Saturday, February 28, 2009

Innovation is Economic Wild Card

BusinessWeek Chief Economist Michael Mandel gave the keynote address to over 400 executives at our 2009 Annual Meeting. He provided an economic overview, discussed the causes for the current economic climate, and suggested that technological innovation is the wild card for getting us out of the recession. You can view his slides and reader comments on his blog.

Mandel, a self-described optimist, noted that things look rather grim and recovery could be slow as we are in a $4 trillion dollar hole. The good news he presented is that he sees innovation as a wild card that can have upside (or down side) surprises for otherwise gloomy economists. Innovation spurs growth and creates jobs, but it is unpredictable. He notes that Infotech is ripe for innovation and that areas such as communications, social media, cloud computing and news/entertainment have matured.

His bottom line (aka "best guess"): “I’m going to go with medium-term optimism. Over the next year, the economy will be sustained by education, healthcare, and other government programs. Over 3-5 years we will see innovation-driven growth. I would not be surprised to see another boom.”

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cloud Computing Panel

Industry veteran John Landry, Managing Director of Lead Dog Ventures, lead a lively and interactive discussion on Cloud Computing. The panel included Cloud OS Platform providers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and EMC, Cloud Application providers such as Animoto, Sonian, and TwinStrata, and a Cloud venture investor, General Catalyst.

Pictured here are Jinesh Varia, Web Services Evangelist for Amazon and Steve Vinter, Engineering Director for Google. For more details, see event overview and attendees.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

MassTLC Releases Robotics Report

At our Annual Meeting, we released a report on the robotics sector entitled, “Achieving Global Leadership: A Roadmap for Robotics in Massachusetts.” The report, which was made possible through the support of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute, outlines a growing robotics sector that generates close to $1 billion in sales and employs over 2,500 Massachusetts residents in over 80 companies and a dozen academic research labs.

The report lays out a vision for the growth of the sector in Massachusetts. We are grateful for the leadership and support that Governor Deval Patrick has provided and look forward to working with him, and our colleagues at the Mass Technology Collaborative, as we implement the key recommendations made in this report.

You can view the report online at Also see Mass High Tech’s article “MassTLC report: Robotics growing in Mass.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

400+ Crowd Westin Ballroom at MassTLC Annual Meeting

It was great to see close to 430 executives pack the Westin ballroom for our Annual Meeting. The hotel moved quickly to help accommodate all the extra people – including putting in a call to the local police to shut down the traffic light and manage the deluge of traffic the event caused. I'd like to call out a special thank you to event sponsors Deloitte and Raytheon for their support of the Annual Meeting.

The Annual Meeting featured a keynote by BusinessWeek Chief Economist Michael Mandel (see separate post) and a panel on Cloud Computing lead by industry veteran John Landry (see separate post). The Council also released a report on the Robotics Industry in Massachusetts (see separate post). I recorded reactions from a few attendees following the event in this short video.

The first order of business was the election/re-election of trustees for a three year term. The following technology leaders were elected at the meeting: Lynda Applegate, Professor & Chair of Entrepreneurial Management, Harvard Business School; Dave Balter, CEO, BzzAgent (new in 2009); Jim Daniell, CEO, EdNets; Tom Litle, CEO, Litle & Co.; Jim Pelusi, Managing Director, Axia Partners; Chris Schoettle, Executive Vice President of Products, Akamai Technologies; Bill Warner, Founder, Warner Research; Jeff Taylor, CEO, EONS; Joanna Young, SVP & CIO of Corporate Systems, Liberty Mutual (new in 2009).

Next, our new officers were announced: Steve O’Leary, Entrepreneur in Residence at General Catalyst, became the new Chairman of our board, succeeding Mary Finlay, Deputy CIO of Partners HealthCare; Tom Litle, CEO, Litle & Co., continued for another term as Vice-Chair; Annmarie Levins, Associate General Council at Microsoft, became our new Secretary, succeeding Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact; and Jim Daniell, CEO, EdNets, continued as Treasurer.

We also announced that I would be succeeding Joyce Plotkin as President & CEO. Joyce will become President Emerita. See Mass High Tech and Boston Globe briefs on this transition announcement.

Steve O’Leary, our new chair, acknowledged the enormous and unprecedented economic storm precipitated by a broad financial crisis as well as government intervention in ways unimaginable a couple of years ago. Noting that these are times where the Council can be of great help, he outlined our high level plan to continue our focus on fundamental needs of our members.

Several key themes the Council will focus on as we continue to serve our members include: Monitoring and Influencing Policy; Supporting our Massachusetts Infrastructure, including educational initiatives like STEM; Catalyzing Innovation through our many Clusters where passionate entrepreneurs come to collaborate; Informing our Members though Truly Great Programs like today’s which we hope will provide you with perspective and insight not available anywhere else.

The Council’s Global Sponsors include: Foley Hoag; IBM; Jefferies Broadview; The MathWorks; Microsoft; Novell; PhaseForward; PricewatherhouseCoopers; and Raytheon.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tech Tuesday Comes to Cambridge

A couple hundred technology entrepreneurs, founders, investors, and others turned out for our February Tech Tuesday networking night. Held at Microsoft's New England Research & Development Center (aka NERD), attendees showed their new gadgets, enjoyed a mountain of pizza, and took the mike to "shout out" to the crowd.

This video gives a glimpse into the evening and highlights shout out from such tech personalities as Tim Rowe of Cambridge Innovations, Brad Johnson of YouCastr, Marc Linster of Avicon, and many more. Also see recap and photos on Dan Bricklin's blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

MassEntrepreneurship 2009

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance organized an invite-only event, called MassEntrepreneurship 2009, that brought together leaders in educating and supporting emerging technology entrepreneurs, from higher education, research, government and venture and economic development, to discuss best practices key to entrepreneurial startup support.

Pictured here are Abi Barrow Director of the Mass Technology Transfer Center, Kathleen Hagan, from Entrepreneurial Resources Group, me, and Nancy Saucier, Director of the New England Venture Capital Association.

The event featured a keynote address from Gov. Deval Patrick, and two panel discussions featuring local experts in key areas in encouraging technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Massachusetts: mentoring emerging ventures, and supporting the state's young entrepreneurs. Rep. Dan Bosley, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, also addressed the group.

For more, read Mass High Tech article, Governor Patrick, NCIIA Event advances Massachusetts Entrepreneurship.

Driving Value by Negotiating Win-win On Demand SLAs

This morning, a couple dozen SAAS executives gathered at the MassTLC's SAAS Cluster for a member-only roundtable on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) lead by Eric Esperne of James River Consulting and Bob Murphy of Inforonics.

Participants around the table shared their experiences and discussed industry best practices. For example, the issue of what level SLA a SAAS provider should offer when their product leverages open APIs to incorporate other SAAS services into their offering, such as Google Maps, was discussed. Gene Landy of Ruberto Israel & Weiner suggested that you should only offer an SLA on those services for which you have direct control. He noted that it matters whether a provider private labels the third party service. If you brand the service, such as Google Maps, your customer will understand that Google's SLA should control, but if you private label the service, then your SLA might be deemed to govern. Following the content discussion, members of the MassTLC SAAS Advisory Board convened a meeting to continue planning the group's public and member-only meetings.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

BusinessWeek Chief Economist to Keynote Annual Meeting

The recent financial crisis has expanded into the broader marketplace yet despite these challenging economic times, opportunities for business creation and innovation have never been greater. On February 25th, Michael Mandel, Chief Economist at BusinessWeek, will join us for a lively, thought provoking, and interactive exploration of opportunities to increase growth and drive innovation.

Mandel helps direct the magazine’s coverage of the domestic and global economies. Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century. In 1998, Mandel won the Gerald R. Loeb Award for his coverage of the New Economy. Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society. Prior to joining BusinessWeek in 1989, Mandel was an assistant economics professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. Mandel holds a PhD in economics from Harvard.