Technology

Facebook Founder's 'Fans' Flock To See Him IRL

By Cristina Quinn and WGBH News   |   Tuesday, November 8, 2011
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Nov. 8, 2011

mark zuckerberg facebook

In this photo provided by Harvard University, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, right, greets a crowd at Harvard, in Cambridge, Mass., Monday, Nov. 7, 2011. Zuckerberg, 27, returned to Harvard for the first time since he left in 2004 in an effort to enlist new talent for his social networking site. (AP Photo/Rose Lincoln, Harvard University)


BOSTON —  So popular is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the city he left that fans and press were fenced off at his Harvard press appearance on Nov. 7.
 
About 250 people showed up, including many Harvard students eager to meet the 27-year-old dropout success story. Their excitement seemed undampened by the fact that the Facebook wunderkind answered only three questions in the moderated Q-and-A. Perhaps some of them managed to attend his 75-minute talk to a limited audience

Zuckerberg was in town to recruit students from MIT and Harvard for the expanding Facebook team. He sent shock waves throughout Boston and Cambridge last month after telling students at Stanford University, that were he to start Facebook now, he would have stayed in Boston.

However, Zuckerberg said at Harvard that he had no plans to set up shop in Boston any time soon.
 
"We currently have our main development in Palo Alto. And we opened one development office outside Palo Alto, in Seattle. And we want to really get the culture there right before we start opening up other offices. But at some point, hopefully, down the line, we will do that," Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg explains why Facebook won't be opening a Boston office right now.

Zuckerberg said this was just the beginning for Facebook, and that the next phase would be to develop how industries do business on the platform.
 
"The last five years of Facebook have really just been about helping people get signed up and stay connected with their friends. But I think the next five or 10 years are going to be about all of these different products and industries that can be rethought now that you have this base of all these connections in place for these people," Zuckerberg said.

Xconomy Report For Nov. 4, 2011

By Xconomy.com   |   Friday, November 4, 2011
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Nov. 4, 2011



BOSTON — Which of the following publicly traded tech companies is based in the Boston area: Zipcar, Akamai, Constant Contact, iRobot, LogMeIn or Monster.com? The answer is: All of them. Together with fast-growing upstarts such as HubSpot, Gemvara, Kayak, TripAdvisor and Wayfair, such firms are generating a renewed sense that big companies can be built here and can become anchors for talent. Perhaps that’s why Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, who is recruiting at Harvard and MIT on Monday, said that if he were starting now, he would stay in Boston.
 
In other innovation news, a new Cambridge-based company called Tru.ly released its technology for verifying internet users’ real identities and ages online, in an attempt to bar underage viewers from beer websites, online gambling and the like.
 
The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and actress Julie Andrews are funding an effort by MIT and Harvard researchers to develop a vibrating gel that would revive damaged vocal cords for singers and throat cancer patients.
 
And a stem cell company called Verastem is attempting to go public at just 15 months old. The Cambridge-based company raised $32 million this July and is targeting $50 million more with the initial public offering.
 
The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Xconomy Report For Oct. 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Oct. 28, 2011

BOSTON — The top story in innovation this week is that Weston-based Biogen Idec met its goals in a second clinical trial of the company's first pill for multiple sclerosis (MS). The neurodegenerative disease affects 400,000 patients in the U.S.; Biogen is the world’s largest MS drugmaker, selling injectable treatments. In the study, Biogen’s pill reduced MS flareups by 44 percent when patients took it twice a day and by 51 percent when they took it three times a day. It’s an important milestone for Biogen, since two of its competitors — Novartis and Acorda Therapeutics — have already gained FDA approval for oral MS treatments.
 
In other news, Bedford-based iRobot, the maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners and military PackBots, reported a strong third-quarter profit but laid off 8 percent of its staff — a total of 55 workers — across Massachusetts, North Carolina and California.
 
MassChallenge, the Boston startup accelerator and business competition, awarded $1 million in prizes among 17 startups. Alkeus Pharmaceuticals, Sanergy and Tinfoil Security led the way with $100,000 each.

More broadly, Bay State companies raised $250 million in venture capital last month. The total for the third quarter was $505 million, down by about half from the previous quarter, when there was talk of a new tech bubble.

The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

Today At WGBH: TEDx New England

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, November 1, 2011
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Nov. 1, 2011

BOSTON — This afternoon, thinkers discuss innovations and ideas worth acting on at the WGBH studios. The conference will be live-streamed by Thomson Reuters starting at 1:00 p.m.
 

On-site registration is closed but we encourage you to follow along on your computer (requires free sign-up).

Technology writer David Pogue hosts with speakers:

 

  • Paula S. Aspell of WGBH's NOVA
  • Sculptor Janet Echelman
  • John Hunter, creator of the World Peace Game
  • Joseph Kessler, youth trends analyst
  • Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University
  • Nuclear engineers and theorists Dr. Richard Lester, Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie
  • High-tech composer Tod Machover
  • Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School
  • Katie Smith Milway and Amma Sefa-Dedeh, founders of One Hen
  • Jeet Singh, technology entrepreneur

 

Read the full biographies.

WGBH's new show "Innovation Hub" will have highlights and exclusive interviews on November 5 and 6. Tweet your reactions with the hashag #TEDxNE.

Inventing The Future: Learning From The Epic Fail

By WGBH News   |   Friday, October 28, 2011
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Oct. 28, 2011

angry birds

Before the company Rovio had a hit with "Angry Birds," it had a lot of failures. (bfishadow/Flickr)


BOSTON — If you’re going to get involved in a startup company, you can’t be risk-averse. A full 90 percent of startups fail, according to two innovation experts who were guests of “The Callie Crossley Show” on October 27,
 
However, failure isn’t a source of shame among technology innovators. It's “actually the opportunity for a new beginning,” said entrepreneur Cortland Johnson, a founder of web app developer Terrible Labs, “the end of one thing and the beginning of the next.”
 
Greg Gomer, a founding member and writer for Bostinnovation, agreed. “It’s the single [biggest] learning point that you will have for your company,” he said. “That’s where you learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about your company.”
 
In the fast-paced world of technology, mistakes and misfires are part of the process. 
 
“You want to throw out a product as fast as possible [and] see how people take to it,” Johnson said.
 
Once that product is out in the world, its creator has to “iterate,” Johnson said: “You learn whether or not it was creating value, and if it is, then you want to continue to explore that and expand upon that. But if it’s not, you’ve got to shift a little bit.”
 
If you're sufficiently nimble, you can hop right from the 90 percent to the 10. Gomer pointed to Rovio, the entertainment media company that created “Angry Birds.” Today, they’re at the top of the heap. But, Gomer said, “that company had failed 51 times before ‘Angry Birds.’”
 
Hear the whole conversation on “The Callie Crossley Show.”

MIT Signs Historic Deal With New Russian Technology Hub

By Phillip Martin   |   Thursday, October 27, 2011
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Oct. 27, 2011

skolkovo map

It could be the next Silicon Valley or Kendall Square, and it's going up in a suburb of Moscow. (Skolkovo Foundation)

 

BOSTON — On October 26, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a historic agreement with a Russian government–sponsored foundation to build a world-class graduate school of technology, known as SkTech, just outside Moscow.

DJ Henry and siblings
MIT Professor Ed Crawley will lead SkTech. (Courtesy of MIT)

The Skolkovo Institute of Technology is being built on farmland about 40 miles outside of Moscow. As WGBH reported several weeks ago, the project is being hailed as a watershed moment in Russia’s post–Cold War development — and MIT is taking part of the credit.
 
MIT President Susan Hockfield, in Moscow for the signing, said that MIT is committed to “bringing together Russian, U.S. and global research and technology, and in integrating teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Alexey Sitnikov, the foundation’s executive director of academic development, explained why another graduate university similar to MIT or CalTech is needed in Russia.
 
The country already has a technological institute — but it was founded in the middle of the last century, Sitnikov said, and since then “we haven’t created a university of a truly international caliber, competitive on the international level, [that’s] able to create and commercialize technology.”  
 
The agreement between MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation to develop SkTech will take place over three years. MIT scientists, engineers and other professionals will travel back and forth to Russia to work and conduct research. They will find the going easy: The government is relaxing visa restrictions for those associated with the project.
 
The new institution will offer master’s degrees and doctorates in five critical priority areas, Sitnikov said: Biotechnology, information technology, space technology, communication and nuclear technology.”
 
Edward Crawley, an MIT professor of engineering, will be SkTech’s first president.
 
MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation — which was set up to spur this very kind of initiative — have also committed to building Skolkovo Innovation City on the same dry patch of land. The innovation city is being compared to both Kendall Square and Silicon Valley. One of MIT’s long-term goals is to profit from the joint venture through the development of new mass-market and industry-related products.

 

sktech plan

SkTech will have five primary focal areas. (SkTech MIT Initiative)

About the Authors
WGBH News
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Phillip Martin Phillip Martin
Phillip W. D. Martin is the senior investigative reporter for WGBH Radio News and executive producer for Lifted Veils Productions. In the past, he was a supervising senior editor for NPR, an NPR race relations correspondent and one of the senior producers responsible for creating The World radio program in 1995. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1998. Learn more at liftedveils.org.

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