Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Which Boston Companies Do New MBAs Want to Work For?

Fortune has a list of the top 25 employers new MBAs say they want to work for.

On the list are lots of "usual suspects" -- every big-name investment bank and consulting firm, plus Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.

The only two Boston companies to make the list? (I'll save you some clicking.) Boston Consulting Group (#5) and Bain (#6).

Fortune also publishes a longer list of 100 companies that appeal to MBA recipients... which includes two more Boston companies: Fidelity Investments, at #45, and Monitor Group, at #87.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Innovation Economy’s “Cool Half-Hundred” Companies

Every week or two, someone e-mails me asking for my take on interesting companies in the Boston area. Usually, they’re hunting for their next job –- or they’re students looking for a fun place to intern.

Here’s my off-the-cuff list: call it the Innovation Economy Cool Half-Hundred. They’re chosen with complete disregard to any sort of scientific method. There were basically two questions I considered:

    - Is the company working on something important, or at least fun?
    - If you worked there, would you put people to sleep explaining what you do?

If the answer to the first question is “yes,” and the second “no,” the company is eligible. (You’ll notice a distinct shortage of enterprise software and telecom companies on the list.) At the bottom of the list, I suggest a few ways to discover other interesting new ventures. The list is in no particular order, and it’s not comprehensive: if your company isn’t on it, that doesn’t mean you can’t lay claim to coolness.

Feel free to share other advice, or list other cool Boston-area companies, in the comments area below.

Consumer Electronics

1. Ambient Devices: Integrating information displays into everyday devices, like umbrellas that tell you when it’s going to rain. (Video of Ambient founder David Rose.)

2. Bose: Noise-cancelling headsets, Wave radios, iPod docks, and other stuff that makes the world a better-sounding place.

3. E Ink: Pursuing the holy grail of electronic paper. Currently supplies high-contrast, low power screens to Amazon’s Kindle and Sony Reader, the leading e-books.

4. Emo Labs: Trying to merge speakers and displays.

5. Myvu: Digital displays integrated into eyeglasses.

6. ZINK Imaging: Polaroid’s last great hope, this spin-off is bringing to market technology for pocket-sized digital photo printers. (Video with ZINK CEO Wendy Caswell.)

Web 2.0 / Digital Media

7. Brightcove: Tools for publishing, measuring, and monetizing video on the Web. (Video of Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire.)

8. Frame Media: Delivering content to Internet-connected picture frames.

9. Going: Online social director for people interested in going out to live events.

10. Maven Networks: Pioneer developer of tools for online video publishing; acquired by Yahoo in 2008, so the future may be a bit hazy.

11. MyPunchbowl: Trying to knock off Evite as the dominant site for party planning.

12. ScanScout: Managing ads embedded in Internet video.

13. TripAdvisor: The definitive word on where to stay. Developing into a social network for travelers. Owned by Barry Diller’s Expedia Inc. in New York. (Video of TripAdvisor CEO Steven Kaufer.)

14. Veveo: Video search for mobile devices. (Video that includes a short interview with Veveo co-founder Murali Aravamudan.)

15. Visible Measures: Providing data about how users engage with video on the Web.

Product Design / Web Design / Marketing

16. Brickyard VFX: Visual effects for TV commercials and shows like “CSI: NY.”

17. Continuum: Design firm with offices in West Newton, Milan, and Seoul. Lots of work on medical devices, consumer products like the Swiffer, and hardware like the $100 laptop.

18. IDEO Cambridge: New England outpost of the famed Silicon Valley design firm that has worked with Apple, Palm, HBO, and Prada.

19. Sapient: Interactive shop whose clients include Staples, Celebrity Cruises, Sony, and Harrahs.

Software, Software-as-a-Service, Virtualization

20. Avid Technology: Software for movie, TV, and music editors and producers. (Video of Avid employee Matt Feury.)

21. Cakewalk: Software for amateur and professional musicians.

22. Desktone: Helping companies better manage desktop software by delivering it virtually.

23. Matchmine: Funded in part by the Krafts, the first family of New England football, company aims to deliver more personalized content: music, video, and text.

24. Nuance: The world leader in speech recognition software, right here in Massachusetts. (Video of Nuance exec Peter Mahoney demoing Nuance-powered GPS system.)

25. Vlingo: Talk to your cell phone and have it understand you. Run by former Nokia, SpeechWorks, and Groove Mobile execs. (Video that includes a short interview with Vlingo co-founder Mike Phillips.)


26. Airvana: Infrastructure for high-speed wireless networks. Also, developing femtocells (cell phone booster devices) for consumer use at home. Run by former Apple exec Randy Battat. (Video of Battat explaining the femtocell market.)

27. Akamai: The FedEx of the Internet.

28. Peermeta: Software platform to improve the end-user experience on mobile devices. Started by Acopia Networks founder Cheng Wu.

29. Verivue: Advanced networking services for the delivery of digital media.


30. Old Road Computing: Aims to help enterprises better manage mobile devices.


31. Luminus Devices: Brighter LEDs for TVs and lighting applications.

32. Nantero: Nanotube-based memory chips.


33. Zipcar: The world’s largest car-sharing firm is heavily dependent on technology. (Video of Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith.)


34. Boston Dynamics: Creator of walking robots like BigDog, as well as simulation software for the military.

35. Hydroid: Robots that don’t mind getting wet.

36. iRobot: Robots for the living room and the battlefield.

37. Kiva Systems: Robotic warehouse workers. (Video with Kiva CEO Mick Mountz.)

CleanTech, Power, and Batteries

38. A123 Systems: Nanophosphate technology allows batteries to pack more punch; an A123 division called Hymotion also converts hybrid vehicles into ultra-high-mileage plug-in hybrids.

39. Great Point Energy: Converting coal into natural gas, while sequestering the CO2.

40. Konarka Technologies: This Lowell company wants to put thin, flexible solar cells on just about every surface exposed to the sun. (Video that includes interview with Konarka CEO Rick Hess.)

41. 1366 Technologies: Trying to bring down the cost of silicon-based solar cells.


42. Conduit Labs: Start-up trying to bring more fun and games to social networks. Founded by Nabeel Hyatt, formerly of Ambient Devices.

43. GuildCafe Entertainment: Creating an online hang-out for players of role-playing games.

44. Harmonix Music Systems: The MIT spin-out that gave birth to “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band.” Now owned by MTV Networks. (Video visit to Harmonix headquarters.)

45. Rockstar New England: known until recently as Mad Doc Software, this shop specializes in bringing artificial intelligence to games. Acquired in April 08 by Rockstar Games, publisher of “Grand Theft Auto.”

46. Turbine: Builder of online fantasy realms linked to “Lord of the Rings” and “Dungeons and Dragons.”

Research & Development

47. BBN Technologies: You’ve heard of the Internet? They helped build it. Ever sent an e-mail? They sent the first one. Since 1948, they’ve been working on the edge of what’s possible in software and networking.

48. DEKA Research: OK, it’s in Manchester, NH (about 45 minutes north of Boston). But founder Dean Kamen is the Willy Wonka of New England tech, always cooking up something tantalizing. (Video visit to DEKA headquarters.)

49. Google Cambridge: It’s not exactly Mountain View, but Cambridge engineers have contributed work to Google’s Android mobile operating system…and they’ve just moved into swanky new office space.

50. Microsoft Research Cambridge: Just set up in 2008 to focus on core computer science, design, and social science.

* * * * * * *

3 Ways to Find More Cool Companies

1. Go to events like the MIT $100K competition, the monthly WebInno gathering, the Mass TLC Investor Conference, and OpenCoffee Club. (Other events are listed in the right-hand column here, under “Regular Gatherings.”)

2. Meet someone who works at the Cambridge Innovation Center, and ask them to show you around. An astonishingly high percentage of cool start-ups in town start off in this space.

3. Keep an eye on new company fundings on the Web sites of local venture capital firms. Some good places to start: Prism, Flybridge, Sigma, Matrix, Polaris, Highland, Spark, General Catalyst and Greylock.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

The End of an Era: No More Polaroid Film or Cameras

The Globe's Hiawatha Bray reports that Polaroid is closing all its film-manufacturing plants this year, including two in Massachusetts. Hiawatha writes:

    In the years following World War II, Polaroid's instant photography products established the company as one of Massachusetts' leading industrial concerns, and made its brand name famous worldwide. But in the late 1980s the company went deeply into debt to fend off a hostile takeover. It invested heavily in products that failed and was unprepared for the surging popularity of digital cameras. By 2001, Polaroid was forced into bankruptcy; privately held Petters Group Worldwide of Minnetonka, Minn., bought the company's remaining assets in 2005.

    ...The company will retain about 150 executive and administrative employees at its headquarters in Concord and a smaller office in Waltham. "We'll continue to have a strong presence in Massachusetts for the next 30 or 40 years," said [Polaroid COO Tom] Beaudoin. But Polaroid will now focus on flat-panel TVs and digital photography gear.

Here's another Globe piece, from 2006, about Polaroid's history. And FundingUniverse offers more history on the once-great company.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good News / Bad News

Good news first.

The Entertainment Software Association says that the video game and computer industry in the Bay State grew 12.3 percent in 2006, quadruple the commonwealth's overall growth. They say that Mass. is the fifth-biggest employer of video game personnel... behind California, Washington, Texas, and New York. Average salary is $84,818.

Now, the bad news....a report from MassInc says that we're second-to-last in terms of creating new jobs. From the Globe's coverage of that report:

    Even if the nation avoids a recession, a recent forecast by the New England Economic Partnership projects the state won't recover the jobs until 2012 - 11 years after the 2001 peak. That would mark the first time since at least 1940 that the state has gone more than a decade without increasing payroll employment, said Andrew Sum, director of Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies and the lead author of the MassINC study.

    "We should be embarrassed," Sum said. "The governor, the Legislature have to get back in there and say, 'What are we going to do to create jobs in this state.' Somebody's got to advocate for jobs here."

    The erosion of manufacturing, long a ladder to the middle class, and the emergence of industries requiring specialized skills also threaten to create a "boutique economy" that rewards the highly educated and the skilled, but leaves behind broad swaths of the labor force, the study warned.

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