More Robots, Innovation Conferences, and some IoT startups

Monthly Tech Focus: Robot Apocalypse, Part 2

Last month we talked about how robots were taking over jobs in the Factory of the Future.  But robotics are going well beyond our factories - and with mixed results.

While governments won’t call it that, we’ve had autonomous killer robots for a while - in the form of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. The United Nations continues to discuss and debate the ethics of using UAVs as governments continue to use them.

Back on the ground and in the commercial world, in October, Rethink Robotics, the Boston, Mass.-based maker of collaborative robots, shut down. Rethink, founded in 2008, raised nearly $150 million in funding.  According to The Robot Report and others, Rethink was trying to negotiate an acquisition, which fell through as Rethink ran out of cash - a sober lesson for companies as they “rethink” their own growth and exit strategies.  German automation specialist, The HAHN Group, then swooshed in to buy up Rethink’s patents and IP - likely at pennies on the dollar.

In a similar vein, you may recall that, last year, Google sold Boston Robotics, which it acquired in 2013, to Softbank. News outlets like The Next Web suggested the sale was due to the fact that, despite the stunning feats of the Boston Robotics robots, the company had a hard time building something that people needed to buy.  

But despite these setbacks and broader ethical issues, I’m still betting on robots as being significantly and positively disruptive.

If you haven’t seen the latest on what Boston Robotics is doing under the ownership of Softbank, take a moment to watch the video on this page.

News from Our Friends

Congratulations to Frida Polli, and her team at Pymetrics, an enterprise SaaS company using neuroscience and AI to build a better recruitment platform.  Last month, Pymetrics raised $40 million in Series B funding. Companies using Pymetrics have seen an increase in diversity of hires as well as retention rates.  

Congratulations to VEERUM on their recent funding round as they work to offset overspending of capital project delivery. The VEERUM platform creates an accurate digital layout of projects so problems and plans can be identified before work begins.

Congratulations to Helen Kontozopoulos and her co-founding team for launching ODAIA, a machine learning and analytics company offering solutions to help you predict customer and employee satisfaction and churn.

Do you have news to share with our community? Contact us and let us know.

Learnings from Our Travels this Fall

At this year’s ChIPs Global Summit, I was fortunate to hear pitches from Joylux Founder Colette Courtion, Obsess AR Founder Neha Singh, and GoTogether Founder Kimberly Moore.  We also heard lively discussions from government and industry representatives about how prepared our government is to effectively be able to regulate today’s social media technology behemoths.

This was my first year attending the annual conference for the Association of University and Research Parks.  I talked to university and research park innovators about alternative guidance and assistance they could provide to their startups and alternative paths to startup success.  Just like any portfolio, startups shouldn’t all be treated the same way, and portfolio diversity isn’t just about technology diversity but also about diversity in size, growth rates, and funding strategies.  

Team Tribal friend Ilana Golan, CEO of Golan Ventures, gave an entertaining talk November 15 called About the time I fucked up!  Wishing there was a video I could show you - you’ll have to reach out to Ilana directly to hear more!

Ilana Talk Image.JPG

Segment News - IoT

We are focusing on IoT this week, starting with Sensorup, the team behind one of the key standards to enable interconnectivity among IoT devices. From real-time traffic tracking to water usage, they stitch together local IoT devices and their data.

ShoofTech's veteran leadership team says they will connect data from IoT devices to the cloud using advanced wireless technology. See their Plug and Play pitch here and judge for yourself.

Putting IoT on Ice!  Scorched Ice is creating intelligence skates with its embedded IoT sensors that help athletes and coaches learn to become champions on ice!

Do you have news you want shared?  Let us know.