The Boston Globe’s 2023 Tech Power Players list — which spotlights the region’s most influential people in venture capital, cleantech, education, software, robotics, and other areas — is a testament to the power of the city’s innovation sector.
The technologies that have emerged from Boston in recent years have run the gamut, from fusion power to artificial intelligence to real-time cybercrime tracking. But when you look at their impact as a whole, a picture emerges of an industry that is thriving despite broader economic challenges.
Thanks to the local changemakers driving innovation, the tech industry plays an outsize role in Boston’s economy, from the flow of venture capital to where workers get their paychecks. To be sure, the tech sector around the country is still navigating a downturn, and Boston still has a long way to go when it comes to building a diverse and inclusive workforce. But if this year’s power-player honorees have demonstrated anything, it’s that this city is up for a challenge.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of where the local tech sector stands today, how it compares to other regions, and where it’s expected to go.
How we stack up
The Boston tech community has long lamented home-grown companies and founders flying the coop, as was the case with Facebook, Dropbox, and TaskRabbit. And keeping our best talent here is still an issue.
Far and away the metro area with the most technology jobs is New York City, owing to its size, followed by Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., according to CompTIA, a nonprofit that tracks technology jobs.
But Boston still cracks the top 10 list, coming in at No. 8 with 272,572 positions, edging out Chicago and Atlanta. And when it comes to the overall impact of the sector, Boston is middle of the pack, with tech accounting for 14.6 percent of Boston’s economy (compared to, say, San Francisco’s 26.8 percent).
Boston still has a ways to go in terms of diversity and inclusion; the city trails behind other major metros when it comes to underrepresented minority groups in the tech workforce, including Black and African American people (4 percent), women (25 percent), and Hispanic and Latino people (4 percent; tied with Seattle for the lowest share among the top 10 employer cities).
Many of those included in this year’s Tech Power Players list are working to change that, including Yasmin Cruz Ferrine, who aims to bankroll underrepresented founders through her VC firm Visible Hands, and Aisha Francis, whose leadership at the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology is helping young students of color build careers in fast-growing tech areas.
A growing field
For months, the tech sector has slogged through a nationwide downturn, with layoffs at local companies such as Akamai, HubSpot, Drizly, and DraftKings. And yet, the number of technology-related jobs in Greater Boston is expected to rise, according to CompTIA. Boston is projected to add 5,554 tech jobs this year, CompTIA says, with occupations in fields such as data science, programming, and cybersecurity expected to have high growth rates.
Follow the money
The last few years have seen a spate of high-profile venture capital investments locally, with Commonwealth Fusion Systems in 2021 setting the record for the largest funding round in the state, garnering $1.8 billion in a deal led by Tiger Global Management. And a number of this year’s Tech Power Players are focused on carving out niches in VC investing, such as Katie Rae, whose venture capital firm The Engine tackles “tough tech,” and HubSpot cofounder Brian Halligan, whose recent $100 million fund is designed to advance ocean-related technologies.