Who Knew? Take 2: More Strange-But-True Details of Boston’s Innovation Leaders

Personal insights. Conversation starters. Gossip. Whatever the excuse, it’s high time for the second installment in Xconomy’s Who Knew? series, our wildly popular roundup of little-known, offbeat facts about the New England innovation community (and a few outside innovators with ties to the local scene).

In this installment, you’ll learn who runs his own indoor waterfall, who’s hit 40 straight Red Sox home openers, and who has a day named after him in the state of Kentucky. Then, of course, there’s the skinny on what family ties—real or not—to the Car Talk guys can get you. Obama’s Republican fundraiser? Yep, we’ve got that, too. Not to mention who can cough up Broadway tickets and seats at movie premiers.

The tip lines have been open—but we actually had to work harder to uncover these gems than we would have liked. We’d prefer much easier pickings next time, so please send us all the juicy details at editors@xconomy.com.

Meanwhile, here’s the second round:

Volvo C70 hard top convertibleMIT biologist David Housman tools around in a hard-to-come-by 2006 Volvo C70 convertible. How did he get the ride? Turns out that Josie and Annie, the aunts of Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi, ran kitchen support for the MIT Biology Department. In a ceremony whose details cannot be revealed here, gene hunter Housman was “officially” identified as Ray’s long lost half-brother. The Click and Clack family ties enabled the Prof to jump the queue for his wheels.

Rich Levandov of Avalon Ventures still (apparently) has not gotten his Tacoda tattoo. The body work was originally slated for last fall. Afraid of needles, Rich?

By the way, Levandov’s partner in Avalon’s San Diego home office, Kevin Kinsella, is a producer of the musical Jersey Boys, winner of four 2006 Tony awards (including Best Musical) and a Grammy for Best Show Album.

We bring this up because producing isn’t just a West Coast thing, baby. Todd Dagres, founder of Spark Capital, co-produced the 2008 train thriller Transsiberian, starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Sir Ben Kingsley. The film, which will hit theaters in August, premiered at Sundance in January. Dagres also produced the 2005 teen comedy-drama Pretty Persuasion.

Speaking of moviedom, Colin Angle, co-founder and CEO of iRobot, had a speaking part as a Professor Hanes in 21, the movie about the MIT blackjack team. Xconomy had the scoop here.

Seahome — Google Earth aerial viewMark Levin, co-founder of Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Boston’s Third Rock Ventures, bought the most expensive house in Massachusetts in 2007, according to the Boston Globe and the Gloucester Daily Times. Last August, Levin and his wife, Becky, shelled out $11 million for Seahome, a 12,000-square-foot Manchester-by-the-Sea mansion that comes with its own deep-water dock, two kitchens, and an indoor waterfall. The property had been listed at $17.75 million.

Mark Fredrickson, vice president of Marketing Strategy & Communications for EMC, attended his 40th consecutive Boston Red Sox home opener in April. His mother started the tradition in 1969, when Frederickson was in the fifth grade. “My best Opening Day had to be 2005, when the championship banner was hoisted and rings were handed out at long last,” Fredrickson reports.

January 7 is Phillip A. Sharp Day in the state of Kentucky, and there is a Phillip Sharp Middle School, in Pendleton County, KY, where the MIT Nobel Laureate grew up.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, aka Woz, keeps a spare Segway human transporter at the Brookline condo of his Xconomist friend Marc Hodosh, FIRST Boston chairman and senior director of the X Prize for Genomics.

In June, Jeet “Miki” Singh, co-founder of Art Technology Group and resident of St. Bart’s, and his band The Singhs will release their third album, Supersaturated. Singh fronts the five-piece rock-funk-blues band, which began life in 2001 as Dragonfly and once opened for Bryan Adams in Bangalore.

Chuck McDermott, Then and NowChuck McDermott, general partner at RockPort Capital Partners, dropped out of Yale University to pursue a career as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. McDermott led a country rock band, Chuck McDermott and Wheatstraw, which drew huge crowds in Harvard Square in the 70s and cut two albums praised by Rolling Stone and Billboard, among others.

Cynthia Fisher, who co-founded ViaCell from her Back Bay apartment and is the former chairman of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, is married to Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams lager.

Bob Nelsen, co-founder of Seattle-based Arch Venture Partners—which, with Waltham, MA-based Polaris Venture Partners, co-led the investment in Fate Therapeutics that we recently chronicled—believes he is the only Republican on Barack Obama’s national finance committee.

Regina Pisa, managing partner of Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter, is building a world-class kitchen with five ovens in her Chestnut Hill home. With the kitchen out of service for her annual Christmas feast, Four Seasons Boston offered to let Pisa cook in their kitchen. However, Pisa leaned against it: “I declined and let them cook and host the meal instead.”

Xconomy’s Bob Buderi worked in the early 80s as a stringer in Time‘s San Francisco bureau. The bureau chief: Mike Moritz, the now legendary Sequoia venture capitalist who led early investments in Google and Yahoo. Buderi wasn’t tempted to follow suit. He decided to stick with something that would last: print journalism.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and chairman. You can email him at bbuderi@xconomy.com. Follow @bbuderi

Trending on Xconomy