Will calling Boston “CEO City” make it so?

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Credit: ReneS

John Cullinane, who co-founded what many characterize as the industry’s first standalone software startup back in 1968 near Boston, thinks the city could do itself a favor in attracting corporate headquarters if it markets itself as “CEO City.”

Cullinane, the exec behind Cullinet, posed that suggestion in BetaBoston last week and the idea is intriguing given the greater Boston area’s inferiority complex vis-a-vis Silicon Valley and San Francisco when it comes to launching successful tech startups and keeping them around as they grow. Most famous example: Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard to found [company]Facebook[/company] in the Valley. Oh, the ignominy.

free snow 2While Boston-Cambridge remains home to a good number of tech and biotech startups, it’s seen as pretty much a feeder system for gigantic tech companies based somewhere else. [company]IBM[/company], Facebook, [company]Google[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company] have all bought local companies and in some cases leave them here, but as satellite offices.

Even such local non-tech corporate stalwarts like Gillette and John Hancock Insurance, which were once headquartered here, are now cogs of bigger companies based elsewhere. Gillette is now part of Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble and Hancock, is now owned by  Manulife, a Canadian company for goodness sake!

This is galling to a certain faction of homers.

To fix that, Cullinane suggested that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh woo CEOs with tales of Boston as an attractive, livable city with great transportation; world-class universities and research institutes; great hospitals, the usual pitch really. But if Boston is able to win over a couple of CEOs, there will be a network effect because, he said, CEOs like to hobnob with other CEOs whether they’re with startups or huge companies. The fact that new governor Charlie Baker, is a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare,  is probably a boon in this scheme of things.

Per BetaBoston:

[Cullinane] added that Boston is also strategically located, with an increasing number of direct international flights out of Logan. “When you put this message to a CEO that is thinking about where to locate headquarters, these things could tip things,” Cullinane said.

Hey, he’s got an idea here I guess, but this is probably not the week to start pitching it given the 62 inches of snow that have piled up and pretty much shut down all that great transportation. Just saying.

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exhibit44

Route 128 culture has never been friendly to consumer products, and is also having to adjust to changing government demands and innovations like evidence-based medicine. There is also the fact that Boston colleges cannot compete with the research money brought in by land grant schools and giant state schools. Silicon Valley people at least know how to pretend to like you.

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