Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday's Globe column: Building new pillars in the Bay State

I'm saying it: we need a new generation of pillar companies here in Massachusetts, and the wider New England region.

Sunday's Globe column explores what we need to do to start thinking bigger. From the column:

    I understand the argument that big acquisitions, like September's $430 million deal to sell Waltham-based Adnexus Therapeutics to Bristol Myers-Squibb Co., return profits to venture capitalists they can in turn invest in new start-ups and allow newly wealthy entrepreneurs to go off and try something else - maybe even a riskier idea.

    But we also need to build the next generation of "pillar companies" here - companies like EMC Corp., Genzyme Corp., Boston Scientific Corp., Hologic Inc., and Nuance Communications Inc.

    These companies employ hundreds or thousands of people. They're acquirers, not acquirees. They lead industries, set the agenda, and attract the attention of media and Wall Street analysts. Smaller companies cluster around them.

    Right now, acknowledges Steve O'Leary, an investment banker with Jeffries Broadview, New England "is a net sellers market, as opposed to a net buyers market." O'Leary, who earns a living by selling tech companies, says, "I'd like to see more of a food chain, from the big companies on down."

I wrote about this topic back in January, as well, and moderated a salon called 'Thinking Big' late in November.

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