May 24, 2017

In the battle of incumbents and insurgents, collaboration and inclusion to set Miami innovators apart

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By Saif Y. Ishoof 

Saif"Social infrastructure enables Innovation & Disruption"---Ime Archibong, vice president, Partnerships, Facebook. This was the resounding message and charge from our opening keynote at Innovate Miami (pictured above).

Startup companies are known as the insurgents, competing against established incumbents that include corporations, government and institutions. A battle of institutions versus innovators becomes a zero-sum game. 

We know that the forces of Disruption don't have to be negative; collaboration and inclusion can bring benefits to our economy as a whole. We can make this happen in the 305.

That was the theme of the first ever “Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit” hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup.  The Disruption Workgroup was created as part of the vision of GMCC chair and president of FIU, Mark B. Rosenberg, to create collisions between established businesses and the innovators that call Miami home: across a wide range of sectors represented by our Technology, Resilience, Innovation/Entrepreneurship & Sharing Economy committees. 

Our convening provided a space for connections to evolve between innovators, legacy businesses, startups, students, and civic leaders, and allowed experts and upstarts to share their knowledge and insight.

The objective:  To prompt people to think about what market forces are driving disruption across a wide range of sectors and to harness the winds of disruption to drive impact in their respective sectors.

The main attraction of the event was Ime Archibong, the vice president for Partnerships at the king disruptor, Facebook. Archibong touched upon several points: using technology as a means to creating higher quality human interactions and not a mere end, in and of itself; how Facebook (now an incumbent) is working with local developers across the world to help develop their products; and some of Facebook’s newest endeavors including global connectivity, Oculus, artificial intelligence and Facebook at Work.

Afterwards, Archibong sat down with a group of 30 students from Miami Edison Senior High School, to talk about the work Facebook is doing with preparing the younger generation for tech, and how they could use the platform for their benefit. Some students asked about opportunities to be involved with Facebook, and others asked how they could use the platform for some of the initiatives they had formed, including a nonprofit that one student has already launched.

Our lunch was keynoted by one of Miami’s greatest innovators, Felecia Hatcher, founder of Black Tech Week and Code Fever. Hatcher has made it her mission to include historically under-represented communities in the innovation ecosystem. Her talk was centered around the idea that Miami can set itself apart as a mecca for innovators if it finds a way to authentically bring together the incumbents and insurgents. This will allow innovation accelerators to thrive here. The hard part: finding ways to include our entire population in our efforts and making sure that all of Miami has the same opportunities to participate.  

Overall, the message that resonated throughout the entire day was that collaboration is essential for the rise of Miami as a global and forward thinking city.

In Hatcher’s own words: “If your dream doesn’t include anyone else, it isn’t big enough.”

Saif Y. Ishoof is Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup and Vice President for Engagement for Florida International University.

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The inaugural Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit was hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup. Photos were provided by the chamber workgroup. 

May 23, 2017

FAU Tech Runway selects 5th accelerator class

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Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fifth and largest Venture class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The four companies are:

·      Videopura LLC is a video services company with patent-pending technologies to reduce the bandwidth necessary for video services.

·      Tap2Open LLC is a secure, convenient, and easy way for residents and guests to gain access to gated communities via smart devices. Tap2Open allows residents and invited guests enter a gated community or secured door at the push of a button on their smart phone or device.

·      Ridgeback Network Defense Inc. delivers enterprise network security by turning the tables on hackers, dynamically counter-engaging the adversary, causing them to absorb the expense of attack and eliminating them as a threat.

·      Hubspring Health is an innovative software company founded by physicians focused on solving several of the chronic problems plaguing our industry. Hubspring provides a cure for these chronic conditions and enables healthcare organizations to embrace the future with its innovative and powerfully flexible platform, The Hub.

In addition, 16 more companies were awarded based on various tracks including, community, student and faculty. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior four companies, minus the $25,000 grant. Six companies are still in the process of being selected and confirmed, however, the 11 companies already identified are: Two Degrees Inc.; ScaleWize; Land of Zorth; WAHspace; Bacon Boxes; SlideMap; PAPER; STAX; Gaming Frog; MMP Biopharma Inc.; and PQSecure Technologies LLC.

“A record number of companies entered the 2017 FAU Tech Runway Launch Competition. They significantly raised the bar, in terms of their quality and breadth represented,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Consequently, this year’s winning Venture Class will be expanded by 50 percent to 21 companies.  After they complete our year-long program, many of these companies will no doubt make a profound impact upon the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, 205 jobs and 76 internships have been created; 39 FAU students have been employed; 136 corporate partnerships have been created; more than $8 million in revenue has been earned; and more than $19 million investment capital has been raised.

“FAU Tech Runway serves as a core entrepreneurship hub for Florida Atlantic University and as a key resource for the regional technology eco-system,” said Daniel C. Flynn, FAU’s vice president for research. “As the program matures, it will continue to launch thriving, innovative companies that are ready for their next stage of growth, contributing to the university and the state’s economic vitality.”

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

- Submitted by FAU Tech Runway

 

May 22, 2017

NFTE high school entrepreneurs headed to national competition

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The student winner of the 2017 NFTE South Florida Entrepreneurship Challenge owned the stage during her presentation in front of hundreds of people. She executed her pitch so perfectly, she didn't even need the cute cameo role her little sister provided (though it didn't hurt.)

That was Coral Gables Senior High School student Ashley Bellinger (pictured above), who won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last week.  Hialeah Gardens Senior High School students Manny Mollinedo and Danny Martinez placed second. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000. 

Ashley  won $1,500 for her plan for Amber Ash, her t-shirt fashion company that celebrates diversity and individualism; her little sister modeled one of Ashley's designs during the presentation.  Manny and Danny  created Fresh Fit and won $1,000.  These students presented their plan for a company which creates and distributes liners for fitness shaker bottles. Jacqueesha Jones from Miami Northwestern Senior High School who presented her plan for The Brownie Factory, an organization that sells brownies to raise college scholarship funds for low-income students, was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500. 

 “NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO.  “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today.  The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”            

The teens demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset, the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges.  Young people presented and defended their business plans before a prestigious panel of judges and an audience of key business and school leaders. All the finalists received mentoring before they competed, and the student winners will receive more mentoring before competing in New York this fall.

The judges for the South Florida regional competition were: Chris Caines, Miami Program Associate, Knight Foundation; Ralph Campbell, Managing Partner, 4D Associates; Ana Karina Felix, Senior Vice President, CCAR LATAM, Citi; Erik Pupo, Managing Director, Accenture; Dr. Stephanie Scott, Director of Research & Evaluation, United Way of Broward County, and Stephanie Sylvestre, Chief Programs Officer/Chief Information Officer, The Children’s Trust.

NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market.  Additional support for the South Florida Challenge was provided by Mastercard, along with Bank of America, Celebrity Cruises, EY, Royal Caribbean, and Santander. The South Florida regional competition was held on May 18 at Briza on the Bay in Miami.

Also part of the May 18 event was a fast-pitch contest involving about 10 students. Each gave a one-minute pitch and the audience voted.   And the winner of the fast-pitch was ... middle-school student Jonathan Jeancharles for his pitch for Extra Learning XL. Jonathan was a fan favorite for sure. Before the student fast-pitch competition started, the students networked with the audience and wore nametags that said "Ask me to pitch." Jonathan was an aggressive networker -- he didn't wait to be asked to tell us about his business idea.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries. In South Florida, thousands of students across 38 schools are enrolled in the NFTE program. This was the final event of the school year, although some of the students will be participating in NFTE summer programs.

Congratulations to the South Florida teen winners!

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First place winner Amber Ash.

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Second Place winners Fresh Fit.

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Third Place winner: The Brownie Factory.

 

The LAB Miami to host corporate venture and growth hacking events

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Join The LAB Miami for “Miami: Masters of Corporate Venture Capital (CVC)” hosted by Rubicon Venture Capital on Wednesday.

The event will feature a moderated panel discussion with leading companies who have received CVC funding plus time for networking, drinks and hors d'oeuvres. CVC is more important than ever with 1 out of 5 venture financings including at least 1 CVC.

The ticket  includes 1 copy of Romans' new book. Find it and review on: Amazon.com and on Kindle.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/WtcNTP

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On June 14th, join Miami's first Growth Hacking Summit.

Learn to growth hack your business from every angle. Participants from companies of any size, from start-ups to large corporations, will have the opportunity to learn actionable solutions they can implement to drive sustainable revenue growth for their business. Digital disruption has brought an entirely new toolkit of non-traditional Sales/Marketing tactics and “hacks”. Pioneers in this field will share their secrets, including specific and proven strategies that any commercial minded executive should know to be able to compete in today’s marketplace.Speakers include growth experts from Amazon.com, Discovery, ESPN, Growth.ly, and many more. 

At Miami Growth Hacking Summit you will learn actionable solutions that you can immediately apply when you get back to your office.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/wlTCGl

 

Florida Early Stage Capital Conference: And the winners are ...

SiteZeus  Tampa - First Place $75 000

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida announced the three top winners of the 10th Annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation prize, held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.  A total of 22 Florida-based companies from across the state and a variety of industry sectors were selected to present before an audience of investors, deal professionals and entrepreneurs. Ten startups from South Florida participated.

A panel of judges reviewed each selected company’s presentation and supporting materials. The top three cash prize winners were:

First Place $75,000 - SiteZeus, Tampa (www.sitezeus.com), pictured above, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

Second Place $50,000 -  Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (www.auxadyne.com) has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Third Place $25,000 - Admiral, Gainesville (www.getadmiral.com) offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

The 22 presenting companies were selected from a statewide pool of more than 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $150,000.

“The Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference set a few important records in 2017: our largest-ever number of applicants, record overall attendance and the largest investor attendance in the event’s 10-year history,” said Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We take these milestones as very positive indicators of an increasingly robust and well-rounded early stage ecosystem. We congratulate our winning companies, and thank Space Florida for their strong support.”

In conjunction with the 2017 Early Stage Capital Conference, The Florida Venture Forum  also announced the three winners of the 7th Annual 2017 Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, also held on May 19. A total of 13 universities from a cross section of Florida brought their top students to compete for best in the state. The top three winners were:

 Winner: Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, Reamonn Soto - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fort Lauderdale

First Runner Up: Logentix LLC, Randy Lopez - Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland

Second Runner Up: Spared, Ryan Lockwood - University of Tampa

 

 

May 17, 2017

Have an idea to improve equity in education? Team up and take it from pitch to prototype at Startup Weekend EDU this weekend!

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Participants in last years StartUP Weekend Education event. This year's event is Friday-Sunday. Register at http://bit.ly/swedumiami  

 

By Wifredo Fernandez

Want to know what it’s like to launch a company in a weekend? Do you have ideas for new educational tools, school models or learning spaces? Are you passionate about creating change in the education sector? Then join us this weekend, May 19-21!

Teach For America, StartUP FIU, FIU Office of Engagement and FIU School of Computing & Information Sciences have teamed up to host Startup Weekend EDU, a 54-hour event that takes you from pitch to prototype. We are looking for educators, technologists, designers, students and parents to develop new ideas that will impact the education system. The event is made possible by the generous support of Knight Foundation.

This year's theme will be "Creating solutions to improve equity in education." SWEDU Miami is a unique opportunity to experiment with all the necessary stakeholders in the South Florida education landscape. Join us to explore how innovation can disrupt inequities in education.

Friday night, individuals pitch their ideas, which are voted on and teams are formed. Saturday, expert mentors will be on site to coach teams through their prototyping and business modeling. Sunday, teams will pitch their solutions to an all-star panel of entrepreneurs, investors and education leaders. Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner during scheduled programming, free SWEDU swag, access to industry leaders and mentors, and a suite of free trials and discounts from our Google Network Partners.

The event is free for students and parents. To register, head to http://bit.ly/swedumiami. With the support of the Knight Foundation we can provide Assistance Grants via ticketing that is available on a first come - first serve basis. If additional financial assistance is needed to support registration cost, please email miamiedu@startupweekend.org.

Mentors and Coaches:

Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO - Kairos

Matt Mawhinney, Company Relations Manager - Launchcode

Juan Lopez Salaberry, Founder, MentorDay

Giselle Latorre, Community Outreach, StartUP FIU

Daniela Cadena, Social Innovation Manager, StartUP FIU

Willie Avendano, Co-Founder - Zero1 & Wynwood Maker Camp

Judges:

Dr. Kenneth Furton, Provost of Florida International University

Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director, Department of Career and Technical Education - Miami Dade County Public Schools

Diana Santangelo, Director of Education, United Way of Miami-Dade

Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu 

May 13, 2017

Tech Talk: Magic Leap, Alta5, upcoming deadlines & more

NewronyBy Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The secretive Magic Leap may be fund-raising again, and with that may pull a $6 billion to $8 billion valuation out of its hat. That’s from sources of the tech blog BackChannel.

According to BackChannel, part of Wired Media Group, Plantation-based Magic Leap is raising a Series D funding round led by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba. It’s not sewn up yet though. That’s from sources of tech writer/editor Jessi Hempel, who also wrote one of the first long features about the augmented reality tech company with very little about its actual technology (that NDA, you know) about a year ago in Wired.

If this funding news is true, the cash runway may have shortened up a bit. About 15 months ago, Magic Leap raised $793.5 million led by Alibaba, on top of $592 million previously raised from Google and other VCs, for a total of nearly $1.4 billion on a $4.5 billion valuation – and that’s for a company that had yet to reveal its technology to the world. At the time CEO Rony Abovitz said that money would take the company through commercial launch.

“This funding allows us to accelerate the move from product development to pilot manufacturing, manufacturing and commercial launch,” Abovitz told me in a phone interview at the time. “But beyond that, this gives the company a very long-term runway – effectively we can be sustainable. We may not need to raise capital again – it doesn’t mean we won’t – but it gives us the ability to think well beyond the initial product launch.”

Magic Leap still hasn’t launched a product, nor announced a timeline, but the fund-raise could suggest a launch is imminent – or not. In what may be another sign: Abovitz called on developers and artists to sign up to work on new content for the platform, via Twitter. Abovitz has said Magic Leap will launch its head gear when it’s ready, and with mixed reality content to wow the world.

In other Magic Leap news, as reported earlier this week, the mixed reality company has settled itse gender discrimination lawsuit, claiming a boys club culture among other things, for undisclosed terms.

Whether or not the big ML raise materializes in 2017, it will be a good year for South Florida funding. Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine saw to that this week, raising $231 million in funding from private equity firm Warburg Pincus and bringing its total funding to some $330 million.

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In other Miami tech news, Alta5 vaulted into the spotlight at its 500 Startups Demo Day in San Francisco on Thursday night, scoring favorable press out of the gate for the Miami-based fintech startup, which created an automation platform for individual investors. The live-streamed event attracted more than 500 investors, said Alta5 co-founder Rocco Savage (pictured above, pitching at Demo Day). TechCrunch called Alta5 one of the top eight in the batch of 41 500 Startup companies. Mattermark ranked the batch of 41 companies and found Alta 5 to have the third highest Mattermark Growth Score of the batch.

[READ MORE: Alta5 joins 500 Startups to bring automation to your online brokerage account]

Miami’s Court Buddy, a legal-tech startup also part of 500 Startups’ Batch 20 that pitched Thursday (and a former Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner), made the top 25 in Mattermark’s ranking. (Court Buddy co-founder Kristina Jones shown below pitching)

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Considering that 500 Startups had 2,000 applicants, and just 41 were chosen for the cohort, and two of them were from South Florida, that’s a pretty good showing for Miami tech in Silicon Valley.

Deadlines coming up

WIN Lab Miami, Babson’s eight-month accelerator program for women-led businesses, is now accepting applications for its second cohort through 5 p.m. May 19 (the deadline was extended. Check out its FAQs page here and its application page here.

The first Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program is taking place at FIU Urban Studios June 9-23. The cost is free for the 25 small business professionals selected and includes valuable accreditations if the course and exams are completed. Read more about it here. The deadline is Monday, May 15.

StartUP FIU is taking applications for cohort 3 of its Empower accelerator. The deadline is June 11. Find out more about Cohort 2’s Demo Day and where to apply for Cohort 3 here.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

 

May 12, 2017

Deadline approaching to apply for free Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program

Here is an opportunity for small businesses: The first Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program taking place at FIU Urban Studios June 9-23. The cost is free for the 25 small business professionals selected. 
 
You can access the 5 minute application here: 
 
Once the course with exam is completed successfully, you will be accredited in the following top accreditations that give you a competitive edge for over $15B worth of local infrastructure, construction, urban planning, resiliency and land use projects locally: 
  • EcoDistricts AP 
  • LEED Green Associates (GA) 
  • LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) 
The program will be taught by LEED Fellows Jonathan Burgess and Rob Hink of Spinnaker Group and Eric Corey Freed of EcoDistricts.  
 
The deadline to apply is Monday, May 15th. 

May 10, 2017

Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine attracts $231 million in funding

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Health-technology company Modernizing Medicine announced Wednesday that Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm focused on growth-stage companies, has invested $231 million into the company.

The funding will be used to provide liquidity to existing shareholders, fund further expansion and support future strategic endeavors, said Daniel Cane, CEO of the fast-growing Boca Raton-based company. “It’s a great firm, a great fund, it’s good people ... With this investment we infused some additional jet fuel into our company to be able to execute even more aggressively, to be able to hire and innovate and bring great products and solutions,” Cane said in an interview Wednesday.

Modernizing Medicine currently employs 550 people and is booking $100 million in annual revenue. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” Cane said.

Founded in 2010 by Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling (pictured above), Modernizing Medicine has been one of the recent tech success stories in South Florida. Cane, a serial entrepreneur who earlier in his career co-founded and exited education-tech company Blackboard, met Sherling, his future co-founder, in the doctor’s office.

Modernizing Medicine’s flagship product is EMA, which is a mobile, cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic health record system now used by more than 10,000 providers at thousands of specialty practices nationwide, and the company now offers a full suite of products and services including practice management, revenue cycle management, telehealth for dermatology, analytics and more. Before this latest mega-round of funding, Modernizing Medicine had raised about $100 million, including $38 million in 2015.

“We’ve been quiet the last year but we’ve been executing,” said Cane. “We have an incredible team and we continue to grow. We still serve only a handful of specialties – we remain focused – but we do more within each specialty than we ever have in the past.” 

Cane said the latest round of funding will allow it to pursue strategic objectives that not only benefit physicians and their practices but also the patient. “We are building a lot of mobile patient engagement applications, looking at ecommerce, looking at telemedicine,” he said. That includes investing in technologies that streamline “prior authorization” to allow more patients to get the treatments they need faster, said Cane. In ecommerce, there are other opportunities to streamline processes that complement a patient’s treatment, and telemedicine has particular potential to take off in dermatology, Modernizing Medicine’s largest specialty with about 6,000 providers, Cane said.

Modernizing Medicine now has three South Florida locations, its main headquarters in the Research Park at FAU, a temporary space in the Boca Raton Innovation Center while its new space there is being built out, and a Weston office. “We are always hiring,” said Cane. Indeed, more than three dozen job openings are listed on Modernizing Medicine’s webite, including for engineers in product development and product management, as well as for positions in marketing, sales and legal.

Fred Hassan, managing director of Warburg Pincus and the former CEO and chairman of Schering Plough, and Amr Kronfol, Warburg Pincus principal, will join Modernizing Medicine’s board of directors. “We see meaningful opportunities for the company’s continued growth and acceleration of existing products and initiatives, and we look forward to partnering with Dan, Michael and the entire management team,” said Andrew Park, principal of Warburg Pincus.

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in New York, Warburg Pincus, with an active protfolio of more than 140 companies, has more than $44 billion in private equity assets under management. Warburg Pincus has been an active investor in the health technology sector, with current investments including DocuTAP, Helix, Intelligent Medical Objects, Specialists On Call, and A Place For Mom.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

May 09, 2017

Magic Leap settles lawsuit with executive claiming gender bias, 'boys club' culture

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By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

Plantation-based Magic Leap has reached a confidential settlement of a gender bias lawsuit filed by a former executive, Tannen Campbell.

Campbell alleged in a federal court lawsuit that she was hired by the CEO to make the cutting-edge technology company less of a “boys club,” but her efforts were met with resistance. A former vice president of strategic marketing at the privately held technology company, Campbell sued Magic Leap in February.

Notice of the settlement was filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale and signed by Judge William P. Dimitrouleas. Terms were not disclosed. The lawsuit now is expected to be dismissed.