Highlights: Last week on Philly Tech News (2/20/2012 to 2/26/2012)

Comcast announced it was launching a Netflix-like streaming service named Xfinity Streampix, although it will be only available for now to Comcast video subscribers. Comcast and the other cable operators behind Canoe Ventures pulled the plug on its interactive advertising business, closing Canoe's New York office and letting go 120 employees. Also, Reuters reported that Comcast's Universal Theme Parks was in talks with the Chinese city of Tianjin about a possible joint venture to build a theme park and undertake other possible opportunities there.

Cisco spent $271 million to acquire Allentown-based Lightwire for its optical connectivity technology used in high-speed networks. Believe it or not, the Lehigh Valley has long been a kind of mini-Silicon Valley due to its chip-related industry.

After reporting its earnings and saying it was splitting into two tracking stocks, Liberty Interactive announced that its QVC unit had acquired Send The Trend, a website for personal fashion accessories.

Coming off a strong year, SAP AG announced a 25% dividend increase and a one time 35-cent payout for the 40th anniversary of its founding.

Austin-based social commerce company Bazaarvoice had a strong IPO, the first ever for a First Round Capital portfolio company. Investors stand to make a nice return, and FRC's may be among the highest as an early investor.

The centerpiece conference of the Healthcare IT industry, HIMSS12, took place in Las Vegas last week. The big announcements from the Feds were the release of Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements, the implementation of which will be delayed from 2013 to 2014, and a delay in rolling out an updated medical billing code system, ICD-10. Numerous Philly area companies had a major presence at HIMSS12. Siemens Healthcare announced several new iniatives, including an alliance with Dell to provide Cloud-based image storage and sharing. Blue Bell-based healthcare IT firm Halfpenny Technologies raised $2.25 million in new venture capital, increasing its total raise to $6.6 million.


Phorum 2012 Cloud Computing Conference promises to shake up Philly Cloud scene

Tom Paine

Philadelphia has many excellent tech events and conferences that serve different constituencies. Chariot Solutions' annual Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference (already sold out this year), for example, is focused more on the developer commmunity. But there has been for some time the lack of a premier event geared towards enterprise executives and CIOs/CTOs emphasizing business solutions that is national in scope yet distinctly Philadelphian in its focus.

Also, the rise of cloud-based technologies and Software as a Service (SaaS) has undeniably become a tidal wave transforming the enterprise IT landscape, not only by improving cost effectiveness but also by adding new capabilities and flexibility. I recently highlighted parts of the local Salesforce.com ecosystem; in addition legacy vendors such as SunGard Availability Services and Unisys have ambitious strategies and architectures for the Cloud. Newer companies such as Dell Boomi and Xtium, and numerous other smaller startups, have great potential. Also, SAP AG is becoming a major Cloud vendor through its recently completed acquisition of SuccessFactors as well as its internally developed platforms.

Sensing a need that was not being served, Bob Moul, formerly GM of Dell Boomi and now President of Philly Startup Leaders (who also recently became Chairman & CEO of Philly-based mobile developer appRennaisance), and Charles Robins, Managing Director of Philadelphia-based investment bank Fairmount Partners, got together at the encouragement of PACT (the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies) to put together a world class event for Philadelphia focusing on cloud technologies for the enterprise. The result is PACT's Phorum 2012 Cloud Computing Conference, to be held on March 28 at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

Moul said in a phone interview with Philly Tech News that Phorum is not intended so much for developers but more for enterprise general managers and IT execs. Although leaders from different businesses will give presentations, the atmosphere will not be one of sales-oriented pitches but rather informative and educational content, providing perspectives on the types of solutions available through the Cloud and some of the obstacles that might be encountered in implementing them. The goal is to achieve an environment similar to a Gartner or Forrester conference. And while the event may be national in stature, Moul emphasizes that the program is specifically designed for the Philadelphia business & tech community. Phorum is also trying to shake up the "east coast suit and tie banker / lawyer stereotype" with a more informal and trendy atmosphere.

The keynote speaker will be Nicholas Carr, a provocative commentator and sometimes skeptic on technology issues whose books include The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google (2008). He also writes the blog Rough Type. Other speakers include Peter Coffee, VP and Head of Platform Research for Salesforce.com, James Staten, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, and John Treadway, North American practice director for cloud and data center transformation at Unisys. All are prominent Cloud Computing experts.

The afternoon will feature panel discussions along two tracks: New Enterprise Models, and Mobility. Another major aspect of Phorum will be the Demo Pit, which will feature 12 mostly local early stage ventures demonstrating cloud offerings. You can see who they are here.

The event will close with "A Call to Action" featuring Salesforce's Peter Coffee and the announcement of the Demo Pit “Best in Show” finalists. A Cocktail Reception & Networking Event will follow with what is promised to be "great live music".

In addition to PACT, sponsors include Dell and Fairmount Partners. Some other sponsorship opportunities may still be available. The price is $250 for PACT members and $350 for non-members, or $50 and $75 for the reception only. You can register for the event here.

The Phorum Conference is intended to be an annual event, though it may focus on different topics in future years. You can follow information about Phorum on its LinkedIn page.


Daily Links 2/27/2012: OpenX buys King of Prussia's LiftDNA

OpenX buys King of Prussia's LiftDNA (Philly.com: Philly Inc)

CoPilot GPS app includes free offline maps with optional traffic data and turn-by-turn navigation, headed to Android and iOS (Engadget)
CoPilot is based in Princeton.

Dell Buys AppAssure for Software Backup (PC World)
AppAssure competitors include Philly-based PHD Virtual Technologies.

Dell's 12G Servers, New Storage Arrays: What's The Endgame? (CRN)

Evercore’s Mestre Gives Up U.S. Investment Banking Head Title (New York Times: DealBook)
Staying on at Evercore, but stepping down as top investment banker to avoid potential conflicts as he joins Comcast's audit committee. Mestre joined Comcast's board about one year ago. Evercore, coincidentally, is the same firm handling the Philadelphia Media Network sale.

Oracle's Exalytics now available, set for showdown with SAP's HANA (IT World)

The emerging competition between SuccessFactors’ Jam and SAP StreamWork – is it necessary? (Richard Hirsch/SAP Community Networks Blogs)

Sprint to Raise $2 Billion Debt, May Use to Fund Clearwire (Bloomberg)

Here's What Life Is Like When You're 22 And You've Sold A Company For $100 Million (Video: Silicon Alley Insider)
Interview with myYearbook's Geoff and Catherine Cook.

Google Maps Now Taking You Inside Your Favorite Philadelphia Restaurants And Bars (uwishunu)