Innovation Economy

The tech bust: 10 years after - today's business landscape is marked by leaner firms - and more focused growth
A decade ago, as a recruiter for a data storage company called StorageNetworks Inc., Jason Jacobs was flying around the country to help his employer open field offices. “We were hiring six or 10 people every week, and at one point, I was living out in San Mateo for a month to get our West Coast office opened,’’ he recalls. “It was a crazy time...
Ten years ago this month: The most valuable Massachusetts companies of February 2001
One of the Globe's excellent librarians dug up the chart below, related to a column I'm working on. It shows the fifty biggest tech companies in Massachusetts, by market capitalization, from February 2001. It wasn't a good month for CMGI stock...networking equipment makers Sonus Networks and Sycamore were among the top five...You could buy shares of StorageNetworks...
Pixability pulls in $1 million, to help small businesses add video to their marketing toolkit
It never hurts to highlight the parallels between your nascent start-up and a more successful and established company. The comparison that Pixability founder Bettina Hein likes to draw is between her 10-person Cambridge firm and Constant Contact, the publicly-traded Waltham company with more than 600 employees. Just as Constant Contact made it easier for small...
Name checks and pics: Tonight's Performable office-warming party
Not every entrepreneur can toss up a simple online party invitation and get a sizable slice of the Cambridge start-up community to show up for an office-warming shindig. But Peformable co-founders David Cancel, Joshua Porter and Elias Torres — all of whom are well-known on the start-up scene thanks to copious blogging, tweeting, and prior...
Stealthy start-up CloudTree wants to help wireless carriers introduce new cloud-based services
Putting "cloud" in your start-up's name is a good way to guarantee complete anonymity, or suggest that you're a bandwagon-jumper: in Boston alone, you've got Cloudswitch, Cloudant, CloudBees, and Cloud Technology Partners, among others. But CloudTree is a cloud-y start-up that's tough to ignore: its management team hails from local companies like EqualLogic...
DEC founder Ken Olsen: Obituaries, reminiscences and video
Ken Olsen, the legendary founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, died on Sunday at age 84. Olsen made computers more affordable for businesses, and more accessible to programmers, and Digital was the largest and most successful technology company New England has ever seen. With 140,000 employees at its peak, and operations in 95 countries, it was the second biggest...
Tiny sensors make it possible to track life’s little details; start-ups hope for big sellers
Do you happen to know, offhand, how much REM sleep you get per night, or how much electricity your home’s water heater consumes while you are vacationing in St. Thomas? Have you calculated the fuel costs of making three trips to the grocery store each week instead of one? A number of Boston start-ups are developing and selling technology that makes it...
Highland Capital revives its summer entrepreneurship program for college students E-mail | Print | Comments (1) Posted by Scott Kirsner Feb
Highland Capital Partners SVP Michael Gaiss tells me that after a one-year hiatus, the venture capital firm is bringing back its Summer@Highland program for student entrepreneurs. The program will take place both in Highland's Lexington office, and in rented space in San Francisco. The goal is to have four to six teams in each location...
MIT heading into home stretch of hunt for next Media Lab director
Running MIT's Media Lab is one of the more alluring — and challenging — academic gigs in town, and we should know by April the name of the lab's next director. Nicholas Negroponte created the lab in 1985 with then-MIT president Jerome Wiesner to explore the ways technology, design, and communication were converging. Neither of the two subsequent directors have...
Shouldn't your Saab be able to social network? Boston's VroomGreen developing new device to make it so
One of the cooler prototypes I've seen recently comes from a fledgling start-up called VroomGreen, which is so new it doesn't yet have a Web site. Developed by Ben Resner, the technical founder of Ambient Devices, the prototype device enables your car to start social networking. Why would your wheels want to be on the Web? First, a little about how the device works. It plugs...
Sports sites find staying in the game isn’t easy
Shares of Tom Brady had a decent run this season: The New England Patriots quarterback IPO’ed at $2.64, and closed last weekend at $3.77. But just as Brady’s shares finished trading when the Patriots season ended, the market value of New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez was starting to rise. The shares in Brady, Sanchez, and many other NFL players can be...
An open e-mail to Ray Ozzie: Welcome back! (And some 'to dos' for you)
Dear Ray: Speaking for all of us here in Boston, we're kind of glad that you didn't become a Microsoft lifer. When you announced your plans to leave last October, to be honest, no one was surprised that the cultural Super Glue hadn't set. Bill Gates had once described you as one of the top five programmers in the world... you parachuted into a 90,000 person company, knighted as...
Cloud archiving start-up Sonian deposits another $9 million, some from Amazon.com
Everyone's favorite e-tailer, Amazon.com, is making a rare strategic investment in a Massachusetts start-up this week. The Seattle company is participating in a $9 million round of funding for Needham-based Sonian. Sonian helps more than 5,000 business customers archive their e-mails and other digital communication (like instant messages and Tweets) to comply with...
Boston's three newest seed-stage funds: NextView, Project 11 and Boston Seed Capital
Today's Globe column focuses on three new seed stage firms in the Boston area: NextView Ventures, Project 11 Ventures, and Boston Seed Capital. All three plan to invest in Internet and mobile start-ups; all three started making investments within the last year; and all three have yet to finish actually raising their first fund. NextView seems to be targeting $15 million...\
New seed stage investors are finding fertile ground in Internet start-ups
Even if you’re not a regular user, you have no doubt heard of websites like LinkedIn, PayPal, About.com, and eBay Inc., which have transformed the way we manage our careers, gather advice, and buy schlock we don’t need. A trio of investors with experience building those sites are launching a new Cambridge-based investment firm, NextView Ventures, to try to create a new...
Cartera and Vesdia, which offer discounts to card-carrying consumers, merge
Two companies that specialize in dangling discounts in front of consumers who carry a particular credit card are merging this month. Lexington-based Cartera Commerce (formerly known as Mall Networks) and Atlanta-based Vesdia say that once combined, the two companies will work with four of the top five credit card issuers, and three of the four largest U.S. airlines. Both...
Behind FedEx's new site, a tiny Cambridge design firm
Here's a sneak preview of the Web site FedEx will be launching over the weekend, designed by the hotshots over at Tank, a tiny 30-person firm located in the shadow of MIT. FedEx executive Charlie Ciaramitaro tells me this is about the sixth time the heavily-trafficked site has been redesigned since it originally launched in 1994; those of you with a little gray...
Is a start-up or an established firm the kind of place for you?
Are you a big company person or a start-up person? A few questions to consider: Do you fantasize about stock options, or a parking spot with your name on it? What would irk you more: Having to make a special trip to Staples when you need a manila folder, or having to sit through a three-hour meeting explaining changes to the expense report procedure? Is the notion of a...
Resolved, for 2011: Let's put the comparisons on pause, and just be great
I have a resolution for 2011 that I'm hoping you'll sign on to: What if we stopped comparing and benchmarking? What if we stopped wondering whether we're as innovative as New York or Silicon Valley? What if we stopped positing that New England in the 1970s or 1980s might have been more competitive than it is today? BBasically, what I'm asking is: what if we put all...
A web tool for cheapskates: Boston-based DealGator collects digital coupon offers in one place
Only the most compulsive bargain hounds have been keeping tabs on every new digital delivery mechanism for deals in Boston: there's Gilt City, Tippr, LivingSocial, GetSugar, and BuyWithMe, among others. Earlier this month, Google reportedly tried to buy one of the more successful peddlers of online discounts, Chicago-based Groupon, for $6 billion. Groupon walked...
More signal, less noise: 10 Boston Twitter users worth following
I've been wanting to compile this list for a while, since people often ask me who are the "essential" Boston Twitter users worth following. Worth following, of course, means something different to everyone, but here's my definition: their tweets are especially relevant if you work in the innovation economy in Greater Boston, and they maintain a fairly high...
Cloud storage start-up Nasuni collects $15 million in second round funding
Natick-based Nasuni, which helps companies gain more flexibility as their data storage needs grow, has collected another $15 million in funding. Flybridge Capital Partners is leading this second round of funding; Nasuni has now raised $23 million in total. The company's first product is called Nasuni Filer. It's a free software gateway that makes off-site, "cloud-based"...
Low-key CasePick systems developing robotic systems for warehouses, in collaboration with NH-based grocery distributor
I first met CasePick Systems founder John Lert more than three years ago, when we was just one guy in a shared start-up space in Cambridge. His vision was to use mobile robots to make warehouses operate much more efficiently. Since then, CasePick has grown into a company with nearly 50 employees, and it's still on a hiring spree, with about a dozen open...
Lights out at Allurent; chairman and CEO off to new ventures
Sounds like the lights have been turned out at Allurent, a Cambridge e-commerce software provider founded by alumni from ATG. I'm told the shut-down happened sometime within the last month, and that Allurent had been in discussions with a potential acquirer up 'till the very end. Allurent had focused on helping big retailers like Reebok, Borders, Sears, and...
Checking with WePay, Boston-bred start-up trying to compete in the Silicon Valley talent battles
I stopped by the Palo Alto offices of WePay last week to visit co-founders Rich Aberman and Bill Clerico; it was a chance to check in on a start-up born in Boston, funded by Lexington's Highland Capital Partners, and groomed by the Y Combinator prep school for promising start-ups, which was created in Cambridge but now operates exclusively out of Silicon Valley...
Web retailer has found success, but now it’s looking for recognition
Type “holiday decorations’’ into Google, and you’re likely to wind up at HolidayDecorationsDirect.com, a site that sells a mind-boggling array of artificial Christmas trees, nativity sets, and illuminated rooftop displays from a toy soldier to Santa astride a motorcycle. The selection is equally deep if you’re shopping for gifts at Luggage.com, BinocularsWorldwide.com...
TechStars Boston picks Katie Rae, formerly at Microsoft, as new managing director
The TechStars finishing school for start-ups is announcing today that Katie Rae will be the new managing director of the program's Boston operations. Rae was previously an executive at Microsoft Cambridge, Eons, Lycos, and AltaVista, and for the past few months she has been working with Reed Sturtevant to try to launch a new micro-venture capital firm, Project 11...
FitnessKeeper raises $1.1 million, led by O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, for social exercise app
Can you turn a hit iPhone app into a substantial business? Lots of people, myself included, have been skeptical. But Jason Jacobs, founder of Boston-based FitnessKeeper Inc., is doggedly proving the skeptics wrong. (That's Jacobs, in the photo at right, running the 2009 Boston Marathon dressed as an iPhone.) FitnessKeeper develops the RunKeeper iPhone...
Marginize materializes on Boston.com
Marginize founder Ziad Sultan called yesterday afternoon to let me know that his nifty online annotation system would be showing up on this very blog, starting today. Marginize will also appear on other stories throughout Boston.com's business section; you can see the little red Marginize tab over there on the far right side of the page. What's Marginize? It's a...
Who should run TechStars Boston next?
TechStars Boston needs a new leader. Late Friday, Shawn Broderick, who had been running the finishing school for promising start-ups, announced on his blog that he'd be stepping down to focus more on his fledgling online games company, play140. (Last month, Broderick told me that he planned to continue running TechStars Boston, perhaps with an assistant — but my guess...