Innovation Economy

149 stories
One less errand
Washio's laundry ninjas infiltrate Boston
Washio founder Jordan Metzner.
To the list of services that can be summoned with a few taps on your smartphone, you can now add laundry and dry cleaning. A California startup, Washio, launches in Boston this week. The company pays contractors with their own cars — they refer to them as "ninjas" — to zip around town picking up and dropping off sacks of clothing, and promises 24-hour turnaround. Washio will compete with local cleaners who already offer delivery services on price and convenience; founder Jordan Metzner says that customers can specify a half-hour window in which they'd like a pickup or dropoff to occur. Read More
Talent hunt
GSN Games' move from the suburbs to Boston all about hiring
GSN Games office locations.
One of the Bay State's biggest game-development studios is leaving the 'burbs for downtown Boston this Friday. GSN Games, which creates Web-based and mobile games like Bingo Bash and GSN Casino, had been based at the Meditech/Adobe building on Route 128 in Waltham, but is heading to 100 Summer St., a short walk from South Station. GSN Games, previously known as GSN Digital, is part of the Game Show Network, whose owners are DirecTV and Sony Pictures. Many of GSN's most popular games pay out cash prizes to players. Read More
Just for you
99Degrees collects $400,000 in funding to deliver custom clothing faster
Left to right: Fancy Faith, Brenna Schneider, and Tameria Lanier of 99Degrees Custom. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
Brenna Schneider sees customization as the future: when you order a hoodie or a pair of kicks, you should be able to make the design your own. But one of the big limitations, Schneider says, is the long wait. Since most of the products are made overseas, it can take several weeks to get what you ordered. "And of course, the e-commerce world has no tolerance for weeks," she says. "There's pressure for quicker turnaround on custom orders." Read More
Getting to know you
Acquia unveils new product to help companies market across different channels
Acquia chief technology officer Dries Buytaert, presenting today at the company's customer conference in Boston.
Acquia, a Burlington-based startup that develops products and services to enhance the open source publishing platform Drupal, is holding its first customer conference in Boston this week. Among the announcements is a new product called ContextDB, focused on helping companies market to and communicate with customers as they move from mobile devices to laptops to brick-and-mortar stores. Acquia has raised about $120 million from investors, including Amazon.com and North Bridge Venture Partners, and is often mentioned as a near-term candidate for an initial public offering. Read More
Rethinking cities
The latest urban disruptors: Uber, Postmates, FlightCar, and more
A Postmates bike courier making a delivery.
I was out in San Francisco late last month, and one of the things I did was set up some coffees, lunches, and visits with entrepreneurs and investors who are working on disruptive ideas for cities. The result was this column: "Dispatch from the disruption zone." Often, these startups find themselves operating at the edge of the law, or in conflict with existing regulations. Their role models are businesses like Uber and Airbnb, which have fought those battles before them — and also attained multi-billion-dollar valuations in the process. Read More
A sensor you can swallow
Google's quiet partner on cancer-detection project: Mass.-based Entrega
Entrega board members Robert Langer, Jonathan Behr, and Colin Gardner. (Globe Photo / Jim Davis.)
Earlier in the week, Google took the wraps off an intriguing project that is part of its secretive Google X skunkworks: a magnetic nanoparticle that would travel through the bloodstream searching for early signs of cancer. But what Google executive Andrew Conrad didn't mention is that a Boston-area startup, Entrega Inc., is working with his company to actually deliver the nanoparticles, using a novel kind of pill. Read More
Looking back
How Menino made the Innovation District happen
menino
The first time I ever saw Mayor Thomas Menino in person was 1997. I went over to what was then the Computer Museum — now it's part of the Boston Children's Museum — for an event that was promoting the neighborhood as Boston's Cyber District. Web design shops and Internet consultancies were starting to fill the old brick warehouses of Fort Point Channel. "I want this city to grow and show its technology leadership," the Mayor said at that event. "We need to continually educate people about what's going on here." Read More
Who got bought?
LogMeIn acquired a Calif. mystery startup to improve its collaboration product
(Globe photo / Essdras M. Suarez)
LogMeIn is staying mum on one of its most recent acquisitions. In September, the Boston-based software-as-a-service company paid $15 million for Meldium, which makes it simpler to sign on to web-based services. But it paid $6 million for another San Francisco startup, according to its latest quarterly report. It only describes this second acquisition, which also took place in early September, as involving a "collaboration software provider." Read More
Adding clinical expertise
Merck veteran signs on with Clarus Ventures, Cambridge healthcare investment firm
Employees of Clarus Ventures, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm.
After departing pharmaceutical giant Merck in June, Barry Gertz is signing on with Clarus Ventures of Cambridge. Gertz had most recently served as Merck's head of global clinical development, overseeing research and development of more than 25 products. Clarus invests in startups creating new drugs, diagnostics, and medical devices. Read More
Innovation Economy
5 things the next Massachusetts governor should do for innovation economy
Kamil Peters of Kamil Peters Metal Sculpture at work in the Brick Coworkshop in Holyoke. (Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe)

HOLYOKE -- Like Dorothy stepping through the front door after crash-landing in Oz, I knew I wasn’t in Boston anymore.

Boston’s Innovation District is pricey. Construction cranes are everywhere, parking is scarce, and lunch options plentiful. Here in Holyoke’s newly-christened Innovation District, there are beautiful brick mill buildings, cheap hydroelectric power, and a new walkway alongside the canals — but almost no people.

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Superconnector
Meet the woman who connects MIT's software smarties with their futures
MIT administrator Anne Hunter (center) in 2012, with MIT students Irena Huang (left) and Elaina Chai (right.)  Photo by Patricia Sampson, MIT.
Over the past decade and a half, I've heard MIT students and grads regularly mention something called the "Anne Hunter list" — sometimes referred to more generically as "the jobs list." It's how they land jobs at Google and Dropbox, or at startups that will become the next Google or Dropbox. It's also how they score free pizza and t-shirts at company recruiting events on campus. So I started to wonder: exactly who was this Anne Hunter? Read More