Innovation Economy

Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first big backer, thinks the future of global innovation may hinge on more entrepreneurial college drop-outs
I had a chance to spend some time on the phone yesterday with Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist, hedge fund manager — and early Facebook investor. He’s speaking at MIT this coming Tuesday night, at an event organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. We talked about Thiel’s new fellowship program, which will provide twenty...
17 reasons to brag about the Bay State
Maybe we don’t brag enough. We live in an incredibly innovative place: Massachusetts is a magnet for people who want to solve challenging problems, build substantial businesses, and conduct research at the edge of what’s known. But while other businesspeople boast about the wonderful weather and great golf...
Sunday River wants to get skiers checking in on the slopes, using Facebook Places
It's November, the trees are bare, the air is chilly, and the thoughts of die-hard skiers and snowboarders are naturally turning to ... using Facebook on their mobile phones. OK, maybe not naturally. But a nifty new Facebook application from the Boston social media agency Brand Networks, in partnership with the Sunday River ski resort in Maine, hopes to get you...
General Catalyst laying the groundwork for Silicon Valley office in 2011
General Catalyst managing director Hemant Taneja confirmed this afternoon that the Cambridge venture capital group will be opening an office in Palo Alto sometime next year, a project that Taneja is overseeing. He says he may not move out to California permanently, as I'd heard earlier today, but that "we need to hire a bunch of people there, and it's hard...
Terry Waters to succeed Emily Green as CEO of The Yankee Group, tech forecasting firm founded in 1970
Boston’s oldest technology forecasting firm, The Yankee Group, has a new CEO today. Emily Nagle Green is turning over the corner office to Terry Waters, though she’ll remain Yankee’s chairman. Back in April, when Yankee announced an infusion of $10 million from private equity shop Alta Communications, its majority shareholder, the research firm also...
Bob Metcalfe accepts professorship at University of Texas, slows down investing pace at Polaris
From here on out, it's Professor Metcalfe to you. I heard last month, but couldn't confirm, that Bob Metcalfe of Polaris Venture Partners had taken a teaching gig. What surprised me was that my source told me it wasn't at a school in New England. Metcalfe, though a native of Brooklyn, came here to earn degrees at MIT and Harvard. After a stint at the famed Xerox PARC research...
Blaze brings in $1 million from CommonAngels and Boston Seed Capital
Blaze Software is a start-up obsessed with speed — and the company has been setting some new speed records in its first few months of existence. Michael Weider left his job at IBM in late August, started raising money for Blaze at the beginning of September, and "we had it sewn up by the end of the month," he says. His Ottawa-based company just raised just over $1 million...
Practically Green, site that suggests environmentally-friendly products and actions, raises $750,000
Practically Green, a Boston Web site that offers what you might call a "green lifestyle make-over," plans to announce tomorrow that it has raised $750,000 from CommonAngels and individual investors. The company was founded earlier this year by two former Boston.com executives, Susan Hunt Stevens (the former general manager for the site) and Jason Butler (formerly...
Fig Card seeks to make it super-simple to pay merchants with a mobile phone
I had a chance last Friday to try another mobile payment system developed here in Boston. This one is called Fig Card, from the dynamic South End developer duo of Max Metral and Hasty Granbery, who previously built Povo, a wiki site that collects information about neighborhoods. Paying with your mobile phone feels novel and cool, and one of the great promises...
Acquia, Woburn company that helps Web publishers build social sites, raises $8.5 million C round
Drupal. Drupal drupal! Drupal? Drupal sounds like one of those words that Beaker the Muppet might say, with a dozen or so different inflections. Techies know that Drupal is more than just fun to say; it's also an open source software platform that people use to build and manage Web sites — especially sites where users can contribute content...
xPeerient, connecting IT executives with service providers and one another, launches with nearly $2 million in funding
Let's say you're a CIO with a problem: you need a services firm to help you roll out desktop virtualization software to 5,000 employees, or to get the inventory system in your retail stores communicating with your e-commerce site. How do you find one that'll fit the bill? (Assuming that you don't want to hire any of the vendors who wine you and dine you and treat you...
Menus for the postmodern milieu
It sounds like a cautionary tale: a dropout from MIT’s prestigious master’s program in chemical engineering winds up waiting tables at various Cambridge restaurants. For Rajat Suri, it was research. Suri is the cofounder of E La Carte Inc., a start-up developing developing a new tablet-like computer for use in...
MITX hires Communispace exec, Debi Kleiman, as new president
The digital media trade group MITX will announce its choice of a new president on Monday, replacing outgoing head Kiki Mills. Debi Kleiman, vice president of product marketing and sales operations at Communispace in Watertown, accepted the job this week, and MITX's board is being informed...
MassChallenge, For the Win: Cultivating All Kinds of Great Start-Ups (Not Just Webby Ones)
OK, I was totally wrong about the MassChallenge. When John Harthorne (at right, in the yellow tie), Akhil Nigam and their team were running around town trying to drum up support for a competition that would bring start-up companies to Boston from around the world, my response was: do we...
MassChallenge finalist JoyTunes endeavors to make learning a musical instrument as much fun as a videogame
What makes a great demo? For me, it's a product that actually works (or at least looks like it does), and that does something you've never seen before. And a back-story about why you developed the product always helps, too.I finally got a chance to see the demo from JoyTunes last...
Generating buzz for your venture: 43 bits of free advice from entrepreneurs, PR peeps, and journos
Understanding how to generate buzz is a crucial entrepreneurial skill — especially for ventures that haven’t raised jillions of dollars to spend on advertising or giant trade show booths. At last week’s MassTLC Innovation Unconference, a group of PR pros, journalists, social media...
Shoe entrepreneurs step into design, marketing
On a Thursday last August, Monika Desai set out a few dozen pair of shoes on tables in the cafeteria at CommuniSpace Inc., a Watertown company, and invited the 200 or so women who work there to abandon their desks and try them on. Desai probably didn’t need the big yellow sign that read...
BNI Video, formerly Beaumaris, tunes in $16 million from VCs and strategic investors
Not bad: video infrastructure player BNI Video in Boxborough is announcing a $10 million round this morning, bringing its total raised since June of last year to $16 million. Co-leading this round are Waltham's Castile Ventures and Time Warner Cable. The press release is laden with buzz-phrases that say...
More advice on raising money, for first-time entrepreneurs
Today's Globe column collects advice from local investors and entrepreneurs about raising money — specifically for first-time founders. People shared far more insight with me than could fit into the printed column, so I'm posting some "bonus material" here. - David Beisel, Founder...
How to raise money if you haven’t started a start-up
This is the easiest way to get money from investors for your business idea: Be a person who has made millions of dollars for investors in the past. But if you are unfortunately not that kind of person yet, what else can you do to tilt the odds in your favor? I’ve been asking local investors and entrepreneurs
My picks for Boston Region Entrepreneurship Week events
Next week is the meatiest part of Boston Region Entrepreneurship Week, being held for the first time. Joe Caruso, an angel investor and start-up advisor, had the idea to create an umbrella atop a few big events happening just after Columbus Day, to highlight entrepreneurial activity...
VC Conversation: Antonio Rodriguez of Matrix Partners
Village Ventures, a network of small VC funds based in Williamstown, was having one of their periodic meetings of investors yesterday in Boston. I stopped by to conduct an on-stage conversation with Antonio Rodriguez, the tech entrepreneur who joined the team at Matrix Partners earlier this year; Rodriguez also...
Testing the MoGo Talk Bluetooth headset for the iPhone 4
I'm not a fan of Bluetooth headsets, so sending one to me in the mail is kind of like inviting a lactose-intolerant food critic to review your new fondue restaurant. But last week, the MoGo Talk for iPhone 4, designed by Natick-based ID8-Mobile, arrived. (ID8-Mobile was known as Newton Peripherals when I wrote about them last.) The idea behind the MoGo is that it's both...
Pongr invites you to snap pictures of your favorite brands, get promoted to CEO
In the same way that certain people aspire to become the FourSquare mayor of their favorite coffee shop, will they vie to become the "CEO" of their favorite brand? Pongr, a Boston start-up planning a big promotional campaign during Advertising Week next week, hopes so. Playing Pongr...
Cambridge company getting ready to mark $100 million raised for charities
When I first wrote about a start-up called CMarket, in October 2003, it was a little company challenging eBay for supremacy in the world of online auctions to benefit non-profits. Since then, the Cambridge company has raised $30 million (from investors like Morningside Technology Ventures and Canaan Partners)... grown to 42 employees...changed its name from...
The toughest challenges and questions you'll face at a job interview
Yesterday's Globe column set out to collect some of the toughest challenges, tests, and questions that interviewees face at job interviews around town. I received lots of examples that I couldn't fit into the column, many of which I thought were worth quoting in their entirety. So I'm posting them to the "Read Scott's...
Aeris founders: IPO scarcity will continue, and acquisitions will remain the most viable exit for software companies
I sat down yesterday with the two founders of Aeris Partners, the newest mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm in town. The firm has been taking shape since earlier this year; its principals are Stephen O'Leary, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at General Catalyst and chair of the Mass Tech...
DormNoise aims to help college students manage chaotic schedules
Between club meetings, classes, hockey games, and study groups, college students have a lot of demands on their time. Few entrepreneurs understand the scheduling chaos with which students must cope better than Jay Rodrigues. The Rhode Island native and founder of DormNoise is today...
Can Textaurant make restaurant waits less annoying?
Textaurant founder Josh Bob tells me his Waltham start-up has just landed its first big customer in Boston: Finale Desserterie & Bakery. Textaurant's technology allows restaurants to use a laptop to manage their list of customers waiting for a table, sending out a text message to let customers...
Cluster of animation studios grows up around Watertown
About two decades ago, Tom Snyder, the founder of a Watertown educational software company, embarked on a little project: producing a five-minute animated movie about a therapist. “I did it as a goof on the side,’’ he says, collaborating with one of the artists who worked for his...