Starry completes a $100 million funding round
Starry Inc., the Boston-based wireless Internet service, is bulking up with a $100 million funding round, which the upstart company will use to expand nationally in the high-stakes race to deploy super-fast broadband services across the United States. Starry uses a type of extremely high-frequency radio technology to deliver broadband Internet service at speeds rivaling those from landline broadband companies such as Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications. It recently was launched in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and has begun building networks in 14 other cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. The technology requires only a small exterior antenna that is wired into a building’s communications equipment. In Boston, Starry has targeted apartment buildings and says its service can reach 300,000 households here. It charges $50 per month for a connection with speeds of up to 200 megabits per second. The surge of new cash will support the company’s network buildout. With the additional capital, Starry has raised a total of $163 million from venture firms, including
, and Tiger Global.
— HIAWATHA BRAY
Millis firm part of plan to build world’s largest indoor farm in Dubai
FreshBox Farms is about to take the indoor farming movement to new heights. The Millis company and its parent firm in California have struck a $40 million joint venture with the catering operation of Emirates airline to build the largest “vertical farm” in the world in Dubai: rows of lettuce and other greens growing in hydroponic containers stacked 50 feet high. Corporate parent Crop One Holdings recently disclosed the deal with Emirates Flight Catering to build a 130,000-square-foot indoor growing facility near the Dubai airport that promises to yield as much as 6,000 pounds of greens a day, from kale to parsley. The Emirates airline serves 220,000 meals a day, and FreshBox Farms chief executive Sonia Lo said the indoor farm will significantly reduce transportation costs and ensure quick delivery of fresh greens to airline customers. “They have an issue in the local Dubai market — true of most of the Middle East— which is that they import 98 percent of their food,” Lo said. “I think that creates supply chain vulnerability and a freshness issue. And vertical farming can solve that pain point for their customers.” The company grows its greens in modular setups that Lo said take up much less space and use far less water than traditional dirt farms, and it does not use pesticides or herbicides. Greens from the Millis farm are available at local food stores, and Lo said the business has been profitable. — ALEX GAILEY
New program aimed at monitoring electricity use, particularly during heat waves
With much of Massachusetts wilting under heat-wave conditions last week, there is a new initiative aimed at getting people to reduce pollution and energy costs by paying attention to when they use electricity, not just how much they consume. The Shave the Peak program was launched June 29 by Mass Energy Consumers Alliance and its Rhode Island-based partner organization, People’s Power and Light. Consumers who sign up for the free program receive text alerts when a particularly hot day is expected to send people running for their air conditioners, putting pressure on the electric grid. The text messages encourage consumers to scale back their own power usage during these predicted hours of high demand, and it offers tips on how to do that. “It’s not just about lowering energy consumption in a day — it’s paying attention to when you use energy,” said Larry Chretien, executive director of Mass Energy Consumers Alliance and People’s Power and Light. During hot weather, consumers are advised to trim power usage between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Set the temperature on your air conditioner to 72, Chretien suggested, and hold off on doing laundry or running the dishwasher until the next morning. Turn off unneeded lights and avoid charging computers or electric vehicles during the five-hour peak window.
— SARAH SHEMKUS
Nonprofit founded to bring back Boston police horses
A group of business leaders had tried to work with the Boston Police Foundation, a charity that raises funds to assist the city’s officers, to bring back mounted police patrols. Several pledged to give $100,000 apiece, enough for one horse and related equipment, two years ago. But the foundation’s board decided against it. So now a few former and current members have formed their own nonprofit, called Friends of the Boston Police. Their first project: bringing back the horses. “We just had a different vision,” said Sean McGrath, president of the Natick real estate development firm Stonegate Group and a cofounder of the new charity. He said his group will shoot for bigger, bolder causes than does the Boston Police Foundation, which concentrates on more modest enterprises, such as getting gym equipment for precinct stations. “They just didn’t have it on their mind to think on a larger level,” said McGrath, whose family’s foundation pledged $100,000 for the horses. The chairman of the Boston Police Foundation, Carl Jenkins, said the horse project didn’t really fit with his group’s primary focus: improving the health and wellness of the officers. “It’s a PR thing for the city; people love seeing officers on horseback,” Jenkins said. “But it’s not just about how much money you need to buy the horses. There are officers that need to be trained, support staff that are needed, vehicles that are needed, veterinarian bills, food. It’s a lot of money.”
— JON CHESTO
Faust named to board of Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs Group tapped former Harvard University president Drew Faust as a director, making her the third woman on an expanded 12-member board. Faust, 70, starts as an independent director this month after an 11-year tenure at Harvard, the New York-based bank said Thursday in a statement. Goldman Sachs, like other Wall Street institutions, has uneven representation on its board, with men outnumbering women. State Street Corp., one of the largest Goldman Sachs shareholders, mounted a campaign last year that pledged to vote against companies that don’t have women on their boards. Goldman Sachs has a history of naming to its board women who served as college presidents. That includes Ruth Simmons, the former president of Brown University, and Debora Spar, a previous president of Barnard College in New York. Both currently aren’t on the bank’s board. Faust also joins the board at a critical time as speculation mounts over when chief executive Lloyd Blankfein will relinquish his role at the firm. Blankfein has two degrees from Harvard, from the college and the law school. Each of his three children are alumni of Harvard college, and two have graduate degrees. “Her perspective and experience running one of the most complex and preeminent institutions in the world will benefit our board, our firm, and our shareholders,” Blankfein said about Faust in the statement. Faust, who was the first woman to lead Harvard, stepped down after a run marked by record fund-raising. Faust is an author and Civil War historian who succeeded Larry Summers, an economist and former US treasury secretary, as the leader of Harvard. She will continue to teach at Harvard. — BLOOMBERG NEWS