Philly Tech People News 3/31/2013

Subscribe to Philly Tech People News by Email

Another Turning Point: Why I Joined QlikTech (James Richardson/QlikCommunity Blog)

PointRoll Names Mario Diez Chief Executive Officer
Industry Veteran to Lead Digital Advertising Technology and Services Company
(Business Wire)

Comcast Promotes Both Jennifer L. Daley and James P. McCue to Vice President and Assistant Treasurer (Business Wire)

My Alarm Center Names Tammy A. Beil Vice President of Marketing
Former FedEx Freight VP of Marketing brings over 20 years of Expertise
(PR Web)

Welcome Bill Conn! The PeopleLinx Team Continues to Grow (PeopleLinx Blog)

InterDigital Strengthens Executive Team, Adds Don Dinella as Chief Licensing Officer (Globe Newswire)


The price of sports on TV, like it or not (Philadelphia Inquirer)

eBay Outlines Three Year Growth Strategy at Analyst Day (
Ebay sees GSI Commerce revenue growing about 14% per year to $1.5-$1.7 billion in 2015, with direct segment margins of 16 to 18%.

Michael Dell Said to Consider Blackstone LBO Only With CEO Guarantee (Bloomberg)

The First Honest Cable Company (Video: ExtremelyDecentFilms)

Warning: Some vulgar lanquage

Today in Philly Tech History 3/28/2011: eBay announces it will acquire GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

On March 28, 2012, eBay announced it would acquire King of Prussia-based ecommerce company GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion, or $29.25 per share.

As part of the deal, eBay agreed to spin off 100% of GSI Commerce's sports licensing business and 70% of flash sales site Rue La La and delivery service ShopRunner, into a newly formed holding company to be led by GSI Commerce founder and CEO Michael Rubin, later to be named Kynetic LLC and based in Conshohocken. eBay also agreed to loan Rubin's new company $467 million.

In an interesting move, First Round Capital's Josh Kopelman, a former eBay executive for a period after it acquired his company, joined GSI Commerce's board less than two months before the deal was announced.

At eBay's analyst day this past week, the company indicated its expectation for GSI Commerce was for its revenue to grow at about a 14% annual rate to between $1.5 and $1.7 billion in 2015, with a direct segment profit margin of 16 to 18%.


Today in Philly Tech History March 28, 2005: Wayne-based SunGard Data Systems agrees to $11.3 billion LBO

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

On March 28, 2005, Wayne-based SunGard Data Systems agreed to be taken private in an $11.3 billion leveraged buyout, the second largest of all time at that point. The deal, organized by Silver Lake Partners (Michael Dell's partner in the proposed Dell buyout currently under consideration), included a consortium of seven companies, including Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners and Texas Pacific Group in addition to Silver Lake.

Although LBOs are often done on the basis of cash flow, rather than growth prospects, SunGard's growth since going private has likely been a disappointment to its investors. Each of its principal business segments saw flattening growth; SunGard Financial Systems was negatively impacted by the problems in the financial sector the past few years. SunGard Higher Ed, which also saw diminished growth, was sold in 2011 for $1.775 billion and merged with competitor Datatel. The combined company was renamed Ellucian. Plans to take SunGard Availability Services public have surfaced periodically but never progressed. Its business has not been growing despite areas of potential as a cloud computing provider.

The SunGard LBO was among the deals included in a lawsuit filed last year alleging that major PE firms conspired with each other to hold down bidding competition on target companies.


Phorum Philly '13 Highlights: PeopleLinx wins "Best in Show"; Philly Enterprise Hackathon 2013 announced

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

The second annual Phorum Philly conference, held at World Cafe Live on March 21, focused this year on "harnessing disruptive technologies", specifically social, mobile and big data.

I was eagerly awaiting to hear what Gus Hunt, CTO of the Central Intelligence Agency, would say addressing Phorum on the topic of managing big data. In particular, it might have been timely for him to say something regarding reports that the CIA had reached a ground-breaking (for both parties) agreement with Amazon Web Services for AWS to provide private cloud services to the necessarily security-obsessed CIA. It was first reported by Federal Computer Weekly at the beginning of last week to be an arrangement worth up to $600 million to AWS over 10 years.

Unfortunately, in typical CIA fashion, Hunt was called away by a last minute emergency.'s VP and Head of Platform Research, Peter Coffee, who had given the opening address to the conference in the morning, by all accounts did a fantastic job filling in for Hunt on big data, demonstrating how versatile he is.

But on the previous day, Hunt did address the issue of big data at GigaOM’s Structure Data event, where Gigaom said he responded to a question about the Amazon connection by saying said he could not comment now but “maybe someday.” Hunt also said in his Structure address, "we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever."

The Demo Pit at Phorum 13 was filled with a strong group of locally based ventures. PeopleLinx, the Philadelphia-based startup which builds applications that help companies better utilize LinkedIn and earlier last week announced it had received $3.2 million in funding from Osage Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners and MissionOG, was voted "Best in Show" by attendees, besting fellow finalists Curalate and iMomentous, with the award being presented by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA 13). PeopleLinx' Bill Conn described the Phorum experience for the company on the PeopleLinx Blog.
MissionOG is an interesting new locally-based fund focused on BtoB, technology-oriented startups that has also invested in CloudMine and Cloudamize.

Another Demo Pit participant, Philadelphia-based enterprise app and collaboration platform WizeHive, announced during the week that it had received additional seed funding from investors including Gabriel Investments and Goldin Ventures. WizeHive also announced that DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg had joined its board.

Also at Phorum, the Philly Enterprise Hackathon 2013 was announced, sponsored by PACT and several Philly area companies. The Hackathon, which will offer prizes valued at $100,000 and incubation opportunities, will run from April 2 through April 19.


Daily Links 3/29/2013: Fisker preparing for possibe bankruptcy filing?; Dell filing details declining fortunes

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Christie touts missile defense contract with Lockheed Martin in Moorestown (

Fisker hires law firm to prepare possible bankruptcy filing -WSJ

Dell’s Go Private Case Emerged as Business Eroded (All Things D)

Oracle Flim-Flam Alakazams Missed 3Q Earnings (ReadWriteEnterprise)

The First Ever Honest Cable Company Ad (Mashable)

In march towards IPO, Salesforce rival SugarCRM snags another $15.1M (VentureBeat)

Daily Links 3/28/2013: Is Comcast mismanaging NBC talent shuffle?

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Court Rejects Antitrust Suit in Victory for Comcast (New York Times)

NBC Crises Leave Comcast Guys Looking Flat-Footed (Variety)

Workday May Make ‘Small’ Acquisitions: Co-CEO (Bloomberg TV)

Workday Focuses on Its Post-IPO Future (IT World)

Oracle To IBM: Your 'Customers Are Being Wildly Overcharged' (SAI: Enterprise)

Is the new T-Mobile too good to be true? (VentureBeat)

T-Mobile Deal for MetroPCS in Doubt, Hopes Rise for Sweeter Deal (Dow Jones Newswires via Fox Business)

Checkpoint’s deeply discounted divestiture (Inorganic Growth)

Social App MeetMe Introduces In-Feed Advertising With Flurry Partnership (TechCrunch)

Google tiptoes into same-day local delivery service (CNET News)


Daily Links 3/27/2013: Supreme Court rules for Comcast in Philly-area class action suit

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Supreme Court rules for Comcast in class action (Reuters)
Suit had alleged that Philadelphia area subscribers have been overcharged as result of Comcast monopoly in the region.

SCOTUS says Philly residents can’t bring class-action against alleged Comcast monopoly
In 5-4 decision, majority finds that damages to class not adequately defined.

Dell: BlackStone Open to Mike Dell Continuing as CEO, Says WSJ (Barron's: Tech Trader Daily)

Mike Dell's former lieutenant leads coup attempt (Reuters)

SAP Powers More Business Suite Apps with HANA and RDS (ASUG News)

Ben Franklin (NEP) to Invest $315,700 in Regional Economic Development (Marketwire)

WorkplaceDynamics Launches On-Demand Employee Survey (Business Wire)

Online nightlife guide to expand to NYC (Philadelphia Business Journal)

Google Fiber to take on Comcast in Olathe, Kansas; Comcast responds

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Google announced last week it had reached an agreement to expand its 1 gigabit per second Google Fiber service to Olathe in suburban Johnson County outside of Kansas City. Olathe is more than 20 miles from Kansas City, Kansas. As I know little about Kansas, I was surprised to learn that Olathe, with a population of 125,872, is the fifth largest city in the state. Olathe represents a bit of a geographic leap for Google, which until now has focused on the two Kansas Cities (Kansas and Missouri) and has struck agreements with three other towns in the inner suburbs. This surprised some observers, who had expected Google to try and maintain a tight geographic concentration.

It also means Google Fiber will be taking on Comcast for the first time. Previously, it has been in areas where Time Warmer Cable has been the incumbent provider and AT&T's U-verse serves some.

Comcast responded with an announcement yesterday that is sure to scare the pants off of Google. It said it would be doubling its download speeds for its Blast tier in Olathe from 25 Mbps to up to 50 Mbps (1/20th of Google's potential speed), and its upload speeds from 4 Mbps to up to 10 Mbps. And all this at no extra charge! In fairness, Comcast has been announcing a similar enhancement in many of its service areas around the country, although the specific timing of this announcement is perhaps curious.

An interesting historical side point is that Milo Medin, Vice President of Access Services for Google, a brilliant engineer who heads up the Fiber project, was a co-founder of @Home Network, in which Comcast was a significant investor as it looked to expand its broadband services to residential customers back in the 90's. Although @Home achieved some success in that objective, a disastrous 1999 merger with Internet search engine Excite and the subsequent tech meltdown led to its bankruptcy in 2001.

AWeber adds mural to brighten up new Chalfont headquarters

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

AWeber, the Philadelphia-area email marketing software company, recently unveiled a lego-inspired mural created by artist David Guinn for its new Chalfont headquarters.

(Photo: Eric Centeno, AWeber)

Click on photo to expand:

Daily Links 3/26/2013: Intel reported to be close to deal with Comcast's NBCU, others to license content

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Oracle's Big Miss: The End Of An Enterprise Era?
(Read Write Enterprise)

Dell Software chief Swainson talks scale, perception, growth (ZDNet)

Michael Dell concerned with Blackstone buyout offer: sources

Intel Said to Be Nearing Media Deals for Pay-TV Service
NBCU is one of the media companies named. While I'm sure they are many angles to consider, not sure why Comcast would want to help build a content base for a potential competitor whose objective is to attack the cable bundle.

Hulu Board Gauging Interest in Video Site From Potential Buyers (Bloomberg)
Comcast is one of the three owners, though a silent partner per its agreement with the FCC
related to NBCU deal. It doesn't have a board seat, which I suppose means it has no say
in determining whether Hulu will be sold, or to whom.

Quintiq Marks 15-Year Anniversary with Release of Quintiq 5.0
New and Agile Platform Exemplifies a Company Moving Forward
(Business Wire)

Zimory Creates North American Subsidiary to Support Growth
New York-based subsidiary, Zimory Inc., will help to meet accelerating demand for complete cloud IaaS management software
(PR Web)
Zimory is a hot Germany-based cloud computing (IaaS) company; I had a hunch that it might
chose Philly as its North American hub, but alas it is New York.


Daily Links 3/25/2013: Comcast develops tools that help Nielsen measure tablet audience

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Dell Says Blackstone, Icahn Offers May Be Superior (Bloomberg)

Comcast Rx Helps Nielsen Swallow Tablets
After long wait, mobile viewing to be added to C3 and C7 ratings
(Broadcasting & Cable)

SevOne supports Delawareans
Delaware alumni discuss successful SevOne entrepreneurial endeavor

Apply to Open Angel Forum V (Gabriel Weinberg's Blog)

NextDocs and Microsoft Mobilize Clinical Trials with Trial Exchange and Windows 8
Companies Demonstrate Power of NextDocs Trial Exchange Built for Microsoft Windows 8
(PR Newswire)

More UC Channel M&A: AGC Networks To Acquire Transcend United Technologies (CRN)
Transcend has been based in Wayne, and backed by NewSpring Mezzanine Capital L.P.

PCSTrac Launches Enhanced StoreTrac Application for Real-Time, Detailed, Store Delivery Shipment Visibility for Retailers
Urban Outfitters' Partnership Drives Development of Next Generation Inventory Management Tool

Scenes From Penn State’s Startup Week Hackathon (TechCrunch)

Oracle Acquires Network Manager Tekelec (All Things D)

Analyst: Verizon’s network neutrality challenge may have to wait until fall (Gigaom)

Birst and Eigen X Partner to Accelerate Business Decisions
New Alliance Delivers Custom Business Analytics Solution for Extracting Maximum Value from Operational, Customer and Financial Data
(Business Wire)


Dell's board evaluates rival bids: source (Reuters via Fox Business)

Vodafone Eyeing $135 Billion Sale Of Verizon Wireless Stake -Report (Dow Jones Newswires via Fox Business)

Five companies that want to break up your cable bundle (paidContent)

Maffei: Charter Deal Could Lead To Other Cable Buys
Liberty CEO Tells CNBC Charter Is “Rare” Opportunity
(Multichannel News)

Philly Tech People News 3/24/2013: DuckDuckGo's Gabriel Weinberg joins WizeHive's board

Subscribe to Philly Tech People News by Email

WizeHive Welcomes New Additions to its Board and Closes Seed Round (PR Web)
DuckDuckGo's Gabriel Weinberg joins board and makes angel investment.

NextDocs Significantly Expands Executive Leadership Team (NextDocs Press Release)

Gary Schoch Joins Rosetta as Partner, Global Commerce Lead
Former IBM Worldwide Commerce Solutions Sales Leader Will Drive Rosetta's Global Expansion of Commerce Services
(PR Newswire)


Gregory FCA Adds Oliver Picher to Senior Leadership of Editorial Team
Industry veteran and former enterprise IT journalist joins Philadelphia’s largest public relations firm to support growth and enhance social media and content marketing practice area
(Business Wire)

2013 Wharton Venture Award Winners Announced! (Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog)


Enterprise Systems & Software Roundup 3/23/2013: Blackstone reported to make preliminary Dell bid

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Blackstone Said to Make Preliminary Offer for Dell (New York Times/DealBook)

Blackstone asks Oracle's Hurd if he wants to run Dell: source (Reuters)

Wall Street questions Oracle's strategy after weak Q3 (Reuters)

Workday's accumulated deficit passes $400 million (San Francisco Business Times)

Is The Vertical Approach To Enterprise Software Enough To Help You Win The Market? (TcchCrunch)

An Oracle Veteran’s Comeback Plan (New York Times: Bits)
Charles Phillips and Infor.

Where we’re going with SAP NetWeaver… (Björn Goerke's Blog)

Wolfpack basketball stumps SAP analytics (Triangle Business Journal)

Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy and Roadmap Evident at Convergence 2013 (Louis Columbus/Enterprise Irregulars)

More on out of home digital advertising startup Vistar Media

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

The week before last, I wrote a short post about Vistar Media receiving $1.5 million in VC funding. The startup, which has its engineering offices in Philadelphia with more customer-focused functions based in New York, was founded by two veterans of Invite Media, which was acquired by Google for a reported $80 million in 2010, and one other co-founder, Jeremy Ozen. It will use a real-tme ad bidding platform as did Invite Media except in this case it will be used to place ads on what are referred to as out of home (OOH) digital displays that might be found in prominent outdoor settings, stadiums or arenas, stores, medical offices, or other of out of home locations where numerous people may pass by or congregate.

I had a chance to speak with Ozen by phone last week. It turns out that he is a UPenn graduate (materials science, finance); in fact, that is where he got to know Invite Media and fellow Vistar Media co-founder Michael Provenzano. The other Vistar co-founder, former Invite Media Chief Architect Mark Chadwick, attended Temple. Ozen had been working for Goldman Sachs in London in its European Special Situations Group monitoring a venture portfolio before returning to the States and joining Vistar. One thing Ozen emphasized to me is that Philadelphia is Vistar's official legal headquarters, althought its website lists a New York contact address. One question I had in my prior post was about Ben Franklin Technology Ventures, one of its backers, investing in a startup based out of state.

I also found out that Eniac Ventures, a New York-based VC firm focused on the Mobile space and managed by UPenn alums (hence the name) was among the investors in the round, although they were not named in the press release. Ozen also told me that Vistar had received a previous $500,000 in angel funding last year, coming from mostly within the Invite Media circle. I didn't ask whether two Invite Media co-founders, Nat Turner or Zachary Weinberg, who have a new healthcare IT startup in New York named Flatiron Health, were part of that investor group.

I asked Ozen what Vistar saw in terms of its addressable market. He said they estimated the currently monetized domestic OOH digital ad market to be $2 billion, with another $2 billion available but not yet monetized. They have not yet sized the international market, which could be quite sizable; from my point of view the penetration of digital OOH displays may be higher in some other parts of the world than in the US.

In addition to the online bidding platform Vistar has built a la Invite Media, another critical product component it has developed is what it calls "the first ad server built specially for digital place-based media." This is important because if Vistar is going to achieve its full market potential, it needs to be able to serve ads to the widest possible universe of existing digital displays, and there are challanges to this due to barriers including intermittent internet connections, network bandwidth restrictions and a lack of standards for communicating between heterogeneous devices. Vistar believes it has solved this problem; we will see if that's fully the case because its a thorny issue. Vistar has also built an API that media firms who want to deliver their advertising directly to digital displays can use.

Another opportunity Vistar sees, according to Ozen, is in synching or correlating OOH digital display advertising with advertising delivered to individuals' mobile devices within a nearby location. That opportunity, which is very appealing to marketers, may take longer to develop.

Ozen says Vistar currently has four employees in Philly and five in New York and will be adding a few more in the coming months. WPP is a major agency Vistar is working with, and on the partner side it is working with the Wall Street Journal, Accent Health, CMT (they place ads in cabs in Philly), Adspace Mall Network and others. It claims to have 80,000 unique locations and 8 billion impressions available as part of its inventory.


QlikTech CEO Lars Bjork on CNBC's "Mad Money" with Jim Cramer

Daily Links 3/22/2013: Comcast finalizes $1 billion 30 Rock buy; FCC Chair Genachowski leaving

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Comcast’s $1B ‘Rock’ solid deal (New York Post)

Comcast's Brian Robert's interviewed at the Economic Club of Washington (Video)
Interesting perspective - looking both to the past and the future.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Stepping Down After Contentious Term: Reports (Time)

Genachowski’s FCC Tenure Featured Push to Open Wireless Spectrum (Video) (All Things D)

SAP Lifts Co-CEO Pay by 41%, Beating Volkswagen CEO Pay

Cross Atlantic Capital Partners’ Initial Venture Capital Fund to Wind Down; Sell Remaining Portfolio Assets (Business Wire)

Accel Closes $475M Fund To Invest Mainly In Europe And Israel, Focusing On Its Series A “Sweet Spot” (TechCrunch)
Cites QlikTech as one of its major European successes.

CEO Marc Benioff Says Chatter Will Become Primary Interface For Salesforce, A Bold Yet Risky Move (TechCrunch)

Journal Register Approved to Sell Assets in Bankruptcy Court (Bloomberg)


Daily Links 3/21/2013: LevelUp partners with Heartland Payment Systems; PlaySay acquired

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Steve Jobs' death clears way for Adobe CTO defection
WTF: Why The Flash did Macromedia bloke join Apple
(The Register)

Oracle blames sales force for Q3 miss, stock drops (Reuters)

SAP Plans to Convert Legal Form to European Company (Dow Jones Newswires via Fox Business)

Microsoft going after enterprises with Dynamics AX ERP
Dynamics AX is starting to land global deployments with large enterprises, including Revlon
(IT World)

Comcast's Brian Roberts Plays Down NBC Woes Says network will fare better under his management than GE (Adweek)

T-Mobile-MetroPCS merger: Now all that’s left is shareholder approval (Gigaom)

Philadelphia Area Manufacturing Unexpectedly Expanded in March (Bloomberg)
Philly Fed March 2013 Business Outlook Survey

LevelUp Partners With Processor Heartland Payment Systems to Expand Its Sales Force (Bostinno)

Cloud, BDR and DaaS Provider Xtium Launches Partner Program (MSPmentor)

German Language Learning Startup Babbel Buys Disrupt Finalist PlaySay To Target The U.S. Market (TechCrunch)
Started in Philly, moved to DC, then San Francisco. PlaySay apps to be shut down. PlaySay founder & CEO Ryan Meinzer will be working full-time for Heroku, and advising Babbel.

Calling All Developers: Enterprises Need Your Help
With $100,000 in prizes and the promise of incubation, the Philly Enterprise Hackathon is bringing together―for the first time in Philadelphia―the community of software developers and enterprise companies
(Business Wire)

Intel: Our OTT Service Will Expand the Pay-TV Pie (Light Reading Cable)


Serial Entrepreneurs Tell Financing War Stories at NJTC Capital Conference

Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor,

At the NJTC Capital Conference Breakfast Panel: L-R: Moderator and Sponsor, Philip H. Politziner, Chairman Emeritus, EisnerAmper LLP; John Eley, CEO, Pivot, Inc.; Ron Gaboury, CEO, Yorktel; Christopher Kuenne, Chairman and CEO, Rosetta Group; Kenneth Traub, President and CEO, Ethos Management LLC | NJTC

During a panel discussion at the New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC) annual Capital Conference at the Westin Princeton, Jan. 25, 2013, serial entrepreneurs gave brutally honest and sometimes uncomfortable advice to those seeking capital.

The discussion, moderated by Philip Politziner, chairman emeritus of consulting and accounting firm EisnerAmper (New York), focused on past successful capital-raising strategies. Panelists pulled no punches about what they had had to do to keep their companies afloat.

John Eley, CEO of Pivot, a Jersey City company that makes instant-messaging infrastructure for financial trading, made an exit in August 2012. Before Pivot, he was with Hotspot FX, which was later acquired by Knight Capital.

Eley told the entrepreneurs in attendance that the No. 1 job of a CEO is to make sure there is money to meet payroll, and that he himself sometimes made payroll by the skin of his teeth.

He told his audience to beware of “friends and family” rounds. “I’ve raised money from friends and family ... and I’ve had it go well and not so well. I have to tell you, it is more fun when it goes well. You are going to Thanksgiving dinner, and you ... have to look someone in the eye and explain ... that the $25,000 or $50,000 you expected to turn into $100 million is now at zero. It really takes the stuffing out of you,” he joked.

Also, said Eley, “when you go to conferences, you’ll hear ‘be really picky about who you take money from.’ But nine times out of 10, there is a period where you don’t have a choice about who you take money from. You have to continue to grow your business and work at your business or, frankly, close it down. These get to be very stark choices.”

Advising entrepreneurs to beware of inbound calls from venture capital (VC) firms, Eley noted that those firms often behave like headhunters: “I always like to hear from headhunters, because they tell me how good and talented I am.” Similarly, some VC firms will use deal generation teams to call and check in with startups with traction. While flattering, they are a big waste of time, said Eley: “Unless you are squarely in the bull’s-eye of what they invest in, it’s clearly not a good use of your time to burn a lot of energy on this.”

Christopher Kuenne, chairman and CEO of Princeton-based Rosetta Group, a digital agency that made a successful exit for $575 million in 2011, told the entrepreneurs to be prepared for scary times. He described how Rosetta, which had started as part of another agency’s holding company, was bought out from that company.

“One of the most terrifying experiences of my life was sitting … at a law firm [with his wife, his partner and his partner’s wife] literally signing away every single thing we owned” to borrow $2.7 million to buy the company.

Later, said Kuenne, after anther raise and after the company had grown, “we realized we were ready for a private equity raise.” They asked their trusted advisers, Brown Brothers Harriman (New York) and the precursor to EisnerAmper — Amper, Politziner & Mattia — to help them put together a presentation to pitch Rosetta’s growth story.

“We pitched 12 different private equity firms … and 11 made offers. We chose a 13th firm.” Why?

“At every one of the 11 that made offers … you could see there was a CEO on their board who really wanted his job back or, more precisely, wanted my job. I didn’t want him to have my job; I just wanted his money.”

Rosetta was eventually able to find a private equity firm, Lindsay Goldberg, that was a “phenomenal partner.”

Kuenne told the entrepreneurs to have a “very tight strategy” for what business to be in and to run their company, from the beginning, like a public one. “That financial focus, that financial discipline, really proved to be a major benefit as we told our story to prospective investors.”

A second key lesson, said Kuenne, is to hire the smartest people you can. “In fact, hire above the job.” And if you are creating wealth, “it’s important to share the wealth.” One investor told him the reason his firm had lent Rosetta the money was “you had such an incredibly strong management team, and the team was tied into the company through an incentive plan. If they were to leave, they would leave millions on the table.”

Kenneth Traub, now of Ethos Management, had cofounded Voxware (Hamilton) then a pioneer in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which now exists in a different form. He said he had gotten involved with Voxware through his desire to help an engineer friend create a standard for audio on the Internet. “This was in 1994, before most people were thinking about this,” he noted.

While working his day job at Trans-Resources, Traub successfully raised $500,000 for the new company, but that wasn’t enough. When he tried to raise an additional $2.5 million, he learned that “if you want to raise money from other people, no one is going to part with their money if you are not committed to” the startup full-time.

The startup was able to secure Intel as a backer, but to make the product a standard, the founders needed the support of the two most active companies in the Internet space at that time: Microsoft and Netscape. Unfortunately, both wanted an exclusive. Traub had to choose one, and he decided on Netscape. The company exited in 1996 with an IPO “with $1.6 million in revenue but great promise.”

Right after the IPO, Traub saw that the landscape had become more complicated: “I saw that Microsoft was determined to crush our business and Netscape as well.”

Trying to find a less stressful job, Traub moved from the fire to the frying pan, accepting a position with an old, well-established New York Stock Exchange-traded firm called American Bank Note Holographics.

His first day on the job, Traub noticed irregularities in the publicly filed financial statements. The result: numerous regulatory investigations. He left the company immediately, only to be wooed back to turn it around. After replacing the board, which had been loyal to the CEO, and then replacing the CEO, Traub managed to keep the business afloat.

“We figured out what financial assets could be sold, and we sold them as quickly as we could. We implemented a furlough on production and lived on inventory for a period of time, until we could find other sources of capital. I went out to asset-based financers and repaid” a portion of the company’s debt.

“The most critical reason we were able to keep the company alive and ... rebuild it is that I found a strategic partner that had a vested interest in our survival. I reached out and had them make an equity investment and [I] implemented a strategic partnership.”

Traub’s advice to entrepreneurs: “The most important element of raising capital ... is trust.” Entrepreneurs should know how to earn trust from all their decisions, he said.

Traub offered concluding advice: “When you are raising capital, find a way to align your business and the objectives of your company with the vision of your investors.”

Esther Surden is Publisher and Editor of NJTechWeekly, and a contributor to Philly Tech News. This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly, and is reposted here with her permission.


Daily Links 3/20/20013: Comcast Completes Consolidation of NBCU; Now Owns 100%

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Comcast Completes NBCU Consolidation
Agreed in February to acquire additional 49% of programming partnership
(Broadcasting & Cable)

Oracle's new software sales fall, stock slumps (Reuters)

Oracle Press Release

Oracle Sales and Profit Miss Amid Cloud Competition (Bloomberg)

Spanish-language Univision TV holds own against big networks (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Far ahead of Comcast's Telemundo.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell exiting
(LA Times: Company Town)
Has been viewed favorably by Comcast.

Kagan: Pay TV subscriber growth lags behind housing market rebound (FierceCable)

Comcast strikes up free Wi-Fi at Citizens Bank Park (CED Magazine)

Brook Lenfest accused of cheating partners (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Son of Cable TV pioneer Gerry Lenfest.

People first: Cloud HRM and talent management (Phil Wainewright/Enterprise Irregulars)

Happiest Minds Announces Launch of “Engineering R&D Services”
Expands Product Engineering Services Capabilities
(Business Wire)

SunGard Seeks to Make Business Continuity User-Friendly (Data Center Knowledge)


Some breaking news items related to Phorum participants CIA & PeopleLinx

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

A couple of interesting breaking news items related to Thursday's Phorum Philly event, which I profiled here:

Federal Computer Week is reporting that according to its sources, the CIA has agreed to a cloud computing contract with Amazon, worth up to $600 million over 10 years. FCW says "Amazon Web Services will help the intelligence agency build a private cloud infrastructure that helps the agency keep up with emerging technologies like big data in a cost-effective manner not possible under the CIA's previous cloud efforts."

If true, this is significant for a couple of reasons. One is that Amazon Web Services primarily offers a public cloud environment, and in the past has been reluctant to get into private clouds, so this might mark the beginnings of an important change of direction for them.
CIA  CTO Gus Hunt

Secondly, CIA CTO Gus Hunt will be addressing Phorum on Big Data issues, so his remarks should be particularly timely. Hunt would not respond to FCW's request to comment on its report, but has been publicly quoted as speaking favorably of AWS. Reuters quoted Hunt as saying at a conference in February, "Think Amazon – that model really works." Hopefully, Hunt will take some questions on Thursday.

The other related news item is that Demo Pit participant PeopleLinx, the Philadelphia based startup that is building a platform that helps companies better utilize LinkedIn, announced today it has raised $3.25 million from investors including Osage Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners and MissionOG.

In my previous post on Phorum, I mentioned that Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who many political observers think will seek the Democratic Gubernatorial Nomination for 2014, will be presenting the Demo Pit awards at Phorum.


Daily Links 3/19/2013: PeopleLinx raises $3.2 million Series A; First Round to manage Startup PHL Seed Fund

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Malone Looms As Cable Consolidator With Comcast Busy (Investor's Business Daily)

Malone’s Minority Report (New York Times: DealBook)

Jay Leno Calls NBC Execs 'Snakes' in 'Tonight Show' Monologue (Video) (Hollywood Reporter)

Kopelman's First Round to run Startup PHL Seed Fund for free (Philadelphia Business Journal)

Six months in Philly (Redeye VC)

Osage, Greycroft, MissionOG: $3M for PeopleLinx ( Philly Deals)
PeopleLinx will participate in the Demo Pit at Phorum Philly 2013 at World Cafe Live on Thursday.

The Story Behind Our $3.2M Series A Funding (PeopleLinx Blog)

Alteva Reports Fourth Quarter 2012 Financial Results and Significant Corporate Developments

Why were they drinking Champagne and eating strawberries at SAP? (Peter Key/Philadelphia Business Journal)

Philadelphia Startup SnipSnap Finally Brings Its Mobile Coupon Clipping App To Android (TechCrunch)


Phorum Philly 2013, to be held this Thursday (the 21st), has a different focus, but same quality as last year's program

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Last year, PACT, the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies, got together with others including investment banking firm Fairmount Partners and Philly Startup Leaders' President Bob Moul to bring a world class enterprise-oriented technology conference to Philadelphia, with a national scope but a strong Philadelphia focus. The result was Phorum Philly 2012, which concentrated on cloud computing, and it was enthusiastically recieved and highly successful by most accounts. While Chariot Solutions' Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference (already sold out for this year) has much the same appeal for hands-on developers, Phorum was intended to be geared more to enterprise IT execs trying to better understand major trends and new approaches for enterprise solutions.

This year, the event returns, Phorum Philly 2013, hosted by PACT and presented by Fairmount Partners and LiquidHub, once again held at World Cafe Live on this Thursday, March 21. Phorum 2013 will feature the same high quality program content but a different emphasis in terms of subject matter. This year's focus will be on harnessing disruptive technologies, including mobility, big data, and social computing. The event will kick off with a Keynote session, followed by three sessions, one for each technology track. Tickets are still available at this time; tickets are $199.00 for PACT members and $279.00 for non-members.

Don Tapscott
Peter Coffee: VP and Head of Platform Research,, who spoke at last year's Phorum, will lead off with an overview of how disruptive technologies are impacting the business world. Author, consultant and business executive Don Tapscott,whose work has often anticipated emerging trends such as collaboration, will give the Keynote address. Ted Schadler, Principal Analyst, Forrester, will speak on "Leading the Mobile Workforce", and Sameer Patel, Global Vice President & GM Social Software, SAP
, who joined SAP last year to develop its social entreprise strategy, will address "Rethinking Work: The Next Chapter in Social Collaboration."

After lunch, the afternoon session will kick off with Gus Hunt, Chief Technical Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency
 speaking on "Leveraging Big Data
", something the CIA certainly has a great deal of.

The remainder of the afternoon will consist of six panel sessions; two each on each main theme, one presented from the vendor perspective and one from the enterprise perspective. A notable list of panelists includes Relay Network's Matt Gillin, Jive Software Chief Social Scientist David Gutelius, LuquidHub's Ravi Kalakota, Comcast Business Services' Patrick McGlone, Moul, SevOne CEO Michael Phelan, AppLabs founder Sashi Reddi, and Mozilla Chief of Innovation Todd Simpson.

A major feature of the conference, the Demo Pit, will be open all day and features nine of the most interesting startups in the region, including Curalate, iMomentous, PeopleLinx, Powerlytics, Quantum Leap Innovations ( which I profiled last year), and WizeHive. Fairmount Partners' Allen Born, Advisory Board Chair for Phorum 2013, said in an interview with Philly Tech News that he was very pleased with the quality of the Demo Pit participants and the fact that all the companies are locally based this year.

Voting on the Demo Pit participants will begin after the morning keynote and will be open to 3:45pm. The closing session and awards presentation will begin at 4:50, during which the "best in show" award for the Demo Pit will be presented. This year's Demo Pit award presenter will be Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, a probable candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014. Last year's Demo Pit winner, UXFLIP, was subsequently acquired by appRenaissance (now Artisan Mobile).

A Cocktail & Network Reception will follow from 5:30 to 7pm.

Born said said that World Cafe Live can hold about 400 people, and approximately 350 tickets have been sold so far. He also said that a TV will be available upstairs for those who wanted to catch up on the opening of the NCAA Tournament's Field of 64.

Also see update: Some breaking news items related to Phorum participants CIA & PeopleLinx


VCs Are Throwing Big Money At These 10 Enterprise Startups (SAI: Enterprise)
SevOne should be on this list.

Slide Show: The First Trenton Computer Festival: 1976

This a slide show from the first Trenton Computer Festival in 1976, produced by TCF co-founder Sol Libes:

Death of an IT salesman (Gigaom)

Jay Leno Angers NBC's Robert Greenblatt With Ratings Jabs (Report) (Hollywood Reporter)

Comcast developing 'magical' mobile video product with Verizon Wireless (FierceCable)

38th annual Trenton Computer Festival is tomorrow (Saturday)

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

The 38th annual Trenton Computer Festival (TCF 2013) will be held tomorrow, March 16, at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ, outside of Trenton. While in the past the festival had a two day format, in recent years it has been a one day event.

TCF has been an historically important meeting place for home computing pioneers on the East Coast. Now, of course, there is so much information on the Internet as well as from other sources and distribution channels that it is not so essential, but back in its early days there weren't many other places you could access that type of information and see what was actually out there in terms of hardware components and software. TCF has had a list of renown keynoters, including ENIAC co-inventor John William Mauchly, Bill Gates, and area resident and open source pioneer Eric Raymond.

Still, today it continues to be an active venue for people exploring new technologies and ideas.

David Gewirtz wrote an ode to early days of TCF in ZDNet last year.

This year's TCF will run from 9 to 5, and will include an indoor flea market and a broad selection of workshops and presentations ( see schedule here (pdf). Admission is only $10 (children under 12 free).

View Larger Map


Daily Links 3/15/2013: Comcast now nation's second largest advertiser; SAP now Germany's most valuable company

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

Comcast now nation's second largest advertiser (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Cablevision Sale Within 18 Months Likely, Says Citi (Investor's Business Daily)
But analyst says Comcast not likely buyer (though I bet there are some little pieces of
Cablevision Comcast might wish to own).

Hulu Names an Acting Chief Executive (New York Times: Media Decoder)
While contemplating changes in ownership structure.

Comcast to Widen World of Addressable Ads
Source: MSO Plans to Have Invidi’s Targeted-Ad System Deployed Across U.S. Footprint by End of 2014
(Multichannel News)

South by Southwest (SXSW): Aereo vs. the Cable Bundle (Time Tech)

Princeton Review Founder’s Startup Noodle Acquires Lore To Build An Education Marketplace Around Search (TechCrunch)
Lore, originally CourseKit, was started by three undergrads at Penn before moving to New York.

SAP Emerges from Changes as Most Valuable German Company (Information Management Online)

Google Elbows Into the Cloud (New York Times)

Exclusive: EMC, IBM eye web hosting company SoftLayer- sources

Ben Franklin TechVentures to House Lehigh Valley Angel Investors
(Ben Franklin News)


New Hope-based MeetMe names COO, myYearbook co-founder Geoff Cook CEO; focuses on monetizing growing mobile traffic

Tom Paine

 Subscribe in a reader
Subscribe to Philadelphia Tech News by Email

MeetMe, the New Hope-based social networking website, announced last week that Geoff Cook had been named CEO effective March 11, replacing John Abbott, who becomes the Company’s non-Executive Chairman of the Board. Cook, who co-founded myYearbook in 2005 along with his then teenage siblings, Catherine and Dave, has been Chief Operating Officer and President of MeetMe's Consumer Internet Division. Abbott had been CEO of Quepasa, the company that acquired myYearbook in November of 2011. Quepasa changed its name to MeetMe in June 2012, and the myYearbook platform was rebranded as MeetMe later in the year and integrated with Quepasa's Latin American-oriented social network. The overwhelming majority of MeetMe's pre-merger revenue came from the myYearbook platform.

Prior to helping start myYearbook, Geoff Cook, 34, founded EssayEdge and ResumeEdge while a student at Harvard University in 1997 and sold it to The Thomson Corporation (now Thomson Reuters) in 2002.

MeetMe also announced its 4th quarter and full year 2012 results last week (see transcript of earnings conference call). Pro forma (non-GAAP) results comparing the annual revenue of myYearbook and Quepasa combined increased grew 31% to $46.7 million for 2012 over 2011, although 4th quarter revenue grew only 23% over the prior year's 4th quarter. Net loss for the year was $10.3 million, but a non-GAAP measure MeetMe uses, Adjusted EBITDA, was positive $3.9 million for the year, an improvement from a loss of $1.3 million in the prior year. Cash and cash equivalents at year end were about $5 million, down from $8.3 million a year ago.
Geoff Cook

Cook, in a telephone interview with Philly Tech News, says one of the challenges MeetMe faces is monetizing its rapidly growing mobile traffic at at least the same rate as its web-based traffic, a challenge Facebook also faces on a larger scale. Mobile now accounts for 60% of MeetMe's daily audience. While Mobile accounted for only 5.8% of MeetMe platform revenue in Q4 2011, it now accounts for 22%. Despite this rapid growth, in Q4 2012 revenue was $0.13 for each daily active user on the web, compared to just over $0.03 for each mobile DAU. While overall traffic continues to show growth (MeetMe daily active users, DAU, increased 14% over the Q3 average to 1.261 million, although the absolute number of page views has dropped during the mobile transition), obviously this wide gap between mobile and web monetization could impact future revenue growth. As Cook said in last week's earnings conference call, "in the near term, the challenges associated with the shift of our users to mobile will affect operating results, until the monetization of mobile expands sufficiently."

Monetization of mobile users will require different approaches, Cook says. The first initiative is a premium subscription service, MeetMe Plus, the first stage of which will be introduced in late March. While the mobile platform has proven less amenable to traditional web advertising due to the small screen size and other factors, Mobile may be easier to monetize in terms of subscriptions because it has a built in payment platform (virtually every MeetMe iPhone user has a credit card on file with Apple), making the purchasing process much easier. The first phase of MeetMe Plus will contain four key benefits for subscribers: the suppression of ads within mobile applications; bonus virtual currency every month; discounts on any subsequent virtual currency purchases; and the ability to see which other users have viewed their photos and which photos they viewed. Additional MeetMe Plus features will be rolled out over the course of the year.

The second mobile monetization effort is centered on native advertising, Cook said, through which relevant native content ads will be inserted directly into a MeetMe user's mobile live feed. The first phase of this initative will begin in late March, in sync with the MeetMe Plus launch, working with a single partner initially.

Another area of expansion for MeetMe in terms of broadening its addressable market has been through adding additional languages to the platform. Late in Q4, MeetMe launched in French, Italian and German, and early this year added Russian, Japanese and traditional Chinese. Although these newer additions are still at an early stage of development, MeetME's MAUs (Monthly Average Users) from outside the US and Canada has grown from 16.7% in June 2012 to 44% in December.

MeetMe's focus is on what it calls "social discovery", or helping people meet new friends. Although it competes with broader competitors such as Facebook to some extent, it has a distinct set of competitors within the social discovery niche, such as Tagged and Badoo, according to Cook. MeetMe's demographics in terms of age have changed somewhat. Where it was originally aimed more at the high school audience, as its core user based has grown older and MeetMe has broadened its marketing appeal the median user age has increased from about 18 to 20, Cook says, and MeetMe's current target market is users in the 20 to 30 year old age group.

MeetMe currently has over 150 employees, about 130 of whom are located in New Hope. Most of the rest are in New York. The company has been strengthening its senior management team. David Clark will be joining MeetMe as Chief Financial Officer on April 2nd from NutriSystem, where he has served as CFO since 2007. Co-founder Catherine Cook continues to serve as MeetMe's VP Brand Strategy.

MeetMe's primary data center operations are based at an Equinox facility in New Jersey, although the company does use Amazon Web Services' EC2 for some functions.

Quepasa acquired myYearbook for $100 million in 2011, which included $18 million in cash and $82 million in Quepasa stock. Publicly traded Quepasae changed its listed name to MeetMe and ticker symbol (NYSEAMEX: MEET) last year. In addition to reaching the Latino market, the Quepasa acquisition made it possible for myYearbook to become part of a publicly listed company without doing an IPO. First Round Capital was an early investor in myYearbook (the story was that FRC's Chris Fralic lived not too far down the road and stopped in one day), to be joined by US Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. MeetMe currently has a share price of $2.54, and a market cap of $94 million.