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Xconomy Boston’s Top Stories of Q1 2015: Editor’s Picks

Xconomy Boston — 

One of our key tenets at Xconomy is to provide a deeper treatment of the most important or telling news of the day, month, or year. To that end, we like to look back on our top stories of the quarter and remind you of some of the headlines.

A lot happened in technology and life sciences in the first quarter of 2015. In fact, there’s so much going on, we don’t try to cover it all. But in each story I’ve picked below, we strive to give readers something they couldn’t get elsewhere—historical or market context, exclusive access, a unique perspective on strategy, or the broader implications for technology, business, or society.

The stories span the efforts of startups, big companies, universities, and venture capital firms, across the fields of software, hardware, life sciences, and energy. At their core, they speak to the successes and struggles of people and institutions trying to compete in business. And together, they provide a snapshot of local innovation for a global audience.

The main themes: Therapies for the brain and mental health are on the rise; private companies are raising huge growth-funding rounds; Big Pharma continues to make deals with biotech startups; and the biggest tech companies in the world are hiring locally.

Here are Xconomy Boston’s top 20 stories of the first quarter, in reverse chronological order:

1. Facebook Looks to Double Boston Headcount, Bring Talent From Outside

The Web giant’s local site lead is recruiting recent grads to come to Boston.

2. Stop the Bleeding: Can Gene Therapy Finally Cure Hemophilia?

A story full of twists, turns, and life-and-death results.

3. Biogen Drug Shows Early Promise in Slowing Alzheimer’s Decline

Progress in solving one of the great medical problems of our era.

4. In Mental Health Therapy, Cautious Steps Toward the Pharmacodigital

Mixing apps and virtual reality with drugs to treat the brain.

5. SimpliVity Becomes Rare $1B Unicorn Following $175M Round

Another billion-dollar tech valuation comes to Massachusetts.

6. CIA-Backed Venture Firm Invests in Voxel8’s 3D Printer for Electronics

What does the intelligence community want from this Harvard spinout?

7. Therapeutic Video Game Startup Akili Takes Aim at Autism

Autism is the target of an increasing number of startups and R&D projects.

8. Humanyze Hits Up Investors to Support “People Analytics” in Business

Employers can measure their employees’ behavior; what will they do with it?

9. Vertex Buys Spine Drug on the QT as Part of Its Post-Hep C Makeover

A scoop on a quiet drug effort from one of Boston’s anchor tenants.

10. Electric-Car Battery Maker A123 Sues Apple for Poaching Employees

A non-compete dispute gets ugly—and Apple is working on cars?

11. Therapy Startup Tunes Into Music as Rehab for Brain Injuries

A young startup taps into the emerging market for music-based rehabilitation.

12. Find a Better Job With Artificial Intelligence: The Beansprock Story

Where AI is showing up now: job searches, marketplaces, and virtual assistants.

13. Harvard i-lab Leader Leaving for Boise State to Revamp Education

The founding head of the Harvard Innovation Lab goes west.

14. Parking Apps See Spike in Long-Term Rentals for Boston Blizzard

Remember that first blizzard, pre-Super Bowl? Feels like 5 years ago.

15. From Yeast, Yumanity Looks to Give Rise to Critical Neuro Drugs

Startup bucks the traditional biotech model, tries to shake up drug discovery.

16. Apple’s Boston-Area Lease Carves Out Room for About 65

Biggest tech company in the world expands in Kendall Square, but won’t talk.

17. With Vedanta Deal, J&J Marks Big-Pharma Milestone in the Microbiome

Interesting Big Pharma-startup partnership in a season full of them.

18. Genentech Redux? Roche Buys Majority Stake in Foundation Medicine

Billion-dollar deal in cancer diagnostics and treatment, based locally.

19. The Man Behind SiteSpect’s Rise in Digital Marketing

How to get profitable without VC money: don’t give anything away.

20. With Massive Venture Round, Moderna has $450M Reasons to Stay Private

Biggest funding in history of private biotech companies; keep an eye on this one.