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Last Night's Mass High Tech All-Stars Party

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 30, 2009 12:52 PM

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There's nothing quite like going to a shindig in the big ballroom at the Park Plaza Hotel at the end of a crisp fall day to make you feel: yes, this is Boston.

Mass High Tech held its annual All-Star Awards ceremony there last night, attracting a great agglomeration of tech folks. (Disclosure: Mass High Tech was kind enough to bestow an award on me. I am fairly certain it was some kind of clerical error.)

Here are some pics from the event (as usual, it was a bit too dark in there for my iPhone camera), and notes on some of the people I ran into:

There were a lot of former award-winners in attendance, including iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, 3Com founder Bob Metcalfe, and Avid founder Bill Warner. Executive recruiter Pearl Freier was there, as were consummate networker Diane Darling and Mass. Innovation Nights founder Bobbie Carlton.

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Acceptance speeches were limited to a Twitter-length 140 characters, with any overage costing the winner $1 a character as a donation to Girls in Tech. I thought Dharmesh Shah (pictured at left, in the center talking with Bill Warner and Adam Zand) of HubSpot gave one of the best speeches of the evening, exhorting the local entrepreneurial community to find ways to cultivate more women entrepreneurs like Gail Goodman, a fellow honoree and chief executive of Constant Contact. (Goodman is on HubSpot's board, incidentally.)

E Ink chief executive Russ Wilcox offered a great nugget of wisdom: for meaning in life, take on a difficult challenge that builds lasting value for others. iRobot co-founder Rod Brooks, now working on a new robotics start-up called Heartland, testified to the importance of figuring out your vision, and not getting too distracted by the current reality around you.

The only no-show among the award winners was Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith. He was apparently racing back from New York, but didn't make it in time.

Honoree David Beisel, a VC at Venrock and creator of the Web Innovator's Group monthly gathering:

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Bob Metcalfe, of Polaris Venture Partners, with Julianne Zimmerman:

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Robert Kass and Alyssa Stern playing "The Beatles: Rock Band."

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At left is Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity and one of the evening's honorees, with Mike Kendall of Goodwin Procter:

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After the awards, a smaller group convened in a downstairs bar, where Mike Langford and Jeff Cutler shot an episode of their NomX3 Web show. PR machine Patrick Rafter was there, as was Karen Lilla from IBM. I also got to meet Ronald Croen, the new entrepreneur-in-residence at Tufts, who was formerly founder of Nuance Communications, the Silicon Valley speech-recognition company that was acquired by ScanSoft in Massachusetts (ScanSoft then assumed the Nuance name.) Massachusetts Housing & Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki (pictured at right) was also in the bar for a while, talking about how much fun it is imploding old buildings.

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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Events

March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
Competition for aspiring game developers... plus panels and keynotes related to the business of play.

April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
Issues facing the region's life sciences community.

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