PayPal’s Pickup of Fig Card, the End of Eons, and the Bose-MIT Lovefest—Some Thoughts
I’ve been flat-out for the past week or so. Here are three pieces of Boston-area tech news that are worth catching up on, and a few thoughts on each:
—Fig Card, the mobile payments company that just started last year, was acquired by eBay, via its PayPal division, for an undisclosed sum. Co-founders Max Metral and Hasty Granbery (one of the better names around town) have joined PayPal’s mobile division. My colleague Wade profiled another one of Metral’s and Granbery’s creative projects, Povo, back in 2008, introducing it thusly: “Mix one cup of Wikipedia with one cup of Google Maps, add a generous dollop of MIT-bred geekdom, and bake for about 14 months. Serves 600,000.” These guys look like a great addition to PayPal, which is increasingly focused on mobile commerce (see its recent acquisition of Boston location-based services firm Where).
It’s a fairly small deal, but it raises a couple of big questions on both coasts. Is PayPal getting ready to split off from eBay? And who’s the next mobile company to get bought in Boston? (I have my guess, but I’m not telling yet.)
—Eons, the social networking site for baby boomers launched in 2006 by Jeff Taylor, was scooped up by San Francisco-based Crew Media for an undisclosed price. Eons has been shrinking in recent years, and it spun off its more successful obituaries business, Tributes.com, in 2008. Former Eons employees have told me that the company failed for a number of reasons, ranging from “50 year olds are not viral” to classic startup mistakes like “taking too much money and hiring too fast before you get traction.”
—Audio firm Bose announced on Friday that founder Amar Bose has given MIT the majority of the stock in the company, in the form of non-voting shares. Financial details weren’t given. Professor Bose is an MIT “lifer” who served on the Institute’s faculty for 45 years, retiring in 2001. MIT, which is now the majority owner of Bose Corporation, will receive annual cash dividends on those shares, but has no control over the company and its operations and cannot sell the shares.
A story in the New York Times raised tax questions about the gift, but didn’t resolve the issue. The Times quotes Nate Nickerson, an MIT spokesman (and a former editor at Technology Review), as saying the gift was “very significant” and that the dividends will be “used broadly to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission.”