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The 10 most powerful women in Boston tech (plus 5 up-and-comers)

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 8, 2012 10:02 AM

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Who are the most powerful women on Boston's technology scene? Here's the Innovation Economy list.

I considered three factors:

  • Impact (how big of an organization do they oversee, how large of a fund do they manage, how much revenue does their company generate, etc.)
  • Connectivity (how well-networked are they, and how much mentoring of younger executives/entrepreneurs do they do)
  • Thought leadership (speaking, writing, and commenting in the media)

The top ten are followed by five rising stars. When individuals are active on Twitter, I've included their Twitter handles.

rhoads2.jpg1. Rebecca Rhoads, CIO, Raytheon

How's this for a big job description? Rhoads oversees the IT infrastructure for a defense contractor with 71,000 employees worldwide, many of whom are working on top secret projects. Rhoads also helps shape Raytheon's strategy for the IT products and services it offers to customers. She has served as the Waltham company's CIO since 2001.

GailGoodman_emailmarketing.jpg2. Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact

Goodman runs the publicly-traded Waltham e-mail marketing company, where she has lately been overseeing a string of acquisitions to help Constant Contact expand its social media prowess. Constant Contact ended 2011 with 900 employees and 500,000 paying customers.

profileHessan.jpg3. Diane Hessan, CEO, Communispace

Hessan sold her company last year to the Omnicom Group, but it continues to grow at its new offices near South Station, and Hessan remains a central node in Boston's tech and digital media networks. Communispace was a pioneer in helping big companies like Mattel and Home Depot build and manage online customer communities — and also use those communities for market research.

cebula.jpg4. Wendy Cebula, Chief Operating Officer, VistaPrint

VistaPrint was one of the pioneers of "free-conomics," giving away free business cards on the Web, and later selling lots of other printing services to those trial customers. Though the company is now headquartered in Paris, Cebula works in Lexington. The company's 2011 revenues rose 22 percent over the prior year, to $817 million. VistaPrint employs more than 3,000 worldwide.

Greiner.jpeg5. Helen Greiner, CEO, CyPhy Works

The iRobot co-founder is working on a new venture, Danvers-based CyPhy Works. The stealthy start-up is developing flying 'bots for the military and industrial customers, capable of performing surveillance, search-and-rescue, and inspection missions. (One early government grant the company won relates to inspecting bridges.) Greiner has been active in promoting science and technology education initiatives, and she serves as president of the Robotics Technology Consortium.

mpuma.jpg6. Mary Puma, CEO, Axcelis Technologies
Twenty of the world's biggest chip-makers rely on production equipment from Axcelis, based in Beverly. 2011 revenue for Axcelis was $319 million, up 16 percent from the prior year, and the company was once again operating in the black after a tough restructuring. Puma, a veteran of GE, oversees just over 1,000 employees working in offices from Italy to Silicon Valley to China. She also serves on the board of SEMI, the association of semiconductor equipment suppliers.

maria_cirino.jpg7. Maria Cirino, Managing Director, .406 Ventures

After selling her last company to VeriSign, long-time entrepreneur Cirino decided to start a new venture capital firm. So far, her investments include security, video, and online payment start-ups. Last year, .406 — named for Ted Williams' record-setting batting average — reported that it was more than mid-way through with raising a new $175 million investment fund.

danahboyd.jpg8. danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

Based in Microsoft's Kendall Square outpost, boyd (she prefers not to capitalize her name) is one of the world's leading authorities on how young people use technology and social media. boyd has contributed to books about how kids use the Web, written essays on cyber-bullying, and delivered high-profile talks about changing notions of privacy at conferences like South by Southwest. Last year, she was part of the World Economic Forum's "young global leaders" group.

hammond.jpg9. Jean Hammond, Angel Investor

After a successful career as a data networking entrepreneur, Hammond has become one of Boston's most active and well-connected angel investors, backing start-ups like Zipcar, Crimson Hexagon, and Ten Marks. She mentors up-and-coming start-ups through TechStars, and also helped start the Golden Seeds angel group, which invests exclusively in women-run businesses. Hammond also runs workshops designed to introduce others to angel investing.

Sheila_Lirio_Marcelo.jpeg10. Sheila Marcelo, CEO,
Marcelo is one of those rare entrepreneurs in Boston trying to build a consumer-oriented Internet business. Care helps connect individuals with pre-screened personal care providers, from nannies to nurses to pet-sitters. In 2010, Marcelo was the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for New England. The Waltham company, founded in 2006, now has 120 employees. And before starting Care, Marcelo was a senior executive at Upromise, an online college savings program, and, a search engine for executive jobs.

The Up-and-Comers

- Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist, HubSpot
Fitton started the first consultancy focused on helping businesses understand Twitter, in 2008, and the following year published "Twitter for Dummies." Her understanding of Twitter as a communications channel — and marketing medium — made her a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences around the world. Fitton also created a start-up, Oneforty, to organize useful software that worked with Twitter. After raising more than $2 million, the start-up was acquired by HubSpot, the Cambridge company that sells digital marketing tools. In 2008, Fitton organized one of the first charitable fundraising campaigns on Twitter, raising $25,000 for Charity:Water. (Oh yeah, and she has more Twitter followers than everyone else on this list combined.)

- Bettina Hein, CEO, Pixability
Hein has been hustling to build momentum for her Cambridge online video start-up, Pixability. The latest iteration of the business provides tools and services to help companies create, upload, and monitor videos. Last year, Pixability raised $1 million, and an earlier company Hein had co-founded, SVOX, was acquired by Nuance, the speech recognition biggie. Hein is also one of the organizers of the She-EOs, a networking group for female CEOs in Boston.

- Vanessa Green, CEO, OnChip Power
Green managed to raise $1.8 million for her start-up while still a student at MIT's Sloan School of Management. OnChip wants to shrink the size, and improve the reliability, of those blocky transformer "bricks" that supply power to laptops and other kinds of consumer electronics (their job is to convert alternating current to direct current, and decrease the voltage.) The company won second prize in the 2010 Cleantech Open competition, and is focusing on LED lighting as its first market, where the transformer must be integrated into the bulb itself. While at MIT, Green was the managing director of the business school's annual energy conference, and she is also the founder of a non-profit that helps set up water treatment businesses in rural Ghana.

- Katie Rae, Managing Director, TechStars Boston
Rae oversees the selection of the dozen or so start-ups that gain admittance each year to the three-month-long TechStars boot camp for entrepreneurs. She also assembles an all-star list of mentors to offer guidance, and an audience full of investors to listen to pitches at the end of the program. Rae, a veteran of Lycos and Microsoft's New England Research & Development Center, also makes early-stage investments in tech companies through Project 11, which she co-founded in 2010 with Reed Sturtevant.

- Nicole Stata, Founder, Boston Seed Capital
Stata is a former entrepreneur (Deploy Solutions) who recently launched Boston Seed Capital, an early-stage investing firm. So far, Stata has made investments in promising start-ups like Brass Monkey (video gaming), FitnessKeeper (work-out tracking), and Krush (a site that offers sneak peeks at forthcoming products.) One of her portfolio companies, Blaze Software, which helps websites increase their speed, was just acquired by Akamai Technologies.

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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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