(Photo by Flickr user Tony Brooks, used under a Creative Commons license)
While 2016 was marked by a changing landscape as the city’s tech community expanded into new neighborhoods, 2017 was defined by moves from the companies themselves.
Namely, the Baltimore startups that exited this year. There was a notable uptick in such deals, and they involved some recognizable local names.
A string of acquisitions in 2017 saw some big payouts, some company names disappear from the scene and some big players who came to town as the buyers. Let’s look back at a dozen that turned heads in the community:
Maryland’s cybersecurity community is seeing lots of movement, and the year started with some deals, as MacAulay-Brown purchased Enlighten IT Consulting and VOR Technology brought on Columbia’s Sintel Group.
The scene shifted to Baltimore city in the spring, where a trio of companies that were all around five years old and saw growth around Federal Hill exited.
Parking Panda was scooped up by fellow off-street parking reservation company SpotHero in April in a deal that saw Parking Panda’s office remain open.
Baltimore’s edtech scene also saw a shift. Betamore grad Citelighter’s technology was purchased by Sylvan Learning. About a month later, bookish AccelerateBaltimore grad Unbound Concepts was acquired by Massachusetts Certica Solutions.
A late October deal saw what Guy Fillipelli called a “great day” for Baltimore as cybersecurity startup RedOwl was acquired by Raytheon subsidiary Forcepoint. The $54 million deal kept RedOwl’s office and team intact under the Forcepoint name.
In August, Mt. Vernon–based agency Enradius was the buyer a deal for Changeup Marketing.
Startups in the city’s university community also saw plenty of exits.
Work to create new startups over the years at the University of Maryland Baltimore saw some of the payoff happen all at once, as the year closed out with deals for three UM Ventures companies in quick succession.
First, 18-month-old personalized cancer treatment company Living Pharma was acquired by Gaithersburg-based Lentigen Technology in an all-Maryland deal.
Then, health IT startup Analytical Informatics completed a six year journey as an independent company when it was acquired by Philips in November for use with the medical giant’s radiology imaging offerings.
And the splashy payout came in the final month of the year, as Edwards Lifesciences exercised its option to purchase open heart surgery device startup Harpoon Medical in a deal that could be worth as much as $250 million. The deal will keep Harpoon’s office in Baltimore, and the initial $100 million cash payment was already reported as the sought-after 10x return for early investor, the Abell Foundation.
Johns Hopkins’ efforts to boost student startups also posted a win. Fractal Technology, whose cofounders JR Charles and Alex Sharata met while students at Johns Hopkins, was acquired by Annapolis Junction–based Sunayu.
We’ll be paying attention to how these deals pan out as teams settle in. Perhaps just as important, we’ll also be watching to see where the players involved in these startups go next. Past exits like Advertising.com, Blue Sky Factory, WhoGlue and BillMeLater have proved influential as early players in those companies became leaders in the community, investors and went on to form their own startups. That cycle is what helps grow a startup community.
And while many companies left the scene, there are no shortage of Baltimore startups working toward their own exits. We’ll take note of who’s looking promising in January, when Technical.ly’s realList returns.-30-
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