Mad acquisition skillz
Pluralsight picks up Smarterer, focused on skill tests, for $75 million
Smarterer CEO Dave Balter and Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight.
You never know which meeting is going to lead to something worthwhile... Dave Balter, founder and CEO of the online skills testing site Smarterer, was at an edtech conference in Phoenix in April. Balter had about three dozen meetings scheduled over the course of the event, but other people at the conference kept telling him he should meet the CEO of Utah-based Pluralsight, which serves up online training in the tech and creative industries. Balter sent him a quick e-mail "and we squeezed in ten minutes before everyone went to the airport," he says. A few months later, Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard flew to Boston "and we began active merger discussions," Balter says. Read More
T-shirts go big time
Teespring gets $35 million to expand its custom-printed T-shirts platform
Screenshot of a Teespring campaign
Teespring, the online custom T-shirt company headquartered in Providence, announced today that it has raised $35 million in new funding. The influx of cash will help the company to expand its efforts to produce, sell, and ship T-shirts and sweatshirts online, and enable them to expand their list of current merchandise beyond just T-shirts and sweatshirts. Read More
Beta Testing
First look: Test-riding a prototype electric bike wheel from GeoOrbital
GeoOrbital's prototype wheel, on a used Cannondale mountain bike. (Photo by Scott Kirsner / BetaBoston.)
Having just written about some Boston-area bike startups rethinking what the bike can be, I was excited to get a first look at a new electric wheel from GeoOrbital, a Cambridge startup. The company's premise is that millions of people don't ride their bikes very much, but they might if they could install an affordable accessory — like GeoOrbital's sub-$500 wheel — to give them extra range and keep sweat stains in check. Read More
Fixing things faster
Direct Tire now diagnoses your car's troubles via video
Direct Tire diagnoses cars using videos
In late October, when I started to hear a rattling-metal sound in my car's engine, I dropped off my car at the Galen Street, Watertown, branch of Direct Tire & Auto Service (where I've been a loyal customer for over three decades). But before I got the expected phone call to discuss the problems they'd found and the estimated cost, I received an e-mail message linking to a 42-second video showing the broken heat shield beneath the catalytic converter. Read More
Outsource your errands
Startup Alfred raises $2 million for urban butler service
An Alfred errand-runner brings in a customer's shoes for repair. Company-supplied photo.
Uber and Lyft made chauffeured cars accessible to non-Wall Streeters, and sites like Airbnb and Flipkey made it possible to find a sweet deal on a beachfront villa. Now Alfred, a startup born on the campus of Harvard Business School, wants to let you pay for just a fraction of a personal assistant, at $99 a month. And today, the company is announcing its first funding round: $2 million, supplied by Boston-based Spark Capital and SV Angel of San Francisco. Read More
Generation Snapchat
WiGo secures funding from Tinder founders, launches 'history-proof' text resetting feature
Photo via <a href="http://www.boston.com/thingstodo/gotoit/2011/07/toga_party_phot.html">Boston.com</a>
If there's one population of people who might like to forget some of the text messages they've sent in the past (possibly after a big booze-fueled night out), it's college kids. And another set of people who would like to see some past messages disappear? The guys who played a role in founding Tinder, Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, who drew heat earlier this year for their inappropriate text messages. Today, Rad and Mateen are being held up as prominent investors in the seed round of funding for the Boston-based WiGo, which stands for Who Is Going Out? The app was designed for college campuses and allows users to connect for social engagements and share what they are up to, and specifically where they are, on any given night out.  Read More
one man's house is another man's ... pineapple?
Airbnb is launching a new magazine. It's called Pineapple.
Image via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciat/5867167209">Flickr user CIAT</a>.
Airbnb has announced that it's getting into the magazine business. Their new quarterly print publication, dubbed Pineapple, is "named after the fruit that was a symbol of hospitality in colonial New England," according to The New York Times. The first issue is 128 pages, contains no advertising, and will be available for purchase for $12. Read More
Tapping tech talent in Boston
Pharmacy giant CVS Health will open digital innovation lab in Boston
CVS store
Rhode Island-based CVS Health, operator of Minute Clinics and the country's second-biggest drugstore chain, is planning to open a technology development center in Boston this winter. Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer tells me that the CVS Health Digital Innovation Lab will fit about 100 people — some of whom will move from CVS HQ in Woonsocket, and some of whom will be new hires. "We may not hire all 100 next year, but we're going to hire a lot," Tilzer says. The lab's focus will be on "building customer-centric experiences in health care." Read More