Highlights: Last week on Philly Tech News (5/28/2012 to 6/3/2012)

SAP's announced $4.3 billion acquisition of Ariba brought back memories of a Philly area company, Verticalnet, that set out to be what Ariba later became. I wrote about how Verticalnet reached a $12 billion market cap before the tech bubble burst, and what happened to it afterwards.

Most annual shareholder meetings are programmed to be rather perfunctory, but Comcast's meeting in Philadelphia last week was quite lively. Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts was peppered with complaints from labor union reps, chants from some "Occupy Wall Street"-type protestors, conservative criticisms of MSNBC programming, and a question about whether Comcast might move to Delaware (leaving the Comcast Center behind?). The next morning Roberts told a New York investors conference that quarterly results at NBCU could be “flat, slightly down” due to disappointments at Universal Studios. “This year we have an unfortunate large miss in Battleship and The Five-Year Engagement”, he commented.

I caught a brief glimpse of an online ad last week titled "Life without FiOS" showing just how miserable life could be without Verizon's popular fiber to the home service. I tried to find it again but haven't been able to; maybe Verizon pulled it because its unwillingness to expand the FiOS footprint is a very sensitive issue right now. But Verizon did announce that its bumping up its top FiOS download speed to 300 Mbps later this month, double the current top speed. It will be pricey, though, as a leaked FiOS pricing chart revealed.

Amazon reached an agreement with the State of New Jersey to build two new warehouses employing up to 1500 people in the state. Amazon will also begin collecting the state sales tax from customers buying online in New Jersey in July, 2013. Amazon had originally hoped to obtain a longer sales tax holiday from the state. Amazon will, however, receive tax incentives to help finance construction of the warehouses.
Amazon also confirmed recently it would spend $52 million to air condition all of its warehouse/fulfillment centers, an issue that first received significant public attention from an Allentown Morning Call investigative series last September. A Forrester Research analyst wondered whether Amazon was doing this not just for its employees but to protect products or perishable items that Amazon might stock from damage. I wondered on a less serious note whether Amazon was doing this in preparation for the armies of robots who might soon invade its fulfillment centers as a result of its recent acquisition of a robotics company.

Dell was reported to be in serious talks last week with Quest Software about a $2 billion+ acquisition that could bring about some interesting synergies with Berwyn-based Dell Boomi's product line, but at the end of last week the word was the talks were on hold, at least for the time being.

A report surfaced in All Things D that Salesforce was prepared to buy social media marketing platform Buddy Media for over $800 million. The deal was announced yesterday, though the price was a little lower than that.

Larry Ellison on Léo Apotheker at D10: "Then they brought in Leo. Then when we subpeonaed him, he went on the lam! They sent him to Bolivia to talk to customers. And then they sent him to Mongolia to talk to customers, just beyond the reach of the federal subpoena. They should have left him in Mongolia, because when he got to California, it got bad."

An isssue was raised by CNBC commentator Herb Greenberg as to whether Ewing, NJ-based OLED technology firm Universal Display was accurate in disclosing the timimg of when it first learned of an unfavorable Japanese court ruling against some of its patents.

And the New York Times looked at why WiFi doesn't always work very well on Amtrak.

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myYearbook completes rebranding as MeetMe; New Hope-based Quepasa now MeetMe, Inc., trading as MEET (NYSEAMEX)

Tom Paine

The well-known myYearbook brand name is now essentially history, as the planned transition to MeetMe has been completed. The transition of the Latin-language Quepasa social network to the MeetMe platform will not be completed until later in the year. New Hope-based Quepasa Corp (now MeetMe, Inc.) stock is now trading on the NYSEAMEX under the symbol MEET.

MeetMe press release

MeetMe launch video

Related Philly Tech News post: Quepasa (myYearbook parent) to become MeetMe (April 4, 2012)