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Yankee Group grabs $10 million for growth, starts CEO search

Posted by Scott Kirsner  April 6, 2010 08:00 AM

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Alta Communications is investing another $10 million in Yankee Group, the Boston tech research firm headed by Emily Nagle Green; Alta, a private equity firm also based in Boston, is already the majority owner of Yankee Group, founded in 1970 by industry prognosticator (turned MIT prof) Howard Anderson. Yankee is also beginning the search for a CEO to replace Green, who will move up to the chairman role.

Yankee had a good year in 2009, according to Green. "It was the worst recession in fifty years, but we came through making the most money we've made on a profit basis in the last six or seven years, since well before I came here." (She joined in late 2005.) The firm once had about 200 employees, but Green has trimmed that back to fewer than one hundred, while also getting the firm focused on what she has dubbed the "anywhere" trend: how computing devices and networks are evolving to give businesses and consumers access to services whenever and wherever they need it.

The new funding will go mainly toward expanding headcount. "We're a people business, and what people want these days is very quantitative in nature, not just opinions. The way to get numbers is with bodies," she says, adding that she's also open to potential acquisitions. 

What kinds of data are Yankee customers interested in? "They want to know things like what everybody else is doing with 4G [wireless networks], who they're working with, what kind of usage they're assuming they're going to get, and how they should price it," she says. "That's heavy-duty quant work."

Green says she's on the verge of hiring a recruiting firm to begin the search for a new CEO. "How often do you get to be the engineer of your own promotion?" she quips, adding that she plans to focus on "evangelism and external market work" as chairman, hiring a CEO to handle internal operations. "We want to look for someone who can ensure that the expansion investment pays off as soon as possible," she says. 

Earlier this year, Green's first book was published. It's title? "Anywhere: How Global Connectivity is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business." She's moderating a panel of three of the local executives featured in the book (David Rose of Vitality, Hilmi Ozguc of Maven Networks, and Hamish Fraser of Partners in Health) this Thursday at an invite-only event in the South End.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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