Metro, Business, Featured Column, Column

Sharing the Success: Boston Needs a Startup News Outlet

In the summer of 2014, Boston’s tech community was burgeoning. HubSpot, the company known for inbound marketing, was set to file for an IPO. This was big news for Boston, and people took notice. HubSpot had the potential to become Boston’s next unicorn—a term used to describe a company valued at over $1 billion. After Facebook, Reddit, and Dropbox all opted for opportunities in Silicon Valley and New York years earlier, Boston was desperately looking for the next big thing.

But just weeks before HubSpot went public, a software company nestled in Newton called CyberArk filed for an IPO. The company has since taken off—growing from $47 million in revenue to a whopping $160 million in the 2015 fiscal year. And this occurred just a few miles outside of downtown Boston.

Ever heard of CyberArk? Very few have. Practically nothing has been written about the software giant other than a few brief snippets in the Wall Street Journal. CyberArk’s story illustrates a greater problem for Boston: a lack of a centralized news source that is all-in on Boston tech. Our city prides itself on being a hub of innovation and technology, but if Boston wants to be taken seriously as a top entrepreneurial community, we need to do a better job of promoting local companies and disseminating their stories.

Our options for Boston tech news appear to be nearly obsolete. BetaBoston recently announced that it will no longer be a standalone web site, and will instead shift its content over to The Boston Globe, requiring readers to pay up after reading five stories as part of the newspaper’s paywall.

I may be one of the few who still pays for a newspaper subscription, but it is clear that millennials will not want to pay to read content on The Globe’s site. The few free outlets that cover Boston startup news, including BostInno, the Boston Business Journal, and Xconomy, among others, serve as local cheerleaders for many startups, but none are go-to sources for tech-related news. They are all based in Boston and do not receive the coverage needed to garner national attention. The majority of tech news is lopsided toward Silicon Valley, and the main outlets like TechCrunch, PandoDaily, and Re/code all call the Valley home.

Boston has recently done a great job of promoting its image as a startup powerhouse. Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, has spearheaded many initiatives, including working with Gov. Charlie Baker to lure GE to Boston—making the industrial giant the biggest company ever to relocate to the city. Walsh also hired Rory Cuddyer, BC ’11, as the city’s “Startup Czar” to help shape the future of Boston businesses. Cuddyer and Walsh serve as community builders—frequently meeting with business owners, city officials, and professors to sell the city and deliver on the ecosystem promised to entrepreneurs. Our city was even chosen by Forbes to host its “Under 30” summit in October, which will bring four days of events intended to help boost Boston’s brand.

Podcasts have also been hugely popular lately to tell the stories behind Boston businesses. Tech in Boston launched two years ago, and has over 58 episodes and 50,000 downloads from listeners. Traction, by NextView Ventures, has also been successful at generating positive buzz around Boston tech and sharing the creative and clever ways that entrepreneurs find early results.

We are clearly doing some great things here in Boston, but we need to do a better job of sharing our successes with others. A centralized news source that would give exclusive coverage to local companies would help Boston better contend with Silicon Valley as a hub for startups. Instead of relying on The Globe’s Scott Kirsner and BostInno to churn out content on a daily basis, we should have our own bureau with reporters to share the stories of our companies. Boston needs its own TechCrunch.

The rest of the world should know what Boston companies are up to. So let’s do a better job of communicating it.

Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff

March 31, 2016