Thinking About Thinking

Blogging: A Cultural Difference Between Boston And Waltham VCs

Posted in Venture Capital by larrycheng on September 10, 2009

Scott Kirsner, a Boston Globe writer and freelancer, wrote a provocative blog post a few weeks ago entitled “Why Waltham Doesn’t Matter”.  Scott’s basic claim is that Waltham VC’s “don’t matter” as they are being displaced by the new aggressive and open culture of VCs emerging in Boston and Cambridge.  While I disagreed with the title of his post and the implication, Scott’s point on cultural differences has real merit.  Hence, I thought I’d put it to the test on one dimension after publishing the revised Global VC Blog Directory this past Monday. 

Here’s the list of the greater Boston VC bloggers ranked by Google Reader subscribers and whether they’re from Boston/Cambridge or Waltham (# of subs):

Greater Boston VC Bloggers

  1. Mike Hirshland, Polaris Venture Partners, VC Mike’s Blog (1,038) – Waltham
  2. Jeff Bussgang, Flybridge Capital Partners, Seeing Both Sides (1,018) – Boston
  3. Scott Maxwell, Openview Venture Partners, Now What? (483) – Boston*
  4. Larry Cheng, Fidelity Ventures, Thinking About Thinking (433) – Boston
  5. David Beisel, Venrock Associates, GenuineVC (429) – Cambridge*
  6. Rob Day, Black Coral, Greentech Media (323) – Boston
  7. Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital, Bijan Sabet (296) – Boston
  8. David Aronoff, Flybridge Capital Partners, Diary of a Geek VC (222) – Boston
  9. Richard Dale, Sigma Partners, Venture Cyclist (176) – Boston
  10. Rob Go, Spark Capital, Rob Go Blog (148) – Boston
  11. Michael Greeley, Flybridge Capital Partners, On The Flying Bridge (138) – Boston
  12. Mo Koyfman, Spark Capital, Mo Koyfman (127) – Boston
  13. Todd Dagres, Spark Capital, Todd Dagres Tumblelog (123) – Boston
  14. Santo Politi, Spark Capital, This and That (121) – Boston
  15. Tony Tjan, Cue Ball Capital, Anthony Tjan (69) – Boston
  16. Anupendra Sharma, Siemens Venture Capital, So Little Time, So Much… (25) – Boston
  17. Vishy Venugopalan, Longworth Venture Partners, Longworth Venture Partners (2) – Waltham
  18. Chip Hazard, Flybridge Capital Partners, Hazard Lights (new) – Boston

(To subscribe to all of these blogs in bulk – click here. * = inactive)

What’s interesting to note is that 89% or 16 of the 18 VC bloggers in the greater Boston area come from firms that are based in Boston/Cambridge.  Only 2 of the 18 are from firms in Waltham.  This is in contrast to a pretty fair presumption that a (strong?) majority of VC firms are located in Waltham or Rt 128.  It’s also worth noting that the Boston/Cambridge VC bloggers represent both newer firms (Spark, Flybridge, Openview, Cue Ball) and firms that have been around for decades (Sigma, Venrock, Fidelity, etc.).  So, it’s not just a new firm dynamic.

Let’s be clear, though, that blogging is one very narrow dimension.  And it is not a dimension that at this juncture can be tied in any definitive way to ultimate success or returns.  So, I’m not sure at the end of the day that who blogs and who doesn’t really matters in any material way.  But, it is reflective of a cultural difference today that is stark enough that it seems worth noting.

11 Responses

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  1. Twitted by peHUB said, on September 10, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    [...] This post was Twitted by peHUB [...]

  2. Scott Kirsner said, on September 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Great post, Larry.

    This is very anecdotal, but one thing I have observed is that student and young entrepreneurs know who blogging VCs like you, Bijan, and Fred Wilson are — they are learning about the business of start-ups from you guys. Do we really believe that their first pitch on a new business idea will be to some VC they don’t know, haven’t learned from, and don’t have a sense of what his/her “sweet spots” are?

    • Rick Bodio said, on September 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

      Scott,

      This is very apt. Personally, as a second year MBA, a daily dose of VC blogs (irrespective of location) is a fantastic immersion into the practical side of the business. A number of us at UConn know who the Boston and NYC blogging VC’s are, and these are the VC avenues that would be approached first.

  3. Eric Navales said, on September 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Nice analysis… one update to the data is Rob Day is now at Black Coral, based in downtown. So the skew towards Boston / Cambridge is even greater.

    • larrycheng said, on September 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks Eric – I updated it. I’ll have to check out Black Coral.

  4. Tom Morris said, on September 10, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    You should annotate that list with the date of their last post. Some of your top 10 blogs were abandoned years ago (e.g. Maxwell, Beisel)

  5. oneforty2 said, on September 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I firmly corroborate what Scott said about first time entrepreneurs thinking first about working with the investors they’ve already been learning from. (By reading their blogs and Twitter). That is decidedly the case with oneforty.com, for both our previous and future raises.

    Most of the investors in my professional network are on the west coast for the same reason — because I got to know them through social media and therefore turned to them first for advice on my startup.

    TechStars Boston (http://techstars.org/) has also been a refreshing and awesome way to get to know the Boston VC community. I definitely credit it with bringing several local firms to the top of our “want to get to know” list, and doing so well in advance of our Series A raise. This stuff is important to fostering an innovation culture here.

    On that note, I’d be very interested in the breakdown of Waltham v. Boston/Cambridge in terms of turnout at tonight’s TechStars investor showcase.

    Warmly,
    Laura Fitton, Founder
    http://www.oneforty.com

  6. bijan sabet said, on September 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Related topic: here’s a directory of VCs on Twitter.

    http://venturemaven.com/

  7. Des Pieri said, on September 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Larry, an amazing stat! And, yes, blogging is “one very narrow dimension.” But in this day and age, it’s a legitimate one, particularly along the lines that Scott mentions. At some point in time, deal flow will be critical again and the young people coming out of MIT, HBS, etc. with great ideas will naturally gravitate to the VCs that they “know” from their blog posts. Thanks for the analysis (and for the “Subscribe to all of these” link!)

    Des

  8. [...] Blogging: A Cultural Difference Between Boston And Waltham VCs « Thinking About Thinking larrycheng.com/2009/09/10/blogging-a-cultural-difference-between-boston-and-waltham-vcs – view page – cached Scott Kirsner, a Boston Globe writer and freelancer, wrote a provocative blog post a few weeks ago entitled “Why Waltham Doesn’t Matter”. Scott’s basic claim is that Waltham VC’s “don’t matter” as they are being displaced by the new aggressive and open culture of VCs emerging in Boston and Cambridge. While I disagreed with the title of his post and the implication, Scott’s point on cultural differences has real merit. Hence, I thought I’d put it to the test on one dimension after publishing the revised Global VC Blog Directory this past Monday. — From the page [...]


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