Here’s something I wasn’t expecting to happen so quickly into 2018: I am leaving BostInno at the end of February after covering the Boston tech ecosystem for two-and-a-half years.
The reason? I have accepted an offer to work with CRN, a 31-year-old publication in Westborough that covers the underappreciated yet essential world of “technology solutions providers.” I will start March 12 as an associate editor covering Intel and the Internet of Things, which I know fairly well through my work.
It was not an easy decision to leave BostInno. Since I started here in September 2015, I was given a lot of latitude to follow stories that personally interested me and, as a result, gave readers a view into how I think about the world of tech startups. Some of my favorite stories were when I took the time to dive deep into a subject or uncover information that the public was previously unaware of.
It has been a job of great privilege, and not just because of my role as someone who puts a spotlight on the vast array of things happening within Greater Boston. Through my time at BostInno, I have met a great number of incredibly intelligent people who are willing to risk many things in order to build something new — and sometimes life-changing. It has also been a humbling experience to learn about so many different kinds of technologies and businesses — one of my favorite parts of the job.
While I don’t think my time with the Boston tech scene has completely come to an end, I will leave people with one takeaway for now: We need a lot more truthtelling. When people are on the top of their game, they scream about it from the rooftops. But when they aren’t, they usually refrain from talking about it. I hear a lot of talk about the importance of transparency in this city, but it’s often applied selectively.
Alex Steed, a friend and colleague in Maine (where I grew up), put it best when he wrote, “If we are only being boosters for what we would like to see happen, what are we missing on the ground regarding what is actually happening?” This has been his main criticism of the Maine startup ecosystem that became especially relevant when a central community figure was found to have abused his position of power.
That’s something I have been thinking more and more about as a journalist. If we are only writing about funding announcements, groundbreaking technologies and successful startup exits, what are we missing? Who is getting hurt? Whose stories are we not hearing? What unintended consequences could technology have? What don’t we hear from the companies that have raised tens of millions of dollars in capital?
That’s not to negate the truthtelling that has already been happening. The Boston tech community, for instance, has been very outspoken about the importance of immigrants in our ecosystem as the White House looks to close up our borders and spreads hateful rhetoric about those deemed as “outsiders.” I’m also appreciative whenever someone is willing to share with me a difficult or challenging experience.
While I have attempted to start answering those difficult questions with stories I have worked on and have been working on for the past few years, I believe I have only cracked the surface of what could open important conversations in the years to come. Ultimately, it’s not up to one person to bear this responsibility but an entire community.
I have countless people to thank for helping me on this journey, including those who helped me get this job in the first place: Galen Moore, Alex Weaver, Kyle Alspach and Leslie Garbarino. Because of you, I was able to move from Maine to Boston and resume normal life with my spouse, who had already been in Boston for school. I also need to thank Kyle Gross, William Flanagan and Geoff Shaw for continuing to support my work. There’s no doubt that this has been the most defining point in my career so far.
For those wondering what this means for BosBattle, the media property I started with my wife Stephanie MacDonald last fall to cover Boston’s video game industry and culture, that is not going away. While BosBattle has been quiet for the past couple of months, we are currently in the midst of recording the first few episodes of our interview podcast, which will be the sole focus of BosBattle moving forward.