Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1st: You May Now Stop Innovating

First, thanks to everyone who helped out with New England Innovation Month in June...

We started the grassroots project as a way to reboot the conversation, moving it away from the lousy economy and toward the things we can control: new ideas and new ventures and new connections. There were about 25 events on the official calendar, and those I went to were really well-attended and had great energy.

What was especially cool was to have two Left Coast publications take note of what we were doing out here in the colonies: VentureBeat and the San Jose Mercury News, which ran a piece headlined 'Boston tech scene on the rebound.'

I am *sure* this is only the beginning of some great new thinking about how to turbo-charge innovation around our region...

...And there are already some great signs that good things will continue in July:

- The Secretary of Housing & Economic Development in Massachusetts, Greg Bialecki, has just launched his blog with a great "Declaration of Innovation."

- TechStars Boston is going strong, and will present a whole crop of new companies to investors in early September.

- There's been some really constructive talk around how we can connect students to cool companies in our region.

- There are some great events happening in July and August, including WebInno, PodCamp Boston, Mass Innovation Night (hoping to finally get to that next week), CloudCamp, and a Forrester Tweetup (expecting to see Tweeter-in-Chief George Colony there, who purports to be a CEO who understands social technologies)...

Again, big thanks to all of you who supported this idea and came out to the events.

(And yes, I'm joking with the headline of this post. Please continue your innovating -- though feel free to take a short vacation in July or August.)

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Social Media Meets Lay-Offs; Forrester Response

My Globe column this Sunday is about some lay-offs earlier this month by Mzinga, a purveyor of social media software to businesses. From the piece:

    On March 19, about 40 employees - roughly 18 percent of the workforce - were terminated as part of the company's second round of cuts in 2009. But what was unusual about Mzinga's situation was how widely it echoed throughout the universe of bloggers and Twitter users, since so many of the company's employees and customers - and the analysts who track its ups and downs - are part of the online community that shares morsels of information and "status updates" on a moment-by-moment basis. This was a layoff for our Twittery new times.

I wanted to share here some responses that I received from Forrester Research CEO Charles Rutstein; the first hint that something was going on at Mzinga appeared here, on Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang's blog, igniting a bit of a controversy. (Owyang had suggested that Mzinga clients and prospects put off any new deals with the company, without really explaining why.)

Here's what Rutstein sent, via e-mail:

    Q: Was Jeremiah acting as a blogger or an analyst when he wrote about Mzinga?

    A: Jeremiah is both an independent blogger and a Forrester analyst. In his blog posts about Mzinga, he erred by speculating and not applying the same standards of quality as would be required in a Forrester research report. He has publicly apologized to his readers for this oversight. Importantly, however, Jeremiah was acting as an advocate for Forrester’s clients – making them aware of information they might need to make a critical purchasing decision. And, it’s worth noting that Jeremiah’s speculation, while insufficiently researched up-front, has proven to be grounded in fact.

    Have we been in touch with Mzinga about what happened? Absolutely.

    All of us – Forrester included – are still learning how to live in the world of social media. While our experts are among the foremost in the world on these topics, we continue to learn every day.

    Q: Has the blogging incident resulted in any modifications to existing policies or new policies about engaging with social media for Forrester employees?

    A: Forrester has blogging guidelines which have been in place for some time and which have been shared with all Forrester employees. Forrester has 18 blogs which cater to the professional roles of its clients . Separately, a number of Forrester analysts maintain personal blogs which is their prerogative. We do not control what analysts write about in their personal blogs although we ask them to clearly state that their content is their own and may not necessarily reflect Forrester’s views. Naturally we ask them to respect Forrester intellectual property based on our blogging guidelines. As the web 2.0 world continues to evolve, we will continue to encourage Forrester analysts to participate thoughtfully in the community while respecting Forrester’s content and social media guidelines.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Forrester/Jupiter Rivalry Ends

Making pronouncements about the potential of the Internet was still a growth industry back in 1997. Back then, Forrester Research and Jupiter Research were cut-throat rivals. Forrester was even basing part of its analysts' pay packages on how many times they were quoted in the press. From a Wired piece I wrote about the two companies:

    ... "A very critical way we market is through the media," says Forrester president George F. Colony, a charismatic 44-year-old who founded the company in 1983. "Quotes help us sell."

    No one understands that better than Adam Schoenfeld, a VP at Jupiter Communications in Manhattan. The scrappy, fast-growing Jupiter is Forrester's closest competitor in the consumer research market, with a projected $10 million in annual revenue, and Schoenfeld is Jupiter's one-man quote-spewing jihad. He averages 1.25 mentions a month in the Times - more than any one of the competition's pundits. "I keep my eye on a couple of my favorite Forrester analysts," the 33-year-old Schoenfeld acknowledges with a grin, "just to make sure I'm getting quoted more than them."

(Interestingly, Shoenfeld seems to have become a professional poker player since I last spoke to him.)

Now, Forrester, which has long since eclipsed its rival, is buying Jupiter for $23 million.

Here's the official press release.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Back in 02140

I moved back last weekend from San Francisco to Cambridge after a two-year sojourn. (I still expect to be making about a half-dozen trips a year to California, and blogging about the convergence of technology and the entertainment industry at CinemaTech.)

But I'm switching gears at the Globe once again, starting a new column this Sunday called "Innovation Economy," which will focus on start-ups, venture capitalists, research labs, inventors, and big companies here in New England.

It's a patch of ground that I haven't been roaming much since my @large column ended in November 2005...but one that I've really loved exploring in the past. Some ancient history:

    From 1995 to 1997, I was part of the founding team of At, we also worked with the first generation of Internet companies in Boston (a few I remember were net.Genesis, Net Daemons Associates, Firefly Networks, and VirtuFlex.) Occasionally, I contributed to a Globe column called Boston.comment that ran Thursdays on what was then called the "Plugged In" page. (Frank Hertz and Chuck Chow were my co-conspirators who, luckily, knew how to write.)

    In 1997, I started covering New England-related stories for Wired Magazine and Wired News. (Here's one of my first pieces for Wired, about Forrester Research, and a piece of similar vintage from Wired News, about Cambridge's annual IgNobel Prize ceremony.)

    In 1998 and 1999, I started a monthly column called "Tech Talk" for Boston Magazine and wrote a series of features for the monthly about local Internet celebs like CMGI chairman David Wetherell. (That job was where I met my wife, Amy -- who just this week began working at Boston Magazine once again.)

    From 2000 to 2005, I wrote the weekly @large column on Mondays, which covered tech, biotech, medical devices, and venture capital throughout New England. We also ran a series of panel discussions at the Globe's auditorium called ".COMversations," which were excerpted in the Globe. (Here are the first and last columns in that string.)

My goals for the Innovation Economy column are to tell the most interesting and important stories about what's new in New England -- and to provide some added context here.

I'm eager to hear about the stories *you* think ought to be told. (My e-mail is scott - at - My bias, as always, is toward stories that haven't already been told elsewhere.

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