Yesterday tomorrow
DARPA launches contest to forecast infectious disease spread
DARPA has thrown down the gauntlet. To get a step ahead of the chikungunya virus that's been sweeping through the Americas this year, the agency announced a health technology contest to accurately predict the spread of the disease. The goal of the CHIKV Challenge is to jump-start development of forecasting tools that can predict the spread of any swift-moving infectious disease. Read More
Freedom or security?
In the sharing economy, are workers employees or independent contractors?
Jenny Payette, a senior client manager for the startup Alfred, delivers a customer’s dry cleaning in the South End. (Lane Turner/Globe Staff)
The worker of the future will be fast, flexible, and available the instant a customer clicks a button on a smartphone screen. But the worker of the future will not be an employee — at least if some of today’s fastest-growing and best-funded startups have their way. They’re positioning themselves as “technology platforms” that simply connect people with independent chauffeurs, house cleaners, or errand-runners. For the most part, the armies of workers that companies like Uber or TaskRabbit are assembling — often after screening interviews, background checks, and training programs — are treated as independent contractors and receive no benefits. Read More
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo...domo
DataRobot gets $21 million in new funding led by NEA
"Cloud computing design" via Shutterstock
Boston-based DataRobot has raised another round of funding according to multiple sources. The latest round of funding is a $21 million Series A led by NEA that, according to VentureWire, values the company at more than $60 million. Atlas Venture, who led the company's last investment, also joined the round. Read More
Party Photos
Boston Calling attendees were guinea pigs in IBM surveillance pilot
Via Dig Boston
A new three-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 forthcoming) from Dig Boston is looking at how IBM lured the city into trialling a new model of a "smarter city": One that watched and listened to its citizens, seeking out suspicious activity while tracking faces and clothing, tying together tweets and hundreds of cameras in a system the current administration ultimately found no "practical value" in. Read More
Clash of the Titans
All eyes have been on Wayfair this year as the quiet online retail giant has prepared for its IPO. But despite showcasing a large new office (that it's already outgrown), the founders have been relatively mum on what the timing will be like for going public. Now the Wall Street Journal reports why:
Two of the biggest tech IPOs anticipated for the fourth quarter are, like Alibaba, e-commerce companies: Boston-based Wayfair, which sells home furnishings, and Berlin-based Zalando, which focuses on apparel and shoes. Both companies are seeking valuations in the billions of dollars, people familiar with the deals have said. Wayfair, which will list in the U.S., is getting ready to launch its IPO but doesn't want to compete with Alibaba for the attention of bankers or investors, people familiar with company executives' thinking said. It will likely wait to begin its so-called roadshow, when shares are pitched to potential investors, at least until later in September, they said.
Read and subscribe to the rest of BetaBoston's Wayfair coverage. Discuss
How's my driving?
Dunwello to bring an Uber/TripAdvisor rating system to everyone's job
Image of "Excellent work gold star" via Shutterstock
Gemvara founder Matt Lauzon, his Dunwello co-founder Matt Brand, and the team at Dunwello have been working since late last year on an employee recognition software product that aims to promote more inter-office positivity and a sense of personal accomplishment that seems to be absent from the modern workplace. Read More
Worth watching
Five promising startups from the Harvard Innovation Lab's Demo Day
Divya Dhar of Seratis, a startup developing a new communication tool for healthcare providers. Photo by Scott Kirsner / Beta Boston.
The Harvard Innovation Lab in Allston has been home to 84 startups run by students and recent grads this summer; they call it the Venture Incubation Program. And ten of the companies that have been making the most progress (while the rest of us have been working on our tans) gave short demos yesterday afternoon. These were the five that struck me as worth having on your radar screen... Read More