by Josh Bernoff
Boston has always been a center for technology, but for the last 15 years or so, our eyes have glanced furtively and enviously at Silicon Valley. Clearly, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area are the epicenter of technology startups, including the ones that have gotten huge in the Web era (eBay, Google, Facebook, . . . ). Boston is still vibrant, and we have our own old and new technology giants (EMC, Akamai) but many of our most successful local startups have gotten acquired by companies from out of town.
But as I participated in Boston's FutureM conference a few months ago, it hit me right between the eyes just how much energy there is in Boston around technology for marketing. If you're interested in the intersection of marketing and technology, you have to come here. Let me make the case for you.
First, many of the leading thinkers in this space work right here. Who else has a list like this? (The links go to our books, limited it to one per author).
Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational)
Dave Balter (Grapevine)
Josh Bernoff (Empowered)
Dan Bricklin (Bricklin on Technology)
Chris Brogan (Trust Agents)
CC Chapman and Ann Handley (Content Rules)
Laura Fitton (Twitter for Dummies)
Steve Garfield (Get Seen)
Paul Gillin (Social Marketing to the Business Customer)
Emily Nagle Green (Anywhere)
Brian Halligan (Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead)
Greg Jarboe (YouTube and Video Marketing)
Scott Kirsner (Fans, Friends, and Followers)
Barry Libert (Social Nation)
Eric Qualman (Socialnomics)
Dan Schwabel (Me 2.0)
David Meerman Scott (Real-Time Marketing & PR)
Doc Searls (The Cluetrain Manifesto)
Dharmesh Shah (Inbound Marketing)
Lary Weber (Everywhere)
David Weinberger (Everything is Miscellaneous)
Dan Zarrella (The Facebook Marketing Book)
It's no coincidence with a list like this, that the leading analyst companies in this space, Forrester Research, Yankee Group, and IDC, are close by. Harvard, MIT, and Babson are pumping out the bright young thinkers we're all snapping up.
The startups here that set the agenda are companies like BzzAgent, Brightcove, Communispace, and Hubspot. There are plenty of startups other places, but I've found that these companies are consistently pushing the thinking forward and connecting with key marketing and media clients.
On the agency side, Boston is home to some of the important digital agencies including Digitas and SapientNitro, as well as traditional agencies with a strong digital focus like Hill Holliday, Arnold, and Mullen.
A local industry group, MITX, put on the FutureM conference and has led the way in putting the focus on Boston as a center for digital marketing. Communispace's former CMO, Debi Kleiman, just took over there and will stir the pot even further.
Sure, there's more advertising in New York and Chicago and more technology in California. But the community here is creating new ideas about marketing and putting them into practice on a continuous basis. It's a blast being part of this.
(With a post like this, it's inevitable that every pundit and startup I left off will pile on. And of course, every other center for technology is the developed world will pipe up. Well, let fly. Boston will take on all comers.)
NOTE: Thanks to Debi Kleiman for suggestions here, and to Scott Kirsner, whose Amazon list started my thinking on this.