Thursday, November 29, 2007

Meeting the head of the Boston Fed

Joyce Plotkin, President of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, invited the Presidents and CEOs from seven Boston-area technology companies – including Diane Hessan of Communispace, Mike Duffy of OpenPages, Shain Huges of Pyxis Mobile, Tom Litle of Litle & Company, Greg Schmergel of Nantero, Jeff Taylor of EONs plus Steve O’Leary, Investment Banker from Jeffries|Broadview -- and me to a meeting with Federal Reserve Bank of Boston CEO and President Eric Rosengren (pictured) and his staff.

This is an irregularly scheduled roundtable discussion that was established to provide the Fed’s Boston branch with ground-level information about how the macro and local economy is working, the status of new company formation, labor and financial market conditions, and other topics. We were asked to describe our company’s general outlook for sales (pipeline issues and IT purchasing), cost and availability of capital, labor market conditions, growth strategies, and the most significant challenges we face.

The consensus of the CEOs was generally positive about the state of their businesses and of the local and US economies. (Dr. Rosengren said "It was relief to hear some good news" from us in contrast to the subprime mortgage situation.) The common denominator: Tight labor markets and the widespread availability of capital. There was significant concern about not enough being done to keep local college grads in Boston, and the attractiveness of high California wages, but we discussed lots of interesting ideas to address these problems.

It was gratifying to learn about OpenPages’ and Communispace’s extraordinary growth and the excellent prospects for growth at EONs, Natero, and Pyxis. I did not learn anything new about Litle: It's still a cash machine that takes very good care of its employees.

Steve O’Leary from Jeffries|Broadview made some excellent points in his introductory remarks, but I'll summarize those points in a separate blog entry.

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