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Venture capital firms big on Bay State biz

By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 27--Two local venture capital firms, whose gambles on a California virtual-reality gaming startup paid off big this week when Facebook agreed to buy it for $2 billion, are betting some Bay State companies will be the next big thing.

Spark Capital of Boston and Matrix Partners of Cambridge were both early investors in Oculus VR Inc., leading a $16 million Series A round the company closed less than a year ago.

"If you look back at the history of the personal computer, every breakthrough has been in the direction of more immersive, more interactive, more personal, and virtual reality is just the next step to that," said Antonio Rodriguez, general partner at Matrix. "Oculus was so far ahead of everyone else I had seen in that space. These guys were night-and-day better than everything else."

Two Cambridge startups Rodriguez is betting on are HubSpot, a company that provides marketing solutions for small businesses, and MarkForged, maker of the world's first carbon-fiber 3D printer, designed to overcome the strength limitations of other 3D-printed materials.

"There are lots of great companies locally," said Santo Politi, founder and general partner at Spark Capital. "We expect great things of them."

Among them are Boston-based Consumer United, the country's leading independent online insurance agent; Superpedestrian, a Cambridge company building a wheel that transforms some standard bicycles into hybrid e-bikes; and Boston-based RunKeeper, which turns the phone into a personal trainer in your pocket.

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(c)2014 the Boston Herald

Visit the Boston Herald at www.bostonherald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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