Innovation Economy

Hollywood, Nashville, New York, and Boston: In the battle for the best talent, the 'Avis strategy' doesn't work

If you are an ambitious young person and you want to make it in the movies, country music, or advertising, you know where to go: Hollywood, Nashville, and New York.  If you want to get in line to be the next Zuckerberg or Jobs, you head for the Valley.  Why do people come to Boston?  The most common answer...

Yesware launches e-mail tracking product for salespeople, collects $1 million from Google Ventures and Foundry Group

Yesware founder Matthew Bellows, a second-time entrepreneur who sold a company to CNET back in 2004, says he talked to 45 different angels, micro-VCs, and seed-stage investors earlier this year, while raising money for his latest venture. Still, his fundraising pace is pretty surprising: the company was...

Sleep measurement company Zeo announces new mobile product and Best Buy distribution deal
Scoring the quality of your sleep is getting less expensive, as Newton-based Zeo announces a new product called Zeo Mobile, and cuts the price of its Zeo Bedside sleep monitoring system. As part of the Health 2.0 conference starting today in San Francisco, Zeo co-founder Ben Rubin will be unveiling the $99 Zeo Mobile (pictured at right), a headband worn at night...
Microsoft shakes up 'blue sky ' development team in Cambridge
Several sources tell me that a high-octane product development team originally brought together by Ray Ozzie, the former chief software architect at Microsoft, is being dismantled at the company's New England Research & Development office in Cambridge. The approximately 20-member team — which once numbered more than 40 — was originally known as Microsoft...
What can an entrepreneur say in an investor meeting that instantly marks them as an amateur?
Venture capitalists and angels all have an internal switch that can flip in a meeting with an entrepreneur. Something gets said that marks the entrepreneur as simply too green to invest in. Maybe the entrepreneur asks the VC to sign a non-disclosure agreement, or they introduce the CFO, who also happens to be their grandma. Call it the amateur alarm...
BabbaCo, parent-focused start-up with new HQ in Boston, wants to mail you activity boxes
BabbaCo, a Chicago start-up that targets parents of young kids, moved its headquarters to Boston earlier this month as the result of a long-running economic development initiative that brings all kinds of talented people to the Bay State: the founder's spouse landed a job at a top Boston hospital. Jessica Kim raised $1.2 million for the company just last month...
A real test for techies: the education market
Some entrepreneurs try to introduce new technologies into the cubicles of the Fortune 500, the battlefield, or the operating room. But the truly intrepid develop products for the classroom. Teachers don’t have time to evaluate new software. Principals control the purse strings, and superintendents want to see proof of educational merits, usually in...
Social media advice for job-seekers, from CEOs, HR execs & recruiters
This Sunday, the Globe runs one of its occasional "Big Help" special sections focused on careers. For my weekly column, I posed two questions to a bevy of social media consultants, CEOs, human resources executives, and recruiters: 1. What should candidates be doing with social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting...
The TableTech rundown: Boston start-ups trying to upgrade the restaurant experience
Cambridge-based Locu announced today that it has collected more than $600,000 in funding from angel investors, making it the latest restaurant-related start-up to raise money. Who else in Boston is trying to improve the experience of eating out? Here's my list...TotalTab. View your bill at a bar or restaurant, and pay it using your mobile phone. Self-funded...
Zynga gears up for debut of 'Adventure World,' first game developed by Cambridge studio
The San Francisco game company Zynga, best known for its "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars" games played on Facebook, is about to release the first game developed by its Cambridge outpost. "Adventure World" goes live this month, and it sports some of the most sophisticated animation, brain-bruising puzzle-solving, and expansive environments of any Zynga game...
From the MIT Media Lab: LuminAR, a 'lamp' that turns your desktop into an iPad
Natan Linder, a researcher at MIT's Media Lab, asked a question most of us have never thought to ask: what if the lamp on your desktop could be transformed into a computer display? Instead of screwing a lightbulb into a spring-armed desk lamp, Linder designed a device that combines a camera, digital projector, and wireless node. LuminAR (the AR stands for...
In Boston, the keynote to Apple’s turnaround
To appreciate the scope of what Steve Jobs accomplished during his second stint as Apple’s chief executive, you have to rewind the tape - or rather, spin back the iPod’s wheel - to an August morning in Boston 14 years ago. More than 1,500 of the Apple faithful filled the Park Plaza Castle to hear Jobs deliver his first MacWorld Expo keynote since returning to the...
Is this the best commute in Boston?
It takes Rob McDonald roughly an hour to get from his home in Brookline, near the western edge of the BU campus, to his office in Kendall Square. But he wouldn't trade his commute for any other. McDonald, a 33-year old software development manager at Endeca, travels to and from work in a bright red kayak, just about every weekday from May to October. (See the slide show below...
Entrepreneurs talk back: Straight-up feedback and advice for VCs and angels
Entrepreneurs are always getting advice about how to pursue investors: how to properly obtain an introduction to a venture capitalist, how many slides to include in a PowerPoint presentation, how to handle questions when pitching to a room full of "angel" investors. They read it on blogs, hear it from mentors, and sit through endless panel discussions...
12 to track: Here's who I'm watching as we head toward fall
OK, so this list is really a baker's dozen... companies and projects that I'm eager to hear more about as we head into the fall. If you have tips or information, I'd love to hear what you know (e-mail me by clicking my name in the right-hand column). I'd also appreciate your take on other companies worth keeping an eye on, as a comment below or in an e-mail...
Entrepreneur laying groundwork for a videogame-focused venture firm in Boston
Consumer electronics entrepreneur Satayan Mahajan has been working on a blueprint for a new venture capital firm that would focus on games and digital media. The firm would make early-stage investments in start-ups that might need to do substantial product development, and perhaps even launch a product, before other venture firms would consider investing, Mahajan says...
Raizlabs launches AppBlade, to simplify testing and deployment of mobile apps
Greg Raiz of Raizlabs, one of Boston's leading developers of mobile applications, tells me that his firm just signed up the paying first customer for a new service called AppBlade. AppBlade's goal is to make it easier for big companies or consultancies like Raizlabs to manage the testing and deployment of new apps for mobile phones and tablet computers...
Would being ranked on a 'leaderboard' change the way you work?
Objective Logistics is a New Bedford start-up trying to introduce an intriguing idea to the restaurant industry — and eventually, other businesses, too. What if waiters could see their performance relative to their co-workers every day when they checked in for work, and what if better performance meant they could nab the shifts they most wanted to work? Borrowing terminology from...
Video: If 'Saturday Night Live' were written by venture capitalists...
Every summer, Boston venture capital firm Flybridge Capital Partners throws a big weekend shindig up in Kennebunkport, Maine for entrepreneurs, fellow investors, and their families. For the Saturday night dinner party, they ask everyone to come in costume. In prior years, the theme has been "alter agos," "rock stars," and "heroes and villains." This year, attendees were...
Backup firms take different paths in same market
On an August morning four years ago, an MIT alum and an MIT dropout presented their start-up idea to a group of investors gathered in a former candy factory just outside of Harvard Square. They were building a service called Dropbox, which would allow users to store copies of their files online, access them from any computer, and share them with others...
How the players in the innovation economy rationalize away stock market dives
Everyone who works in the start-up realm — whether tech, biotech, cleantech, or other — tends to live in the future. All day long, they're working on products that will be launched and sold in a month or a year or a decade. So when the stock market soars or swoons, they tend to ignore it. "That's today's news. We're tomorrow's," the thinking goes, no matter how...
Inside OpenView's corporate relocation program
Scott Maxwell grew up in Silicon Valley, but these days he is practically operating a shadow economic development agency in Massachusetts. As founder of OpenView Venture Partners, a Boston-based venture capital firm (and before that as the head of the Boston office of Insight Venture Partners), he has persuaded more than a half-dozen companies from around the world set up shop here...
HubSpot tries to encourage software developers at big companies to make a 'prison break'
Is there an untapped reserve of great software developers trapped inside big companies? Dharmesh Shah, chief technology officer of HubSpot, thinks so. The Cambridge digital marketing start-up is launching a new recruitment campaign this week, "Prison Break," that attempts to persuade experienced engineers to escape from their bureaucratic Bastilles...
Travel site Hopper, with backing from Atlas Venture, aims to take vacation planning back to the '70s
If you're old enough to remember the pre-Internet approach to planning a vacation, it went something like this: you made an appointment to visit your travel agent, and you told her what you wanted to do. "We're interested in a beach vacation in Mexico. What are the best deals?" Or maybe, "We want to visit vineyards in Napa and Sonoma in February." She'd hand you some brochures...
What will the future of the Mass. Technology Development Corp. look like?
Since 1979, the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation has made equity investments in start-ups that might not have found funding otherwise — mainly relying on taxpayer money. The goal of the quasi-public corporation is to nurture entrepreneurship and create jobs in Massachusetts. and the MTDC says that its portfolio companies today employ 7,500...
Talking about innovation in Massachusetts, with Governor Patrick
Governor Deval Patrick dropped by an annual employee meeting held by Endeca yesterday, and I had a chance to ask him a few questions in an on-stage interview. Several Endeca employees also lobbed questions. The Cambridge company makes software that presents detailed information about business metrics, and also software for managing e-commerce sites...
Background briefing: Demandware, peddling e-commerce functionality on demand, files to go public
Can selling salami spawn a successful tech company? The latest Massachusetts company to start down the IPO chute is Demandware, which helps companies operate e-commerce sites. North Bridge Venture Partners and General Catalyst each own a third of Demandware; the company has raised $66 million in venture capital thus far. Demandware hopes to raise...
‘Let’s meet’ doesn’t have to be death knell for productivity
Two people sitting in a room is a conversation. Three is a meeting, and things start to deteriorate from there. As the number of participants grows, the odds increase that PowerPoint slides will be shown, meaningless “action items’’ distributed, pet projects trotted out, oratorical skills exhibited, and BlackBerrys checked. “If I had to rate the average...
Bullhorn monitors social media to help recruiters and companies find candidates — before they're on the market
Are there things you do on LinkedIn and Facebook that might be quiet clues that you're about to leap into the job market? Bullhorn, which makes software used by recruiters and human resources executives, thinks so. The Boston company has created a feature called Radar, part of a new, free software offering, that tries to identify talent...
Up-and-coming sites may make Boston a leader in e-commerce
In a Back Bay building that once housed Shreve, Crump & Low, husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Greg and Dina Selkoe are building an e-commerce company that is already bigger than the upscale jeweler ever was. With about 100 employees in Boston, Karmaloop expects to generate $130 million this year peddling hoodies, sneakers, and shades to the uber-hip...