8 Things We Learned This Summer About the Boston Tech Scene

8/31/12Follow @gthuang

Before you head out for the long holiday weekend—well, some of you—I wanted to remind you of one thing. Boston innovation scene, I am watching you.

I am watching you because you are changing before my eyes. Some of it is surprising, some of it isn’t. Some of it is of local interest, but most of it speaks to Boston’s prominence as a national innovation hub—and the global impact of its people, organizations, and industries.

Here are eight of the biggest trends I’m seeing:

1. The IPO market is holding steady. The IPOs of Kayak, Exa, Demandware, and Brightcove have been modest, but they add to a growing list of recently-gone-public tech companies that also includes Carbonite, Zipcar, and TripAdvisor. And the newly public companies’ stock prices have done better, relatively, than giants like Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga this summer. (The three Boston-area biotech companies that have gone public this year—Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Verastem, and Tesaro—have seen their stock prices hold steady too.) Note: Boston compares favorably to New York in this regard.

2. Startup schools are in session. Boston is a great town for education. It’s not surprising, then, that several organizations have popped up to fill the instructional gaps between universities, startups, and big companies. Among them is Boston Startup School, which graduated its first class this month. Meanwhile, Intelligent.ly is going strong with its own blend of mentorship and collaboration. Both programs offer tutorials in areas like marketing, product design and management, strategy and leadership, and software development. (Also, General Assembly has been expanding from New York to Boston and a bunch of other cities.)

3. Innovation real estate mojo is moving from Cambridge to Boston. This is probably a cyclical thing. Zipcar is the latest high-profile company to confirm it is moving across the river to Boston proper. (Brightcove, SCVNGR, and Jumptap are a few recent ones that come to mind.) You can hardly drink at a bar without hearing an entrepreneur complain about rent prices in Cambridge (especially Kendall Square). All of that—coupled with the expansion of PayPal in downtown Boston and the rise of the nearby Innovation District—means the pendulum of popularity has swung. But don’t worry, Cambridge isn’t going anywhere.

4. The venture capital landscape has changed. Some big VC firms in town are going through transitions. Various partners have left, and those remaining (or new) are hustling for investments in a more transparent world. … 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 or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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