Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner
Columnist
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com 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, Boston Magazine, and Variety. Scott is 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." He is a founder of the site Innovation Leader, which focuses on innovation initiatives inside big companies. Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and the Convergence Forum. His recent Boston Globe columns are here.

Stories by Scott Kirsner

A Keurig for rink rats?
Sparx Hockey debuting $599 home skate sharpening device
The Sparx Skate Sharpener. (Company-supplied photo.)
If you’re a hockey player, or you have one in your family, Russell Layton thinks he knows the errand you hate the most: taking in skates to get sharpened. It’s even a chore for professional teams, whose players like to give their skates a glistening fresh edge every game — “and sometimes, in between periods,” said Layton. He played club hockey at Northeastern in the 1990s, and worked as an engineer in the healthcare and telecom industries. But Layton said he became a bit obsessed with the dull blade dilemma. Read More
Trading triumph
Quantopian hands $100,000 account to winning algorithm writer
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Whose automatic stock-trading algorithm has the hottest hand? Quantopian, a Boston startup, ran a contest in February to find out. The winner? A trading program created by Grant Kiehne, an optics engineer who works for Northrup Grumman in Connecticut. Kiehne will get a $100,000 account to manage — and he'll get to pocket any profits. Read More
Just wingin' it
Soaring investment and lagging legislation — it's a Wild West for drones
The PARC drone from CyPhy Works is tethered to a controller by a microfilament cable that sends power up to the drone and downloads high-definition video. (Photo: Cyphy Works)
Andrew Kehlenbeck pulls up a shirtsleeve and exposes a few linear scars on his forearm. They’re slashes from the plastic propeller of a small drone — a very modern sort of workplace injury. Kehlenbeck is co-founder and lead engineer at Panoptes Systems in Cambridge, and he is designing a safety system to keep unmanned aircraft from hitting walls, ceilings, trees, and people. Panoptes is just one of the local companies hoping to benefit from a soaring hobbyist drone market and an expected surge in sales to businesses. Read More
Raked, bagged, and carted away
In restructuring, Heartland Payment slashes most of Cambridge-based Leaf team
LEaf payments
You may have encountered the technology from Leaf at local businesses like Voltage Coffee, Aceituna Cafe, or Garlic & Lemons: instead of a cash register on the counter, a small Android tablet sits on a pedestal. After the cashier rings you up by tapping the screen a few times, he swipes your credit card and asks you to sign the screen instead of a receipt. Leaf's software could provide merchants with reports on what had been selling well, and it also tracked workers' hours. Cambridge-based Leaf aimed to dramatically undercut the big sellers of registers (also known as point-of-sale systems), selling its tablet for $250 and the accompanying software for $50 per month. Read More
Thinking spring, Practice Gigs readying app to connect you with tennis partners
PracticeGigs co-founders Matt Neary and Toni Oloko.
This time last year, Toni Oloko was captain of the tennis team at Boston Trinity Academy, a small prep school in Hyde Park. While he got accepted by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Oloko decided not to start college last fall. Instead, he has been working on a startup called PracticeGigs — and raising a seed round of funding from investors like Andy Miller of Constant Contact and Jeff Fagnan at FKA (the tech venture capital firm Formerly Known as Atlas.) Read More
Lunchtime fun
CyPhy's drones capture company snowboarding breaks in Danvers
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What would you do if a couple feet of fresh snow fell... and right outside your office door was a small hill? Oh, and your CEO was an avid snowboarder? And your company made small drones with built-in cameras? The answer at Danvers-based CyPhy Works was clear: institute snowboarding lunch breaks, filmed from the skies. The runs aren't very long, but CyPhy CEO Helen Greiner says the walk back up the hill is good exercise. While many of CyPhy's employees are mechanical engineers, Greiner says "they haven't built me a lift yet." (That's Greiner, who was previously a co-founder of iRobot Corp., going off a jump in the image above.) Read More
Dept. of Good Clean Fun
Swedish import Boda Borg will bring 'questing' to Boston area
Boda Borg is a chain of indoor "questing" facilities. (Photo courtesy of the company.)
Ready to go questing? Brookline entrepreneur Chad Ellis is planning to open an indoor “questing” center this summer, importing a concept from Sweden called Boda Borg, which blends obstacle courses with puzzle-solving. Some of the quests are so challenging, says Ellis, that only one percent of visitors can complete them — and that’s usually after a few attempts. Read More
Party people
Jobble wants to create a marketplace for event staffers
From left: Jobble founders Corey Bober, Zack Smith, and Matthew Osofisan.
Your company is throwing a cocktail shindig and you need someone to staff the check-in table for two hours. How do you fill that kind of extremely short-term gig? A startup with roots on two local campuses, Jobble, has built a mobile app and website that will try to supply a solution. Jobble is a marketplace for event staffers available for such tasks as handing out flyers at a festival or helping assemble a trade show booth. The startup will handle payments to event staffers, taking a 20 percent fee off the top. Jobble says it has seven companies lined up to beta test the service. Read More
The wayback machine
Why did YouTube win? An interview with co-founder Chad Hurley from 2005
YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. (File photo / Associated Press.)
If you remember the way video was handled on the Internet a decade ago, it was a pretty sloppy situation. Netflix was still two years away from launching its streaming service, and Apple hadn't yet introduced video to its iTunes online store. To watch something, you often had to download special video player software, or sit and wait while a QuickTime movie downloaded. And if you wanted to upload video of your own, you had to navigate a sea of different formats — and restrictions on file size. When I wrote a story for the New York Times in October 2005 about the various companies that wanted to make it simpler to share and view video online, it was tough to tell who was going to win. One of the entrepreneurs I interviewed was Chad Hurley, who co-founded YouTube. (It launched ten years ago this month.) Read More
Subscribe to the friendly skies?
All-you-can-fly aviation startup Beacon plans to link Boston, New York
Beacon initially plans to fly between Logan, Nantucket, Westchester County Airport in New York, and East Hampton on Long Island.
Regular people buy plane tickets. The super-rich buy the whole plane. And now a startup called Beacon is proposing an intermediate option: a "subscription" to its travel service, which will offer frequent trips on turboprops linking Boston and White Plains, N.Y., as well as the vacation destinations of Nantucket and East Hampton. The price starts at $2,000 a month for unlimited travel for one passenger. Read More