Boston Tech Watch: IBM, DataXu, Accion, Yottaa, CoachUp & More

October 23, 2018

Rumors of a Boston adtech sale, a top-level departure at IBM’s Watson Health business, more cash to boost A.I. startups, and Boeing backing a space propulsion company dominate the Boston-area’s tech headlines from the week. Read on for more.

—Boston firm DataXu is working with a New York investment bank on a potential sale, targeting a $300 million valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the move. The ad software company has raised around $87.5 million from investors since its founding in 2009, the Journal reported. Both DataXu and the bank, GCA Advisors, declined comment to the Journal on the rumored sale.

The company’s optimization software helps advertising managers juggle multiple ad exchanges. Its early investors include European TV giant Sky, Flybridge Capital Partners, Blue Ivy Ventures, Menlo Ventures, and Thomvest Ventures.

—The leader of IBM’s Cambridge, MA-based health technology division, Watson Health, has stepped aside, according to a company spokesman. The departure, first reported by STAT News, comes amid sales declines from Big Blue’s “cognitive” software business, which includes Watson Health. Deborah DiSanzo, the former Philips Healthcare CEO who took over Watson Health in September 2015, is moving to the strategy team for IBM Cognitive Solutions, and John Kelly, the senior vice president for Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research, will take over Watson Health, the spokesman said. [Updated with IBM comment.—Eds.]

—Boston family investment office Innospark Ventures wants to put $100 million behind A.I. startups focused on education, cybersecurity, life sciences, and business services, the Boston Business Journal reported. Founder and managing partner Venkat Srinivasan told the publication that the new A.I.-focused fund could exceed the $100 million target if the right opportunity arises. The rush around the future of artificial intelligence was put on display this week when MIT announced a potentially $1 billion initiative to create a new computing college to house A.I. research and attract tomorrow’s talent for the sector.

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