Philly Tech News VentureWatch 6/7/2012: Philly Startup Leaders, General Assembly, First Round Capital & more


Tom Paine


Venture Capitalist Bill Trenchard has joined First Round Capital, at least for the summer, Fortune's Dan Primack reports. Trenchard will spend his summer working out of FRC's West Coast office. Trenchard has most recently been working with Founder Collective, where he remains listed as a founder partner. In an email to Primack, Trenchard wrote "Just to clarify, I have not left my position as a Founder Partner at Founder Collective. I am continuing in the role at FC, while working in residence at First Round Capital this Summer. I have been closely involved with both funds since their inception and have collaborated with both funds actively over the past few years. I look forward to finding more opportunities to deepen the relationship between Founder Collective and First Round Capital through my current efforts".
I can see at least two investments from Josh Kopelman's early Midas Capital fund in which Trenchard was involved: LiveOps, which he ran, and IronPort, a deal he managed that was later a Cicso acquisition.

Thomas Charlton, whom I profiled late last year, recently departed as CEO of Center City-based PHD Virtual Technologies. The company announced in May that James Legg would be its new CEO. I asked PHD Virtual what was behind the change, since by all accounts things had been going well there. A company spokesperson told me by email: "Thomas moved on to devote his full attention to running his own company" (Conshohocken-based Goliath Technologies). "This was a smooth transition and not unexpected. Furthermore, Thomas was at the company transition meeting and helped introduce Jim Legg to the PHD Team".
Charlton has long been associated with Insight Venture Partners, which is an investor in PHD Virtual; he previously ran another Insight-backed Center City company, Shunra Systems. In fact, Charlton moved both companies to Philly; Shunra from New York, and PHD Virtual from New Jersey.

As Technically Philly initially reported late last month, Philly Startup Leaders President Bob Moul announced the organization had added Josh Kopelman and DuckDuckGo founder and angel investor Gabriel Weinberg to its board of directors. The other members are Moul and Chris Cera, with one open seat remaining to be filled. PSL also approved a new mission statement with three main areas of focus: resources (where to find space, talent, capital, mentors /advisors etc.), education (PSL University), and connectivity (circles, events, clubs, partnerships etc.). PSL also worked to bring Philly Uncubed, a startup-oriented job fair, to World Cafe Live on June 21. The Uncubed job fairs are a creation of Wakefield, a New York-based daily email newsletter on the startup scene.
Hopefully, the new structure of PSL will lead to a stronger, more stable organization with access to the resources needed to accomplish more.

New York-based General Assembly, which describes itself as "a campus for educational programming, space, and support to facilitate collaborative practices and learning opportunities" in the entrepreneurial community, is sticking its toe in the water in a few other geographical areas, and Philadelphia is one of them. GA held its first Philly event on May 30-"The Art of Business Development: An Interview with TicketLeap and Lokalty". It has bought on Sunny Shah, a Wharton & engineering student at UPenn, for the summer to start exploring the Philly market. It doesn't appear to have concrete plans right now, only to look at offering some courses and events. GA has opened campuses in London and Berlin, is also reported to be expanding into Boston, and may be looking at the Bay area.


A Baltimore tech entrepreneur named Ron Schmelzer has been holding monthly "Baltimore TechBreakfasts", and they been drawing quite a crowd, the Baltimore Sun's Gus Sentementes reports. Schmelzer says the breakfast meetings, which feature area tech startups, are getting up to 150 attendees, some from as far away as the DC area. He hopes to draw from the Philly area as well. Of course, in the Philly area Novotorium's Mike Krupit has started organizing monthly "Bootstrappers Breakfast" sessions.

Quewey, the Philly-based business-oriented Q&A startup that I wrote about when it launched in March, has produced an infographic that shows how to use it, and its really not that complex.





The University Science Center's QED Proof of Concept Program is opening it fifth round with an additional area of emphasis: a special track focusing on digital health technology. As many as sixteen projects will be supported in this round, up from 10 in the past. A new Independence Blue Cross program announced yesterday may also provide additional opportunities for digital healthcare startups in the Philly area.

At the urging of Philly area entrepreneur Anthony Coombs (SoLoMo app Interact), TechCrunch will be holding what it calls a "mini-meetup" at the Field House in Philadelphia on June 19. TechCrunch says it will also hold office hours on the 19th at the nearby Caribou Cafe, the exact time of which will be announced. A Mashable Meetup/Social Media Day is also on tap for the evening of June 30 at Morgan's Pier on N Columbus Blvd.

Sad to see Canada closing its consulate in Philly. The office had helped sponsor a number of interesting activities promoting trade and events in the tech and healthcare IT areas. I would have thought that with all of its oil and gas revenues, Canada would be in relatively better shape then we are.



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