David Sorin gives remarks at NJ Tech Council Awards Ceremony

Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor, NJTechWeekly.com

David Sorin gives remarks at NJ Tech Council Awards Ceremony
Home » Around New Jersey » Meetings » News » NJ Tech People » tech entrepreneurship » David Sorin Accepts NJ Tech Council Legend of Technology Award
November 30, 2018 Esther Surden 0 Around New Jersey, Meetings, News, NJ Tech People, tech entrepreneurship,
[ David Sorin is Co-Chair of the Venture Capital & Emerging Growth Companies practice at McCarter and English. On Thursday, he was honored by the New Jersey Tech Council for his role in creating and promoting the tech ecosystem in New Jersey. We’ve reposted Dave’s remarks here.]

Thank you, thank you all so very much. It is nice to know that I am finally a legend in the minds of someone other than my own. Obligatory bad joke aside, it has been my great privilege to have a front row seat, sometimes as an observer but most frequently as one of the members of the starting team, to the development and evolution of our technology and emerging growth, entrepreneurial and investor ecosystems. As everyone in this room knows, it is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, a most rewarding, exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, but always intellectually challenging and educational ride.

My love affair with NJ technology and entrepreneurship began over two decades ago when, as a newly minted law firm partner with a young family, my wife and I left NYC and Wall Street Law so that I could pursue my goal of building in NJ the legal resources necessary to meet the unique and complex securities law, financing, intellectual property, and M&A transactional needs of emerging growth tech, tech-enabled and life sciences enterprises and the investors who support them. Prior to that, NJ’s business enterprises generally crossed the Hudson and Delaware Rivers in search of such resources in NY and Philadelphia. Today, such river crossings are no longer necessary – a change of which I am particularly proud.

NJ can and should take great pride in a rich and enviable history of entrepreneurial and technological leadership, defined, in part, by Edison and Einstein, the pharmaceutical, telecommunications and information technology industries, some of the best colleges and universities in the world, a highly educated, incredibly productive workforce, and national leadership in patent issuances per capita, all evidencing our innovative and inventive culture.

Even so, nestled between the overpowering urban centers of NY and Philadelphia, NJ seemed to be without a reputation of our own. We lacked the hubs of urban/business centers and infrastructure that often foment commercialization, technological innovation, entrepreneurial fervor, and investment, leaving us without a center of commerce or a center of influence for technology and entrepreneurship.

Our universities often displayed a shocking lack of interest in commercialization. While Stanford helped to build Silicon Valley, Harvard and MIT the Route 128 Corridor, our colleges and universities left a void. Government policies failed to promote the right incentives. There was an absence of any type of statewide networking, information sharing, lobbying or educational efforts to nurture, foster, enable and sustain the change we so sorely needed. Change that would, with purpose, laser focus and proactivity, create and support an entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem.

Fortunately, in the mid-1990s, there was a small group of us, many of you here tonight as you have been annually the last twenty-some years, who partnered with a force of nature, Maxine Ballen, a local community organizer, so well-known to all of us, to begin to foster the change we needed.

I recall fondly that afternoon in the mid-1990s, when John Martinson, John Bailye, Mel Baiada, Virginia Alling, Brian Hughes, the late, great Caren Franzini, and I, joined Maxine to discuss the viability of a statewide initiative to foster and sustain a leading entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem. Right then and there, each of us committed personal, professional and financial resources to an endeavor soon to be dubbed the New Jersey Technology Council.

What a difference 20 plus years has made. Still far short of ideal, significantly less than perfect, but ever striving to improve, NJ’s entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem is an order of magnitude stronger, more vital and more sustainable than ever before. The New Jersey Technology Council may well have been the initial catalyst, followed soon thereafter by our co-creation of a venture fund and an angel network. We saw the needs and we acted to create solutions and opportunities. The intrepid companies we support develop new products, services and solutions which improve quality of life, create jobs, build wealth, and enhance productivity, creating a sustaining upward spiral.

NJTC’s success led to new and innovative collaborations. At McCarter, in addition to our support of NJTC, we support and create various meetups that have emerged to bring resources to local communities. We were among the earliest and continuing supporters of the efforts to create a national presence in technology and entrepreneurship in NJ and NJ can now boast that it is the birthplace and home of Propelify, an annual festival of technology, inspired by and now rivaling SxSW.

I wish I had the time and immediate recall to give thanks and pay homage to all of you who have contributed so mightily to the sea change in this ecosystem. Sorry to borrow a phrase oft cited, but it really takes a village. I am honored to accept this award but fully appreciate that all that has happened to help this ecosystem thrive is the result of the collective efforts of all of us working together, led by visionaries fueled by passion, energy and commitment and supported by believers and hard workers with shared goals, common values and defining principles. And, of course, that is enabled by those who provide tireless and unwavering support.

Thank you to my McCarter partners and colleagues, many celebrating here tonight, whose commitment to NJ and this community are empowering and to Randi, my wife, and Lindsay, Michelle, Jared and Kayla, my children, for allowing me to pursue my path with zeal and passion, often at your significant personal sacrifice. As my McCarter partners and colleagues and my clients know, one of my favorite words is “onward.” So, onward to even greater things for NJ’s technology and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Thanks so very much.

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

Investor questions Ellison's independence in appointment to Tesla board

Ailing Sears wanted to be an online giant

Tom Paine

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Just remembering how Sears, along with IBM and CBS (which quickly dropped out), was an original investor in Trintex which became Prodigy, a 1980's startup that intended to turn Americans into online junkies.

Presumably, the logic for Sears was to sell stuff online , a ridiculous notion at the time.

The Prodigy service launched in 1988, and competed mostly with CompuServe in the embryonic consumer online market. There was no public internet at the time, speeds were at a crawl, and home PC penetration was limited. Prodigy was known for its cool graphical user interface and some popular and often heated bulletin boards that served as forums. Subscribers reached 1,000,000 at its peak.

Then AOL came along to dominate the consumer market, quickly followed by the Internet. Prodigy did many innovative things to compete ( read this article in The Atlantic ) , and converted to become an ISP in the late 90s. IBM and Sears sold their interests to a group led by Carlos Slim in 1996 for $200 million. It was estimated that IBM and Sears had invested more than $1 billion in Prodigy since its founding. The original Prodigy service was shut down in 1999.

Philly EnterpriseTech highlights 12/25-12/28: Dell returns to public stock market; Report: Justice Department backs off Comcast-NBCUniversal merger probe

Philly Healthcare Tech 12/28/2018

Tom Paine

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"Detecting BS in Healthcare", is a tongue in cheek paper authored by two Wharton professors, Lawton R. Burns, PhD and Mark V. Pauly, PhD. of Wharton's Department of Health Care Management. Beneath the humor, the authors make some serious points:

It begins,"In the past several months, we have observed several notable signs of deceptive, misleading, unsubstantiated, and foolish statements—what we will call “BS” — in the health care industry. These new signs include fraudulently marketed products from Theranos1 and IBM Watson,2 and a recent statement by the CEO of One Medical that his firm aims to take out 10 percent of U.S.health care spending — something no one has ever done (not even the Federal Government)." H/T HisTalk.

Hospitals nationwide will have to begin posting online their costs for individual services , beginning January 1, due to a new Federal law. I'm a bit confused whether it means costs or prices. Nonetheless, it should be an interesting exercise. Perhaps it will reveal some of the wizardry of cost accountants in justifying their prices. But it will present an opportunity to do cross comparisons between hospitals A, B and C in a given area.

Cerner (with offices in Malvern) has a $10bn contract to replace the VA's EHR system. But the Medical Appointment Scheduling System, based on Epic's Cadence software, has already gone live, reportedly under budget, at a VA facility in Ohio. But the VA still wants to switch to Cerner for scheduling as well , it appears, with a decision expected shortly.

CNBC's Christina Farr summarizes the steps Amazon has already taken in healthcare , and gives us an idea of how its strategy might progress in the future. Becker's Hospital Review's Alia Paavola provides a detailed 2018 timeline of Amazon's healthcare initiatives .

Though I missed it earlier in the year (July), Stephanie Baum's survey of Philly Health Tech for Med City News ( "Philadelphia’s digital health ecosystem takes shape" ) is definitely worthy of your time.

Also helpful are Healthcare Growth Partners' infographics profiling the most active investors in healthcare VC .

GlaxoSmithKline is combining its consumer health business with that of US rival Pfizer, paving the way for a separation of its core consumer and pharmaceuticals businesses within three years, says the FT. Its a big bet by GSK CEO Emma Walmsle.

One of the constant needs of life sciences companies is finding ways to design and launch clinical trials more quickly and economically. A Princeton firm, Certara, uses simulation to speed up trial design .

Internet Outages linked to CenturyLink (Possible cause)

CenturyLink having some network issues which are effecting customers nationwide.

CenturyLink is one of the nation's leading internet backbone companies, since acquiring Level3 last year.

The problems started about 2pm eastern. Its effecting Comcast traffic as well.

The outage effects seem greater in the West.

AP reported that CenturyLink's network was "still experiencing a disruption," but the telecommunications company was working to restore services, Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink said in a statement.

Check https://downdetector.com/status/centurylink for updates.

Update: At 11pm, things seem to be clearing up.

Update 9am Friday: Not everything fixed as of now. Many 911 services have been shut down by the outage.

Update 12/30: Krebs cites CL communique stating probable reason for outage: bad networking card

Philly EnterpriseTech Roundup 12/25: Amazon, Planalytics, Google, BlueApron, Comcast

Business weather intelligence firm Planalytics (Berwyn) raises $10.1M.

Amazon makes it more expensive to put 'dangerous' items in its warehouses after NJ bear spray explosion.

@amazon is a "vertically integrated digital data monopoly", leading analyst Wang says. But they are doing exactly the things he would advise them to do.

Not quite Philly, but Google will open artificial intelligence lab in Princeton.

BlueApron might taste good, but not to investors as shares fall below $1

Comcast is working with Spectrum and Viacom on a blockchain-based identity solution.

PhillyEnterpriseTech PeopleNews 12/23: @FirstrRoundCapital plans, Philly Startup Leaders

With Rob Hayes joining Chris Fralic in stepping back from active roles as First Round Capital partners, it represents a generational change, except for one exception, co-founder Josh Kopelman.

Kopelman told Axios Pro Rata's Dan Primack recently:

"I don't see myself slowing down or stepping back for many funds to come. I've had amazing partners, and also think that I now have a group of amazing partners... Ultimately, I'd rather be known as a better picker of partners than a picker of companies."

That's the most I've heard him say about future plans for quite a while.

Guru raises $25 million; But what market is it in?

Tom Paine

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There is a large market emerging called Work Management (or at least VCs expect it to), which I haven't been able to define the parameters of. By one name or another its been around for a while, but right now its a very hot sector. And its different from the existing coding collaboration tools, and distinctly different from project
management systems.

Work Management is all about improving repeatable processes which take up so much of a company's resources and operating expense.

SmartSheet, which IPOd in April, has a market value of $2.3 billion. Asana just raised $50 million in VC money , bringing it to $125 million raised this year. San Francisco-based Airtable also raised $100 million in November. There are other smaller examples.

Last Week Philly-based Guru announced a round of $25 million, bringing its total funding to $38 million. Its backers form a prestigious roster, including previous investors FirstMark Capital and Dell, which have stayed with co-founder & CEO Rick Nucci since Boomi days. Emergence Capital, a legendary name in Cloud investing, also invested again. Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital, which just raised an additional $1 billion, led this round. Thrive also led the huge recent round in Airtable.

While Guru calls itself a "Knowledge Management" vendor (and they are), it also fits tangentially into the Work Management space, though its different from others. One key aspect of Guru is way it collects, organizes and verifies information so it can be used by others within an organization. People were just talking about IBM
/Lotus Notes being sold. Perhaps Guru is the next generation of Notes.

The other way in which it differs is its focus on revenue generation (sales, marketing and customer success). Any one who glances at income statements of SaaS companies know what a large chunk that is. Guru reminds me of Aktana, which uses AI to help life science sales & marketing, partnering with Veeva and Salesforce.

Guru claims to have about 800 customers, and Nucci admits its still in the red, but the idea is to rev up the engine to pursue faster growth.



December 17, 2018 Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor, NJTechWeekly.com

Basis, the Hoboken crypto startup founded by three Princeton alumni, is shutting down. The company, whose official name is “Intangible Labs,” had raised $133 million from prominent VCs. Cofounders Nader Al-Naji, Lawrence Diao and Josh Chen said that they would return the money they hadn’t used to their venture capital backers.

According to a note on the company’s website, “Eighteen months ago, we set out with the ambitious goal of creating a better monetary system: one that would be resistant to hyperinflation, free from centralized control, and more stable and robust than the monetary systems that came before it. This was a goal we felt could create tremendous value for society if achieved, and one we also felt well-positioned to take on.”

The idea was, according to TechCrunch, to create a “stable coin” called “Basis,” whose “elastic supply would ostensibly expand and contract to keep its value at about a dollar instead of all over the map. The company’s big idea: to develop a new token that people would actually use, instead of use to speculate.”

The project, as explained on the Basis website, would have been able to keep Basis stable using algorithms that would adjust supply. When demand was rising, the blockchain would have created more Basis, and the expanded supply would have brought the price of Basis back down. Similarly, when demand was falling, the blockchain would automatically buy more Basis, to contract supply and bring the price back up.

So what happened? The company ran into regulatory issues that were so daunting, it could not continue.

Said the cofounders, “having to apply U.S. securities regulation to the system had a serious negative impact on our ability to launch Basis.” Here are some of the specifics, in the words of the cofounders:

As regulatory guidance started to trickle out over time, our lawyers came to a consensus that there would be no way to avoid securities status for bond and share tokens (though Basis would likely be free of this characterization).
Due to their status as unregistered securities, bond and share tokens would be subject to transfer restrictions, with Intangible Labs responsible for limiting token ownership to accredited investors in the US for the first year after issuance and for performing eligibility checks on international users.
Enforcing transfer restrictions would require a centralized whitelist, meaning our system would not only lose its censorship resistance, but also that on-chain auctions would have significantly less liquidity.
Having fewer participants in the on-chain auctions adversely affects the stability of Basis, making Basis intrinsically less attractive to users. Additionally, imposing transfer restrictions on bond and share token auctions materially hurts our ability to build the Basis ecosystem.
While transfer restrictions can generally lapse 12 months after a security is issued, because the auctions of bond and share tokens governed by our monetary policy would be continuously issued, transfer restrictions and a centralized white list would be required indefinitely.
The company knew at the start that the Basis project would depend on a favorable regulatory environment, the cofounders said, and that is why they included a return-of-capital clause in their token sale to begin with.

A partial list of VCs involved in the Basis financing rounds, according to TechCrunch, includes: Bain Capital Ventures, GV, long-time hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Wing Venture Capital, NFX, Valor Capital Group, ZhenFund, Ceyuan Ventures, Sky9 Capital and Digital Currency Group.

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

M*Modal sells tech business to 3M for $1 billion

Tom Paine

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M*Modal, the surviving named entity from then Mt Laurel-based MedQuist's acquisition of M*Modal in 2011, sold off the technology side of its medical transcription business to 3M for $1 billion. it announced yesterday.

M*Modal, previously based in Pittsburgh, was bought by MedQuist Holdings in July 2011 for $130 million. MedQuist changed its own corporate name to M*Modal the following January, and the company's headquarters were moved to the Nashville area later in 2012.

M*Modal, a CMU spinout, provides health care technology and artificial intelligence-powered conversational systems used in transcribing doctors’ verbal notes.

M*Modal will continue in the transcription, scribing and coding services businesses, using the technology it is selling to 3M. Some staff & management associated with the transcription business still work from Mt Laurel, but most of the transcription work is now outsourced or done in countries such as India.

M*Modal had been on a somewhat rocky road, selling to One Equity Partners, a private investment arm of JP Morgan Chase & Co., for $1.1 billion in 2012, and declaring bankruptcy in 2014.

About 750 M*Modal employees supporting the technology business, which is based in Pittsburgh, are expected to join 3M. The business M*Modal is selling has annual revenue of approximately $200 million.

One year ago, Nuance Communications filed a patent infringement lawsuit against M*Modal that alleges the company’s products violated six Nuance patents.

There are many 'M's in this transaction, as 3M's ticker symbol is MMM.

Philly EnterpriseTech Roundup 12/14 thru 12/18: For Uber, what happens in Arizona stays there; Tridiuum has a redundant 'U'; Burke still down over losing Fox to Disney

Uber website

Watch out, Pittsburgers. Uber's autonomous autos will be back on the streets with the state's blessing, still in test. I understand Uber's monitors will be instructed to shout "Fore" when entering a new road.

Philly digital health startup Tridiuum raises $9.5m in VC funds & debt, and they have moved in from the outer limits (Wayne) to Center City.
Took me a while to spot the redundant 'U".

NBC Universal’s boss Steve Burke sent a rhythmic holiday greeting to employees this week, and it contained some possible predictions about 2019. OTT? NBC's best move would be to get control of Hulu.

Larry Ellison says there"s no way anyone would move from Oracle to an Amazon database.

And Google transferred the domain Duck.com to DuckDuckGo (with the redundant 'Duck"), though its not clear whether Google sold it or just turned it over to DDG. It had been a contentious issue between the two. But its yet another PR victory for Gabriel Weinberg

Flynn's real crime?

Tom Paine

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Now some media people are saying the Flynn case has been totally separated from Russia and focuses only on Turkey. But I wonder:

Turkey indicts 28 people, including cleric Gulen, for 2016 assassination of Russian envoy (November 23, 2018)


Do't know if there's any truth to these charges, but maybe Putin wants him as much as Erdogan does.


On Sunday, I tweeted this:


Today, this appeared:

If I recall correctly, Flynn's involvement in this is what the Feds considered his real crime. In transition staff meetings, Flynn reportedly suggested how Gulen might be removed from the US without due process (extradition).

Getting the plea from Flynn on the minor perjury charge may have gotten him off the hook on Turkey-related charges in return.

I don't know enough about Turkish politics and religious schisms to be able to judge whether Gulen is good or bad, but I certainly wouldn't hand him over to Erdogan unless there is verifiable overwhelming evidence against him. It could cost him his life.

And as for Flynn, this demonstrates his lack of judgement and ethics.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 12/9-12/13: Why is Philly passed over by Big Tech?

I authored the below tweet in a pique of sarcasm, knowing Philadelphia never really had a chance at Apple. Also Amazon, though it might have garnered the 3rd slot given to Nashville.

The New York Times noted a dramatic new trend of west coast tech firms looking to set up east coast operations and find east coast people to fill them. True, but this seems to pass Philly by for the most part.

Among the Big 5 or Big 6 tech companies, Philly barely exists. Amazon is here only because of Ring.com's assumption of assets and people from the company formerly known as Zonoff. And even in that instance they airlifted a large number of people to California.

Boston is facing somewhat similar problems, but looks at them differently . And Boston is said to be getting several hundred new Apple jobs over the next few years. Philly and Boston generally compete for biotech money and jobs, but Boston is gaining more ground.

You might say Pennsylvania is the problem, and that's somewhat true, but Pittsburgh is booming in the high value R&D area, having developed specific talent pools at Carnegie-Mellon and UPMC. And Google just gave its top healthcare job to a guy working in the middle of the state.

So I'm suggesting that people do a deep self-analysis of what the real problem is. Is it the onerous taxes, particularly Philadelphia's, that scare people off? Or some radicalized City Council members who want Philadelphia to become the next Oakland, and don't understand economics? Or is it the presence of Comcast, sucking up much of the best talent.

Or is it the trash? Or the persistent culture of political corruption that nobody internally seems to be ale to challenge? (true in some suburban counties as well). Or the crime, to me the most serious problem due to its very randomness.

Is it, as Kamala Harris once said, a problem of perception, surviving old adages about Philly now largely abated in fact? I'm sure that's been studied by the City, the Chamber of Commerce, and other regional and state organizations.

But regardless of these factors, Philly is doing pretty well in the venture racket, and has developed a small but successful class of repeat entrepreneurs, and some of that is spreading. And it may just have to grow from its own bootstraps rather than relying on corporate natural selection. Which may be the best way to a point.

Tom Paine's Iron Bridge / BUILDING A UNITED STATE

From http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Tom-Paines-Iron-Bridge/

Tom Paine's Iron Bridge
Edward G. Gray (Author)

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The little-known story of the architectural project that lay at the heart of Tom Paine’s political blueprint for the United States.

In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams judged the author of Common Sense as having “a better hand at pulling down than building.” Adams’s dismissive remark has helped shape the prevailing view of Tom Paine ever since. But, as Edward G. Gray shows in this fresh, illuminating work, Paine was a builder. He had a clear vision of success for his adopted country. It was embodied in an architectural project that he spent a decade planning: an iron bridge to span the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia.

When Paine arrived in Philadelphia from England in 1774, the city was thriving as America’s largest port. But the seasonal dangers of the rivers dividing the region were becoming an obstacle to the city’s continued growth. Philadelphia needed a practical connection between the rich grain of Pennsylvania’s backcountry farms and its port on the Delaware. The iron bridge was Paine’s solution.

The bridge was part of Paine’s answer to the central political challenge of the new nation: how to sustain a republic as large and as geographically fragmented as the United States. The iron construction was Paine’s brilliant response to the age-old challenge of bridge technology: how to build a structure strong enough to withstand the constant battering of water, ice, and wind.

The convergence of political and technological design in Paine’s plan was Enlightenment genius. And Paine drew other giants of the period as patrons: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and for a time his great ideological opponent, Edmund Burke. Paine’s dream ultimately was a casualty of the vicious political crosscurrents of revolution and the American penchant for bridges of cheap, plentiful wood. But his innovative iron design became the model for bridge construction in Britain as it led the world into the industrial revolution.

Daily Tweet Highlights 12/9 - 12/13