It was a beautiful day in Kendall Square today as the world's first Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame was established to honor and celebrate entrepreneurial role models from Massachusetts and beyond. The Walk of Fame provides a fantastic opportunity to increase the visibility of entrepreneurship and to help inspire the next generation of innovators. Seven esteemed honorees who "took a risk with an idea" were immortalized with stars embedded in the sidewalk outside the Kendall Square Marriott.
Inaugural honorees include (descriptions from http://www.entwof.org/):
Thomas Edison (1847-1931), known for founding the companies that preceded General Electric. Edison devised numerous inventions that played a crucial role in modernizing technology from electric power generation being distributed on a mass level to homes and businesses to a stock ticker to recorded music and motion pictures, and there are many others with the same level of importance. Held 1,093 patents and founded 14 companies that combined with competitors in 1890 to form General Electric, currently one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world. And, the only company listed since the beginning of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. His entrepreneurial legacy can be seen in all walks of life, whether it be the utility Commonwealth Edison, the radio station WEEI (AM), or the Edison Medal for outstanding work in the electrical world. Edison quote: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."
Bill Gates, known for Microsoft (2010 revenue: $62.5 billion) and philanthropy. He left Harvard to devote his energies to Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with Paul Allen. Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, the two began developing software for personal computers. Gates' foresight and vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry. Microsoft employed 89,000 people in 2010. In 2000, Gates and his wife Melinda started a foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports philanthropic initiatives in the areas of global health and learning. He attended Harvard, but left before graduating. Gates quote: "Never before in history has innovation offered the promise of so much to so many in so short a time."
Bill Hewlet (1913-2001), known for Hewlett-Packard (Net revenue, 2010: $126 billion). His strength lay in circuit technology. He served in the Army during World War II, during which David Packard ran the company. Hewlett was on the staff of the Army's Chief Signal Officer and then headed the electronics section of the New Development Division of the War Department Special Staff. During this latter tour of duty, he was on a special U.S. team that inspected Japanese industry immediately after the war. In 1947, shortly after he returned to Palo Alto, Hewlett was named vice president of HP. He was elected executive vice president in 1957, president in 1964, and also was named chief executive officer in 1969. After receiving his Bachelor's degree from Stanford University, Hewlet attended and received his Masters of Science from MIT. Hewlet quote: "Men and women want to do a good job, and if they are provided the proper environment, they will do so."
Steve Jobs, known for Apple. Jobs designed, developed, and marketed (along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) the Apple II series, which was one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven graphical user interface, leading to the creation of the Macintosh operating system. In 1986, Jobs acquired Graphics Group for $5 million and changed the name to Pixar (purchased by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion). He returned to Apple when its yearly revenue was $1.6 billion, and under his leadership, Apple grew to $15.5. billion in revenue by 2010. Educated at Reed College. Jobs quote: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me ... Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful... that’s what matters to me."
Mitch Kapor, known for Lotus (acquired in 1995 for $3.5 billion). A pioneer of the personal computing industry who has been at the forefront of information technology for more than 30 years as an entrepreneur, software designed, and investor. Founded Lotus Development Corporation and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the office application which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s. Served as president (later as chairman) and chief executive officer of Lotus from 1982 to 1986, and as a director until 1987. In 1983, Lotus’s first year of operations, the company achieved revenues of $53 million; by 1984, revenues were $156 million. In 1985, Lotus employed 1,300 people. IBM acquired Lotus in 1995 for $3.5 billion. He received his B.A. in Cybernetics from Yale. Kapor quote: "Building a workplace which engages a diversity of employees and brings out their best makes a far greater contribution than financial success alone."
David Packard (1912-1996), known for Hewlett-Packard (Net revenue, 2010: $126 billion). Packard established Hewlett-Packard in 1939 with Bill Hewlett in Packard's garage with capital of $538. His strength lay in manufacturing processes. In 1947, he became president of the company, a post he held until 1964, when he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer. He received his BA and Master's in Electrical Engineering from Stanford Univeristy. Packard quote: "I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists solely to make money. Money is an important part of a company's existence, if the company is any good. But a result is not a cause. We have to go deeper and find the real reason for our being."
Bob Swanson (1947-1999), known for Genentech (acquired in 2009 for around $46 billion). Swanson co-founded Genentech in 1976 with biochemist Dr. Herbert Boyer. Swanson was a venture capitalist at the time. Served as director and chief executive officer of Genentech until February 1990; then became chairman of the board until he retired in December 1996. Genentech is said to have started the biotechnology industry. As of early 2011, Genentech employed over 11,000 individuals. Swanson also was a founding board member of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. He received his SB (chemistry) from MIT and SM from MIT Sloan. Swanson quote: "What we tried to do in the early days was to create a culture where anything was possible."
The project started when Leland Chung, Cambridge City Councilor, President and co-founder of the EntWoF, called on a group of leading entrepreneurial thinkers to brainstorm what government could do to encourage and support entrepreneurship in cities across America. "One of my top priorities as City Councilor is to transform government into an institution that helps people and makes our community an even better place to live," Cheung said. "I want to inspire people, especially kids, to pursue entrepreneurship to give back to the community and the world."
Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, co-founder and Chair of the selection committee of the EntWoF, hopes the legacy of the seven iconic honorees and their incredible stories will inspire others to answer the call of entrepreneurship. "The Entrepreneur Walk of Fame was created to celebrate the best of the best," Aulet said. "We want the Walk of Fame to serve as inspiration to future generations representing the men and women who have put themselves on the line, taken the risks and left a trail behind them for someone else to follow suit."
The founding sponsors of the EntWoF are the Kauffman Foundation, Ernst & Young, IDEO, the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, Latham and Watkins LLC, and Boston Properties.
Details of the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame can be found at http://www.EntWoF.org/. View NECN coverage: