First and foremost, though I am a New Hampshire resident, in the interest of disclosure it’s penitent that I mention my upbringing was in the Massachusetts suburbs. I got to reap the benefits of having an international hub right in my backyard, some of the best schooling in the country, and opportunities born out of the booming industries being invented. Sure the economy isn’t doing so hot right now, but Massachusetts has consistently been ahead of the pack in terms of unemployment since the mid 1990’s (source: BLS). Now rather than engage in a never-ending argument about fiscal policies and politics, I’m going to offer my take on why the Boston Globe article “Can Massachusetts Produce the Next Google?” and the conclusion of no is flat out wrong.
Massachusetts is one of the best areas in the country right now for starting a business. There are countless groups specifically dedicated to incubating startups, funding startups, and providing networking resources with the best of the best. Though many states are encouraging startups, Massachusetts has been wisely focusing on STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which will be the future of our national economy. Just ask any unskilled worked how the job market has
changed over the past 10 years and it will become clear why education is critical in these areas. Thanks to outsourcing and “free”-trade, for better or for worse our job market will shift to an innovation economy. There are already far too many laborers to meet the need, yet innovation by its very nature can be self-supporting. What better way to innovate than to aim an economy right at it and fire?
The Globe article pointed to recent M&As and IPOs as reasons Massachusetts is failing to foster the next Google. Sorry my friends, but that is a national issue. Everyone is in business to get an ROI for the investors on a relatively short timescale (and hopefully do some good as well). Most people want a return on their hard work, so founders and early team members see those cash-outs as the goal, whereas the company is then allowed to morph into another state of being. Anyone not living under a rock can see that bigger companies gobbling up smaller ones is the new way of business because it’s cheaper to buy a new proven technology and leverage an existing network to mass-produce it. It’s a dog eat dog world and some companies happen to be kings of the hill… for now.
All of these startups are creating jobs and bringing wealth to the state and the communities, regardless of what happens after a few years. Massachusetts can’t payoff Google, Microsoft, and the likes to stop doing what’s best for them by buying startups, but it can play a strategy- Invest in the technoligists and the business people, have a support network, create an incubation zone and have funding readily available. We are already seeing companies like Hubspot rising through the corporate ranks, with a spawn of next generation even more promising. When the next big technology comes along, like operating systems and indexed searching, there’s a good chance it will be created by a small team in a small company. It’s just a numbers game and a matter of time before the giants are displaced by a company so successful it wouldn’t want to be bought-out. There may be not guarantees to this gameplan, but it seems like a good one given the current state of any state that invested in outsourcable labor.