Xconomist of the Week: Reed Sturtevant of Lotus, Idealab, and Microsoft Fame Talks Tech Trends to Watch

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I can’t do on my phone yet. Write code, build a complex spreadsheet, CAD [computer aided design]? Much of this may seem awkward and out of place today, but it is ripe for exploration and invention.

Another trend I love has to do with the rise of a producer class and the shifting ratio of producers to consumers. If you watch the growth of the DIY/Maker culture I believe that their creativity around physical product will lead to mainstream impact just as in the 1970s computer tinkerers fledged the PC revolution.

Entrepreneurs should pay attention to emerging companies that are building links in the creative chain of commerce from design to funding, through production to discovery and distribution. Take a close look at Quirky, Kickstarter, Shapeways, Makerbot, Ponoko, Adafruit, Spoonflower, and GrabCAD. Mix in an understanding of the use of digital tools in the global supply chain, emerging social marketplaces like Etsy, Svpply, Pinterest, and Curisma, and you have plenty of ingredients to foment change.

X: The FutureM conference is going on this week around Boston. In what specific areas of marketing tech do you think local companies and innovators will have the greatest impact?

RS: We’ve got a history in ad tech going way back to CMGI’s Engage and Burst Media. I’d bet on Boston’s particular strength in mobile which has produced exits such as Enpocket (acquired by Nokia), Third Screen Media (acquired by AOL) and Quattro Wireless (acquired by Apple). We’ve also got a cluster around location based tech such as Where (acquired by PayPal), Skyhook Wireless, SCVNGR, and Locately. (Disclosure: Project 11 is an investor in Locately and in a stealth mobile ad tech company.)

Boston also has a record of success in marketing services companies such as Constant Contact, BzzAgent, and more recently, HubSpot. Though HubSpot has been a talent sponge recently, absorbing Performable and Oneforty, some sponges reproduce by a process called “budding” where small parts break off and grow into new sponges. That cycle could easily expand this ecosystem in Boston.

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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  • Gregory, thanks for writing this article about Reed. It’s well deserved as he is a fantastic mentor, advocate and investor. It’s really been a pleasure for us at ScriptPad to work with him, and we look forward to a long partnership.