With all the cord-cutting going on these days, it’s rare to see a cable TV company expand into more Massachusetts cities and towns.
But RCN is doing it, slowly but surely. Under the leadership of its local general manager, Jeff Carlson (below), the Princeton, N.J., cable company is adding Greater Boston municipalities. Last year, it was Everett. This month, RCN finished wiring Revere. Next up: Peabody.
Carlson says city officials there approved a franchise agreement in June. It will probably take another year for RCN to fully connect all of Peabody’s neighborhoods.
Carlson says RCN will continue to look for expansion opportunities in the state, to build on its 20-municipality footprint. He won’t say where the company is eyeing next, but he did say it’s probably going to be a city or town with only one cable TV provider (i.e. Comcast). RCN will probably steer clear of places where Verizon and Comcast are already competing head-to-head for customers.
If RCN continues to expand northward, it would probably need to open a new operations center to serve the North Shore, in addition to existing facilities in Arlington, Framingham, and Canton. (A South Boston location closed in April.)
After the private equity firm TPG Capital acquired RCN in 2017, its focus at first was primarily to upgrade the company’s networks. Once that was done, Carlson and others at the company decided to find new markets adjacent to their existing ones.
It’s not that cost-cutting hasn’t had an impact at RCN. On the contrary: Carlson says he estimates half of RCN’s nearly 90,000 Massachusetts customers buy TV service through the company, down from more than 90 percent a decade ago. The rest are subscribing primarily for RCN’s broadband Internet service. Once Internet speeds accelerated, the loss of “over-the-top” subscriptions across the industry was inevitable.
But Carlson, an RCN veteran, still believes his company offers a better alternative to the cable giants. ”We’re smaller, we’re agile,” he says. “We believe we have a better customer focus.” — JON CHESTO
Polito helps celebrate TechTarget’s 20th
It’s not every day that the lieutenant governor shows up for your office party.
But in this case, TechTarget had a 20th anniversary to celebrate. Chief executive Mike Cotoia knew Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito from Central Massachusetts — he lives in Sutton, she in Shrewsbury. So he shot Polito a note, inviting her to join the festivities. “She said, ‘I’ve been following you guys for a long time, I’ll be there,’ ” Cotoia recalls.
Polito made good on her promise, agreeing to hand out awards to TechTarget customers at the party on Thursday at TechTarget’s office in the Gateway Center in Auburndale, across the tracks from the MBTA’s Riverside Station. Also on hand was EMC cofounder Roger Marino, a member of TechTarget’s board of directors.
About 450 people attended — employees, alums, and customers.
“I got chills listening to our customers say it’s been a great partnership for many years,” Cotoia says. “I got chills watching our employees have a great time, talking about all their successes.”
The company, an online publisher of technology news and information, has changed a bit since Cotoia first started 17 years ago. Then, the focus was on ad sales.
But now, the hot growth engine is behavioral data: TechTarget’s IT Deal Alert channels the company’s expertise by letting marketing and salespeople at IT companies know when potential buyers of hardware or software are starting to research a purchase — and what to do to engage them directly.
In 2018, TechTarget’s overall revenue grew 12 percent, while the IT Deal Alert part of the business grew 19 percent.
“We’ve had our fits and starts [over the years], but we stuck to our focus,” Cotoia says. — JON CHESTO
Hogan Lovells trades High Street addresses
Hogan Lovells moved its Boston office just a block, from 100 High St. to 125 High St. But it was a major change of view for managing partner Bill Lovett. The law firm’s move — completed last week — means Lovett can see the harbor and the Greenway from his desk. He previously looked at the back of another building.
Of course, great views weren’t the driving factor behind the relocation — it was the firm’s growth. Hogan Lovells landed here in 2017 by merging with Collora, a much smaller law firm, giving it a Boston beachhead. Collora occupied about 10,000 square feet at the time, but Hogan Lovells was soon bursting at the seams. The new space, on the 20th and 21st floors, is four times that size. About 50 employees, including 30 attorneys, made the move, but there’s enough room for 50 to 60 lawyers.
“Whether we get to that size depends on what our clients’ needs are, and what makes sense from a business perspective,” Lovett says. “The office also allows us to host visiting [Hogan Lovells] attorneys from across the world. That was a challenge in the old office. We just didn’t have the space.”
The numbers are already increasing. During the past few months, David Walsh joined from IBM — where he was assistant general counsel and helped handle IBM’s merger with Red Hat — and intellectual property lawyers Robert Underwood and Kristin Connarn came over from McDermott Will & Emery.
The new office is much more open than the old one, with glass walls allowing light to flow through. Lovett says his office might be the smallest one, but it’s hard to top those views. — JON CHESTO
For George Regan, it was almost ‘man overboard’
Thanks to Mashpee Town Manager Rodney Collins, and maybe some divine intervention, Boston-based communications chief George Regan wasn’t swept out to sea.
Collins had joined Regan and several other friends on Regan’s Hyannis-docked sailboat, the PR Princess, on Sunday, Aug. 11. The winds were picking up as they headed back into the harbor, and another boat hit the rail of the PR Princess as a result.
The boats weren’t significantly damaged, per Regan’s telling of the tale, but the collision apparently loosened something on the boat, and the sail line went swinging across the deck, nearly knocking Regan overboard.
“I didn’t see it coming,” he says. “I was just gazing out, looking at the beautiful day. All of a sudden, bang, boom.”
Collins grabbed Regan and prevented him from tumbling into the drink. Regan gained a sprained shoulder — and a new appreciation for life.
“I went to Mass that Sunday at 8:30 a.m.,” Regan says. “I went back Monday to say thank you.” — JON CHESTO