Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Audio Conversation: 'Bricklin on Technology'

Dan Bricklin is a software industry pioneer, best known as the co-creator of VisiCalc, who has a new book out called "Bricklin on Technology."

We talked last week about a few of the topics he addresses in the book, including how content will be monetized in the future, how creators (whether musicians, writers, or software developers) ought to deal with piracy, and how Dan is promoting and selling his new book (including on Twitter and YouTube). The MP3 is here, or you can just click 'Play' below. (It runs about 25 minutes.)

(Dan is also the host of Mass TLC's monthly Tech Tuesday event. There's one coming up on June 9th in Cambridge.)

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Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Next for Parametric Technology?

Sunday's column explores the question of where PTC, the design software company in Needham, went astray, and what's next for the company. (It's reportedly up for sale.)

Here's the opening:

    Here is one safe prediction you can make about technology: It will eventually be democratized.

    Computers were once tools used by almost exclusively by PhDs. Videocassette recorders were developed initially for television broadcasters. Cellphones? GPS? The Internet? Photo-editing software? Developed first for professionals and academics - and used today by just about everybody.

    Unfortunately, one of the region's biggest software companies, Needham's Parametric Technology Corp., has spent much of its history betting against democratization. PTC's flagship product is a sophisticated - and expensive - software package for engineers and product designers whose work involves the creation of three-dimensional objects.

It feels like a clear "innovator's dilemma" case study to me.

Here's the video that goes with the column:

Update: Got a call from Nicole Rowe on Monday, who heads corp. comm. at PTC, explaining to me that the company does, in fact, believe in democratization -- just not in a consumer market for 3-D modeling software. (I said that I didn't really understand the distinction between those two things.) Rowe pointed out that PTC does offer a free, downloadable limited-functionality "personal edition" of its CoCreate software.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

When demos go awry (Sunday Globe column on Nuance Communications)

Yesterday's column looks at Nuance Communications, one of Massachusetts' biggest software companies, and the dominant player in speech recognition.

From the story:

    When it comes to controlling a mobile phone, car stereo, desktop PC, or GPS device by voice alone, software from Nuance Communications Inc. is fast becoming the equivalent of Intel Inside. In terms of the breadth of its products, and the number of employees it has dedicated to speech recognition, Nuance looms over its bigger rivals, IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. But on the local and national tech scenes, Nuance is far from well-known.

    "They've taken a fragmented industry and rolled it up into one company," says Daniel Ives, an analyst at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., alluding to CEO Paul Ricci's passion for picking up smaller speech recognition companies. (Friedman, Billings makes a market in Nuance's stock, but hasn't done any investment banking for the company.) "Speech recognition is still a green field opportunity, and I view them as the 800-pound gorilla in the space."

There are two videos this week -- one of the demo that Nuance exec Peter Mahoney gave me last week, and another video that Mahoney recorded in response to my column and video, which explains why things didn't go smoothly when he was showing me a TomTom speech-guided GPS.

Here's my video of the original demo:

And here's Mahoney's reply, posted to YouTube:

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday's Globe column: Stonebraker, StreamBase, and Vertica

Yesterday's Globe column focuses on two start-ups created in pretty quick succession by database guru Mike Stonebraker; both were funded by the same two VC firms, Bessemer Venture Partners and Highland Capital Partners. The video is an interview with Chris Risley, who is the second CEO that StreamBase Systems has had -- he succeeded Barry Morris late this summer.

My favorite quote from the column comes from Risley, who says, "Stonebraker works best a fair distance from the enterprise." Don't we all know people like that?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IBM creating new 'campus' in Westford/Littleton

IBM will bring together 3400 of its 5000 Massachusetts employees, most of whom work on software, at a new campus off Route 495 in Westford and Littleton, saith the Globe.

I'm not sure that two office complexes separated by three miles exactly constitutes a "campus," but...OK.

From Rob Weisman's piece:

    The changes are intended to foster more collaboration between Massachusetts software companies IBM has acquired since 1995, including Lotus Development Corp., Rational Software Corp., Ascential Software Corp., and, most recently, Watchfire Corp.

The real estate shuffle is expected to be done by the end of the decade.

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