Tech Roundup: Tons of acquisitions, CodingDojo comes to Chicago, and more

July 28, 2016

CodingDojo to open up Chicago shop

Programming school CodingDojo recently announced a Chicago location in River North. The Washington-based company was drawn to Chicago’s growing tech scene and is offering its 14-week courses starting August 15 at 213 W Institute Place in Chicago. The company also announced a $1 million scholarship fund for military vets, women, people looking to make a career change, and current or recent college students. [Press release]

Modobag hits it big with second crowdfunding campaign

Motorized luggage maker Modobag quickly surpassed its Indiegogo goal, raising nearly $143,000 in just one day. That’s almost quadruple the $50,000 it was originally asking for as of today. The sit-on luggage maker first tried to make it big on Kickstarter, with a $160,000 goal last fall, but failed to raise the funds. A new video, posted by The LAD Bible, garnered more than 33 million views on Facebook and helped propel the crowdfunding success. [Chicago Tribune]

Anti-spymail provider MailControl lands $1M seed round

Tracking codes are an essential part of many marketers’ toolbelts, but nefarious types can use those same tools in spymail to uncover intimate details about a recipient and their company. Chicago-based MailControl is hoping to keep data safe and announced a $1 million seed round this week to help get its anti-spyware system into more corporate email systems. Guild Capital led the round. [Press release]

Groupon founder goes all in on curing cancer

It seems Eric Lefkofsky is putting his tech powers behind curing cancer with the launch of Tempus. Chicago Inno reported that the Groupon founder, who has previously given generously to cancer research groups, is behind the new startup. The company is working out of Lefkofsky’s Lightbank, but so far hasn’t divulged many details. Tempus’ website says it is working with big data to help personalize care. [Chicago Inno]

ActiveCampaign doubles local workforce, hires director of support

Marketing and sales SaaS firm ActiveCampaign is doubling its headcount, with growth in the customer success, sales, marketing, design, development, and support teams. Among the new hires is director of support Cory Taylor, who comes to ActiveCampaign after senior positions at Squarespace and Vistaprint. The growing employee roster also means new offices, with the start of a second office expansion in under six months. [Press release]

SpotHero hired West Coast leader to drive expansion

SpotHero, which just last week expanded to Los Angeles, brought on Nate Phillips as the West Coast general manager. Phillips is a parking vet, previously serving various roles during a six-year career at Propark. The parking reservation company plans to expand throughout the West Coast in the future, with rollouts in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. [Press release]

A big week for mergers and acquisitions

This week came with news of four big exits in the Chicagoland area, plus a new acquisition for one of the city's original tech powerhouses:

  • LinkedIn, which Microsoft recently acquired, is still buying companies on its own. This week, it purchased Chicago-based PointDrive, maker of B2B sales software, for an undisclosed amount.
  • E*TRADE acquired OptionsHouse's parent company for $725 million, helping the financial services provider expand its offerings. E*TRADE expects synergies to save the two companies $65 million annually starting in 2017.
  • Redbox owner Outerwall, which also operates Coinstar and ecoATM kiosks, was purchased by private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $1.6 billion in cash. Redbox, born in Oakbrook Terrace, was acquired outright by Outerwall in 2009.
  • Marlin Equity Partners, a Los Angeles investment firm, is acquiring Chicago adtech provider Revenew for an undisclosed sum, and will be merging it with marketing application maker TMA into a Chicago-based company called Aprimo. Revenew CEO John Stammen will lead the new venture.
  • is set to acquire DealerRater. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the addition of more reviews will help bolster the company's position in the car-buying process. 

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