device helps Hazmat teams detect chemical toxins (Photo via 908 Devices).
Massive public events like the Boston Marathon, which draw hundreds of thousands of spectators each year, also require elaborate security measures. But the police, fire, and emergency staff who were stationed along the route Monday had a new device helping them protect the public: the M908 mass spectrometer, a locally designed tool that allows Hazmat teams to quickly detect the presence of chemical weapons or other toxic chemicals. Read More
Sad Robot
Boston MakerBot store shuttered in parent company's cost-cutting
MakerBot 3D printer
Industrial designers and manufacturers have been using 3-D printers for years to make mockups, models, and prototypes. In the past few years, a gang of startups have tried to cash in on the idea that these physical-object makers were getting cheap enough to get regular consumers interested. That may not be going according to plan. MakerBot, a leading name in the consumer 3-D printing sector, has laid off staff and closed its three retail stores (including one on Newbury Street in Boston) as part of a strategy change by its parent company. Read More
In the shadow of Apple Watch
After staff shuffle, Quanttus will unveil wrist-worn health monitor this month
Quanttus CEO Shahid Azim. (Photo by Scott Kirsner / BetaBoston.)
Amid all the hype about the Apple Watch, expected to start shipping later this week, a Cambridge startup working on a smartwatch of its own has stayed very quiet. But that will change on Friday, when Quanttus unveils the design of its first product on Friday at the Wired Health conference in London. Quanttus became the best-funded local startup working on wearable devices after it raised $19 million last February, which brought its total funding to about $22 million — but there have recently been a few high-profile departures at the company. Read More
Researchers rely on website that tracks illegal Rx sales

StreetRx is a website that lets people who illegally buy prescription drugs post the prices they paid, and how much they got, in different parts of the country. But it's not something dreamed up by users themselves — this website is a project of Epidemico, a health-data tracking company founded in 2007 by people from Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and MIT. Researchers hope to use the crowd-sourced data on drug trasnsactions to learn more about addiction, assess whether public policy is effective, and track how the illegal drug market evolves. Cops also use the site to help them keep tabs on the street prices and flow of drugs, particularly for undercover work.

On Friday, someone in New Bedford paid a dealer $2 for a 5-milligram hydrocodone pill, a price deemed "cheap" in the busy black market for prescription opioids. That same day in Winchendon, a person spent $5 on a 30-milligram Adderall, rated "not bad" for the popular stimulant. The sales are illegal.

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