Tech Tidbits from Aaron Levie to Zmags: Crashlytics, Flashnotes, iRobot, & More

10/25/12Follow @gthuang

[Updated, 3:20 pm] Catching up on a bunch of news in the Boston tech scene during a frantic week of events (e.g., our Big Data conference yesterday; stay tuned for more on that).

Here are some noteworthy items from around town, mostly about startups:

—Cambridge, MA-based Crashlytics says Aaron Levie, the co-founder and CEO of Box, has joined its advisory board (he’s not an investor). Crashlytics is trying to build the premier mobile software company in the Boston area, says co-founder Wayne Chang. The company has 17 employees, and its crash-reporting and bug-fixing software is used by lots of big mobile apps, including Square, Kayak, and TripAdvisor. Our most recent update on Crashlytics was from June.

Zmags, the Boston-based digital shopping company, has raised an additional $6 million led by North Atlantic Capital. Previous investors OpenView Venture Partners and NorthCap Partners also participated in the round, which brings Zmags’ total financing to $18 million. The company says it landed 74 new accounts in the third quarter of this year. Back in the spring, I chatted with former CEO Michael Schreck about the future of e-commerce and marketing on tablets.

—Boston-based Flashnotes, which runs an online marketplace for students to buy and sell class notes and flashcards, has raised a $1.8 million seed round led by Atlas Venture and SoftBank Capital, with a number of angel investors also participating. Flashnotes, led by founder and CEO Mike Matousek, says its marketplace is currently available in 75 schools and will be rolling out nationally.

—Bedford, MA-based iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT) is laying off 80 employees (about 13 percent of its workforce) and is closing its facility in Durham, NC, according to a report in Mass High Tech. The news comes amid a slowdown in the company’s defense and security business. I spoke with CEO Colin Angle and other execs about iRobot’s future a couple of months ago.

Turbine, the Needham, MA-based video game maker owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, has laid off an unspecified number of workers, according to a report in the Boston Globe. The news comes on the heels of the closing of Zynga Boston on Tuesday. Yesterday I heard from Eran Egozy, the co-founder of Cambridge-based Harmonix, in response to a query about Zynga. He wrote: “Layoffs are always sad, as are studio shutdowns. The Boston gaming community (and games in general) is pretty strong though. I’m sure all the folks who just lost their jobs will quickly bounce back. We’re currently hiring at Harmonix, as it turns out.” [This item added after initial publication---Eds.]

—Lastly, in case you’re wondering exactly how Google continues to make boatloads of cash with search advertising, I encourage you to check out this analysis and infographic from Boston-based WordStream. I last talked to founder Larry Kim about search marketing in August 2011. (Yeah, I know, it’s been too long.)

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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