Jeff Bussgang has an excellent post on what it takes to build a billion dollar company in Massachusetts. I've written and spoken for a while on the lack of 'anchor tenants', or successful big companies that act as a hub of activity, in Massachusetts. EMC is certainly a big player in the storage market, and they have been very active in expanding their company through acquisition. But, there are very few others.
In earlier times, companies like Wang, Digital, Apollo, Wellfleet, Cascade, Shiva, and many others either sold out or collapsed. They weren't willing or able to lead for the long-term. There are also a host of successful but smaller companies, like Analog Devices and Avid, that haven't expanded their business more broadly to truly become an anchor tenant. This analysis is focused on IT companies. I think that the Life Sciences sector in the Boston area is stronger and more vibrant in this respect.
We need these types of big companies, as Jeff notes. Perhaps the clean energy sector will be a source of a new wave of companies that can anchor this segment for Massachusetts. I hope that some of these companies have the fortitude and good fortune to become the new pillars of industry in our region.