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M.L. Carr’s new game

Former Celtics player and coach M.L. Carr is working with New Technology Ventures of Newton.Chris Morris for The Boston Globe

After many years as a pro basketball player and coach, M.L. Carr figured out where the real money was made. Across the National Basketball Association, he sees a common thread: many of the team owners are in venture capital and private equity.

So Carr, known around here for his roles with the Boston Celtics as a player and coach, is getting in on the game. He’s helping New Technology Ventures, a Newton-based VC firm launched last year, raise money for its first $250 million fund.

It’s been a longtime goal, getting into venture capital.

“Watching deals and looking at deals is exciting,” said Carr, who is listed as a special partner at the firm. “What I bring to this is the contacts that I have. I don’t think there’s a door that I can’t get in.”


Carr also just started a new side job: board member at Healthy Acquisitions Corp., the parent of the Burlington-based UFood Grill chain. Carr has struggled with diabetes and appreciates the difficulty in finding fast, healthy meal options on the road. He said he was attracted to UFood because it offers healthier choices compared to its rivals.

Carr joins as UFood is ramping up efforts to land franchisees: The firm’s stated ambition is to expand beyond its current base of 16 locations, to more than 100 over the next four years. Having Carr on board, UFood CEO Sal Rincione said, could be invaluable. In particular, Rincione said he’s hopeful that Carr’s NBA contacts can help get UFood into basketball arenas and build its brand awareness.

“When you have an NBA legend like M.L. Carr of the Boston Celtics,” Rincione said, “there’s got to be some sort of traction with his name.”


Market Basket workers get a turn on big screen

Market Basket store manager Cindy Whelan is getting used to seeing herself on the big screen.


Whelan, who oversees the Epping, N.H., store, is featured in the documentary “Food Fight: Inside the Battle for Market Basket,” about the 2014 strike and boycott of the grocery store chain, which was shown at the Boston International Film Festival last weekend.

Watching herself is “awkward,” said Whelan, who attended two previous screenings, but the third time was more of a charm: “I actually felt a little bit proud of myself. Finally.”

Chris Sturzo, a Market Basket store manager in Rochester, N.H., attended the Boston screening Saturday night with his brother Mark, a fellow Market Basket employee, and their parents. Afterward, during a Q&A with the filmmakers, the Market Basket employees in the audience — about a dozen in all — were asked to raise their hands.

“Everybody just started clapping for us, and that was like, holy cow, I got chills,” said Sturzo, who has worked for Market Basket since he was 14. Sturzo’s wife and three children also all work for the company.

Nearly 700 people bought tickets to the two showings, said director Jay Childs, who noted that he put his commercial filmmaking business “on ice” to do the documentary. At the Friday night premiere at the Revere Hotel, moviegoers, including Randy Price, the Boston TV news anchor who narrates the film, walked not a red carpet but a salmon-and-white one, crafted to look like Market Basket’s distinctive checked floor.

Sturzo and Whelan both plan to see the other Market Basket movie, “We the People,” which is in theaters. Whelan, however, said she is happy not to be in that one: “That would be a little bit too much.”



iRobot wars

It’s getting ugly over at iRobot Corp.

No, we’re not talking about the Roombas. Those floor-cleaning robots are still pretty darn cute. The ugliness is taking place behind the scenes, as an activist shareholder wages a war against the company’s management to get two seats on the board.

The fight, in case you missed it, pits former Goldman Sachs banker Will Mesdag and his Los Angeles firm, Red Mountain Capital, against iRobot chief executive Colin Angle, lead independent director Deborah Ellinger, and the rest of their team. It’s a battle that will come to a head at iRobot’s next annual meeting at its Bedford headquarters on May 25.

The two management-backed incumbents are Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali and Silver Spring Networks CEO Michael Bell. On the other side, it’s Mesdag and former Clorox chief operating officer Larry Peiros. Both teams are starting to court investors big and small, by phone and in person, to win their votes.

The fight occasionally spills into the public view: Written communications are supposed to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Management, for example, responded on Thursday to a missive Mesdag sent out the prior week and accused him of having a “fundamental misunderstanding of iRobot’s business” and “an alarming lack of understanding of iRobot’s past, present, and future.”

At least the two sides agree on one thing: The fight is hinging on whether Mesdag should be allowed to join the board. Mesdag, whose firm controls 6 percent of iRobot’s shares, said it should be a no-brainer.


“You can read that more broadly to understand they wouldn’t want a shareholder on the board,” Mesdag said. “They don’t want the challenge that a shareholder will bring and the accountability that comes with that.”


BU radio station rises from the ashes

When Boston University’s student radio station, WTBU, was nearly destroyed by an electrical fire late last month, its supporters mourned — and immediately got to work raising money to rebuild it.

Since the blaze, which did an estimated $500,000 in damage, the station has received at least 260 gifts totaling more than $33,000.

Among the larger donors are C arol Hills, a senior producer at WGBH; Paul La Camera, former general manager of WBUR-FM and WCVB-TV; former N ew England Cable News anchor R.D. Sahl; and BU professor (and former Globe reporter) Mitchell Zuckoff.

“Even students who don’t have any money are giving a dollar or five dollars,” said longtime WTBU faculty advisor Anne Donohue. And a fund-raising concert will be held Wednesday at Pop Allston.

Insurance is expected to cover most of the rebuilding, but BU is considering relocating the station to a more prominent spot on the College of Communication’s first floor, which would require more funds.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Donohue said of the loss, noting that BU took over the space from WBUR when that NPR affiliate moved up the street 20 years ago, “so it was really state-of-the-art because we inherited a professional studio.”



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