The Exchange is part of an ongoing series on The Hive tackling the questions facing Boston’s entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators. Read the other side of the debate. Have your own opinion, or an idea for another topic? E-mail Hive@Boston.
The suburbs are getting a bad name. There is a building perception that great tech companies can only develop and grow in the City of Boston. Despite the development of the “Innovation District” in Boston’s Seaport, the suburbs are a great place to build a technology business (those from TripAdvisor, Analog Devices, and PTC would certainly agree).
The primary argument for locating in Boston is the war for young engineering talent, many of whom do not want to drive to the ‘burbs. However companies shouldn’t forget about great 30- and 40-something engineers. Many have families, live in the suburbs, and don’t want to face the horrendous commute into and out of the city. Engineers face a problem of ageism and there’s an unfair perception that only young talent can innovate and work hard.
Moreover, the battle for talent in the city is fierce. Mid-sized tech companies recently having left offices in the suburbs for the lure of the Innovation District, now face intense competition against powerful recruiting machines (and compelling brands) like Google, Facebook, eBay, and Microsoft, all of whom have opened development offices in Cambridge or Boston. These new city dwellers also compete for talent against exciting well-funded startups, which dangle equity in front of prospective employees.
It’s not complicated. People don’t like crummy commutes. You certainly can build a great company in the city, but you can also build one in the ‘burbs. Successful companies hire A-players who innovate, work hard, and are motivated. But, don’t assume these people are all 26 years old and live in Boston. The talent pool may be deep in Boston, but it’s just as deep outside the city. And, the parking is free.
Peter Blacklow is president of WorldWinner and executive vice president of GSN, a digital games company in Waltham. For the other side of The Exchange, read on, or submit your own thoughts to Hive@Boston.com.