Boston Tech Watch: Underscore VC, Piaggio, SoftBank & Sea Machines

December 26, 2018

A pair of massive Boston-area investments from the Japanese SoftBank Group’s $100 billion Vision Fund, a moonshot power storage spinout from Alphabet’s X labs, and some local robotics moves are found in this week’s Boston technology news.

—Underscore VC, a Boston-based venture capital firm focused on early-stage tech startups, is capping off its second fund at $140 million. The firm announced the fund in May when it had raised $117 million. It will make investments in software applications and infrastructure, the firm says. It also announced Richard Dulude, one of its founders, has been promoted to partner.

Investors in Underscore VC’s first fund were academic institutions, hospitals, and global foundations, the firm says, and many of the investors re-upped on the second fund.

—The mobility technology arm of Milan, Italy-based scooter and motorcycle company Piaggio says it will design and assemble all of its Gita mobile carrying robots in a new facility near its Boston headquarters in Charlestown. The tech unit known as Piaggio Fast Forward says it’ll need to hire 100 more employees for the facility. The Gita robot rolls along behind a person and has a compartment to carry up to 45 pounds. Gita is expected to be available for sale in mid-2019.

—New York growth equity firm General Atlantic says it is taking a majority stake in Braintree, MA-based invoice and e-bill payment business Invoice Cloud. General Atlantic will invest an undisclosed amount in Invoice Cloud alongside existing shareholders Summit Partners, Boston-based private equity firm, and members of the company’s management.

—Product management software company Akeneo says it raised an undisclosed amount of funds from Salesforce Ventures and serial entrepreneur Stephan Dietrich, who will join the company as an independent board member. Akeneo, a French company, opened its U.S. offices in Somerville, MA, in October. It raised a $13 million Series B funding round in March 2017, led by Partech Ventures and Alven Capital. Akeneo’s open-source product management software competes with Boston-based Salsify.

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