Monday, June 07, 2010

Rebecca Frankel on Boston Startups

A few weeks ago, I shared something on Google Reader/Buzz about Boston Entrepreneurship. Fundamentally, during the mini-computer era, Route 128 was as much a hotbed of computer expertise and business as Silicon Valley was. If you had to bet on a region, you could easily have bet on the Boston Area rather than Silicon Valley.

Yet all through the 1980s till now, Silicon Valley has led the way in producing the companies that people talk about today. Google, Facebook, Netscape, and many others that changed the landscape basically came out of Silicon Valley. I applied to graduate school at MIT in 1992, and was accepted, but for various reasons (explained in An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups) backed out before registration, so I never truly got a good feel for the Boston area.

I met Rebecca Frankel a few years ago when she applied for a conversion from intern to full time employee at Google. At that time, I thought Google was doing something pretty nasty: they were forcing interns who wanted to convert to commit to leaving graduate school before granting an interview, which might or might not result in a full time offer. I understand why Google did this: it really wanted to make sure that the best graduate students weren't being systematically poached by Google (or some groups inside Google), thereby poisoning the well at graduate schools where professors would send us their top students. But I thought it was a pretty crummy deal.

Anyway, Rebecca has a lot to say about the Boston area, MIT, and the role of DARPA and what other sciences call "basic research" as compared to what entrepreneurship is all about, and I think whether you live in Silicon Valley or Boston (or even New York City), it's definitely worth reading what she has to say.
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