Entrepreneur Walk of Fame Opens in Kendall Square: Gates, Jobs, Kapor, Hewlett, Packard, Swanson, and Edison are Inaugural Inductees

9/16/11Follow @gthuang

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committee decision. But, for the record, the guidelines for choosing the inductees included factors such as the nominations being national in scope (international is for the future); having linkage to Cambridge/Boston was not necessary but nice; they had to be founder-and-CEO level people associated with a billion-dollar company (in today’s dollars) in a tech or innovation-based industry; and the focus was on entrepreneurs with great stories—not investors, inventors, or ideas people.

The selection committee consisted of: Bill Aulet, MIT Entrepreneurship Center; Tom Byers, Stanford Technology Ventures Program; George Colony, Forrester Research; Desh Deshpande, MIT Deshpande Center; Emily Green, Yankee Group; Bryan Pearce, Ernst & Young; Jason Pontin, MIT’s Technology Review; and Carl Schramm, Kauffman Foundation.

[Disclosure: The committee for nominations included Xconomy founder and CEO Bob Buderi, as well as Howard Anderson, Mike Cantalupa, Dan Isenberg, Joi Ito, Brad Feld, John Harthorne, Paul Maeder, Pascal Marmier, Paul Sagan, and Leon Sandler.]

Aulet shed some light on the decision process for choosing the inductees by comparing it to a group of people choosing a short list of all-time basketball greats. “It’s like sitting around in a bar saying, ‘Who’s better, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, or Michael Jordan?’ and arguing for two hours,” he says. “That’s what the selection committee was like.”

Some people might ask why Kapor made the cut, for instance, given that Lotus didn’t reach the rarefied heights that Apple or Microsoft have. “He changed Kendall Square,” Aulet says. “Kendall Square doesn’t exist like it is today without Mitch Kapor. He symbolized the rock and roll entrepreneur. You could be cool and you could be a business person.”

So where do they go from here? Well, the idea is to attract national attention to the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame and (ideally) create a kind of tourist destination on par with other Massachusetts attractions like the Freedom Trail or the Basketball Hall of Fame. The plan is to induct six new entrepreneurs annually, Aulet says—about half of them will be living, and half will be historical figures.

“We’re super excited about this,” he says. “These are stories of people who changed the world.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • http://www.startup-book.com Herve Lebret

    I think they forgot Robert Noyce (Fairchild and Intel co-founder and MIT alumnus), but maybe they would have had to put the eight traitors or at least Gordon Moore. The Google guys are probably young enough to come later.

  • http://www.palatuccisearch.com Chris Palatucci

    “having linkage to Cambridge/Boston was not necessary” Why not?? Seems like a tacit admission that we don’t have enough tech rock stars with roots here, which is clearly not the case.
    Also note the absence of Dean Kamen on any of the selection committees. His whole shtick is about how young people need scientists and engineers as heroes, not basketball stars. Maybe he was asked and turned it down, but this type of effort seems right in his cross hairs.

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  • http://Adventuresinburgundy.com Lincoln Russell

    Between 1970 and 1974, I worked in chemical research for Polaroid as it created the SX-70 camera, after which I spent 35 years as a professional photographer, and the failure to include Edwin Land on this list is simply impossible to understand!

  • Janet Egan

    They forgot Ken Olsen! We must get him inducted in the next round. Founding Digital Equipment Corporation set the stage for the accomplishments of some of the entrepreneurs they have honored.

  • Kathryn Kilroy

    I agree with the Edwin Land comment but mostly I was disappointed that there were no women in this inaugural class!!

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  • Kim Francis

    Other than Edison and Swanson, does this listing imply that to be a entrepreneur you have to be in a computer related field? There were no successful or outstanding out-of-the-box thinkers in the fields of architecture or medicine or chemical engineering? I do support this type of recognition, it makes the contribution permanent, but I am dismayed at its narrowness.

  • David Wells

    I agree with Janet and other comment contributors. While I applaud recognition of great entrepreneurs, I find it hard to believe Ken Olsen wouldn’t be on the first version of such a list. This is not to suggest those selected shouldn’t be there, but it seems like this may be a somewhat narrow definition of entrepreneur.

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