Innovation Economy

A Carbonite customer confronts the CEO
Don't you ever wish you could take your tech support headaches straight to the CEO of the company? I had the chance to do that this week, when I stopped in to visit David Friend, the co-founder and chief executive of the Boston-based online back-up service Carbonite, which was recently...
Moontoast, a 'social commerce' start-up spawned by Nashville's music scene, heads to Mass.
When a Tennessee start-up hires a Massachusetts-based chief executive, as Moontoast did last month, it means one of two things: either the new leader is going to be racking up scads of frequent flier miles, or the company is soon going to set up an office in the Bay State. In the case of Moontoast...
The List Round-Up: Young innovators, fast-growing companies, women in biotech, award-worthy online games, women-run media start-ups
A number of interesting lists out this month: - Technology Review's collection of 35 important innovators under the age of 35 includes a few Boston-area folks, like Richard Tibbetts, the chief technology officer of StreamBase Systems, and danah boyd, a researcher at Microsoft Research New England...
Developers head to the drawing board to cash in on ‘social gaming’
It was the week before Thanksgiving last year, and the executives at Blue Fang Games had a decision to make. The Waltham company had been producing the popular Zoo Tycoon series of video games for more than a decade, to be played on personal computers, Macintoshes, the iPhone, and the Nintendo...
How fantasy sports site HuddleHub ended up as the punchline of a joke on late-night TV
Free exposure on national television is one of those things every small company dreams of. But what if the exposure comes in the form of a punchline in a late-night monologue? It happened to Boston-based HuddleHub earlier this year. The site will enable users who manage fantasy sports...
Zipcar and SCVNGR, East Cambridge neighbors, partner on new rewards program
Cambridge-based mobile game developer SCVNGR is announcing a new partnership today that'll let players earn real-world prizes from Zipcar, the car-sharing company based just a few blocks from SCVNGR's headquarters. The deal is part of a recent trend toward integrating incentives and freebies into cell phone apps, as they become important marketing channels. Heavy users...
Driving thy neighbor's car: My experience with RelayRides
When I needed wheels for a quick trip to Plymouth yesterday, I didn't reserve at the nearest Avis location or grab a Zipcar from one of their designated spots. Instead, I popped the locks on a neighbor's car when he wasn't around and took off. It was cheaper than the other two...
General Catalyst's David Fialkow: How I made the decision to invest in Rue La La
Sunday's Globe column focused on Rue La La, one of the most successful e-commerce companies to come out of Boston since... well, ever? The company was acquired last year for a sum that could hit $350 million if the company meets certain milestones, and it'll hire more than 100 people in Boston...
Rue La La fashions a niche in tough online sales market
An umbrella flash fills the room with light every few seconds as the lanky model Abba Binns stands in front of a stark white background. A mellow loop of music by the British DJ Aim plays from an iPod in the background as the photographer gives a few gentle suggestions to Binns: “Maybe just throw...
AisleBuyer: Augmenting the real-world retail experience with an iPhone app
Most of us have had a chance to use self-checkout systems at stores like Home Depot, Shaw's, and CVS by now. At some places, they're popular enough that there's no difference between the length of the cashier's queue and the self-checkout queue. But what if you could scan items in the store...
Zynga buys Cambridge-based Conduit Labs: Here's the backstory
Zynga, the San Francisco purveyor of addictive online games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, is buying Conduit Labs, a game developer in Cambridge founded by Nabeel Hyatt, and funded by local venture capital firms Prism VentureWorks and Charles River Ventures. The purchase price isn't being...
Founder’s affinity for Twitter drives Cambridge start-up
Invited to attend a private breakfast in Cambridge with Microsoft Corp.’s chief executive, Laura Fitton didn’t have to think twice before hopping a flight back from San Francisco. “It was obviously red-eye worthy,’’ she says. Fitton was one of the few entrepreneurs in the room at last October’s closed-door..
Bedding entrepreneur pitches the pluses of customization
Last year, Evan Saks was working for a Stoughton mattress company that was in a precarious spot: it was the New England franchisee for Dial-A-Mattress, which had just been through bankruptcy proceedings. As soon as Dial-A-Mattress was purchased by a new owner, the Stoughton company's franchise...
Project 11 Ventures: Hoping to rock out with lots of tiny investments
There still isn't much on the Web site to describe what Project 11 Ventures will do, aside from "invest in and assist early stage companies." The fledgling firm's Twitter account has so far had just two messages posted to it. But I'm told the firm, founded by ex-Microsofties Reed Sturtevant and Katie Rae...
Senator Shaheen proposes new federal grants to support sci-tech programs
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire teamed up with inventor Dean Kamen this morning to unveil a new bill she hopes will funnel new federal funding to extra-curricular educational programs focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Kamen, best known as the inventor of the...
'Thanks for the referral. Here's your steak.'
In August of 2007, Lewis Weinstein launched the beta version of ReferralKey, a site intended to help digitize the process of sending referrals from one professional to another. If a real estate agent sent one of his clients to a mortgage broker, the site would track that ? and also keep tabs on whether the...
ThredUP, a trading site for kid's clothing, pulling up stakes in Cambridge
Just over a month after it raised $1.4 million from a quartet of venture capital firms, Cambridge-based ThredUP, a site that enables parents to swap clothing their kids no longer wear, is moving to San Francisco. ThredUP co-founder James Reinhart says the company signed a lease on office space...
Big government contractor picks up Mass.-based Reveal Imaging, maker of explosives scanner for airports
One of the investors in Bedford-based Reveal Imaging tells me this week's purchase of the company by Science Applications International Corp. is "a very positive acquisition," though the price wasn't disclosed. Reveal makes a special automated scanner that airports use to check bags for explosives; in 2004, just...
The Exit Interview: Frank Moss, director of MIT's Media Lab
A Globe story earlier this month mentioned in passing that Frank Moss, director of MIT's Media Lab, had sent out an e-mail to staff announcing that he planned to leave the post in February 2011. That would mark the end of Moss' first five-year term as director. He succeeded Walter Bender, who ran the lab from...
Mercavo hopes to create a marketplace for valuable sales leads... the Glengarry leads!
Anyone who has ever worked in or around the sales department has seen "Glengarry Glen Ross," the 1992 Alec Baldwin/Kevin Spacey drama in which a boiler room of salesmen all covet a collection of supremely valuable sales leads: the Glengarry leads. "These are the new leads," Baldwin says. "These are the...
Making a run for the money | Incentives like the ones that lured Schilling’s company to Rhode Island don’t always pay off for the states offering them
A decade ago, Rhode Island’s Economic Development Corp. rented a billboard along Route 95. The copy read, “This is Your Exit,’’ and it directed drivers to a website called Mass-Exodus.com that extolled the virtues of doing business in the Ocean State. The first company to cross the border...
Day-after reactions to Rhode Island's play for 38 Studios, Curt Schilling's videogame start-up
Talking to people this morning about Rhode Island's apparently-successful play to lure Curt Schilling's game start-up, 38 Studios, with a $75 million loan guarantee, one thing emerges: the littlest state is taking a big risk. Jeff Bussgang, a Boston venture capitalist who co-wrote a Harvard Business School case study late...
New funding for Boston World Partnerships, non-profit that promotes doing business in Boston
Blending old-fashioned boosterism with newfangled social networking, the non-profit Boston World Partnerships is announcing a new infusion of funding this morning — and touting the success of its seventeen month-old “Connector” program. The organization, headed by Dave McLaughlin, has been busy building a...
Are HubSpot and Constant Contact turning into rivals?
About a year ago, Apple issued a press release to announce that Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, was resigning from Apple's board. "...[A]s Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses with Android and now Chrome OS," Steve Jobs said in the release, "Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member...
Interactions banks $6.3 million more for call handling service, plans growth in Franklin
IVR is an evil acronym: it stands for interactive voice response. Most times you call an 800 number with a question about your credit card bill, or a problem with your laptop, you're dealing with an IVR system that asks you to speak a phrase or punch a key to get one step closer to an answer — if...
Predictions and favorite iPhone apps, from this week's Mobile Monday CEO dinner
You can say this about Boston's proposed Innovation District: it is already home to some pretty fine dining. The networking organization Mobile Monday Boston assembled a group of CEOs in the private dining room at Barbara Lynch's recently-opened Menton, in the neighborhood previously known as...
Boston is #1...But will we hold on to the top spot?
Earlier this month, I tweeted about a report issued by the Australian innovation consulting firm 2thinknow. They'd created a list of the world's 75 most innovative cities, and Boston topped it. That tweet took off like wildfire — who doesn't like to be ranked #1, after all? It has continued to be re-tweeted over the...
New book casts the Grateful Dead as brilliant marketers
Out next month from Boston authors David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan is "Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History." The book's foreword is by Celtics great Bill Walton (a/k/a "Grateful Red"), who attended more than 750 Grateful Dead shows...
Legendary Hub venture investor, musician works on his next hit
In May 2001, Mark Shirman and Richard Scannell went to see Bob Davoli with a business idea. They met Davoli, a managing director at Sigma Partners, in the venture capital firm’s downtown Boston office. Their idea was to start a professional services firm, GlassHouse Technologies Inc., that would...
My proposed mission statement for New England
Lots of companies have mission statements. So why not the New England region as a whole? Here's my proposed mission statement for New England, which I tried to keep simple and streamlined. I wanted to capture what we already do here — but what we can always do better...