World Series of IT

Does the Red Sox win portend other East Coast successes?

The Red Sox win the World Series against a team that keeps its baseballs in a humidor and wears uniforms that are knockoffs of the outfit worn by Colonel Sandurz in the 1987 science fiction parody "Spaceballs." The New England Patriots run up a basketball score of 52-7 against Washington and show all the signs of repeat Super Bowl stardom. Can the New England tech community be far behind?

Well, yes, those tech companies can be behind, but that doesnt mean they cant catch up. I dont hear envious stories about the New York, Washington or Denver technology scenes, but California is a different story.

There is talk and more talk about Google that often leads to people crying in their beer that AltaVista (then owned by Digital Equipment) in 1995 shoulda been a contender.

And now with social networks all the rage and Microsoft buying a $240 million sliver of Palo Alto-based Facebook—which, multiplied forward, values this startup with Harvard roots (wait, didnt Microsoft also have Harvard roots?) at $15 billion—the fear is that Massachusetts and New England are being left without invitations to the latest high-tech party.

Not to worry. Just as the Red Sox shook off the World Series curse in 2004 and now have won another Series title in 2007, the East Coast is starting to get the feeling that all those social networking sites in the SoMa area of San Francisco are probably about 10 times as many social networking sites as the world needs. Maybe it is time to look at some of the East Coast—and, in particular, Massachusetts—all-star veterans and up-and-comers.

First up: the rookie that ate the company. Who knew, when EMC bought VMware, that virtualization would be more than a passing IT fancy? Is there any better example of an acquisition that made everybody look smart, made everybody a lot of money and changed the parent company?

Second up: highest pop fly. The IPO with the biggest one-day "pop" of the year wasnt some Silicon Valley marketspeak company, but Athenahealth, based in Watertown, Mass. Athenahealth saw its initial offering rise from $18 to nearly $36 per share.

Third up: companies tying the old world to the new. StratBridge, in Cambridge, Mass., is bringing business intelligence to the business of filling up stadium seats at sports venues in the most efficient manner. And Exit41, in my hometown of Andover, Mass., is bringing Web-based speed and efficiency to fast-food ordering. A couple of towns over, Desktone is trying to do for desktop virtualization what VMware did for server virtualization. The list goes on.