The way Bob Pozen figures it, if his mom had been born a century later — rather than in 1910 — she would have become an entrepreneur or maybe a C-level executive.
Instead, she became a bookkeeper at a construction equipment leasing firm. But she also taught Pozen and his two brothers the value of education and discipline as they grew up in Bridgeport, Conn.
Pozen, of course, ended up becoming wildly successful in the business world, while his two brothers went into medicine. He was president of Fidelity Investments from 1997 to 2001 and later executive chairman at MFS Investment Management, from 2004 until he retired in 2011. Pozen was also the state’s economic affairs secretary under former Governor Mitt Romney in 2003.
Pozen now teaches at the MIT Sloan business school and wants to leave a bit of a legacy at the school — in his mother’s name.
MIT’s Golub Center for Finance and Policy has established the Miriam Pozen Prize to recognize outstanding financial policy research or practices. Pozen is funding the $200,000 prize, MIT’s first in the financial policy area. It will be given every other year, starting in the spring of 2020. Nominations open on Jan. 8 and close on Feb. 28. The winner will deliver a public lecture at MIT and be honored at a dinner hosted by the business school.
“Policymakers or academics who make an outstanding contribution to financial policy … they get some recognition but they don’t get the financial rewards that the people who are running these companies get,” Pozen said.
In addition to funding the prize, Pozen is donating to a biennial fellowship, to be named after the prize recipient, and would benefit a promising MBA student, worth about $30,000 annually over two years.
Pozen’s mother lived long enough to watch the trajectory of her son’s career. She died in 2012, at the age of 102. But she was sharp enough to beat him at Scrabble until she was 95.
“She’s a woman who didn’t get much recognition, either,” Pozen said. “This is a chance to do something nice for her.”
HqO luring investors
The dollars keep flowing in the door for HqO, the Boston startup that makes an app for office-building landlords.
The firm on Tuesday is unveiling a $34 million funding round, bringing the total amount of venture capital it has raised to $53 million. The big new investor this time is Insight Partners, a VC firm in New York that specializes in business-to-business technology.
“It’s going to be a pretty big signal to the market that they’re betting on us as the horse to win in this space,” HqO chief executive Chase Garbarino said of Insight’s investment
HqO was started as a different business, VentureApp, about four years ago, with help from local VC firm Accomplice. However, the company pivoted after Garbarino and his team heard landlords mention they were looking for what’s known as “tenant experience software.”
Initially, the app was focused on coordinating information for workers in a particular office building, ranging from the times of exercise classes to schedules for nearby public transit. But Garbarino says the potential uses have evolved to include digital keycard technology, visitor registration, and, in the near future, controlling HVAC and lighting systems.
“We’re trying to make it easy for property managers to plug all these technologies into one application,” Garbarino says.
The firm already has a number of other local investors on board, including Bain Capital cochair Steve Pagliuca, Morningside Group CEO Gerald Chan, and Red Sox executives Mike Gordon and Sam Kennedy.
HqO employs about 60 people now, mostly in its Boston office, and plans to increase that to more than 100 by this time next year.
An increasing number of so-called PropTech firms are slugging it out, jockeying for attention from the big owners of office towers in major cities. But Garbarino says his firm stands out in part because of the size of its staff and venture backing.
“This financing means we’ll have more capital than all of our competitors,” Garbarino says. “It’s a good win for us from a scale perspective.”
$1m in equity for ISlide
When you lead a startup that courts sports teams and fans, it makes sense to court investors with ties to the pro sports world as well.
That strategy paid off for Justin Kittredge, the former Reebok executive who runs sandal company ISlide. His Boston-based company just secured $1 million in equity from a group of individuals that includes three high-profile investors: Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin, Memphis Grizzlies star Jae Crowder, and former Lids Sports Group chief executive David Baxter. The new round values the company at about $10 million.
Kittredge sells sandals made in a factory he controls in Vietnam. The “slides” are then customized in his Hyde Park plant. He has licensing deals with three of the four big pro sports leagues: baseball, basketball, and hockey, to put team logos on sandals he sells. (He’s still hoping to land a deal with the National Football League.)
He says he hopes to use the new money to buy more machines and hire more people. (ISlide employs 33 in Hyde Park, he says, and 118 people work at his plant in Vietnam.) Some of the money could go into marketing efforts, too.
But the investors’ counsel and expertise could eventually be more valuable to ISlide than the money they put in.
“For me, it’s absolutely game changing,” Kittredge says. “I don’t think we’ve ever been more motivated to make ISlide a household name across the country.”
Hollywood in costume
Few companies in Greater Boston take their holiday cards as seriously as the Hollywood Agency, the public relations firm in Hingham run by Darlene Hollywood.
Well, maybe seriously isn’t quite the right word.
Every year, around this time, the firm sends out holiday cards featuring staffers dressed in the costumes of characters from TV or the movies. Think “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead” or “The Bachelor.” Darlene Hollywood said she started the tradition when she launched the agency in 2011, in part to play off her last name, and in part to convey a promise to “make brands famous.” Only one of the firm’s 10 employees is a man, so the team often gets creative with its costumes.
The entire Hollywood team brainstorms to come up with the concept — the idea needs to be relevant from a pop culture standpoint, feature enough characters so everyone can get in the photo, and distinct enough that it is unlike the cards from previous years.
This year’s theme is “Stranger Things,” the Netflix sci-fi show. Darlene Hollywood is at the center of the card, dressed as Eleven, the girl with telekinetic powers. “At the end of the day,” she wrote in an e-mail, “it’s all about us showcasing our creativity and having fun in the process.”
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