Today, I was honored to participate in a round-table hosted by the Mass_Tech (@masstech) with other growth company CEOs on the topic of growing big technology companies in Massachusetts.  Without resorting to the whining about Boston versus Silicon Valley (sorry, California’s weather will always be better), here are the four reasons I think we need more big tech companies:

  1. Jobs:  Sure this is obvious, but I am not talking about numbers of jobs, but rather types of jobs.  It has been shown time and time again that growth companies have the ability to create as many jobs as large ones.  But, growth companies cannot create the kind of first job opportunities that a large company can.  At Digital Lumens, we have worked hard to provide opportunities through internships, college hiring, and a focus on veterans.  But, like all growth companies our primary focus has been on “been there / done that” types of candidates that can get in the boat and row hard from day one.  Large companies have the mass, the on-boarding skills, and career development abilities that are cannot be matched by growth companies.
  2. Farm teams:  Great startups are born from Director-level people in big tech companies who see an opportunity in a space that the big company is not attacking.  They have experience with channels, product introduction, marketing, hiring, etc., and know more about the mistakes not to make than founders who come straight from school.  And nothing gets the attention from a VC than an opening line “I run the xyz product line at Cisco (or Facebook or WorkDay) and I have a figured out a new approach to the market.”
  3. Corporate philanthropy:  Big companies give where they live.  Certainly Boston has seen philanthropy from the out-of-towners like Microsoft and Google, but we need more big local companies to grow and provide leadership across our arts, educational, and social support non-profits.  As a member of the board at the Boston Museum of Science, I have been thankful for the continuous support from local companies like Harvard Pilgrim, MathWorks, and Raytheon.
  4. More voices in the political process:  Larger companies have the resources, time, and inclination to get involved and move the politics of a region.  Whether you agree or disagree with EMC’s political and business stance, you can agree that we need a broader spectrum of positions in the conversation.

Once again, Governor Deval Patrick is a proactive leader in collaboration with the business community in bringing this type of conversation to the forefront.  The Commonwealth will miss his innovation and insight.  I hope the electorate will choose a new governor with the same vigor and resourcefulness.

Note:  Special thanks to good friend @jab for reason #2.