Hewlett-Packard Expands to Cambridge via Vertica’s “Big Data” Center

1/23/12Follow @gthuang

There’s a new big tech company in town. In fact, it’s arguably the world’s biggest technology company (by revenue), and it’s joining the ranks of IBM, EMC, Microsoft, Google, and, most recently, Amazon, in expanding to the Boston-Cambridge area.

Palo Alto, CA-based Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) has set up a new office in Cambridge, MA. The operation will serve as a center for technology development, licensing, and outreach to local startups, investors, and researchers. The 37,000-square-foot facility at 150 CambridgePark Drive, near the Alewife subway station, is spread over two floors. The building serves as the new headquarters for Vertica, the Boston-area big-data analytics firm that HP bought last winter. Vertica is in the process of moving its 150 employees from its offices in Billerica to the Cambridge facility this month, and it is currently hiring.

HP already had a sizable presence in Massachusetts, with its campus in Andover. But the new Cambridge office represents an unprecedented investment by HP in outreach and partnerships with local entrepreneurs, venture capital firms, and the academic research community in the Boston area. The company hasn’t specified a firm commitment of future dollars, but just setting up the new space—including a state-of the art lab and all its associated infrastructure—has cost more than $10 million, says Chris Lynch, the chief executive of Vertica. (His HP title is vice president and general manager.)

Lynch, who is leading the new facility, calls it a “big-data center of excellence” for HP. The idea is it will be a technology hub for the firm, a bit like HP Labs in Palo Alto—but different. (Lynch wouldn’t go so far as to call it “HP Labs East.”) The center will be a base from which HP could make deals to license its technology or invest in early-stage startups alongside venture firms, he says. The center also plans to bring in students and early-stage entrepreneurs for hackathons and other tech-themed events. And it will serve as a base for other types of outreach, such as to local K-12 schools, Lynch says.

So why Alewife instead of, say, Kendall Square? “We wanted to bridge the gap between getting access to the younger people living in Cambridge … Next Page »

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. Follow @gthuang

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