Top 10 tech startup businesses in Boston
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Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

One of America’s oldest cities still burns bright as one of the hottest startup areas.

To Americans, Boston is one of the oldest and most revered historical cities, yet one that managed to power hundreds of high tech companies since the mid 1960s. Three hundred and forty years earlier, Trimountaine was renamed Boston, the Cambridge Agreement was signed earlier in 1629, and the first public school in America was opened in 1635.

Big in the American Revolution (remember the Tea Party?), Boston and surrounding areas helped start the high tech revolution in the 1960s. DEC started on Route 128 in 1957 and by the 1980s, way before Silicon Valley, Boston was dubbed “America’s Technology Region.”

Harvard and MIT are in Cambridge (remember the Cambridge Agreement?) and multiple other schools (Boston University etc.) and teaching hospitals still clog the area with smart people doing cutting edge research. Rub a bunch of clever people together around huge financial resources found in what is the biggest city in New England, and startups start smoking.

Wayfair

Photo courtesy: Wayfair

When is a furniture retailer a high tech business startup? When it is a pure-play online retailer with nine figures of investment and ten figures of revenue. Wayfair turned the furniture world upside down by escaping brick and mortar and exploiting Web and social media. Free shipping over $49 doesn’t hurt, either.

Opening their virtual doors in 2002 as CSN Stores LLC, it took nine years until investors bought the concept. A June 2011 Series A round of $165 million started the ball rolling, followed by $36 million in December 2012 and $150 million in Series B money in March 2014. That powers an annual revenue in the $1.3 billion range.

Acquia

Photo courtesy: Acquia

Sure, Twitter and Facebook are fun, but the Web has millions more sites full of other great stuff. More than 4,000 big companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Quicken, use Acquia for their Content Management System to enhance their digital experiences and personalize displays for customers. Clients also include Twitter and Mercedes Benz.

The spring of 2007 were early days in the world of CMS, but Acquia made enough progress to land $7 million in Series A funding that December. Progress continued for three more rounds totaling $31.5 million, then big dough rose: $30 million in November 2012, $40 million in May 2014, and $55 million in September 2015. Two other rounds of undisclosed money, including from Amazon, bring the up to $174 million.

Carbonite

Photo courtesy: Carbonite

Individuals and small businesses trust their data storage equipment far, far too much for safety. Every disk-crash victim now knows offsite backup services like Carbonite are the difference between an hour of recovery aggravation or months of bankruptcy legalities. Even if you’re an individual with a single phone and laptop, don’t you want to keep those baby photos safe? Carbonite can help.

Beginning in early 2005, when cloud backup became possible but not customary, Carbonite hit the retail advertising avenues and became a household word. Their reward? $1.5 million in 13 months, followed nine months later by another $3.5 million. Big lump sums? $20 million twice, first in September 2008 and then January 2010. Their post-IPO equity hit in the neighborhood of $125 million.

Brightcove

Photo courtesy: Brightcove

Early Internet users could see pictures but not video. Yet people love video, so companies working to distribute moving pictures in new and efficient ways popped up in the early 2000s. Brightcove leverages their cloud-based platform to publish and distribute digital media of all kinds. That live event you streamed on your tablet may well have been distributed by Brightcove.

Jumping into the business in 2004, Brightcove’s development work turned into $5.5 million in Series A funding in March of 2005. Multiple other placements came in the next few years, highlighted by $55 million in November 2006 and $60 million in January 2007. February saw their IPO pull in another $40 million.

American Well

Photo courtesy: American Well

Big cities with research universities encourage medical startups, and American Well is one good example. They connect patients with doctors over video links, often called tele-medicine or tele-health. Portals and mobile apps help customers everywhere get quality medical consultations.

Started by two doctors in 2006, American Well landed $31.8 million in Series A funding in March 2007. Series B funding of $23 million appeared in October 2008. The big endorsement was $81 million in Series C funding in December 2014.

LevelUp

Photo courtesy: LevelUp

What do people love more than their smartphones? Getting money. So when LevelUp figured out a way for people to pay and more importantly receive money via their pocket addictions, clients and venture capitalists started throwing money in their direction. They also power loyalty programs for some huge companies.

Opening development in 2008 (Apple released the first iPhone in 2007), LevelUp made do with relatively small investments between August 2009 and August 2012. Typical investments? $4 million. But in 2012 but number jumped to $21 milllion. May 2017 say a debt financing round of $13 million. The latest cash infusion, $37 million, came in May 2017. Total? Almost $112 million.

Rapid7

Photo courtesy: Rapid7

No one has enough security for their network in general and data in particular, but Rapid7 hopes to close that gap for customers. How? Gathering data then analyzing the trends and secrets within that data. When you know what attackers are doing you can stop them. Isn’t that the idea?

Another company that started far enough back the term “startup” may not apply, Rapid7 started in 2000, considered early days for data analysis. But the fall of 2008 saw Bain Capital Ventures, another Boston company, plop down $7 million. That was followed by $2 million from Bain again in March 2010, and Bain teamed with TCV for $50 million in Series C in November 2011 and $30 million in December 2014. The $89 million total certainly qualifies as a successful startup.

Cybereason

Photo courtesy: Cybereason

There’s always room for another security vendor. In this case, Cybereason focuses on endpoint protection and managed monitoring services. Their startup management tools, along with software than hunts malware across endpoints across your network, make them a favorite with enterprises.

Relatively new since starting in 2012, Cybereason’s unique approach pulled in $4.6 million in February 2014. May 2015 saw Series B funding from Spark Capital at $25 million. Series C from SoftBank in October 2015 added another $59 million for a total of almost $89 million.

DataXu

Photo courtesy: DataXu

If you think marketing is a gut-feeling business, you are so last century. DataXu leads the charge to harness data science and big data to improve programmatic ad placements so you see only the ads on the Web that actually pertain to you. That makes you happier and absolutely thrills the brands paying for the ads.

Series A funding appeared in April of 2009 for the founders, who didn’t actually open the DataXu doors until September of that year. Six months later, $11 million in Series B funding validated their work, followed y $27 million in Series C cash in February 2013. Two $10 million placements in 2014 and 2016 bring the total investment pool to $64 million.

Localytics

Photo courtesy: Localytics

Calling itself the “leading mobile engagement platform,” Localytics helps companies juice up mobile app downloads, engagement, and retention. Not buzzwords but critical mass trends like mobile, big data, and cloud-based power Localytics and their 37,000 apps on more than 2.7 billion devices to keep customers happy.

Like most mobile companies started after the iPhone introduction in 2007. In 2009, development started with an undisclosed seed amount in September. By May 2010, their work earned $750k seed money, followed by $2.5 million in Series A in April 2011. $5.5 million, $16 million, and $35 million rolled in as Series B, C, and D findings. The capper was $19 million in debt financing in September 2016 for a total bumping up against $70 million.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin


James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don't read his books and articles.

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