Letter from the business editor
The financial crisis of 2008 upended our economy and swept away some of the most storied names in corporate America. But many survived, and some thrived, in an economic storm of historic proportions.
That makes this Globe 100 - our annual list of the top performing public companies in Massachusetts - a special one. These businesses excelled when so many others struggled, and their stories offer invaluable lessons for tough times.
In particular, the rise of this year's number one company, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, illustrates how a smart business builds for prosperity even in an unforgiving environment. The Cambridge biotechnology firm found success in an unlikely place: a failed drug. Executives saw opportunity where others walked away, and they bought the rights to a drug that was deemed too dangerous in clinical trials. With a bit of ingenuity, Cubist found a way to tame the powerful compound. Now it generates several hundred million in annual revenue.
What's telling is which companies made this year's Globe 100 - and which did not. New to the list: Sapient Corp. When its customer base evaporated after the dot-com bust, it reengineered the company. Now, the Boston digital marketing business is number three.
Beacon Roofing Supply was at the bottom of the list last year; this year, it defied the odds and shot up to number eight by sticking to what it does best.
One noticeable absence: Perini Corp., the Framingham construction firm that soared to the top of the Globe 100 in 2007 and 2008. The recession hit Perini's industry particularly hard, highlighting what a volatile year it was.
Special thanks to this year's team who put together the magazine. Michael Warshaw, who oversees the paper's technology coverage, served as the editor of Globe 100. Deputy design director Greg Klee again served as art director, giving a fresh look to our list in its 21st year. Boston.com producer Jesse Nunes and multimedia editor D.C. Denison transformed the magazine into an engaging online experience, complete with interactive charts and videos. It's must-click Web viewing.
As tough as 2008 was, 2009 will be equally challenging. But Massachusetts has a long tradition of breeding and growing businesses that adapt in the face of adversity to lead us into the next boom.