Archive for the 'Boston' Category

Innovate, Communicate, Collaborate… Don’t Hibernate

Scott Kirsner would make a heckuva marketer or PR person (or history teacher too but that is another matter) if he ever gives up his current gig as a freelance journalist and writer.  For the past several years – both before he relocated to California and upon his return to Boston – he has written blogged and spoken passionately about two things, among many others:

1)      the role the Boston area has played in serving as the “minor leagues” to Silicon Valley by cultivating and growing young talent as well as great small and medium sized technology and Internet companies only to see them get gobbled up by the Big Boys from Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, San Jose, etc.

2)      and the need for New England, Boston and more specifically, Route 128’s academic, technology and venture capital communities to dig deep to try to restore some of the luster we’ve lost to Silicon Valley and other tech hot spots over the years.

Scott’s latest big idea was offered up in his most recent Sunday Boston Globe Innovation Economy column in which he designates June as Innovation Month in New England.  He writes, “We can do a better job of connecting executives who’ve built big, influential businesses with entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We can do a better job helping shaky start-ups find the funding they need to succeed. We can do a better job ensuring that every student who comes to New England to earn a degree has at least some exposure to some of the innovative companies based here, whether through an internship, a company visit, or a classroom presentation from the founder.”

Scott is onto something and he is starting with some really attainable goals. He’s passionately encouraging people to start small – converse, connect, communicate and collaborate.  He’s pushing events, conferences and tweetups as the vehicles for driving more innovation, more idea sharing and more energy around innovation. He is also encouraging people to post their ideas (or links to innovation-related initiatives more people should know about) on the Innovation Economy blog at www.innoeco.com/neinno.

As Massachusetts entrepreneurs, business owners, investors, residents, etc. we all have a vested interest in fostering more innovation. Enough with the complacency fear and uncertainty that goes with the current down economy. As Scott and others quoted in that column, get out, get over the “depressions” and do your part to improve our chances at recovery.  Let’s just keep this party going into July, the rest of the summer and the rest of the year.

— Posted by Tim Hurley

60 seconds or less…

Breaking down hot topics in technology, media and marketing for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • File under, “Really?!”  A charity auction for an internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. What’s worse…college grads so desperate for a job that they’ll pay five figures for one, or media companies trying to make their margins by selling internships?
  • Entrepreneurs, fear not! After meeting with more than a dozen Boston-area VCs, Tech Journal South reports that venture funds have available cash to invest, are actively looking for new deals and don’t expect the rest of the year to be as bad as the first quarter.  
  • The Wall Street Journal issues “Social Media Rules of Conduct” for its staffers. Among the rules? Editor approval is required before “friending” sources in Facebook or twitter.  Check out the entire list here.
  • What did you do by the time you were 25? Did you start a company that has generated 200 million users? Were you named one of the The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine? Were you ranked one of the richest people in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $1.5 billion? Had you made $240 million off of Microsoft? Well Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned 25 yesterday, has checked all those times of his list. I know, it hurts.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

60 seconds or less…

A new weekly feature breaking down technology, b2b and general marketing news for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • Twitter has rolled out a new update to its website that includes real-time search, trending topics and a slightly improved user interface. Will Twitter 2.0 be less buggy than the original? Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”  
  • According to a recent study, personality may be a more effective prediction tool for media usage than demographics. For instance, sarcastic folks who balk at rules are 60% more likely to be high consumers of media. Can’t wait to see those direct mail/email lists – “Sarcasm & Rule Breaker List, $425 CPM”.
  • Hot or not? Forecasts for mobile ad growth have been reduced, thanks to the current economic climate. But it’s still one of the faster growing ad segments, expected to grow 36% year over year.
  • A slew of recent surveys indicate that the slump’s not as bad as we might think in the tech sector. Among the data, Mass High Tech says 44% off the nearly 700 New England tech companies surveyed  have no plans for staffing changes (up from 35.4% in Q4).
  • First, TheFunded shook up the VC world with its blatantly honest reviews of firms. Now it’s changing the model for start-up incubators with TheFunded Founder Institute, free from on-site meetings and alternative stock compensation plans.
  • Looks like we’re safe, at least for one more Sunday. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the Boston Globe union was so unwilling to compromise on the lifetime job guarantee issue? Talk about an antiquated mentality.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

BladeLogic Soars


Here’s a company that got funded just days prior to September 11, 2001. In someone else’s abandoned office space just off 128, a team of entrepreneurs began an unbelievable journey. These guys were excited, optimistic, energetic and passionate. The Internet bubble had already burst, but severs were quietly proliferating in enterprises around the world and this team held the keys to helping IT people manage those servers. The goal was to deliver results, one customer at a time, and create steady, real value in the company.

And then September 11 hit. The rules had changed overnight. In fact, our entire way of life had changed overnight and there were no rules. What did remain was a strong desire to move ahead in spite of constant reminders from the roar of aircraft from nearby Hanscom Field.

Building on the mantra of delivering results and creating real value, BladeLogic got going, one customer at a time. As the momentum grew, this management team kept its composure. They never compromised on the standards they had created at the outset. They never stopped believing in the superiority of their technology. They never sacrificed real value for “buzz” or hype.

Yesterday, BladeLogic’s IPO debuted. The stock price closed at $25. Sometimes the good guys really do win.

The Game Changer: The iPhone Cometh

Today is the day.

The day 6 months in the making, the day one small device, saves the world.

Ok, so a bit dramatic, but seriously, – this is a really big deal…right? Sure, other phones have come and gone, toting all new features, music, email, etc – but none have done it like this; and certainly none have done it with this much hype.

Now that the phone has been handed to a select few “chosen ones”, there are several preliminary reviews surfacing, possibly the best came in the form of David Pogue’s iPhone video-blog (sorry Walt). In one scene, he is attacked by an angry mob of coworkers, eager to get their hands on the device. Pogue proceeds to leap up on to the side of a cubicle where he begins preaching on the phone’s shortcomings – mainly complaining about the AT&T network, and EDGE Internet service. A few at a time, they begin to leave, until one man is left. He leans over an asks,

“Does it have an Apple logo?”

Pogue replies, “Yeah, see? Its right on the back.”

“Cool.”

Gotta love brand equity. This short exchange sums up the reason for probably 90% of the hype surrounding this thing, its made by Apple and, as the video so poignantly displays, regardless of flaws, the Apple fan-boy will still buy it. The Wall Street Journal’s breakingveiws.com column warns,

“…an iPhone may yet appear in every pocket now housing an iPod or phone. But if it merely becomes a rich hipster accessory, Apple’s stock would have a long way to fall.”

And that is my exact prediction. To me, the iPhone will become like a Ferrari; coveted by all, but owned by few. Think about it, an unsubsidized phone, with no choice of network at $499 and $599 price points, that doesn’t work with family plans and most certainly will not work with corporate plans because it won’t run the important apps hardcore business users need. The only demographic left IS the rich hipster.

I will use myself as an example. I am far from a rich hipster (though I am probably just as much of a music snob) but love Apple products, and though I don’t currently own a Mac (ask me again in a year or so), my household, like many others, does have 6 iPods. There is one apple sticker on my IBM laptop, and another on my Fender Stratocaster and spend more on iTunes than is deemed healthy by the FDA. I am a huge advocate for what the company does .

I want an iPhone as much as anyone, but the deal just doesn’t seem to work in my favor. I would have to break my Verizon contract, pony up the $600 for the phone (because why get a 4gig when you can have 2x the space for only $100 more) sign a new contract, which would be significantly higher than my Verizon family plan bill, plus data, plus WiFi costs (most aren’t free, right Starbucks?). Oh yeah, and don’t forget, the network is AT&T, meaning I would burn through minutes like crazy, as it seems like everyone in Boston has Verizon.

So, Game Changing? You bet. Revolutionary? Absolutely. But there is something in me that thinks the limits on this device make it not quite ready for prime time. We shall see.

Good luck to everyone braving the malls at 6 p.m., especially this guy.

.

The Game Changer: Boston – Land of the Red Sun, Sox

There has been an issue on my mind for the past few months now, but have only now been compelled to blog about – the $150 million man himself, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

 

What was the straw that broke the camels back you ask?

I recently received an email from one of my favorite area watering holes, Boston Beer Works, (As our managing director Tim Hurley says, “Now there’s something to put on the resume…”) promoting a new beer called Sanshin Ale:

 

Sanshin, the Japanese word for “Strikeout”, is an East-meets-West beer. Brewed with a blend of malt and rice, plus American and Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, then fermented with Sake yeast and American Ale yeast, make this medium bodied golden beer unique.”

 

A tasty sounding brew no doubt (how do you say “wicked good” in Japanese?), but it really got me thinking about how much things have changed around here since the arrival of the Gyro ball throwing righty.

Fenway Park has undergone an amazing transition this season to accommodate the Dice man. Dunkin Donuts, Avaya, even Lumber Liquidators are all changing their ads to include Japanese greetings. The Dunkin sign would be unrecognizable if it weren’t for the trademark pink and orange letters.

And something tells me we are going to see a lot more Japanese-themed product extensions in the near future as well. With the identity crisis that is Dunkin Donuts food (come on people, pizza and panini sandwiches?), I can see Rachel Ray pushing sushi for them soon, “Stop in now, because nothing goes better with a hot cup of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee like a fresh California Roll” ….it’s like peas and carrots right?

Then there was this article in the Boston Globe last month. If you didn’t happen to catch it, Japanese marketers are capitalizing on Dice K’s starts OUTSIDE of Boston. With Fenway commanding some of the highest advertising dollars in baseball, many Japanese companies are buying ad space in smaller market stadiums where he is pitching. Just two nights ago in Toronto, the usual “pizza pizza” ads on the backstop were replaced with a myriad of Japanese advertisements.  

Daisuke Matsuzaka is changing the game in sports sponsorship by creating a wealth of opportunity not only here in Boston, but nationally and internationally as well. It seems that everyone is reaping the returns from Theo Epstein’s bold move to put another quality arm in the rotation. While Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui (boo) were the first big name Japanese exports to play in the MLB, neither have matched Dice K’s impact on the game, as the first to really make baseball an international affair, for fans and marketers alike.

 

I think I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.

Spinning Out Of Control

In reading today’s Boston Globe business story on the “high end” Cambridge consulting firm eSapience, Ltd., which was hired by former American Insurance Group (AIG) CEO and chairman Maurice Greenberg to improve his public perception, I am not sure who looks worse – Greenberg, eSapience or the high powered academics from MIT, University of Chicago and University College in London, who lent their time, brainpower, influence and connections to Greenberg’s PR campaign. I can’t admit to being up to speed on all things Maurice Greenberg (who was forced to resign by the AIG board in March 2005, but I highly doubt that whatever work eSapience did on his behalf (for $400 to $1,000 an hour) moved the needle, or at least did so in the right direction. And, adding the proverbial salt in the wounds, Greenberg’s new firm, C.V. Starr & Co. is refusing to pay more than $2 million in fees owed to eSapience. eSapience, according to the Globe piece, is not returning press calls and their web site is down. The article – both through Rob Weisman’s reporting and comments from business ethics experts questions why these prestigious academics would participate in the Greenberg campaign.

Wild guess here but money and political favors might be at play here somewhere.


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