The Friday Five is a list of five things worth knowing about... and in the comments, lots more things that you add.
This week, it's five people I consider "super-connectors" in the Boston tech start-up scene. How do I define a super-connector?
- They have an amazingly vast network
- They're not reclusive: you're likely to see them out and about at networking events
- They're generous about making introductions for you if they believe in your idea
There are lots of people who are important and powerful in Boston, but many of them are too heads-down to be true super-connectors.
Now, a caveat: most of these people won't respond to over-the-transom e-mails or LinkedIn requests. You need to meet them in the right context (sometimes via an introduction from someone else), and they need to sense that you're the real deal.
Here's my list:
- - Joost Bonsen is one of the prime links between MIT and the outside world. He seems to know just about everything happening at the Institute, as well as most of the alums who've left to start companies, and a good number of investors, too. Bonsen helped to grow MIT's $100K Business Plan Competition, and he blogs at Maximizing Progress. Interested these days in urban design innovation, neurotechnology, and developmental entrepreneurship. Currently working at the MIT Media Lab.
- Maria Cirino has been an exec at Lotus, Shiva Corp., and i-Cube, and was founder and chief executive of the IT security company Guardent, which was sold to VeriSign. She became an SVP there before co-founding .406 Ventures. Cirino has almost 500 connections on LinkedIn. Not too shabby... And she just started tweeting at @MariaCirino.
- Microsoft executive Don Dodge lives in New Hampshire, is often in Boston, and lately has been spending much of his time in Los Angeles. Dodge started his career at Digital Equipment, worked for that company's AltaVista search spin-out, and later held positions at Napster and Groove Networks. He blogs at The Next Big Thing. Just this week, an entrepreneur was telling me how Dodge helped him raise money from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and New England Patriots executive Jonathan Kraft (who are both also tech investors). Tweets at @DonDodge.
- John Landry: former chief technology officer of Lotus, tech advisor to IBM's CEO, former colleague of Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie. Landry is also an angel investor through Lead Dog Ventures, a trustee and part-time instructor at Babson College, an investor in several local venture capital funds, and a mentor for Tech Stars Boston. Tweets at @leaddog99.
- Bill Warner worked at Apollo Computer before starting two important companies: Avid Technology, which changed the way TV shows and movies are edited, and Wildfire Communications, which was Google Voice about 15 years before Google Voice. He's an angel investor, a trustee at the Massachusetts Tech Leadership Council, and the prime mover behind their annual Innovation Unconference. Tweets at @BillWarner, and blogs here.
Who would be tops on your personal list of super-connectors? I know there are scads more worthy people. So add someone below -- with links, if you would, to their blogs or Twitter accounts...
(And yes, we will laugh at you if you try to nominate yourself.)
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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