The Download
Fidelity Lab's Sean Belka is a 2-device guy with an eye on young investors
Sean Belka, who runs Fidelity’s innovation center, is intrigued by bitcoin and is slow to read all of his e-mails, he confesses. SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF
Sean Belka directs Fidelity Labs, Fidelity Investments’ innovation center. Fidelity Labs is responsible for bringing new technology to the Boston company’s online investment services, making them more interactive and appealing, especially to younger customers. In recent years, Fidelity Labs has introduced Stock City, which allows investors to visualize a portfolio as a city center, and Beat the Benchmark, an investing game. This month, the Fidelity app will be available on the new Apple smartwatch. Belka shared his digital habits with The Download. Read More
Pixability banks $18.2 million to help big brands connect with online video viewers
Don't fear the pivot, says Pixability chief executive Bettina Hein. When she started the company in 2008, in the thick of the recession, the mission was to help small businesses make marketing videos cheaply. Pixability would even mail out a Flip video camera — remember those? — that business owners could shoot with. Pixability would edit the footage, adding logos, titles, and a soundtrack. Read More
It's Electric
With $23m investment, FirstFuel eyes European expansion for its energy efficiency software
Electric power pole
The last big wave of venture investment in clean-tech startups has long since crashed and rolled back. But if you’re making software instead of something produced by a factory, private investors are still willing to open up the checkbook. That’s certainly the case for FirstFuel Software, a developer of data analysis software for electric utilities. The Lexington, Mass.-based company says today that it’s raised another $23 million in venture capital, in part to help bankroll an expansion in Europe. Read More
home sweet home
Online real estate startup Placester adds $15M, plans to double staff
House Sold Sign
Most people think of Zillow as a website where they can check out how much homes cost — their own house, their neighbors’ houses, and maybe even their dream home. But as a business, Zillow’s primary target is actually real estate agents. The Seattle-based company makes most of its money selling online ads and other marketing services to real estate agents, who want to be seen by all of those people snooping on home prices. Read More
After cancer diagnosis, MIT student 3-D prints tumor, shares health data
Steven Keating , right, meets with his pathologist---Dr. Keith L. Ligon, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff)
Steven Keating’s appetite for knowledge may well be the reason he’s alive. In 2007, his high-minded curiosity drove him to get his brain scanned while studying mechanical engineering at Queens University in Canada. The scans revealed a faint abnormality near the part of his brain responsible for processing the sense of smell. But since his health otherwise seemed normal, Keating thought nothing of it. But seven years later, while a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Keating experienced an odd sensation: Several times he detected a whiff of vinegar — a phantom odor, it would turn out — but the feeling would quickly pass. With those earlier images in mind, Keating urged doctors to again scan his brain, and this time the results revealed a fist-size tumor. Within three weeks, Keating underwent a 10-hour surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where doctors extracted the tumor in golf ball-size chunks. Read More
Get off my lawn
Astronomers: Keep iRobot's lawnmower bot out of our back yard
Stripes mowed into a lawn
iRobot, the maker of the Roomba, is hoping to find another consumer hit with robots that can mow your lawn. But those plans are causing some friction with astronomers who are mapping the galactic regions that produce new stars. Read More
New Hires
Everbridge brings in new CFO as it plans to go public
Last week, when mobile marketing technology firm Fiksu announced that it was downsizing both its team and its IPO ambitions, it also announced the departure of its chief financial officer, Kenneth Goldman. But it looks like Goldman landed elsewhere: Today, the Lexington-based security communications firm Everbridge announced that he's joining the team as senior vice president and chief financial officer as it makes preparations to go public. Read More
Exploring the impact
10 years of Web Innovators Group and Y Combinator, both born in Cambridge
Tap Lab co-founder Dave Bisceglia gives an interview after presenting at WebInno in March 2011.
My latest Boston Globe column looks back at the impact of two initiatives born in Cambridge in 2005: Web Innovators Group and Y Combinator. I also ask what we can do to improve Boston's stickiness for consumer-oriented Web and mobile startups; it's impossible to look at the alumni of both programs and not notice that may of the most successful, like Reddit, Dropbox, Birchbox, and E la Carte, have migrated to New York or the Bay Area. Read More
Valore buys Boundless, combining old-school textbooks and digital alternatives under one roof
Boston is both the capital of American higher education and one of the country’s top centers for technology entrepreneurship. So it makes sense that entrepreneurs here would be interested in rethinking the big business of college. Today, two of those companies are joining forces. Valore, a nine-year-old Boston company that runs online marketplace sites for textbooks and student loans, is acquiring online learning startup Boundless, which provides digital alternatives to textbooks. Read More
Mouse Money
Big companies seeing big business in DraftKings' online fantasy sports games
DraftKings founders (from left): Paul Liberman, Jason Robins. and Matt Kalish [Image via DraftKings]
The business of online, one-day fantasy sports betting has become huge almost overnight. Here's one way to measure that explosive growth: DraftKings, a Boston-based company founded in 2012, is reportedly attracting investment from one of the biggest names in sports media. Read More