Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Petition to Create Maynard

A document has come to light which for Maynard is the equivalent of discovering a long-lost draft of the Declaration of Independence. It begins, "To the Hon. Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled. We the subscribers residing in the borders of the Towns of Sudbury, Stow, Acton and Concord wishing to unite as a body corporate and form a township...set forth the following reasons."

The petition of record, dated January 26, 1871, was submitted to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by people in what was informally known as Assabet Village. It proposed MAYNARD as the name of the town-to-be, requesting that the new town be created from parts of Sudbury and Stow. Three supportive petitions followed shortly thereafter, adding 63 more names for a total of 134 signatures. After negotiations with the parent towns (and payments) a smaller Maynard was created on April 19, 1871 with the present-day boundaries. We are creeping up on the 150th anniversary.

David Griffin (L) and Paul Boothroyd (R) of the Maynard
Historical Society hold the framed "lost" petition.
There have always been rumors of an earlier petition from either 1869 or 1870, never submitted. Remarkably, the original recently surfaced. Key differences from the official petition are that the town-to-be was not yet named and there was intent to acquire land from Acton and Concord in addition to Sudbury and Stow. Reasons given:

"Within the limits of said contemplated town are three manufacturing establishments, one cotton and wool factory village containing over one hundred inhabitants situated three miles from the center of its respective town, also one powder manufactory and one paper mill doing business on a large scale situated four miles from the center of their respective towns and many of the other inhabitants are as badly situated. Our schools are not sufficient many having to travel two miles distance. We are not provided with sufficient roads and those now located are in a bad state of repair and many thousand acres of fertile land remain uncultivated for the want of better accommodations. Said towns have been often requested and refused to supply said deficiencies. We therefore pray that this Hon. Court would incorporate said contemplated township with the like privileges of other towns."

This petition has 68 names. There is barely any duplication of names between the unfiled petition and the four subsequent petitions. Best guess here is that men who signed the first thought it had become support for the official document. Minus a few duplicate names, the total number of signers across all five petitions appears to be 200. Some of these men would end living outside what became Maynard.

Many of the last names on the newly unearthed petition are familiar as being early and significant landowners in what became the town: Bent, Brooks, Brown, Conant, Fowler, Haynes, Maynard, Puffer, Smith, Vose and Whitney. Interestingly, Amory Maynard's signature does not appear on any of the petitions. Of his sons, Lorenzo signed but William did not. Signer "Nathan Pratt, Agt." was in all likelihood the manager of the gunpowder mills. Signer "William Parker" was owner of the paper mill.
Streets named after early families

Provenance of the document was circuitous. As a rolled-up scroll it was in possession of Winslow Damon, great-grandson of Calvin Carver Damon, founder of the Damon Woolen Mill, in western Concord. No information on when or how it got to Winslow, but it may have been that some of the signers were members of the Masons in Maynard and he was also a Mason. He passed the document to Frederick S. Johnson in 1960. Johnson, Mason and Maynard resident, had it professionally framed behind UV protective glass, and created a typed transcript of text and signatures.
Hard work, given 19th century penmanship and fading ink!

Johnson passed away in October 2013 before his intended transfer of the document to the Maynard Historical Society, but his nephew John Taylor III completed the process. In time, MHS intends to post both a facsimile and a transcript on its website.     

Thursday, March 13, 2014 moved out

 Monster has left the building

After a sixteen year tenure in Maynard, Monster Worldwide has moved what was left of its local staff to Weston. The arc of the company's presence in Maynard roughly paralleled the company's course from a technology disruptor to a technology can-it-catch-up-again.

When men stand on a corner near a Walmart, and other men drive up in pick-up trucks looking for day labor, that's a job exchange. Ditto a bulletin board covered with business cards next to the door of a diner. Put the jobs offered on paper and disseminate copies, and now it's a newspaper's jobs section. Or contract with a person to find and screen candidates - and that is what a headhunter does (for a hefty fee). Now suppose the match-ups are computerized. Potential employers post and search. Potential employees search and post. Inclusion and exclusion criteria filter the searches.

What happened with Monster was a disruptive transformation from match-up via newspaper want ads to automated match-up anywhere in the country (and later, outside the country). The origin story began with Jeff Taylor, who in 1994 launched The Monster Board. Per Wikipedia, “Monster was the first public job search on the Internet, first public resume database in the world and the first to have job search agents and job alerts.”  

Taylor had the idea, but not enough money. Telephone Marketing Programs (TMP) bought The Monster Board in 1995. Taylor stayed on for ten years. TMP's founder, Andrew McKelvey, had started decades earlier with brokering Yellow Pages advertising, and then in 1993 launched a multi-city jobs recruiting division. Buying Monster was a logical expansion. TMP kept its headquarters in New York and the Monster operations in Framingham.

TMP offered stock to the public in December 1996, then used the influx of cash to expand the company. In June 1998 The Monster Board moved its corporate headquarters to the newly opened Clock Tower Place. A year later all of TMP’s recruiting operations were centralized in Maynard under the name 

Monster started  at Clock Tower with about 50,000 square feet of floor space and 135 employees. Within years that had expanded to 250,000 square feet, or nearly one-fourth of the entire complex. Monster also had a visible presence in town, sponsoring among other things, blood drive events and an annual road race to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley.

Entrance sign from Sudbury Road
Worldwide, the company reached peak visibility with its Superbowl commercials circa 1999-2004. Peak capitalization (total value of all shares of stock) topped $7 billion in early 2006. After that, the decline was swift. Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media offered new paths for job search networking, while Craig's List and direct competitors such as also sliced into Monster's share. Current valuation puts the company at about $750 million. The number of employees is less than half of what it reached in 2001, what with spin-offs and the closing or sale of some operations outside the United States.  

What, exactly, went wrong? From Woody Allen, as Alvy Singer in the 1997 movie Annie Hall: "A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark."

Monster is the dead shark. As of early 2014, LinkedIn, with a similar number of employees, revenues and profits, is capitalized at $24 billion. One point made in a lecture at Harvard Business School in November 2012: "No one ever said monsters were social creatures." Eight years passed from when LinkedIn launched before Monster tried its paw at a social network. Monster also came late and weak to mobile apps. The stock has doubled in value since its worst lows of 2013, but whether this is a reversal, hope for a sale, or just a dead cat bounce is anyone's guess.
What Monster got in Weston was a similar amount of space to what it was leaving here - approximately 175,000 square feet - in a newish building just off the I-95 and Route 20 intersection. The new location makes it more convenient to employees who are commuting from any direction, to visitors arriving via Boston's airport, and closer to hotel accommodations along the interstate corridor. The space came at a bargain price because Biogen, which had move some divisions to Weston in 2010, changed its mind. What Maynard lost was an anchor tenant at Clock Tower Place and the some 600+ Monster employees who worked, and sometimes shopped and dined here.