The Xconomy Half-Dozen-Stories-of-the-Half-Year Awards

12/27/07

This is the week that everybody in the media seems to be gazing back upon 2007, but here at Xconomy, well, we’re not that into the first half of the year. No offense intended to January, February, et al—we just weren’t around yet to cover all the people, companies, and happenings that surely made those first six months of the year a fascinating time in the New England innovation ecosystem. So, in honor of the hemi-anniversary of our June 27 launch (no need to send gifts, a few extra clicks will do), we present the Xconomy Half-Dozen-Stories-of-the-Half-Year Awards.

The “Who Knew?” Story of the Half Year:
Boston: The Hidden Hub of Music and Technology

Wade, a recent transplant from the West Coast with a healthy interest in the intersection of technology and entertainment, began to notice that the Boston-area music-tech scene is a lot more rocking than stereotype would lead you to expect. He spent weeks exploring a fascinating web of companies, all combining music, computing, and the Web, and unearthed a hidden technology cluster. The story was part of the inspiration for Xconomy’s upcoming Battle of the Tech Bands.
Runner Up:
VC Varsity
(showcasing the little-known athletic prowess of the area’s private equity circuit)

Home-Team Victory of the Half Year:
iRobot v. Robotic FX

We did our journalistic best to be objective in our coverage of Burlington, MA-based iRobot’s patent-infringement and trade-secrets-violations cases against an Illinois rival and the firm’s founder (a former iRobot employee). But the whole massive shredding/tossing of evidence thing… Well, it makes an impression, doesn’t it? Evidently it did on judges in Massachusetts and Alabama, because they endorsed settlements that put Robotic FX out of business and locked founder Jameel Ahed out of the industry for the next five years.
Runner Up:
Red Sox v. Rockies

Story Tip of the Half Year:
Upheaval at MERL

Don’t want to reveal too much about how this one came in, except to say that in a town like this one, kids’ playdates are shockingly prone to becoming parental networking events.
Runners Up:
IRobot’s Dumpster Diving Detectives
(the classic anonymous phone call)
The Inside Story of Eons Layoffs
(the classic insider source)
Metcalfe Takes GreenFuel Reins (the semi-classic e-mail tip, but we would have had the story two days earlier if our spies at Lanes and Games had recognized the thin Bob Metcalfe look-alike they thought they were seeing as the real, and newly svelte, Metcalfe)

Comment Catfight of the Half Year:
Sermo Strikes Back

I guess when you write a story about how a bunch of people are really ticked off about something (in this case, about some bloggers exposing a security loophole for Sermo, a popular Cambridge-based social networking site for physicians) it shouldn’t be too surprising that the story itself elicits some debate. But man, those doctors can get ornery! (And by doctors, I’m including the bloggers, too. Because I’m Switzerland, okay everybody?)
Runner Up:
What’s Wrong With Energy Investing?
(And what’s wrong with making the simple observation that investing in alternative energy is a necessary, but wholly insufficient way to deal with the energy problem?)

Anticlimax of the Half Year:
Carl Icahn Shakes Up Biogen Idec

The activist investor burst on the scene in August. Biogen was up for sale by October. Pundits and bloggers (ourselves included) speculated about who would buy the pioneering Cambridge biotech, but in December, with no offers on the table, Biogen took itself off the block. Of course, you know the story ain’t over
Runner Up
Genzyme Buys Bioenvision
(a once-fiery shareholder revolt fizzles at the 11th, make that 13th hour)

Google IPO Impersonation of the Half Year:
VMware
Hopkinton, MA’s EMC sold just 10 percent of its Palo Alto-based VMware subsidiary in this offering, but what an offering it was. The stock (NYSE: VMW) debuted at $50—a 72 percent premium over its offering price—and soared to a high of $125.25 within a few months (it’s now down to a mere $86 and change).
Runner Up:
Athenahealth
(NASDAQ: ATHN) (The Watertown, MA-based, provider of online billing and other business services for medical practices priced at $18 and debuted at $30.)
Also Ran:
EqualLogic
(NASDAQ: DELL) (The Nashua, NH-based maker of network storage ditched a planned IPO in favor of a $1.4 billion cash sale to Dell Computer—evidently the largest all-cash acquisition of a venture-backed company in history.)

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  • Brian

    For techno-thriller of the half year: The iRobot vs Robotic FX wins hands down!