News + Research

Latest news and relevant research on direct-to-consumer trends, scaling technology and business acceleration.

Some of our latest news + research.

PayZen secures $15M Series A for ‘care now, pay later’ healthcare platform

Healthcare costs in the U.S. are steadily rising, and the share patients must pay out-of-pocket has increased in tandem. Nearly one in three American households have delayed medical care due to its cost, per a 2019 Gallup poll. Payzen, a healthcare fintech startup, raised $15 million in Series A funding for its solution that leverages artificial intelligence to underwrite patients’ medical debt, allowing them to access care and pay for it over time in installments.

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Uber is working with a Goldman-backed startup to make car loans for gig economy drivers cheaper

For many Uber drivers during the pandemic, the decision to keep working comes down to a simple calculus of whether their earnings outweigh the costs. Beyond health risks, things like car loan payments, gas and maintenance take big chunks out of income, and are a major source of driver turnover. Uber is addressing at least one of these challenges through a new partnership with fintech firm Caribou. The startup is integrating its service into Uber's driver app, to help top drivers in California refinance their car loans.

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Goldman Sachs leads $45M investment into auto fintech startup MotoRefi

MotoRefi has raised another $45 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs just five months after investors poured $10 million into the fintech startup to help turbocharge its auto refinancing business.

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Attention Is All You Need

The NIPS 2017 paper that laid the groundwork for the language modeling revolution. The dominant sequence transduction models are based on complex recurrent or convolutional neural networks in an encoder-decoder configuration. The best performing models also connect the encoder and decoder through an attention mechanism. We propose a new simple network architecture, the Transformer, based solely on attention mechanisms, dispensing with recurrence and convolutions entirely.

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What could your startup do with 10,000 more employees?

That was one of the questions posed by Dr. Alex Wissner-Gross at our annual Friends of Link Ventures event last month. He spoke about getting to the point of artificial general intelligence — AI that is so advanced that language models can teach us new language models. We’re very close to that point, according to Dr. Wissner-Gross, because of the availability of large data sets.

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Cambridge Data Gurus Join Hollywood Execs to Lead New Funding for Creatively, the Job Platform for Creatives

Creatively, the job platform for creatives, today announced a $5 million seed round led by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Link Ventures, joining Michael Eisner's Tornante Company and Shari Redstone's Advancit Capital as investors. Creatively will use the new round of financing primarily to expand its product and engineering team as well as its data capabilities.

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Gratitude in 2020

This year’s business challenges have certainly changed the way the world thinks about processes. What was “par for the course” in January of 2020 may never again be viewed as our “normal” (new or otherwise); and what we considered as “thinking outside of the box” back in March is now table stakes.

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Hopjump Becomes SmarterTravel; Announces $9.5M in Series B Financing

SmarterTravel, a Kendall Square-based travel company, announces a name change from Hopjump, as well as the closing of a $9.5 million Series B round. The funding will allow the Company to hire key staff and build new travel products. “We’re very excited about this funding and the opportunities it gives us,” said Jordan Staab, CEO, SmarterTravel. “We are already the go-to source of information for more than 7 million people, intelligently streamlining their access to information that helps them travel safer, stay more informed, and save money. By Q122 we intend to expand on relationships with our members and be the best way to book a hotel on the internet.”

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A Legend Lost

From his company’s statement: “Seth was a genuine, dynamic leader whose remarkable passion, vision and tenacity attracted the world-class team we have in place today, which serves as the foundation for EverQuote’s success. We will be forever grateful for his entrepreneurial spirit and the welcoming and caring environment he cultivated.”

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Language Models are Few-Shot Learners

Recent work has demonstrated substantial gains on many NLP tasks and benchmarks by pre-training on a large corpus of text followed by fine-tuning on a specific task. While typically task-agnostic in architecture, this method still requires task-specific fine-tuning datasets of thousands or tens of thousands of examples. By contrast, humans can generally perform a new language task from only a few examples or from simple instructions – something which current NLP systems still largely struggle to do.

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Cogo Labs starts 2021 with another Best Place to Work award

During a year when everything we thought we knew about workplaces changed, we’re extremely proud to share that Cogo Labs has been awarded “Best Place to Work” honors by Built in Boston. In any year, at any time, it’s a thrill to win a “Best Place to Work’’ award. Coming after one of the most challenging years in modern history, it feels like a particular cause for celebration.

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Link Ventures Invests in Trust & Will

Link Ventures is pleased to announce its newest investment, modern estate planning startup Trust & Will. We are leading the round with participation from existing investors including Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, WTI, Halogen Ventures, Luma Launch, and Techstars Ventures.

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Creatively raises $5M to help creative professionals showcase and find work

Creatively — a startup that helps designers, photographers, illustrators and other creative professionals showcase their work and find their next job — is announcing that it has raised in $5 million.

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How to Create a Startup that Develops a New Industry

Carlos Cashman is an MIT grad with a visionary mind, a huge personality, and an even bigger heart. Carlos has an extensive background in strategic marketing, branding and positioning, advertising, high tech software and hardware, and design, and is typically driving multiple innovative projects forward at any point in time. Over the past twenty years, Carlos has worked with numerous successful startups as an executive, founder, investor, and advisor in the US and abroad. He has been a part of several venture-backed and non-venture backed startups and has founded a dozen companies himself including Thrasio, Asset Performance Technologies (sold 2018), OrionCKB (sold 2017), CourseAdvisor (sold 2007), and Opus360 (IPO in 2000).

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Why Link Ventures invested in Intrinsic

When our friends at Redesign Health shared their new venture plans to roll up health-and-wellness native eCommerce brands, we couldn’t wait to speak to their CEO. Redesign Health was fortunate to find Yadin Shemmer to build and steer the ship for its prized new venture. Yadin has built and run consumer health businesses for 15 years. Prior to Intrinsic, he ran and sold Mango Health and before that served as President of Everyday Health’s consumer business.

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Why Link Ventures invested in Breeze

Breeze appeared on our radar thanks to Link’s proprietary web traffic algorithms and was soon reaffirmed via an introduction by trusted advisor, Jeff Smedsrud, co-Founder and head of healthcare products at Healthcare.com.

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Tips for Refinancing Your Car - Kevin Bennett

Kevin Bennett is the CEO of MotoRefi, a mission-driven fintech startup revolutionizing consumers' financial relationships with their cars. An experienced CEO, Kevin has spent over 10 years launching and leading startups from early to late stage.

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In 3D: Davos, Dave, and Data

At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Link Ventures Managing Partner and Cogo Labs Chairman Dave Blundin gave a presentation on Democratizing Big Data. Hosted in the iconic TCS Dome, Dave’s talk was part of the Blockchain in Action event which brought together global leaders from business, government, academia, and media.

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This Mental Health Startup Is Open 24/7 To Refill Your Medications

Minded, a telehealth startup that renews and delivers mental health medications, announced its launch today for patients in the New York City area with $5 million in venture funding.

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Boston Episode 34 – Patrick Boyaggi – CEO of Own Up

Patrick Boyaggi is co-founder and CEO of Own Up, a technology company changing the way people shop for and secure a mortgage. Prior to co-founding Own Up, Patrick was a Senior Vice President at Leader Bank, where he led a team that closed over $11B in residential mortgages. Patrick also served as a Management Consultant in Accenture’s Financial Services practice.

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Why Link Ventures invested in Creatively

Based in New York City, Creatively is a professional network for creatives. Think of it as “LinkedIn for the creative world.” LinkedIn and other job platforms are not built for creatives. They don’t showcase portfolios, an essential element for promoting creatives’ professional experience and connecting them to the right job opportunities.

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Building Human Trust In A Digital World

How can you provide a great digital product or service, while still providing the human contact that consumers want? The mortgage company Own Up originally got that balance wrong... and fixing it transformed their business.

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The Boston Globe Names EverQuote, Inc. a Top Place to Work for 2020

EverQuote, Inc. (Nasdaq: EVER), has been named one of the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts in the 13th annual employee-based survey project from The Boston Globe. EverQuote was ranked #23 in the category of large employers.

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Trust & Will raises $15M as digital estate planning hits mainstream

Let’s get something morbid out of the way right up front: estate planning is a growth business in 2020. Whether you need to create or update a will, build a family trust, or sign over power of attorney for end-of-life decision-making, it’s been a heck of a year for many families, and even more people are starting to think about these instruments if anything worse happens this year (and there are still six weeks left!)

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The Top 50 Financial Technology CEOs Of 2020

The Financial Technology Report is pleased to announce the Top 50 Financial Technology CEOs of 2020. These exceptional executives lead some of the most prominent financial technology companies across the globe and have helped define many of the wide scale advancements the industry has undergone over recent years.

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This local startup wants to revamp auto loan refinancing. It just raised a big round.

Auto refinance platform MotoRefi has raised $8.6 million in funding, the company announced Friday. Investors in the round included Motley Fool Ventures, CMFG Ventures, Accomplice, Link Ventures, Gaingels and others. Former Uber Technologies Inc. executive and Construct Capital co-founder Rachel Holt will join the board, as well as Rob Chaplinsky, managing director of Link Ventures.

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Jobcase announces $100 million growth round to empower the world’s workers

Cutting-edge competitive intelligence, mathematical modeling and behavioral analysis are what it takes to succeed in the ever-competitive startup scene. Link Ventures has quickly become the model for identifying the next “it” companies in the Cambridge, Mass. ecosystem.

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8 Takeaways From The Davos Day Of Innovation And Solutions

While Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg dominated the news coverage, the biggest conversations this week at the World Economic Forum at Davos focused on “stakeholder capitalism,” and both the opportunities and necessities for business to align with the public and nonprofit sectors to solve the world’s most intractable problems.

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World Economic Forum: Blockchain in Action with Link Ventures and Cogo Labs

Each year, the World Economic Forum brings together an international array of prominent leaders from business, government, academia, media and civil society, to deepen relationships and work more collaboratively towards improving the state of our world.

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EverQuote Founders Talk IPO Fever, Journey from Biotech to Insurance

When I got on the phone Thursday with the leaders of EverQuote, Boston’s newest publicly traded tech company, I expected them to grumble about how I cast their venture as a “company you’ve never heard of” in yesterday’s story about its IPO.

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MotoRefi Soars On Auto Loan Refinancing Rush

A rite of homeownership is the search for a better mortgage interest rate and refinancing to lock in. What many vehicle owners don’t realize is you can do the same thing with auto financing, which led to the creation of a fast-growing startup called MotoRefi.

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Jobcase Raises New Funding, Aligning Capital and Partnerships with Mission to Empower Workers

Jobcase, Inc., provider of a social platform dedicated to empowering and advocating for workers, has announced a significant new capital investment, with Providence Strategic Growth (PSG) acquiring a majority stake and Workday Ventures participating as a strategic investment partner. The investment includes $30 million of primary capital to accelerate Jobcase’s product development, member services, and employer partnerships. In addition, Jobcase is joining the Workday Software Partner Program.

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