Swiss company sets up US headquarters in Boston


Swiss company sets up US headquarters in Boston

Add Switzerland-based SOPHiA Genetics to the ever-growing list of foreign life science companies planting a flag in the thriving Massachusetts biotech cluster. The company, which uses artificial intelligence algorithms to comb patients’ DNA sequences in an effort to diagnose cancer and other illnesses, said Monday that it has opened its US headquarters in Boston’s financial district. Jurgi Camblong, chief executive of SOPHiA, said the seven-year-old Lausanne startup is “experiencing a wide and fast adoption of our technology in North America,” making the creation its first US office two months ago a logical move. The office at One Boston Place has 20 employees and is expected to expand to 50 within a year. All told, SOPHiA has over 200 employees globally. SOPHiA says it has the most widely used technology for genomic analysis, adopted by hundreds of university hospitals worldwide, including over 100 in the United States. SOPHiA has analyzed over 250,000 genomic profiles to diagnose hereditary disorders and cancer. In recent years, many foreign drug makers and life science firms have set up research and development centers — and even moved their US headquarters — to Massachusetts, particularly to Cambridge, because of the concentration of talent and access to universities and world-class hospitals. Just two weeks ago, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the Japanese drug giant that’s in the process of buying local biotech Shire PLC for $64 billion, said that it will close its US headquarters in suburban Chicago and move that operation to the Boston area. It has yet to specify an address. — JONATHAN SALTZMAN


Instagram’s co-founders said to step down from company

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, have resigned and plan to leave the company in coming weeks, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The exits add to the challenges facing Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. Systrom, Instagram’s chief executive, and Krieger, the chief technical officer, notified Instagram’s leadership team and Facebook on Monday of their decision to leave, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Systrom and Krieger did not give a reason for their departure, according to the people, but said they planned to take time off after leaving Instagram. Systrom and Krieger have known each other since 2010, when they met and transformed a software project built by Systrom into what eventually became Instagram, which now has more than 1 billion users. A spokeswoman for Facebook did not immediately have a comment. The departures raise questions about Instagram’s future at a time when Facebook faces its most sustained set of crises in its 14-year history. For much of the past two years, critics have railed against Facebook for being careless with user data and for not preventing foreign interference across its network of more than 2 billion people. — NEW YORK TIMES



Sirius XM to acquire Pandora Media for $3.5b

Satellite radio provider Sirius XM said Monday that it would acquire music streaming service Pandora Media for $3.5 billion in a bid to corral listeners who do not want to pay for premium channels. Pandora rose to success by providing tailored radio stations for its users that were sprinkled with ads. In recent years it has struggled to compete with rival services like Spotify and Apple Music, which dominated online music streaming by offering paid on-demand content — something Pandora was slow to replicate. Pandora has been a potential acquisition target for at least two years: In 2016, a continued slide in its share price prompted it to look for possible buyers and Sirius XM has been in the running to buy Pandora since it injected $480 million of funding into the company last year. — NEW YORK TIMES



Ben & Jerry’s to make ice cream in support of progressives

The founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Bernie Sanders’ home state are putting their ice cream expertise to work to support seven congressional candidates in the midterm elections who they call progressive. Vermont’s Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, known for their clever marketing and quirky flavors, are working with political action committee MoveOn to create ice cream flavors that reflect the values of each of the candidates. The candidates are Jess King in Pennsylvania, Lauren Underwood in Illinois, Aftab Pureval in Ohio, J.D. Scholten in Iowa, Ammar Campa Najjar in California, Stephany Rose Spaulding in Colorado, and James Thompson in Kansas. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Employers who offer paid family to receive tax credits

Employers who offer paid family and medical leave to their workers earning up to $72,000 a year can receive tax credits under the new tax law, the government has affirmed. The Treasury Department issued guidelines Monday for the tax credit, which is available to employers for leave paid this year and next. The credit was part of the $1.5 trillion package of individual and corporate tax cuts that Republicans in Congress enacted and President Trump signed into law in December. It expires in 2020. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Michael Kors close to buying Versace

Michael Kors is close to announcing a deal to buy Versace, the Italian fashion house, in its latest step toward becoming a rival for Europe’s luxury conglomerates, two people with knowledge of the matter said Monday. The sale would mark the end of independence for one of the most prominent stand-alone fashion houses amid a wave of consolidation within the industry. — NEW YORK TIMES



Former Facebook content moderator sues over exposure to disturbing material

A former Facebook content moderator is suing the company on the grounds that reviewing disturbing material on a daily basis caused her psychological and physical harm, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in a California superior court. The suit by former moderator Selena Scolla, who worked at Facebook from June 2017 until March, alleges that she witnessed thousands of acts of extreme and graphic violence ‘‘from her cubicle in Facebook’s Silicon Valley offices,’’ where Scolla was charged with enforcing Facebook’s extensive rules prohibiting certain types of content on its systems. Scola, who worked at Facebook through a third party contracting company, developed post traumatic stress disorder ‘‘as a result of constant and unmitigated exposure to highly toxic and extremely disturbing images at the workplace,’’ the suit says. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment. Facebook relies on thousands of moderators to determine if posts violate its rules against violence, hate speech, child exploitation, nudity, and disinformation.


head of NBC’s entertainment division to exit

NBC executive Bob Greenblatt, who led the network’s entertainment programming to the top of the ratings for the first time in almost two decades, is handing the job to a pair of his lieutenants. Under Greenblatt, 58, NBC rose from last in the audience ratings to first place, toppling CBS from that pinnacle in the past year. With shows such as “This Is Us,” “The Voice,” and “The Blacklist,” he also took the network to number one in the 18-to-49-year-old age group that advertisers target. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Weight Watchers slims down its name

Weight Watchers is betting its future on two letters. The health-and-wellness company is changing its name to WW, as chief executive Mindy Grossman tries to draw more consumers to the weight-loss program in a bid to extend the momentum fueled by Oprah Winfrey’s embrace of the brand nearly three years ago. As part of WW’s move to focus on overall health, the company is launching a program in the United States next month in which members earn rewards, including products for tracking meals, activity, and weight. The company’s shares have gained nearly 60 percent this year, after surging almost 300 percent in 2017 as advertisements featuring the well-known media mogul helped bring customers back to the weight-loss program. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Disney revises ticket pricing
at Walt Disney World

Ticket prices at Walt Disney World will vary based on the date picked with a new online planning tool debuting next month. Disney World officials said Monday that prices at the resort’s four theme parks will be tweaked next month so they’re the same instead of the Magic Kingdom having a higher price. Disney introduced flexible pricing at US parks three years ago as an incentive for guests to visit during less busy times. Each month was divided into value, regular, and peak days. Under the new plan, which debuts Oct. 16, prices will vary based on the particular day. Single-day tickets will range from $109 to $129, depending on how popular the day is expected to be. Visitors can find the lowest-priced days by clicking on a calendar at — ASSOCIATED PRESS