(Photo by Zephan Moses Blaxberg)
2017, we’re almost done with you.
At Technical.ly, we’re closing out the year with a look back at what readers found interesting in 2017. While it’s an interesting exercise to undertake in solitude, the list also doubles as a look back at some of the big developments of the year.
New companies joined the scene, some familiar names exited and Baltimore joined the race to impress a tech giant.
Here’s what you read the most:
- In a particularly eye-catching example of students gaining tech skills outside school hours, the Park School has an after-school club where students analyze data. The focus is on the Arctic, where they study permafrost and polar bears. Plus, the students got to go see the polar bears up close in Manitoba, Canada. They’ve got a research grant, and present at conferences, too.
- Governments are tech companies too, or something like that. The State of Maryland is spending big to build its own platform to make it easier to share info across departments. It rose out of needs to better coordinate info, which state agencies identified as an issue when responding to the 2015 unrest that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore.
- This fall, City officials thought Baltimore’s chances in the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes were rising because of the ample space offered on a South Baltimore peninsula alongside the proposed future home of Baltimore’s existing consumer giant. Elevated Element even created a rendering to envision what it would look like. When the bid was sealed, the city was willing to give up a lot to the Seattle-based company, as billions were offered (the exact amount of incentives offered were not disclosed). Then, Old Goucher put in its own bid for the headquarters in the center of town. As 2017 closes, Amazon is still mum about what cities are on the shortlist. But it’s worth considering what the process showed about the city’s future.
- Pixilated’s photo-booths are a staple at Baltimore weddings and big events. As the company was growing a couple of years ago, cofounders Patrick Rife and Nic China stretched out and helped to build community among innovative business owners by becoming half of the team that spearheaded Startup Soiree. By the beginning of 2017, Pixilated was a full-on tech company after closing an investment round and starting to build out a software platform. At the end of the year, the software was powering a new offering called the Wall Pixi.
- Plotting the future of cities should require understanding the past, and the history of housing discrimination is a key topic in this realm. A partnership between Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland researchers created a tool to easily visualize how complicated policies changed urban landscapes.
- We knew Claire Smith from her many projects at Digital Harbor Foundation. She went national with a light-up prom dress that caught the eye of many a media outlet, and earned a friend request from designer Zac Posen on Instagram. Her next project was a coding workshop. “I’m trying to show girls that we are just as good as guys, if not better, at tech,” she told reporter LeAnne Matlach.
- A couple of years after it was acquired by Groupon, OrderUp’s name only appears in a few markets. The services were taken over by GrubHub after that food delivery company signed a deal with Groupon. As a result, OrderUp’s Canton office was shuttered and 60 people were laid off. OrderUp still has a small staff in Baltimore. In the fall, OrderUp cofounder Chris Jeffery was hired as CEO of Seattle-based weed recommendation company Leafly.
- There’s a lot of love in Baltimore’s tech community. On Valentine’s Day, we spotlighted some of the couple’s in the heart of the scene.
- The annual Baltimore Innovation Week kept the tradition of handing out awards in the community going strong. After voting was complete, we recognized the winners with a big celebration at Mt. Vernon Marketplace on Oct. 6.
- Our first-ever list of young Baltimore companies to watch proved to generate the most interest from readers this year. Throughout the year, our first cohort raised more money and launched some new products. We’ll be back with another edition in mid-January, 2018.
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