Sunday, August 24, 2008

Big Tech Companies in New England: An Impossible Dream?

Last Sunday's column focuses (again) on New England's penchant for selling start-ups short rather than building what I call "pillar companies."

From the column:

    Maybe I'm a glass-half-empty sort. Maybe I refuse to acknowledge the reality of the financial markets, and the need for entrepreneurs to deliver a return for their investors within a reasonable time.

    But I can't help feeling that, whenever a New England company is sold to an out-of-state acquirer for big bucks, we've missed another chance to build a "pillar" company of our own.

    When Dell Inc. pays $1.4 billion in cash for New Hampshire's EqualLogic Inc. this year after the storage start-up had filed to go public, it feels as if we've missed the opportunity to cultivate another EMC Corp. in our backyard. When VeriSign Inc. buys m-Qube Inc., one of the pioneers of content delivery to cellphones, for $250 million, that's a potentially significant anchor tenant we've lost for the mobile software com munity here. When Microsoft Corp. buys Softricity Inc., that's a pioneer in application virtualization - delivering software over a network connection - no longer seen as a leading player in the field, and headquartered right here in Boston to boot.

The column includes a chart of some recent acquisitions by out-of-state buyers, and also a video from the recent Y Combinator "Demo Day," where fledgling start-ups show their stuff.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

And the final number is...

Just to update an earlier post: General Catalyst's fifth fund has topped out at $714 million. That's up there with some of the biggest funds raised this year, like Battery Ventures' $750 million fund (#8 for the Waltham collosus.)

Other VCs in Boston regard General Catalyst as a marketing machine, pulling in money from limited partners at an incredible pace. The exits, though, have been scarce thus far: GC's biggest hit has been M-Qube, a wireless marketing company in Watertown, MA. That was a 6x return for investors when it was acquired last year by Verisign for $250 million.

(Mass High Tech had this fun story earlier in the year, about M-Qube execs going off to start new companies, like Mobicious and Matchmine.)

Lately, GC has been betting big on video: its portfolio includes Maven Networks, Brightcove, Visible Measures, Everyzing, ViTrue, and ScanScout.

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