Archive for ‘Boston Tech Legacy’

June 25, 2010

Do Anchor Companies Have an Effect on the Start-up Eco-system?

This article originally appeared as a guest post on Greenhorn Connect on Tue, 06/15/2010

Starting and growing companies that become or have the potential to become huge, is a goal of several initiatives and members of the entrepreneurial community in the Boston area. The reasoning behind this is the premise that huge companies provide a proving ground and talent resource that feeds the local start-up economy.

So let’s do a little research to observe this effect and see the companies that can be traced back to a local behemoth in our area.

Since EMC is the 800 pound gorilla in our woods, that should be a great place to start.

To view a dynamic and more legible EMC company graph use this link.

emc connected companies

As you can see, a company the size of EMC has a large graph of connected companies. This represents many acquisitions as well as large public companies from which they now recruit executives.

But what we are interested in are the companies that have spawned from EMC and where EMC executives have moved to the start-up companies.

Let’s start with some acquisitions we selected from the larger group. This list includes Equallogic which is the largest most recent liquidity event in the New England Area, at a purchase price of $1.5 Billion cash. Several sales and marketing executives were from EMC.

Archivas was formed by founders from EMC, Abuzz, AppIQ and Network Integrity and built a solution for fixed content archiving which was bought by Hitachi Data Systems within three years of inception.  Some of the founders have gone on to found Nasuni, a cloud based storage company.  iBrix was purchased by HP in 2008. Another cloud based storage company founded in 2009, TwinStrata has benefited from the addition of an  iBrix executive.

Each of the acquired companies had executives from EMC whose leadership contributed to the successful outcomes.  It is no surprise that these companies are in the storage market, the ‘bread and butter” and seminal business for EMC.

Mature start-ups are well represented with storage again a major sector but also moving into cloud computing and Rich Internet Applications.

The founder of  Nexaweb, building RIA software, was an architect from EMC, who has now gone on to found another company Yottaa, in the cloud services space.

Cloudswitch a Matrix company has technical leadership from an Architect/VP that used to be a Distinguished Engineer at EMC.

Sepaton is an interesting case. EMC executives still are part of the leadership team, but the original CEO from EMC was forced to exit due to a “non-compete” lawsuit. It turns out that EMC is not shy about suing companies here in Ma, as they also went after Nexaweb, but that suit was settled.

Several Series A VC investments with EMC connections represent the trends towards virtualization,  data management and grid computing.

The CEO of PeerApp, a grid compuing company,  started at EMC as a key developer of the  revolutionary storage platform that yielded as much as $6 Billion in annual revenues.The CEO of Certeon led the product development and marketing of streaming solutions at EMC after the company he founded, Bitcasting was acquired. The founder and President of Lattice Engines was director of business operations at EMC.

Lastly these seed round companies have roots within EMC.  Sadly both messageSling and Carespace are now defunct. Such is the nature of bootstrapped companies. The storage market is  very mature here in the Boston area.  It makes sense that companies founded by executives with significant domain experience can go straight to Series A VC investment without the need for a seed round.


Storage is a mature and thriving sector in the Boston area. Along with EMC the  anchor company, there are many new companies and returning successful founders that perpetuate innovation and a thriving industry cluster which is now pushing the trends in cloud computing and virtualization.

Based upon this simple analysis, we can conclude that anchor companies have a significant effect on their geographic markets. While this example is not exhaustive and there may be many other downstream companies impacted by EMC, it is clear that the Boston area could benefit from several other large companies in other Industry Segments.

December 7, 2009

For Entrepreneurs, new blog by David Skok from Matrix Partners

Just found out about a new blog,  For Entrepreneurs by David Skok from Matrix Partners.  If you are interested in getting started, getting funded, and building a successful company, you will want to add this blog to your feed reader.

David is a successful entrepreneur, founding his first company at age 22, four companies in total,  including two successful exits from his Boston companies, Watermark(bought by Filenet) and Silverstream (IPO then bought by Novell).

As a VC he has already had successful exits with JBoss(RedHat), AppIQ(HP) and Tabblo(HP). One of his most recent investments is HubSpot, which has probably had some  influence on his decision to start blogging.

For Entrepreneurs has a lot of content other than blog posts which are reference material for startup founders getting their companies off the ground. I particularly like the section on Building a Sales and Marketing Machine. It includes a lot of data and diagrams that walk you through detailed structure and methods for creating a customer acquisition process.

The most recent blog post on Viral Marketing is informative and introduces a new factor , the viral cycle time, which is a key determinant of rate of growth.

We can look forward to a lot more anecdotal advice and guidance that should save aspiring founders much time and effort.

If memory serves me correctly, I seem to remember Silverstream’s product launch was from a party on the deck of an Aircraft Carrier, so maybe at some point we will get to hear about that and how things have changed in this era of continuous deployment, product market fit and soft launch.

May 15, 2009

Whats next in Tech for Boston?

Levi Strauss, blue jeans
Image via Wikipedia

As a precusor to an event on June 25th called “What’s Next in Tech: Exploring the Growth Opportunities of 2009 and Beyond.” that he organized and will be moderating, Scott Kirsner challenged a few of the local tech bloggers to come up with some ideas on what will be the next trends for the coming wave of new technology companies.

I’m sure that Boston will make significant future contributions in both Bio Tech and Clean Tech, however I will let the knowledgeable experts provide further details for those domains.

In Communications, Computing, Software and the Web, the obvious current trends in new tech companies cluster around cloud computing and storage, green data centers , mobile applications, social networking, search engine marketing, gaming and virtual goods.

I suspect that Boston will continue with one of it’s tried and true approaches to building successful business within the next wave of technology. The same method was used by Levi Strauss during the California gold rush, sell the picks and shovels. I think this fits in well with the more conservative New England ways, less risky than going for the gold, but you can still build very successful businesses.

Translated to the world of technology, the strategy is to build the tools, infrastructure and marketplaces that create an even larger swell in whatever current wave of innovation is building momentum.

Without going back too far into the early days of the internet and the rise of distributed computing and client server applications, we only need to look at some of the successful companies spawned here during the web 1.0 period to see the pattern.

Booklink the 3rd Browser

Vermeer html editor

Open Market first commercially available Web (HTTP) servers

ViaWeb online store builder

Akamai web content servers

you get the idea

So lets see what some local companies are doing within the previously identified trends.

cloud computing and storage: see Cloud Crowd

green data centers:  Viridity infrastructure to balance power, cooling and utilization.

mobile applications:  Skyhook Wireless infrastructure for mobile positioning

social networking: Mzinga enterprise infrastructure for social media. Tipjoy social commerce infrastructure

search engine marketing: Wordstream, Hubspot tools to optimize SEM and Inbound Marketing

gaming and virtual goods: GamerDNA virtual bazaar for gamers , Viximo marketplace and tools for virtual goods commerce.

As the list clearly shows,  the course of providing the tools, infrastructure and markets for the emerging technologies is still a mainstay of Boston’s approach to building businesses.

Scott’s question to us is “Whats next in Tech for Boston?”  If we apply the picks and shovels template to the trends, we can determine where there may still be opportunities. One category,  marketplace plays, may be promising.

One obvious vacuum is in the mobile space.

So you heard it here first, one of the next local companies will be building an “App Store”  for the Android Platform. Rich Miner, if you are listening, I can pull a team together in a month, and with the imprimatur of Google Ventures, we should have a pretty good shot.

What do you think? We should all be going through this exercise so that we can position Boston and our companies as the economy returns to health.

Come hear what some of the brightest minds in Boston innovation think will be the next tech opportunities. Early registration ends today.

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December 22, 2008

Who Do You Think Should be on this List? Best of Boston Web 2008

We are really just putting this  out there as a starting point in hope that readers will add to the list. Of course it is nowhere comprehensive and totally subjective. Let us know your choices. Oh, and don’t nominate yourself, spread the kudos around.

Networking Event:

Web Innovators Group

WebInno was founded and is currently led by David Beisel of Venrock. It is the stalwart networking event for mobile and web technology startups in the Boston area.

Started informally in the fall of 2005 it has grown to the present day where up to 800 people gather to schmooze and review the latest crop of services from bootstrapped or seed funded companies.

Open Coffee   Wednesdays,  8:30 am – 10:30 am: Andala Coffee House‎
286 Franklin Street

This is the Cambridge version of the concept that originated in London by Saul Klein of  Index Ventures. The idea was to organise real-world informal meetups to chat, network and grow. The Cambridge group was  started by Nabeel Hyatt of Conduit Labs and Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital, and meets every wednesday morning. It is well worth attending to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs and have lively discussions about what everyone is doing.


BetaHouse Jon and Brian have created a workplace  that caters to pre funded startups as well as individuals looking for office space.  If you are looking for a great environment to crank some code, go check it out.  They host a good party too.

VC Funded 2008:

If you want to watch  a startup and learn how to market in the online world, you could have no better example that Hubspot. They are building a business teaching companies how to attract potential customers without using the less effective traditional means of interruption and expensive advertising.  Follow along as they ride the wave of marketing based upon permission, organic search traffic and the use of social media, that is inbound marketing.

Angel Funded 2008:

Tipjoy Y Combinator launched and Angel funded, Tipjoy has been generating a lot of interest with it’s new Auto Twitter integration, see an example of how it is being used by @Pistachio for the WellWishes campaign. They also deserve kudos for returning to the Boston area rather than base the company in Silicon Valley.

Flipkey After building a useful initial site and ramping user acquisition, they landed a strong group of angel investors including Nick Beim of Matrix Partners. Then soon afterward, TripAdvisor took a majority ownership position in the company, validating the team and concept.

MyPunchbowl is a prime example of building a business through executing on the fundementals. Incremental and steady improvement of the product and continually acquiring users lead to a recent follow on investment.


One of our readers turned us on to Editme. Nice product and business, no VC and a healthy dose of excellent customer service, makes Editme a winner.

JobVent This simple concept continues to gain momentum and users by providing a platform for users to get off their chest feelings about their work environment.


North Bridge Venture Partners deserves recognition for diversifying a portfolio that has been very successful in the traditional domains of Boston VC’s, namely communications and enterprise software.  Recent investments in a variety of categories of web offerings from a career site, virtual goods market, social media infrastructure, financial communities and mobile photo blogging have set them apart in 2008 as a growing participant in the Boston Web scene.

Angel Investor:

YCombinator the seminal Advisor/Investor firm that has spawned many copycat endeavors. While some may have the advisory chops, fewer still have the connections and none have Paul Graham.  Hats off to the idol of hackers around the world and the gadfly to Boston VC’s.

Bantam Group We first heard about this angel investor only a few months ago. After some research, it was clear that Bantam Group may be the best Boston Angel investor you’ve never heard off. One look at their investments will tell you that they are supporting new Web companies more than any other local angel.

Entrepreneur Blogger:

Furquan Nazeeri started blogging about his experience as an EIR at Softbank in 2007. Always insightful and even more interesting now that he has started his own company Bringing perspectives from both sides of the  table, Altgate is a must read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and investing in startups.

Most Influential Blogger:

Scott Kirsner

Scott has been promoting two big issues that are important for Boston area starups.  The elimination of non-compete agreements and pushing for an organized effort to keep our best graduating students in the Boston area and engaged with the Emerging Technology community.

Social Mediaologist:

Chris Brogan

Don’t even try to keep up with this guy. There is a lot of  fluff in the S M crowd, but Chris puts the hype into action.

July 17, 2008

Boston Tech Legacy: Booklink, the beginning of the Bubble in Boston

Booklink was a browser company founded by Bill Hawkins. It could be designated as the first internet company to benefit from the internet bubble 1.0 in the Boston area. Nine people from Interleaf formed the company in 1994 and within nine months had sold to AOL for $30 million. The story goes that Microsoft was in the process of putting together an offer to purchase the company when AOL swooped in at the last minute to win the deal.

The company was funded by a little known company CMG, (College Marketing Group) that sold textbooks via direct marketing to students. It turned out to be a very wise investment as AOL stock zoomed up thousands of percentage points and the resulting return for CMG was around $250 million.

This slug of cash became the basis for the firm CMGi an internet holding company at one time valued in the billions. The CMGi story is a case study in Bubble 1.0 but we will leave it for another day.

Another point of interest, Booklink (AOL) executives were key witnesses in the DOJ trial against Microsoft regarding the browser war between Netscape and IE.

June 12, 2008

Boston’s Tech Legacy: Cullinet, First Software Product Company IPO

Today we are kicking off a new feature; Boston’s Tech Legacy. We will be pointing the spotlight back in time to a company that played a notable role in the history of emerging technology in Boston. Our first company was a pioneer in enterprise software.

The foundation for the software portfolio of the venerable Boston VC firm Greylock was built by an investment in Cullinet. Some of the legacies of Cullinet, the first IPO for a software company, the first software company listed on the NYSE, first software company to be a component of the S&P 500 and the spawning of many successful companies including Platinum, AICorp, Ingres. Many executives from the ranks of the Cullinet management became influential as well.

Follow the link if you are interested in the complete story chronicled on wikipedia.