Tweetfight: A Battle Over Boston Breaks Out

Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner doesn’t take criticism of Boston’s tech scene lightly–at least, not criticism that’s unsubstantiated by hard data. That much became plain earlier today as Kirsner watched tech pundit Vivek Wadhwa, currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, address some MIT Sloan students for a lunchtime talk.

As Wadhwa shared his views on the differences between Boston’s tech scene and that of Silicon Valley–Wadhwa suggested that its culture of innovation pales to that of the Bay Area, as well as that Boston has fallen behind New York-–Kirsner was asking on Twitter: based on what data?

Their tweet discourse, below, will surely elicit a broader (familiar) debate about what each tech hub has to offer and in what ways it trumps–and gets trumped by–its peers.

In the meantime, I’m more interested in readers’ views on whether or not it’s okay for a known scholar to express his views to a group of MBA students without supporting those instincts with hard numbers. Thoughts anyone?

He said (Kirsner):

@vwadhwa Do me a favor: point me to some of your quantitative research comparing the health of BOS/SValley/NYC ecosystems?

@vwadhwa You, apparently, don’t need any data to talk to a group of MBAs for an hour. It was pretty embarrassing.

Whoops: here’s the list of successful companies produced by MIT’s $100K competition – cc @vwadhwa

@VWadhwa on MIT’s $100K business plan competition: it has produced “no successful companies.”

Some fave @VWadhwa quotes: “NY seems to be doing better than Boston… but I don’t know the details.”

@vwadhwa Anyone who has lived in BOS and SiliValley (as I have) has plenty of opinions about the differences between the two places.

@vwadhwa Some data would’ve been nice to back up your views on why BOS is so “pessimistic,” why bizplan competitions are bad, etc.

No slides, no data so far in Vivek Wadhwa’s lunchtime talk comparing BOS to Silicon Valley….

I am sharing smirks with @CarrieStalder across an MIT classroom as Vivek Wadhwa makes nutty generalizations about Boston’s tech scene.

[Ed: Stalder is the founder of the Boston-based social network Venture Cafe.]

He said (Wadhwa):

@ScottKirsner I really look forward to meeting you when you’re in SFO or I in Boston. Expect to learn, but to agree to disagree.

Have fought this battle about Boston before. A few people here are mired in the past and don’t see the writing on the wall.

@ScottKirsner More bad news for you: The weather on Boston sucks. 🙂

Business plans are the biggest piece of fiction that a startup ever creates. Good to do mkt research, plan. But things change daily.

RT @fathamburger: @vwadhwa many outside of SV and bloggerati still look at you like a crazy person on the iteration, execution> I know! 🙂

I also said I was a big fan of @ericries and @sgblank. Lean, iterative development. Start small fail fast learn from failure.

I knew I would stir controversy in Boston by telling a few delusional people about Silicon Valley and trashing old ways/Biz plans

@scottkirshner what data do you have? I made it clear I was expressing opinion and sharing my views! 🙂 The Valley did win…Sorry

RT @sethwlieberman: list of successful companies produced by MIT’s $100K competition –> Worth analyzing

If anyone has analyzed MIT biz plan success list, pls email me. I am skeptical. Biz plans don’t lead to successes. Iteration, execution do

@ScottKirsner Scott, you don’t need data to realize that Boston has lost the race to Silicon Valley and now *seems* to be lagging NYC.

Every list of MIT biz plan successes starts with Akamai–but this LOST the contest! Maybe there have been a couple of recent successes?

Battling “propaganda” now by Boston elite about it’s preemince as a tech center! I said NYC *seems* to be doing better than Boston. 🙂

Silicon Valley leads the world because of it’s openness, acceptance of failure, networks, and immigrants.

Had a fun talk with MIT students. Expected @ScottKirsner to strangle me for my views on Boston…but all I got were snickers. 🙂

RT @ScottKirsner: No slides, no data so far in Vivek Wadhwa’s lunchtime talk comparing BOS> Scott, was expressing opinion. 🙂

[Ed: The saga continues, and it’s getting pretty ugly, incidentally. You can follow it yourself by following @scottkirsner and @vwadhwa.]