Boston Tech Roundup: Oculus, Circle, HourlyNerd, Communispace

3/28/14Follow @curtwoodward

Boston-area venture capitalists scored a big win this week, while startups raised some more cash and an established company expanded its efforts:

Facebook‘s surprising acquisition of virtual reality headset maker Oculus looks like a quick victory for Boston-area venture firms Spark Capital and Matrix Partners, which both invested in Oculus last year. Bloomberg has the details, from anonymous sources of course: about $19 million invested for each firm, which would be worth about $380 million at the sale price. Facebook said it was buying Oculus for about $400 million in cash and roughly $1.6 billion worth of Facebook shares.

Circle Internet Financial, the Boston-based digital currency startup from Brightcove founder Jeremy Allaire, has raised a $17 million Series B financing round. Circle hasn’t released its product yet—it says the early version is now being tested by some users—but says it is aimed at helping mainstream consumers and businesses use digital currencies. And despite the unregulated, ultra free-market ethos that has infused many early Bitcoin enthusiasts, Allaire tells BetaBoston that more government regulation and financial system involvement is crucial.

HourlyNerd, a Boston startup that lets businesses hire MBA consultants for short-term work, has raised a Series A round totaling under $4 million from Highland Capital Partners and Greylock Partners. Co-founder Rob Biederman tells The Wall Street Journal that HourlyNerd expects to find a major niche with parents of young children, for whom freelance consulting is more attractive than big-agency work.

Communispace, a Boston-based unit of giant advertising and marketing firm Omnicom, is expanding its online customer-relations services in the healthcare industry. Communispace Health will be led by managing director Corey Schwartz. Communispace, which was started in 1999, was purchased by Omnicom in 2011. Diane Hessan recently stepped down as president and CEO, and now serves as chairwoman.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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