Did Salesforce’s Acquisition of Demandware Fuel Boston’s Tech Economy?

During the spring and summer months, hiring decelerated in the high-tech, startup arena. As a talent acquisition professional, my book of business often reflects an “economic barometer” of sorts; typically, the earliest signs of a slowing market hit hiring plans first. I’m not referring to full-blown hiring freezes, just a gradual downward shift or “hold off” until the next board meeting. As a recruiter who survived the dot.com implosion, the telecom collapse, and 9/11 (with the subsequent recession), I’m a nervous gazelle who stands twitching at the waterhole… waiting for a crocodile.

I spent much of this spring in denial, but—by early summer—the sluggish pace was tough to ignore. Candidates and I asked ourselves whether it was election year jitters. Or were we simply listening to that gentle hissing noise as air escaped from our proverbial bubbles? Then, something changed. Since market lethargy wasn’t headline news (it was an election year, after all), neither was the sudden burst of activity that followed. Economists ignored the down trend, and the VCs weren’t sharing any insight about why they were tightening their purse strings, so I was left to my own speculation. What happened?

Looking back at Boston’s tech scene and the larger economy, there was one game-changing announcement that unfolded at the end of July: Salesforce revealed it would acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion. A startup “poster child,” Demandware took limited funding and had a respectable IPO. The company’s ability to surpass those accomplishments with a Salesforce acquisition quite possibly triggered investor confidence in the Boston region. Whatever the reason, I appreciate the recent funding resurgence and newly approved hiring plans.

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