Innovation Economy

MIT picks Joichi Ito, Japanese venture capitalist and entrepreneur, as new leader of the Media Lab
MIT announced yesterday that Joichi Ito has been chosen as the new director of the Media Lab, which has been one of the university's highest-profile research groups over the past quarter century, and spawned companies like Harmonix Music Systems and E Ink. Ito, known as Joi (pronounced like "Joey"), has been an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and non-profit CEO...
EveryScape launches UScapeIt, do-it-yourself app for creating panoramic pics
Wouldn't it be sweet if you could share panoramic images from your Venetian vacation with your Facebook friends? Or e-mail a 360-degree apartment photo to a would-be roommate? Ever since the days of QuickTime VR, fans of immersive imagery have been certain that more of it will be coming to the Web. That hasn't quite happened, but a new mobile app...
PayPal shells out $135 million for Boston's Where Inc., to foster local buying on mobile phones
Where Inc. had originally tried to sell a service that would enable family members to get information about one another's location using their mobile devices; more recently, it has been focused on operating an advertising network that reaches mobile phone users, and promoting its own mobile app to help consumers find relevant businesses around them...
MIT Sloan picks 10 enterprise tech companies to demo at the 2011 CIO Symposium
Each year, the organizers of MIT's CIO Symposium select a set of fledgling companies to demo their wares for the IT execs in attendance. The companies must be start-ups with less than $10 million in 2010 revenues, focused on selling to corporate customers. The ten companies selected this year include a bunch from New England...
$3 million for CampusLive, connecting marketers with college students
What college student doesn't love a freebie? A Boston start-up called CampusLive, born three years ago in a dorm room at UMass-Amherst, dangles free Ray-Bans, Reeboks, and vacations. The trade? Students must fill out surveys, "like" a given brand on Facebook, or play an online game to be eligible to win prizes. And only a certain number of students can participate in...
Sampling SaneBox, a service that prioritizes your incoming e-mail
Have you ever heard someone complain that they get too few e-mails? Me either. Yesterday, I got 252 e-mails (not including stuff that was automatically dumped into my spam folder.) So I was eager to check out SaneBox, a service developed by Boston entrepreneur Stuart Roseman that aims to separate your urgent e-mails from messages that can wait. While it originally...
What we know about EMC Ventures, data storage giant's new investment arm
VentureWire reported this morning that Hopkinton-based EMC Corp. had created a new venture investing arm in February called EMC Ventures. While EMC has made dozens of strategic investments the past in start-ups, primarily related to its core business of helping companies manage information, EMC Ventures will have broader interests, according to the VentureWire report...
Zixi brings in $4 million in first venture round, to market new technology for high-def video delivery
It never hurts to have a technology demo that makes the status quo look totally unacceptable... and that's just what I saw last week at the Waltham offices of Zixi, a start-up founded in 2006 that is announcing its first round of venture funding today. Zixi is selling software to broadcasters and manufacturers of television set-top boxes that delivers video more reliably...
Paul English's rules of hiring: How Kayak chases superstar talent
Sunday's Boston Globe column focused on the unusually aggressive recruiting strategy that Paul English has pursued at Kayak.com, the travel site that is now planning an initial public offering. I had heard English speak twice on the topic, and was impressed by how he chases top talent anywhere in the world...
At Kayak, the goal is seven days from recruit to employee
Mike Bernardo was weighing an attractive job offer from Apple. Khurrum Chaudhry was happily working in Lahore, Pakistan. Giorgos Zacharia was starting his own company in Winchester. All three were lured to jobs at Kayak.com, the travel planning site that has its technology headquarters in Concord. Paul English, Kayak’s cofounder and chief technology officer...
Get a grip: $2.99 Loopski keeps mobile devices from catastrophically colliding with the ground
If you're like me, your mobile phone is usually in one hand or the other. You're often juggling other items, like keys, notebooks, and a briefcase. As a result, your phone occasionally has unpleasant interactions with the pavement. To keep my iPhone safe, I bought a hard plastic case made by Case Mate — and even that has chipped a bit after four months of duty...
$8.5 million in new funding for txteagle, Boston firm that fields mobile phone surveys in developing countries
Boston-based txteagle is feathering its nest this morning with $8.5 million in new funds, in a round led by Spark Capital; the company had raised just over $1 million last year. Founded in 2009 by alums from MIT's Media Lab and Harvard's statistics department, txteagle helps companies and non-profits reach mobile users in emerging markets. The company has amassed a contact database of 2.1 billion consumers...
Smarterer, seeking to validate your skills with online tests, raises $1.25 million
Wine stewards can prove they know their sauvignon blancs by attaining the rank of Master Sommelier. IT staffers can show they're comfortable around routers by becoming a Cisco Certified Network Professional, and law school grads must pass the dreaded bar exam before they're allowed to practice. But for most of us, there's no test that shows we excel in our field...
Coupon services keep sprouting up, but will all of them make the cut?
Consumers have long complained about telemarketers calling in the middle of dinner to pitch new vinyl siding or satellite TV. Now, businesses face a similar scourge: salespeople from Groupon, BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, and other coupon services eager to get them to offer deep discounts on products and services. “People call you daily,’’ says Bob Schwartz, director of marketing...
New mobile site helps guide you to green spaces around Boston (because it may be spring one day...)
On a beautiful spring day whilst strolling with your pup, wouldn't it be nice to quickly consult your phone to find the closest dog-friendly park? The team of volunteers that built Boston Green, a new mobile-optimized Web site, want to make that a reality (the park finding, at least — the beautiful spring days seem to be beyond anyone's control). The team...
Investors back Mobiquity and Apperian, Boston companies that support mobile app development in the enterprise
Investors are putting almost $15 million into two different Boston start-ups today, and while the companies are different, the investment thesis is the same: that we're still in the early days of companies developing their own mobile and tablet applications, geared both to employees and customers...
Momentum Summit 2011: Pics, blog posts, audio from event held at MIT Sloan
I'm one of the organizers of the Momentum Summit, a gathering that puts the spotlight on local entrepreneurs who've built significant companies, and invites them to share some of the secrets of their growth. This year, speakers included the CEO of Carbonite (the fastest-growing business in Boston, according to Inc. Magazine), the CTO and co-founder of Kayak...
How to land a top spot on Google is a mystery wrapped in an enigma
In ye olden days, the Yellow Pages were what mattered to businesses. And the alphabet reigned. If you wanted to be listed first in your category, you named your company AAA Amazing Auto Body, and if you insisted on calling yourself Zabriskie & Sons Auto Body, you’d bring up the rear. In the 21st century, Google is supreme. More than 65 percent of Internet...
TechStars Boston 2011: Who Got In
A dozen start-ups moved into the new TechStars Boston digs in Kendall Square last week — which feel a bit starchy and corporate for a program that aims to churn out radical new businesses. They'll spend the next three months developing products and services that they'll present to a roomful of prospective investors on June 15th. The teams that...
Could Highland Capital Partners be the next venture firm to leave the 'burbs behind?
I'm told that Highland Capital Partners is planning to abandon their suburban digs alongside Route 2 in Lexington for Cambridge. They'd join venture capital firms like Atlas Venture, Greylock, and Bessemer Venture Partners in leaving the 'burbs behind for the bustle of the planet's smartest city. It sounds like Highland hasn't yet signed a lease, but has been mainly...
Atlas Venture, Bill Gates co-invest in Nimbus, Cambridge-based company applying new software to drug discovery
I'd been hearing buzz lately that Atlas Venture, newly ensconced in East Cambridge, had been inviting an increasing number of entrepreneurs to cultivate new companies in their offices, with the goal of making small seed investments if their ideas started to click. "We're doing much more seed these days than we did in the past decade," Atlas...
Audio: Founders of Carbonite, iRobot, CSN Stores and TripAdvisor talk about how they grew their companies
I had the chance to moderate a panel this morning featuring the founders of some of Boston's most successful tech companies: iRobot (publicly-traded), TripAdvisor (most heavily-trafficked network of travel sites on the Internet), CSN Stores ($380 million in revenue last year), and Carbonite (fastest-growing IT services company of 2010, according to Inc. Magazine...
Sequoia, Google Ventures, and Salesforce.com send money east, leading $32 million investment round in HubSpot
HubSpot, the Cambridge marketing software start-up, is announcing its fourth round of funding today: $32 million from Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and software-as-a-service pioneer Salesforce.com. The money from that trio of West Coast backers brings HubSpot's total funding raised to about $65 million; the company's Boston-area investors include Matrix Partners, General Catalyst, and Visible Measures CEO Brian Shin...
Highland's Matt Nichols moves downstairs to Gemvara
I was curious about this tweet from Gemvara chief executive Matt Lauzon last week: "What VC just left his venture role to join full time as a Gemvarian?" My hunch was that someone from Lexington's Highland Capital Partners, Gemvara's earliest investor, had moved downstairs, where the custom jewelry site sublets space on the first floor of Highland's building...
New tools put financial data at your fingertips
John Prendergast likes to talk about the “kitchen table’’ problem: financial statements spread across a flat surface and scoured by stressed-out spouses. That doesn’t always lead to the best decisions. His Cambridge start-up, Blueleaf Inc., is building a website that will support smarter analysis across the multiple accounts most families have. And Blueleaf is...
What's the point of 'Boston vs. Silicon Valley'?
I went to MIT for a lunchtime talk on Monday titled, "How Silicon Valley left Route 128 in the dust, and how Boston's entrepreneurs can help it catch up." The speaker was Vivek Wadhwa, a researcher and adjunct professor affiliated with UC/Berkeley, Harvard Law School, and Duke. I wasn't expecting to be uplifted. But I've also never heard as data-free a talk...
Five venture capital firms sponsor free Kendall Square office space for entrepreneurs
The New England Venture Capital Association and five of its member firms will sponsor free Kendall Square desks for early-stage entrepreneurs, starting March 31st. The 2,500 square foot space will be part of a new co-working facility — where numerous start-up teams share open space instead of hermetically-sealed offices — called CriticalMass that...
Winners of the first-ever Boston Hack Day Challenge
It was great fun to show up at the Empty Tallboy (a/k/a Fan Pier) yesterday for the team presentations that wrapped up the Boston Hack Day Challenge. Twenty-six teams had been working since Friday night on Web sites and mobile apps geared to making life better in Boston. The judges (including this blogger) got to show up at the very end, eat mini-Snickers and...
From Netflix to necessities — on demand
When people think about getting movies through the mail, one brand pops to mind: Netflix. The California company started shipping DVDs to subscribers only a dozen years ago, when heading to the video store was still a Friday night ritual. By 2010, Netflix was generating more than $2 billion in revenues, and serving more than 20 million households. Matching the scale..
Offering price analysis for used cars, CarGurus finds its way to profitability
The term "pivot" is quickly becoming a burnt-out buzzword in the tech world. Don't most start-ups, after all, have to make fairly dramatic changes to their original plans to survive and succeed? As CarGurus CEO Langley Steinert puts it, "What you start out doing is not always what you end up doing." As an early investor in TripAdvisor, and later an executive at the company...