Today in Philly Tech History 4/30/1996: Infonautics completes IPO

Tom Paine

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On April 30, 1996, Infonautics (based in Wayne at the time) completed its IPO and was listed on the NASDAQ.

Infonautics was co-founded in 1992 by Josh Kopelman, then a sophmore at Wharton, along with Marvin Weinberger, an entrepreneur who had previously co-founded Telebase Systems Inc., an online media company in Wayne. Weinberger was CEO and Kopelman was Executive VP with responsibility for sales & marketing. One of Infonautics' early investors and advisors was Howard Morgan, the former computer science professor at Penn turned VC who later co-founded First Round Capital with Kopelman and is a managing partner of the firm today.

Infonautics set out to become an online resource for children, providing curated content that helped young students learn and study. Its products included Homework Helper, delivered primarily via early online service Prodigy, and Electric Library, delivered via the Web. Infonautics raised close to $30 million from its IPO.

The company had difficulty selling a subscription-based service to a mass market, particularly as so much information was beginning to appear for free on the Web. In terms of technology, Infonautics also had to scramble to convert from the closed garden world of legacy online services such as Prodigy to the open Web, which really took off in the 1994-95 period. Although Infonautics developed a number of innovative Web technologies, financially it never got over the hump. Kopelman left Infonautics to start in 1999, and the company was eventually sold off in pieces.

Incidentally, the Infonautics IPO came three years to the day after the launch of the open World Wide Web with the release of royalty-free (browser) software.

Moore College of Art & Design starting BFA in Interactive & Motion Arts program in fall 2013

Tom Paine

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Philadelphia's Moore College of Art & Design is introducing its tenth major, a new BFA in Interactive & Motion Arts program starting in fall 2013, the school announced earlier this month.

The program is designed for students who want to pursue careers as visual artists in the fields of animation, game art, and mobile media design. It teaches a variety of industry-relevant knowledge including:

  • Hand and digital drawing
  • Animation and storyboarding
  • Development of 2D character design and 3D environments
  • History, theory, and critical analysis of interactive culture
  • Gaming strategies
  • Proficiency in use of art-making software.

The Interactive & Motion Arts major will welcome its first class of first-year students in fall 2013. Moore says as the only visual arts college for women in the nation, it is in a unique position to increase the number of women in game design.


Daily Links 4/30/2013: Gartner says Salesforce passes SAP in CRM

Salesforce boots SAP from customer-wrangling software top slot
SaaS outsold on-premises in 2012, says Gartner
(The Register)

The Oracle assessment
(Brian Sommer/ZDNet)

Veeva Systems planning initial public offering: sources (Reuters)
Based in California, much of Veeva's US marketing, sales and customer service functions are based in Radnor. I first reported on Veeva's possible IPO plans, speaking to a top company executive, in March.

Comcast’s X1 Takes a Crack at OpenStack
MSO Taps the Open-Source Cloud Operating System to Help it Break the Old, Closed Set-Top Paradigm
(Multichannel News)

Comcast Q1 Revenue Gain Seen Slim Amid Weaker NBC (Investor's Business Daily)

Former Wireless Lobbyist Reportedly Obama's FCC Pick/WSJ (Mashable)

Comcast's NBC Sports moving to Connecticut (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Adminovate Integrates Multiple iPipeline Products to Solve Industry Challenges
Partnership Offers Seamless Integrations to Support Policy Delivery, Administration and Related Services
(Business Wire)

Exclusive: Ride service Uber raising cash at $1 billion valuation (Reuters via Fox News)
First Round Capital was an early investor in Uber. (But Uber is denying this report.)

On Track For $250M In 2013 Sales, Fab Pivots Again, Buys Custom Furniture Shop Massivkonzept And Opens Retail Storefront (TechCrunch)
First Round Capital was also an early investor in Fab.

Heartland Payment Systems Reports 31% Increase in First Quarter Adjusted Earnings Per Share (Business Wire)

Vishay Reports Results for First Quarter 2013 (Business Wire)