Innovation Economy

Not all was lost when Apple bought Quattro

Just before Christmas in 2009, Andy Miller gathered the employees of his Waltham mobile advertising start-up in an open bullpen area. The employees figured it was probably the year-end review of the company’s numbers. But then Miller showed a video of Steve Jobs introducing the original ...

Wingu de-stealths, seeking to help pharma companies collect and analyze data from collaborations

Nick Encina has come up with a pretty succinct way to describe his start-up, Wingu: "It's like 'Moneyball' for pharma," referring to the book and movie about a data-driven approach to assessing the value of baseball players.  Essentially, Encina and co-founder Brian Gilman observed that even as big pharma...

Two local companies, StarStreet and DraftKings, prepare to launch new fantasy sports sites

Two local start-ups are getting ready to launch sites that will let sports fans assemble a new fantasy sports team each day, and potentially win money based on that night's results. It's part of new wave in the online fantasy sports realm that most call "daily fantasy," geared to those who might not have...

Testing out TurningArt, Boston's 'Netflix for artwork'

I moved into a new place last fall with more wall space than I knew what to do with. In particular, there was a large expanse at the top of the stairs that I wanted to fill. So earlier this year, I signed up for TurningArt, a Boston-based subscription service that promotes itself as "the cure for empty...

Two new education initiatives, Startup School and Intelligent.ly, want to bring aspiring start-uppers up to speed

It's a big week for Boston when two new professional development programs, both with the potential to have a big impact on the local start-up ecosystem, get announced within the span of 48 hours. TechStars managing director Katie Rae took the covers off Boston Startup School first, on Tuesday...

Apps bring business cards into the 21st century

Have you noticed how, in our increasingly digital era, we still hand each other scraps of paper when we first meet?  These little rectangles accumulate in pockets, purses, and desk drawers. In the 20th century, we knew what to do with them: staple them to other pieces of paper and insert those pieces...

What Brightcove, Facebook tell us about Mass. start-up climate

Two start-up companies were taking shape in Harvard Square in 2004. One was founded by Jeremy Allaire in the offices of venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners. The other was being built by a quartet of Harvard College students in their dorm rooms. One targeted the about-to-explode Internet...

As Facebook heads toward an IPO, let's look at the company's Boston connections

Facebook is always going to be thought of in Boston as "the other one that got away." Like Microsoft in the 1970s, Facebook was, in the first decade of the 2000s, gestated on the Harvard campus, and key moments of its early history took place in Harvard Square. Bill Gates and Paul Allen had...

How Supermechanical raised $550,000 for a new wireless device — without VCs or angel investors

What do you do if you're two recent MIT grads with a killer idea for a new wireless device, and you want to get it into the hands of consumers within a few months? In Boston, venture capitalists and angel investors are notoriously reluctant to invest in hardware. And moreso when it's hardware...

How does a small Boston start-up get to the Super Bowl? Connections.

It isn't often that a seven-person company gets drafted to help with a Super Bowl advertising campaign. But the opportunity presented itself to Boston-based Promoboxx last fall. Promoboxx founder Ben Carcio tells me that it was one of those phone calls he wasn't sure would be worth...

Constant Contact acquires Boston-based CardStar to help small businesses run loyalty programs

The acquisition talks between Constant Contact chief executive Gail Goodman and Andy Miller, founder of the mobile app start-up CardStar, began to get serious last summer.  First, Goodman had a drink with Miller at the MITX Innovation Awards last June. (She was there to pick up an "Innovation Hall of...

Boston venture capitalists on... The IPO market, deals they regret not doing, sectors they're interested in, and the health of the Boston ecosystem (with audio and photos)

I moderated a panel of venture capitalists last night at the historic Vilna Shul on Beacon Hill, talking about what mattered most in tech and VC last year, and what they expect to see in 2012.  I'm posting the audio below; it runs for about an hour. The quality is good, though audience questions

Entry is easy, but few prosper in app development

I started to feel like there might be a gold rush going on in the world of mobile apps when I went to get my car inspected last winter. The guy pumping gas at the station, Brian Semiglia, told me that he was almost finished with an iPhone app designed to help drivers locate empty parking spaces. He’d already...

PayPal in talks with state officials to expand Boston office

Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray were entertaining a visitor from Silicon Valley last November: Scott Thompson, a Raynham native and Stonehill College alumnus who was hired last week as Yahoo's new chief executive.  But last year, Thompson (pictured at right)...

Media Lab director Joi Ito talks about the Valley's weaknesses, open technologies, global opportunities, and whether the lab is 'selling itself too cheap'

Joi Ito started last fall as the new director of the MIT Media Lab, the famed research group that explores how technology is changing communication and culture, often by building dazzling hardware and software prototypes. Among the lab's best-known spin-offs: early Internet personalization...

Investors putting start-ups on diets

How much can you accomplish with not much?  That’s the question du jour for every entrepreneur. Investors are obsessed with “capital efficient’’ businesses, and just like a spouse haranguing you to visit the gym more often, they believe that everything could be sleeker and more streamlined...

Former Lotus and Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie hiring for new start-up, Cocomo

Ray Ozzie e-mailed earlier today to let me know that he has a post-Microsoft start-up, and he's hiring. But aside from mentioning that the company is called Cocomo and doesn't yet have an office of its own, he didn't want to divulge much more.  Ozzie is perhaps best known as creator...

Data migration start-up AutoVirt doesn't live to see 2012

AutoVirt, a Nashua start-up that sought to simplify the process of "migrating" corporate data from one storage system to another, closed its doors in December. Employee résumés have started circulating, founder Klavs Landberg is searching for his next gig, and the company is seeking to sell its intellectual property...

What's next for Rue La La, fast-growing 'flash sale' specialist based in Boston?

2011 was an interesting year for two Boston retailers. One Filene's Basement, announced that it would close after 102 years in business.  And another, Rue La La, founded in 2008, was acquired into and then spun back out of eBay. Like the Basement, Rue La La's business is built on buying...

Amazon recruiting engineers and researchers for Cambridge office, slated to open in February

Amazon's Massachusetts strategy in the past could be described with two words: free shipping. When the tech giant has acquired local companies, it has shipped the products and people out to Seattle. And when it has hired local talent, it has provided one-way tickets to Washington State, along with...

TripAdvisor, going public tomorrow after 11 years in business, seeks a higher profile in travel industry

Eleven years after it began life above Kosta's Pizza in Needham, and seven years after it was acquired by Barry Diller's InterActive Corp. for about $200 million, TripAdvisor is finally gaining a NASDAQ listing of its very own. The company starts trading tomorrow under the symbol TRIP, and it will...

The Globe's first coverage of TripAdvisor, from 2000

TripAdvisor, which operates the Web's most popular network of travel sites, is on the verge of getting its own stock market listing tomorrow, as it spins out from Expedia.  I first wrote about the company back in July 2000. The company was five months old. Dot-coms everywhere were hitting...

Building more 'pillar' companies in Boston: Bonus material

This week's Globe column asks whether being the R&D lab to the world is enough to keep Massachusetts vibrant in the 21st century. From the piece: My worry is that we aren’t producing new “pillar’’ companies, which employ thousands of workers, recruit new talent to the state, and set the...

Can Massachusetts produce the next Google?

Vijay Manwani remembers the meeting in 2008 when the board of directors agreed to sell the Waltham company that he cofounded. BladeLogic, which sold software to help big companies run data centers, had spurned purchase offers before, but the $800 million offer from Houston-based BMC Software was...

BetaBait launches, seeking to connect entrepreneurs with early adopters

Launching this week is BetaBait, a new service that wants to link entrepreneurs building new Web sites and mobile apps with users who'll take them for a spin. The goal, says co-founder Cody Barbierri, is to attract both users who will offer feedback on the early version of a product...

The year Jeff Bezos & I exchanged holiday gifts

I wanted to dig this story out of the archives, from November of 2001. The idea of online wish lists was still relatively new, and for this Globe feature, I got in touch with Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and used his site's wish list feature to swap gifts with him. (I got him a folding canvas camping...

Former Apple chief executive backs Misfit Wearables, new health sensor start-up

Sonny Vu is still tight-lipped about his new start-up, Misfit Wearables, but Vu has a track record that makes the company worth watching: his last venture, AgaMatrix, developed the first medical device that both Apple and the Food & Drug Administration approved for use with the iPhone. (It's a...

Gemvara nabs veteran of Rue La La and Kohl's as top technology exec

Customized jewelry retailer Gemvara just lured a technology executive from across the Fort Point Channel. Mobeen Syed started at the Boston company yesterday; he'd most recently worked a few blocks away, at "private sale" specialist Rue La La. Syed will be Gemvara's top technology executive...

The 10 most popular mobile apps built in Boston

It can be hard to tell exactly where an iPhone or Android app hails from, since geographical labels are non-existent in the iTunes Store and Android Market. But I think this is a pretty solid list of the most popular and well-reviewed mobile apps built in Boston, compiled with help from Meredith Flynn-Ripley...

Should entrepreneurship be taught in more public schools? NFTE New England says 'absolutely'

Anthony DeFelipo is a living, breathing, 16-year old argument for why entrepreneurship should be an elective at every public school. DeFelipo and a friend placed third at a recent Boston Startup Weekend event with a mobile app called BiteRight, and he's planning to launch a jewelry business soon, Earth...