Boston Tech Watch: Stumbling Startups, China VC, Acquisitions & More

This week in Boston tech, we’re tracking the latest sign of a tech slowdown, an acquisition of a faltering mobile marketing startup, a Chinese firm investing in a Boston artificial intelligence startup, and more. Read on for details.

—Boston-based Fiksu, once a high-flying mobile marketing startup considered an IPO candidate, was acquired for an undisclosed sum by ClickDealer, a marketing agency owned by Menlo Park, CA-based Noosphere. Fiksu had raised at least $17 million from investors, generated more than $100 million in annual revenue in 2014, and employed more than 300 people at its peak. But last year it went through layoffs, and it’s currently down to 120 employees, the Boston Globe reported.

In an interview with the Globe, Fiksu CEO Micah Adler cited competition from online ad behemoths Google and Facebook as part of the reason for Fiksu’s struggles.

—InsightSquared laid off 23 employees—about 15 percent of its staff—BostInno reported. The contraction comes after the Boston-based startup, which helps software businesses analyze their sales performance data, more than doubled its workforce and moved into a larger office last year. CEO Fred Shilmover told BostInno the layoffs were made to shore up the company’s bottom line.

The layoffs are another sign of a tech slowdown, as venture funding becomes slightly harder to come by and some companies make cuts in an attempt to reach profitability. Another recent example in Boston was Localytics.

—Robin said it raised $7 million in a Series A round led by FirstMark Capital. Previous investors Accomplice, Boldstart Ventures, Fundfire, Space Pirates, and Mike Germano also contributed. The Boston-based company makes software for booking office meeting rooms and analyzing the use of office space. It previously raised a $2.9 million seed funding round.

—Boston-based Neurala announced the investors in its recently disclosed $1.2 million debt funding round: Haiyin Capital, a China-based firm and new backer of the company, and return investor Tim Draper and his Draper Associates. Neurala has raised over $2 million from investors to date. The company makes deep learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision software for robots, drones, toys, and smart devices.

—Polatis, a maker of optical network switches, was acquired for an undisclosed amount by Switzerland-based Huber+Suhner. Polatis employs 110 people at locations in Bedford, MA; Cambridge, U.K.; and Krakow, Poland. The 16-year-old firm generated $13 million in its latest fiscal year, according to a press release.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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