Ben Franklin Approves $2M for Eleven Early-Stage Companies

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Source: Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) recently approved $2,075,000 in funding for eleven early-stage companies.

Companies approved for funding:

Biomeme, Inc. – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $400,000

Biomeme’s technology platform transforms a user’s smartphone into a mobile lab for advanced DNA diagnostics and real-time disease surveillance. The system includes a docking station for real-time qPCR, a mobile app to control the system and analyze results, and targeted test kits for preparing samples and identifying pathogens or diseases by their specific DNA or RNA signatures.

The cutting edge platform performs to the gold standard used by the world’s most advanced central labs, but requires no lab equipment or special experience to use. Low-cost and user-friendly, the system enables mobile testing at the point-of-need for health care (mobile clinics, disease tracking, home use), agriculture (plant disease tracking, food safety), vector surveillance (Malaria, West Nile, Lyme disease), veterinary medicine, environmental monitoring (soil and water safety), and even education and citizen science.

Biomeme was one of ten startups selected for the inaugural DreamIt Health accelerator boot camp that graduated in August 2013, and occupies space in the NextFab Studio facility in South Philadelphia. Biomeme is the first company to utilize Ben Franklin’s new partnership with NextFab for rapid prototyping with advanced manufacturing technologies. Ben Franklin provides matching funds for regional companies that wish to use NextFab’s facilities and services to develop prototypes for commercial products.

Biomeme is led by Marc DeJohn, Engineering Lead & Co-Founder; Jesse vanWestrienen, Biology Lead & Co-Founder; Max Perelman, Business Lead & Co-Founder; and Maximilian Maksutovic, Software Development Lead.

CloudMine – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $100,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

CloudMine offers a technology platform that reduces the total cost and effort of building, deploying, and maintaining mobile applications and websites by over 60%. Development teams within enterprises, healthcare organizations, and their agency partners benefit from CloudMine’s prefabricated back-end architecture which includes: a suite of mobile-targeted web services, native mobile and web SDKs, HIPAA-enablement, and dataset integration technology. This platform accelerates production of high-quality applications on any mobile or connected device and allows development teams to focus their time and energy on perfecting the user interface and experience, instead of the complexities associated with custom backend software development.

CloudMine is successfully taking advantage of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2011, the company was shaped by DreamIt Ventures, a nationally renowned entrepreneurial accelerator, which was funded and supported by Ben Franklin. CloudMine was part of the inaugural class at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media (owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated by Ben Franklin. Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

CloudMine has raised over $1.5M in follow-on funding, from investors including Robin Hood Ventures, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group Fund (MAG), and MentorTech Ventures.
The company is led by its three co-founders: Brendan McCorkle, CEO; Marc Weil, CTO; and Ilya Braude, COO.

gatherDocs, LLC – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $100,000

An applicant tracking system, gatherDocs is the fastest and easiest way to recruit, screen, and hire employees for the retail and service industries. Features include an intuitive interface that lets employers create and distribute job posts in minutes, as well as a database that allows for efficient management and evaluation of a large number of applicants. Employers can track exactly where applicants are coming from and who views job postings to optimize their recruitment process, and determine which job boards lead to the most referrals, interviews and hires.

gatherDocs also includes mobile-friendly applications that engage candidates on the spot, for example by allowing them to scan a QR code inside the store to instantly fill out a job application.

The company is led by Alex King, Principle Founder & CEO; and Bruce Marable, CMO & Co-Founder.

Gentis, Inc. – Delaware County – Approved Investment: $250,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $500,000)

Gentis is a developer of minimally invasive, biomaterials-based products intended to treat the early-stage degeneration of the spine, which causes back pain. The company’s first patented product, DiscCell, is a breakthrough injectable biomaterial that augments or replaces the diseased nucleus pulposus of the spinal disc.

DiscCell is intended to significantly delay further degradation of the diseased disc and to prevent a recurrence of back or leg pain at the treatment site. Gentis commenced human trials on DiscCell outside the U.S. in 2010, and plans to file with the FDA in the near future to allow for the initiation of a pivotal trial in the U.S.

Gentis has raised funding from Pappas Ventures (Durham, NC), Easton Capital (New York, NY), Ivy Capital Partners (Montvale, NJ), and Matignon Technologies (Paris, France).
The company is led by David W. Anderson, President & CEO; Dr. Charles Cohen, Ph.D., VP of Product Development and Dr. Paul Ducheyne.

Optofluidics, Inc. – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $50,000, through the Technology Commercialization Fund
(Ben Franklin previously invested $50,000 through The Nanotechnology Institute™)

Optofluidics created a scientific instrument called the NanoTweezer system, that rapidly turns microscopes into nanoparticle analysis engines. The NanoTweezer enables rapid characterization and imaging of submicron particles, including protein aggregates and inorganic nanomaterials, and helps scientists unveil key particle parameters including nanoparticle shape and coating quality.

The product’s proprietary nanophotonic technology allows users to manipulate and analyze objects much smaller than existing technologies, without damaging their structure.

Optofluidics was named the Philadelphia Life Sciences Start-Up of the Year at the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT)’s 2012 Enterprise Awards, and is a Finalist for SPIE’S PRISM Awards for the category of Life Sciences and Biophotonics.

Optofluidics has funding from BioAdvance, National Science Foundation, and US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Optofluidics is led by Dr. Bernardo Cordovez, CEO and Dr. Robert Hart, CTO & President.

Rajant Corporation – Chester County – Approved Investment: $200,000,
SBA Intermediary Loan Program Investment
(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

Rajant was established in October 2001 after its founders, motivated by the worst domestic terrorist attack in history, identified challenges in traditional wireless data networks for safety responders.

Today, Rajant has pioneered the world’s most reliable, scalable, and readily deployed Kinetic Mesh network technology, with large and trusted installations providing round-the-clock communications in some of the most demanding environments imaginable (such as mining, military, oil and gas, first responders, and telecommunications) where people, vehicles and equipment are typically in motion.

Rajant has raised funding from Battelle Ventures, Innovation Valley Partners, and others.
The company is led by Robert J. Schena, Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder; Paul Hellhake, CTO & Co-Founder; Scott Beer, COO; Gary Anderson, Senior VP of Sales; Dave Schena, VP of Finance; Peter Leonard, Senior VP of Business Development; and Marty Lamb, VP of Software Engineering.

SnipSnap App, LLC – Philadelphia – Approved Investment: $150,000
(Ben Franklin previously invested $200,000)

What if snipping a coupon was as simple as snapping a photo on your smartphone’s camera? That’s the idea behind SnipSnap, the first app to scan, save and redeem printed coupons on your mobile phone.

The technology allows users to more efficiently and effectively organize their coupons, maximize their savings, and be reminded to use their coupons before they expire. By the end of 2013, a little over a year and a half since launching, SnipSnap had grown to 2.5 million users on iOS and Android. Those users snipped 40 million coupons and saved $150 million.

SnipSnap also distributes targeted coupons on behalf of retailers (both to users of the app, as well as via Facebook and mobile ads) on a pay-for-performance model. Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys “R” Us, Party City, and Aeropostale are just a few of the retailers utilizing SnipSnap’s targeting capabilities, and reporting on average 10 redemptions per store location and 20-90x return on ad spend.

SnipSnap is successfully taking advantage of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In 2011, the company was shaped by DreamIt Ventures, a nationally renowned entrepreneurial accelerator, which was funded and supported by Ben Franklin. SnipSnap was part of the inaugural class of companies at the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media (owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated by Ben Franklin. Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. SnipSnap has raised funding from MentorTech Ventures and others.

The company was founded by Ted Mann, CEO; Kostas Nasis, CTO; Kyle Martin, VP of Product; and recently brought on longtime advisor Ron Braunfeld (whose prior startup, WHERE, was acquired by PayPal) as President, in charge of Sales and Business Development.

United Preference – Approved Investment: $200,000

United Preference offers an incentive based administration and data analytics platform that provides the methodologies and systems to effectively implement, manage, and monitor health and wellness incentive programs, with the objective of driving Star Ratings and/or HEDIS Measures, improving member health, and/or reducing overall healthcare costs.

The company is bolstered by its deep understanding of not only what works to drive wellness program engagement and compliance, but also legal and regulatory requirements as they pertain to Accountable Care Act and HIPPA.

United Preference administers all wellness incentives and other wellness benefit dollars more efficiently with its Tailored Spend™ Prepaid Cards, which run on the Discover network, and can only be used to purchase health and wellness related items at retailers nationally. The company uniquely offers the ability for Health Plans and Employers to track and measure exactly how, where, and in what intervals and/or amounts incentive dollars are earned and redeemed, enabling clients to understand the true return on investment (ROI) of their wellness programs.

United Preference is led by Mark Hall, CEO; Shahid Shah, CTO; Pamela Hall, COO; Paulo Machado, Head of Commercialization; and Kevin Riley, Head of Products.

VUID, LLC – Montgomery County – Approved Investment: $50,000

VUID’s vision is to become the leading trusted log-in method for digital devices. The company has created a patent-pending mobile ID two-factor authentication system, which people can use to log in securely to products on their mobile devices, the first of which is VUID’s internally developed social media app Spotlight, due out in late January / February on the Android and iPhone.

When registering to become a member of Spotlight, people are assigned a VUID number, which over time people will be able to use to safely and securely log in to further VUID developed and 3rd party products, sites and apps on their devices.

VUID aims to become the first number-based ID system for online and mobile centric log in. In addition to authenticating people with their mobile phone number, VUID’s patent application also includes the use of technologies such as QR codes, NFC and BlueTooth wireless, to enhance product accessibility and simplify people’s lives. Comparisons have been made to the popular QQ# log-in system in Asia, where ~800 million people use their QQ# daily to log in to various chat, social media, text and game apps on their phones.

VUID is a member of the Project Liberty Digital Incubator, housed by Interstate General Media, funded by the Knight Foundation, and operated and supported by Ben Franklin. Project Liberty is stimulating the establishment and growth of digital media startup companies in the Greater Philadelphia region.

VUID is led by Kevin M. Brophy, CEO, and Dr. Karen Meidlinger, VP.

X-Nav Technologies, LLC – Montgomery County – Approved Investment: $450,000

X-Nav Technologies is a medical device company that develops surgical solutions for the dental market to advance patient care while improving doctor productivity.

The company innovates, designs, manufactures and sells advanced medical devices that improve the treatment plan, surgical outcome, and productivity, and combine a thorough understanding of doctor and patient needs with today’s fast-growing imaging technologies.
X-Nav’s lead product is X-Guide, a surgical navigation system that provides real-time computer-assisted guidance during the dental implant process, and is less expensive and more accurate than the current standard of care.

The company is led by Edward Marandola, President & CEO; Dr. Robert Emery, III, DDS, CMO; and Christopher Scharff, VP of Sales & Marketing.

Zuppler Online Food Order – Montgomery – Approved Investment: $125,000

Providing the most advanced technology, functionality and design in the marketplace today, Zuppler is the fast and easy way to order food online through a restaurant’s website, social pages and popular dining guides.

Zuppler helps restaurants become the neighborhood favorite for takeout and delivery. Its menus provide a feature-packed ordering service that increases new and repeat users for restaurants, and helps them promote daily food specials, events and deals. Restaurants prefer the Zuppler model over other food portals because it gives them control over their customers and their brand, through a fully customized online ordering solution integrated directly on their website. In addition, Zuppler syndicates its restaurant menus to hotels, apartments, and universities, which enables restaurants to seamlessly gain new customers.

The company is led by Shiva Srinivasan, CEO & COO.

Ben Franklin has been a catalyst for regional economic growth for more than 30 years. We provide the Capital, Knowledge and Networks that help the region’s talented entrepreneurs and innovators turn their Dreams to Reality and create sustainable, societal value as they compete in the global marketplace. Ben Franklin has invested more than $165 million to grow more than 1,750 regional enterprises across all areas of technology, launched university/industry partnerships that accelerate scientific discoveries to commercialization, and seeded regional initiatives that strengthen our entrepreneurial community. For additional information, please visit, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.

Links 1/31/2014: Newsworks on RCA legacy in Camden; Aereo 'sold out' in New York

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When Camden was Silicon Valley — and glimpses of a med-tech turnaround (Zack Seward/Newsworks)

Box Said To Have Filed For IPO, Could Go Public As Early As April

SAP is devoid of innovation, says Salesforce EMEA president (Computing News)

Don't go away, IBM and SAP – Larry's not finished with you yet (The Register)

Amazon reports rare profit and is punished by Wall Street (The Register)
But Amazon Web Services growth may have slowed some in quarter.

IT's Losing Battle Against Cloud Adoption (ReadWrite)

Wesco Aircraft Holdings to Acquire West Chester-based Haas Group Inc. for $550 million in cash (Business Wire)
Wesco cites Haas' proprietary IT systems as one key factor for acquiring supply chain
management company.

Charter may raise Time Warner Cable bid within weeks - sources

Aereo Adding Antennas as New York City Service Sells Out

Verizon Wireless Prepares Network for TV Broadcasting (New York Times: Bits)

Six Philly-area companies on Forbes' 'America's Most Promising Companies'

Tom Paine

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Forbes Magazine recently published a list of what it calls America's Most Promising Companies, its "third annual ranking of high-growth, privately-held companies with under $250 million in annual revenue."

Six Philly-area companies are among the 100 included:

CardCash (#14), East Windsor, NJ; Revenue: $56 million, Employees: 55. Resells giftcards online. Raised $6 million from Guggenheim Partners in November 2013.

SevOne (#33), Wilmington, DE; Revenue: $40 million, Employees: 256. Network monitoring software and appliances. Raised more than $150 million from Bain Capital and Osage Ventures.

Petplan (#46), Philadelphia; Revenue: $53 million, Employees: 105. Sells veterinary insurance to pet owners. Raised $2.6 million from angel investors in 2008. Vernon Hill, founder and former CEO of Commerce Bank, serves as the company’s Chairman.

Solve Media (#48), New York/Philadelphia; Revenue: $13 million, Employees: 42. Replaces
"CAPTCHAs" with advertising slogans. Has raised $16.7 million from First Round Capital, New Atlantic Ventures, AOL Ventures and others.

Prepay Nation (#52), Berwyn; Revenue: $110 million, Employees: 10. Helps immigrants and expats transfer small amounts of money across international borders via mobile phones.

LiquidHub (#67), Wayne; Revenue: $115 million, Employees: 1400. IT consulting company that helps clients with systems integration. Has raised $22 million from PPM American Capital Partners, New Spring Capital and Credit Suisse, among others.

Forbes, in discussing its selection process, says "The final assessment is based on growth (both in sales and hiring), quality of management team and investors, margins, market size and key partnerships. Then we spoke to each company to make sure we didn’t miss anything."

Any ranking of private companies, without a definitive market-derived value, is going to involve a certain degree of subjectivity.

I don't know much about CardCash or Prepay Nation. I would guess that they do considerable outsourcing to achieve so much revenue with so few employees.

Links 1/29/2014: Google to sell Moto Mobility to Lenovo for about $3 billion

Phorum 2014 to Explore Customer Engagement as Top Enterprise Tech Trend (Business Wire)

Lenovo To Buy Motorola Mobility From Google For About $3B (TechCrunch)
Google bought Moto Mobility for $12.4 billion, sells its phone business for $2.9 billion, sold Horsham-based Home unit to Arris (with Comcast taking stake) for $2.35 billion; said to retain most patents (at least from phone business). Moto Mobility also had $3 billion
in cash and $1 billion in tax credits when Google acquired it, according to DealBook. Google said at the time of the acquisition that it valued Moto Mobility's patents at $5.5 billion.

It’s Official: Lenovo Is Buying Motorola From Google for $2.91 Billion (Re/code)

Planned Comcast Tech Center Raises Sights in Philadelphia (New York Times)

Gartner: Today's on-premises ERP systems will soon get the 'legacy' label (PC World)

Plex's Growth Strategy: Glass Half Full (Frank Scavo/ The Enterprise System Spectator)

A fresh approach to SaaS pricing – Plex Systems (Den Howlett/Diginomica)


Bloomberg's Alex Sherman on Comcast, Charter & Time Warner Cable / Bloomberg TV

Links 1/27/2014: Comcast, Charter reported near deal to split Time Warner Cable

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Comcast, Charter Said to Near Pact on Time Warner Cable Assets (Bloomberg)

Comcast Q4 Earnings Seen Rising Amid TWC Speculation (Investor's Business Daily)

Time Warner Cable Sale Will Cost Us All (Susan Crawford/Bloomberg)

SAP Joins Atos to Target State Cloud Deals Amid Spy Threats (Bloomberg)

Four Cloud ERP Providers on the Salesforce Platform
(Frank Scavo/The Enterprise System Spectator)

Is The Private Cloud Really Bigger Than The Public Cloud? (ReadWrite)

Nutanix CEO: companies are moving back to on-prem (Diginomica)

IBM and SAP open up big data platforms for citizen science (The

New IBM Kenexa Talent Suite Taps Big Data To Energize Today's Workforce (PR Newswire)

Malone’s Liberty Global to Buy Dutch Cable Provider Ziggo (Bloomberg)

NFL to block mobile streaming video in Super Bowl stadium (Ars Technica)

Bucks government to launch venture capital fund (The Intelligencer)
In conjunction with Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Best Buy Stops Dabbling In Managed Services, Sells mindSHIFT To Ricoh (CRN)
Two years after acquiring it, struggling Best Buy sells mindShift, an SME computer services firm with a Philadelphia footprint, to Malvern-based Ricoh Americas. (While I knew Ricoh had operations out in Malvern, I didn't know it was their Americas headquarters.)

Foxconn could start manufacturing large displays in the US
(The Verge)

Philly Tech People News 1/26/2014

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Workday appoints former SAP exec to lead European expansion (Computerworld UK)

Chis Kuenne formally resigns from Rosetta to focus on new PE Firm (Philly Tech News)


Revitas Expands Leadership Team to Meet Growth Demands (Business Wire)

WebLinc Adds Multi-Channel Retail Expert Marc Appana to its Senior Team (Business Wire)

Big Data Company LatentView Analytics Brings New CEO on Board; Eyes Global Expansion and Market Leadership (Business Wire)

My Alarm Center Names Brandon Savage as Senior Vice President of Customer Experience and Operations (PR Newswire)

PerformLine Hires Industry Veteran to Cultivate a Growing Client Portfolio (PR Web)
PerformLine is a First Round Capital portfolio company based in Morristown, NJ.

Comcast joins SAP in supporting 49ers' new stadium

Tom Paine

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Comcast, which provides cable and telecom services in the Bay area, and also reaches area viewers through CSN Bay Area and NBC Bay Area, announced jointly with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday a 10-year partnership with the aim of delivering an “unmatched in-stadium fan experience.” The partnership coincides with the opening of the
49ers' new Levi’s Stadium next year.

Rendering of Levi's Stadium /Source San Francisco 49ers

The agreement includes an array of in-stadium telecom and video services, as well as enhanced coverage from CSN Bay Area and NBC Bay Area. I find it interesting that NBC Bay Area is designated "the official broadcast partner of the San Francisco 49ers", since the
49ers are an NFC team broadcasted primarily on Fox.

Another technology company with a major Philadelphia-area (and also Bay Area) presence, SAP, also has a partnership role in Levi's Stadium. In late 2012, the 49ers announced that SAP would be a Founding Partner at the new stadium. SAP was named as the team’s exclusive Business Software, Statistics and Performance Partner, and the new training facility adjacent to the stadium will carry the SAP name.

SAP has developed specialized, HANA-based software that helps 49ers management in the
area of player evaluation, combining both the usual football stats and more heuristic
tools reflecting the role of human thought processes in evaluating all aspects of a player's potential.

SAP also has a role at the Super Bowl.It will be hosting the "SAP Stats Zone", to be located on Super Bowl Boulevard, a 14 block stretch of Broadway in Manhattan that will be temporarily closed off to vehicles and occupied by football-related exhibits. It will be open from
January 29 until Super Bowl Sunday.

While Comcast's stake in the sports industry is more obvious, SAP under mega sports fans
Hasso Plattner and Bill McDermott's leadership has taken on a much larger role in both marketing itself through sports and developing products for the sports vertical.

Saturday Highlights 1/25/2014: Report - Comcast may not submit sole bid for Time Warner Cable; SAP may look at big acquisitions again

Comcast Leaning Away From Sole Bid for Time Warner Cable - 3rd Update (Dow Jones Newswires)
If Comcast gets Time Warner Cable New York, could Cablevision be next?

Fox to acquire majority control of N.Y. Yankees' YES Network (LA Times)

SAP finance chief says could look at big acquisitions again: report (Reuters via Chicago Tribune)

Apple looking to build mobile payments service, report says (CNET News)

Alibaba: The First Real Test for Amazon’s Business Model (HBR Blog Network)

Zonoff Links Home Automation Silos Via Staples Connect (Zatz
Not Funny)

Rethinking the limits on relational databases (Craig Kerstiens)

Boston's tech identity issue versus Philly's

Tom Paine

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So you think its just Philadelphia that has a tech industry inferiority complex?

Dan Pimack / Fortune TermSheet
Well, then read this article, What's really wrong with Boston tech? by Fortune's Boston-based Dan Primack (a Haverford College grad no less), who covers the PE business globally, on Boston's somewhat diminished national status in the tech world, although they are still much bigger than us (according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers & the National Venture Capital Association based on Thomson Reuters data for 2013, New England ventures raised $3.3 billion versus $420 million for Philadelphia Metro). Although Primack notes a recovery from the meltdown of the old Route 128 minicomputer era, and a much more engaged and vibrant urban tech scene, he still wonders where the next big things are coming from.

As he sees it, some of the problem can be attributed to the lack of tech media based in Boston, although he notes the exceptions of a couple of Boston websites and one or two
people assigned to the beat from national tech blogs. While Silicon Valley is covered
to the hilt, on the east coast he perceives a New York media bias of sorts, in that since
so many media organizations are based New York, more reporters are based there and tend to hype up the next hot New York startup, which in a virtuous or vicious circle of sorts creates a stonger ecosystem for the New York tech scene. (That is my rough interpretation of his words, not his).

Of course Philly has, in addition to its local outlets (with due credit to Technically Philly), several well known tech reporters from national websites based around the area, though most are not here specifically to cover the Philly scene. In some cases, they only
live in the area due to its proximity to New York - at least that's my impression.

My point of view is that while a strong local tech media is important, it is also important that it is independent and objective in its coverage, rather than engaging in boosterism.

If you've got good stuff, you don't need to overhype it.

Links 1/24/2014: SunGard to spin off its Availabilty unit

SunGard Announces Plan to Split Off Its Availability Services Business; Will Separate into Two Strong, Industry-Leading Companies (Business Wire)
This comes after Wayne-based SunGard was reportedly seeking a sale of SunGard Availability. The spinoff plan for now does not seem to involve a public offering.

IBM and SAP: Looks like we're STUCK forever on the cloud highway (The Register)

Report: Apple TV successor with revamped OS coming in first half of 2014 (Ars Technica)

Philly area resident Scallan plays key role at Silicon Valley's high-flying Flipboard

Tom Paine

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Josh Kopelman coined the term "Redeye VC" to describe the bi-coastal nature of his existence managing First Round Capital. Lehigh grad and area native Paul Martino has maintained his residence in Doylestown in spite of the time he spent as co-founder of Aggregate Knowledge (recently acquired for $119 million) and his current position as managing partner with VC firm Bullpen Capital, both based on the west coast. App design guru Loren Brichter maintains a primary residence here while advising west coast firms. And there are other examples.

Greg Scallan / Twitter

One who many may not realize lives in the Philly area is Greg Scallan, Chief Architect for Flipboard, the mobile news reader app platform that just last month confirmed it had raised another $50 million, closing out a Series C round of $100 million, led by Rizvi Traverse Management. Flipboard now says it has 100 million total users, up from 85 million at the time the first half of the round was announced, and is aiming for 150 million in 2014.

Scallan, who grew up on Staten Island (disclosure: the same place I did, though I didn't know him there - Staten Island is not a small village) received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh. After a few years at IBM and Paper Software, he joined Netscape not long after its famous 1995 IPO. He then served as Chief Architect-VoIP Platform at Tellme Networks, directing development of its Toll Free Directory Assistance service, and joined Microsoft after it acquired Tellme in 2007, leaving in 2009 to start Flipboard along with his long-time associate Mike McCue, Flipboard's CEO, and Evan Doll.

Although Flipboard is based in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto), Scallon told me in a phone interview he maintains his primary residence in the outer western burbs (near Chester Springs) for family reasons, but he spends considerable time on the west coast. He says he simply hasn't had the time to get too involved with the Philly Tech scene, though he would like to attend some of Philly Tech Meetup's events.

Flipboard launched first for the iPad and then the iPhone, but it now a has a significant percentage of Android users and launched an app for Windows Phone in November. Its not clear whether Flipboard will ultimately be more of a content curator, aggregator or publishing platform, though I'd say now its a combination of all three. Scallon says Flipboard and others in the news reading app space are still trying to work out optimal business models for it, and there is frequent discussion ongoing among players in the industry.

Although Flipboard initially may have focused on larger publications (who sold their own ads), it has gradually broadened its base, allowing users to curate their own collections gathered from Flipboard content and encouraging more smaller self-publishers to use its platform. However, the issue of how to help smaller publishers monetize remains.

One new competitor is Medium, founded by Blogger founder and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams. Medium favors a more web-based approach versus Flipboard's primarily app-based approach. Another significant competitor could be a Facebook product, reportedly named Paper, which may be introduced in the coming weeks. After selling the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the Graham family holding company relaunched its news reader entrant, Trove.

Scallan says Flipboard is a happy Amazon Web Services user for all of its cloud services, and has no plans to move to more of a hybrid or private cloud architecture.

Update 1/29: Flipboard wants to look more like
traditional magazine

Update 2/4: Facebook's Paper vs. Flipboard: Comparing mobile news apps (Mashable via San Jose Mercury News)

Links 1/23/2014: SAP seen facing difficult challenges ahead

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Comcast, Verizon dissolve joint product-development venture (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Basic story a few months old, though adds interesting details. Joint marketing of each other's products in some areas continues, but I wonder how much actually has been sold through this arrangement. I doubt its been much.

T. Rowe Price Wants Time Warner Cable and Charter to Talk (New York Times: DealBook)

Comcast To Trot Out New Tech, Features For Sochi Games (Multichannel News)
Philly will be one of test markets for ‘Instant On Demand’.

Comcast buys majority stake in its Center City HQ, sources say (Philadelphia Business Journal)

IBM And SAP Have A Tough Road Ahead Against Amazon's Low Margin Cloud (ReadWrite)

SAP's master plan: A look at the challenges ahead (ZDNet)

Lessons from the death of a tech Goliath (Fortune)
On Siebel Systems.

Workday rolls out revamped, HTML5-powered user experience (Computerworld UK) courts Microsoft .NET developers with new tools (PC World)

eBay CEO Says Icahn PayPal Spinoff Makes No Sense (Re/code)

Lenovo To Buy IBM's x86 Server Business (Information Week)

Quality Systems, Inc. Reports Fiscal 2014 Third Quarter Results (Business Wire)
Quality Systems' core business is NextGen Healthcare, based in Horsham.

MapQuest Transfers Local Listings Management To Yext (Search Engine Land)
MapQuest, which was spun out as a venture from RR Donnelly, originated in Lancaster. It
still has a presence there, last I checked, though its been diminished by Google Maps and AOL management indifference.

Philly Tech News Events Calendar Updated 1/23/2014

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Links 1/22/2014: Leonsis eyes eventual split from Comcast SportsNet?; Comcast may test selling energy in PA

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How OnCue helps Verizon modernize FiOS TV (nScreenMedia)

Big Cable Merger Jousting Enters Public Sniping Phase (Business Week)

Hyperlocal website EveryBlock to be resurrected by Comcast (Chicago Tribune)
EveryBlock will be under Comcast's supervision this time, as opposed to NBC's as it was in its previous life.

Ted Leonsis on eventually circumventing Comcast SportsNet (Washington Post)

Comcast May Soon Test Selling Electricity in Pennsylvania (GreenTech Media)
Toning down somewhat overblown headline from article.

Netflix posts Q4 profit of $48.4M, with 44M subscribers (CNET News)

EBay Says Icahn Proposes PayPal Spinoff, Board Nominees (Bloomberg)

VMware to buy mobile security firm AirWatch in $1.54 billion deal (Reuters)
AirWatch is in a similar market space - mobile security - that Blue Bell-based Fiberlink (acquired by IBM) is, but most analysts believe Fiberlink only received a fraction of the
price that AirLink got.

MemSQL Raises $35M Series B Led By Accel Partners (TechCrunch)
Previous investor First Round Capital participated again.

IBM Plans Layoffs, New Investments (Information Week)

Lessons learned from raising a first-time VC fund (Charlie O'Donnell/Term Sheet)
Charlie O"Donnell did a stint with First Round Capital before setting out on his own to start a Brooklyn-based seed fund, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, which just closed on Brooklyn Bridge Ventures Fund I, with $8.3 million in capital.

Zenefits raises $15 million: 'The hottest deal in Silicon Valley' (Fortune Term Sheet)
Andreessen Horowitz's (and SuccessFactors founder) Lars Dalgaard explains why.

NJ Software-Defined Network Startup Corente to be Snapped Up by Oracle

Esther Surden
Publisher & Editor,

Corente, a privately held company based in Bernardsville that provides software-defined networking technology (SDN) for Wide Area Networks (WANs), is expected to be acquired by Oracle for an undisclosed amount. Corente was founded in 2007.

The proposed transaction, revealed Jan. 7, 2014, is subject to regulatory approval and other conditions, the company said. The transaction is expected to close in early 2014, and until that time the companies will operate independently. The company was not available for comment as to whether it will stay in New Jersey.

In a letter to its customers and partners, Corente said its software-defined WAN virtualization platform accelerates the deployment of distributed and cloud-based applications and services by allowing customers to “provision and manage global private networks connecting to any site over any IP network in a secure” manner.

Together, the letter said, Oracle and Corente are expected to deliver software-defined networking offerings that create “cost-effective, secure networks, spanning global deployments” and offer a complete technology portfolio for SDN cloud deployments that “virtualize both the enterprise data center LAN [Local Area Network] and the WAN.”

The goal of the combination is for Oracle to retain Corente’s domain expertise, some observers say, but there is some disagreement about how the company’s products will proceed once it is acquired.

Jim Zucco, chairman and CEO of Corente. | Via LinkedIn

Writing on TechTarget, Shamus McGillicuddy says that Oracle is not trying to “compete in the burgeoning SDN market. Instead, the company is improving the networking components of its own technology stack for cloud application delivery.”

He quotes Brad Casemore, IDC research director, as saying, "The SDN stuff that went out in the press releases, in my mind, is an intentional distraction … It's clear this is not a competitor to data center overlays, like VMware NSX. It's an adjunct technology. Oracle is not going to compete with Cisco. This is about their cloud services strategy. It will support other areas of their business."

In other words, don't expect Oracle to start selling Corente's technology as a standalone Oracle SDN product, the TechTarget article said. Oracle will support existing Corente customers, but Oracle's true intent is to incorporate Corente into Oracle's cloud applications stack, according to the McGillicuddy post.

Corente’s management team and employees are expected to join Oracle after the transaction closes and continue to focus on facilitating virtualization and capabilities in the area of software-defined networking technology, the company stated.

 In discussing how the acquisition will affect customers and partners, the company said on its website, “Oracle is currently reviewing the existing Corente product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle's standard product communication policies.”

 “Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle's review of Corente’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle. All product roadmap information, whether communicated by Corente or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.”

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.

Chis Kuenne resigns from Rosetta to focus on new PE Firm

Tom Paine

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Chris Kuenne (Rosemark Capital website)

Chris Kuenne has formally resigned from the Hamilton, New Jersey-based digital marketing agency he founded and sold to Publicis for $575 million, Rosetta. The move was anticipated, as he had been serving Rosetta in an advisory, transitional role. He will now focus on his new private equity firm, Rosemark Capital Group, in addition to charitable activities and serving as an instructor at Princeton.

Kuenne founded Rosetta in 1998 and sold it to Publicis in 2011.

Philly Tech News reported in early December on the formation of Rosemark Capital, also referring to an excellent in-depth article on Kuenne by the Princeton-based publication US 1.

Links 1/21/2014: Verizon to buy Intel Media assets; SAP delays profit goals for Cloud push

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Comcast adds Barclays as adviser on Time Warner Cable deal: sources (Reuters)

Verizon to Purchase Intel Media Assets (Intel Newsroom)

Verizon Paying About $200 Mil for Intel’s Internet TV Group: Sources (Variety)

Why Verizon is buying Intel Media: it’s all about taking on Comcast (Gigaom)

Amazon Exploring Over-the-Top TV Service (Variety)

Verizon posts Q4 profit of $7.9B, adds 1.7M connections
(CNET News)

SAP Delays Profitability Target Amid Cloud Push (Bloomberg)

SAP to sacrifice margin for growth (Denn Howlett/Diginomica)

SAP going after Salesforce, Workday “with everything we have” says CEO McDermott (

SAP Rejected by Supreme Court Over $391 Million Loss (Bloomberg)

SAP Customers Preparing for Critical “ERP on HANA” Upgrade
(ASUG News)

IMS Health: Pharma Companies Should Engage On Social Media (Information Week)

Links 1/20/2014: Workday appoints former SAP exec to lead in Europe; Monetate teams with SAP's hybris on new offering

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TWC’s Marcus Stands Firm Amid Bids, Jabs (Multichannel News)

Workday appoints former SAP exec to lead European expansion (Computerworld UK)

Monetate Partners with SAP's hybris to Address Global Ecommerce and Multichannel Marketing Demands (PR Newswire)

Accenture’s ClientHouse buy shows there’s more room for cloud software in Europe (VentureBeat)
In addition to Salesforce products, ClientHouse sells and integrates Veeva CRM and QlikTech offerings.

Ellucian Acquires CampusIT to Accelerate Delivery of New Solutions (Ellucian Press Release)
Ellucian was formed through the merger of SunGard Higher Education with Datatel in 2012. It is now based in Fairfax, VA, though it still has at least a couple of hundred employees in the Philadelphia area according to its LinkedIn page.

202 tech startups reap Pennsylvania tax credits (Pittsburgh
You can see a complete list of tax credit awardees here (pdf)

Tax Break as a Not-So-Secret Weapon (New
York Times)

Phila.-area firms got $420M in venture funding in 2013 (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Vocera acquires mobile-enabled, medical alarms company mVisum for $3.5 million (Mobile Health News)

Glaser reflects on decade of health IT (Healthcare IT News)
John Glaser, a pioneer in health IT and electronic health records, is currently CEO of the Malvern-based Health Services Business Unit of Siemens Healthcare.

Dell in talks with IBM to buy Big Blue’s x86 server business
(Ars Technica)

Philly Tech People News 1/19/2014: Saridakis resigns as head of eBay Enterprise; SAP exec elected to NRF board, Monetate names Lehman as NA sales chief

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As previously reported on Philly Tech News, Chris Saridakis resigned as head of King of Prussia-based eBay Enterprise "for personal reasons"

SAP’s Lori Mitchell-Keller Elected to NRF Board of Directors (SAP Newsbyte)

ASUG Names Geoff Scott as Its New Chief Executive Officer (ASUG News)

Monetate Appoints Chris Lehman as Head of North American Sales (PR Newswire)

BlackBerry Hires Another SAP Exec, Eric Johnson, to Lead Global Sales (BlackBerry Review)

Bill Frezza, a long time Boston-based partner for Pittsburgh-based Adams Capital Management ($815 million under management), is transitioning out of the VC world to become a radio host, Fortune Term Sheet's Dan Primack reports.

Frezza has agreed to host a new radio program produced by RealClearPolitics and libertarian-leaning think-tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, which will provide “NPR-style content presented from a free-market perspective.”

He plans to remain a partner with Adams until his firm exits his remaining portfolio companies, which include BioLeap and Optellios in the Philadelphia area.

I look forward to hearing his future contributions.

Charter recruits Cox, AT&T, Sprint veteran Schultz to run sales and retention (FierceCable)

Comcast-Spectacor continues to reshape management team (Philadelphia Business Journal)

SCTE promotes Schankel to VP (CED Magazine)

PayChoice Names Former JPMorgan Chase Executive, Jonathan Wilk, as President (Marketwire)

The Judge Group Promotes John Battaglia to Chief Technology Officer (GlobeNewswire)

The Tipping Point (E-Commerce Version) (Jeff Jordan/Adreesson/Horowitz)

NBC Entertainment chief talks Leno, NFL and Peter Pan (LA Times: Company Town)

Chet Kanojia and Aereo Seek to Shake Up Television Industry (New York Times)

Exclusive: Fox, CBS, ESPN bid for Thursday night NFL games (Reuters via Chicago Tribune)
NBC thought to have submitted bid last night.

5 Big Business Intelligence Trends For 2014 (Cindi Howson/Information Week)

Chris McNabb, Dell Boomi GM, interviewed at Dreamforce

The SIIA interviewed several member companies at Dreamforce this past November. One was Dell Booomi, which has been an important Salesforce partner, and its GM Chris McNabb.

Links 1/17/2014: Roberts seen as kingmaker in Time Warner Cable battle

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Comcast’s Roberts Seen as ‘Kingmaker’ in Time Warner Cable Chase (Bloomberg)

Comcast considers a deal for Time Warner Cable (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Comcast Dropping ‘AnyPlay’
MSO To Discontinue In-Home Streaming Device On March 31 as Other Video Options Rise Up
(Multichannel News)

IBM Commits $1.2 Billion To Cloud, Adding 15 Global Data Centers (Data Center Knowledge)

Health IT moving to critical step (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Dropbox Closes Roughly $250M Round At $10B Valuation, WSJ Says (TechCrunch)

Filing: IGM should be sold in Pa. (AP via

eMoney and Firefly Give Financial Advisors Remote Meeting Capabilities (PR Newswire)

Oracle builds a bridge to with new adapter (PC World)

Thursday Night NFL bids reported to be due in tomorrow

Tom Paine

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John Ourand of Sports Business Daily reports that bids on the NFL's Thursday night package are due in tomorrow, and most of the major networks are expected to enter bids, including Comcast's NBC. Ourand says ABC is especially eager to get back in the NFL, as its the only major over-the-air network without an NFL package (although its owner Disney does have MNF on ESPN).

Ourand says the NFL would like the Thursday night package to be on a broadcast network. But Joe Flint of the LA Times thinks a cable network may be a more likely possibility, mentioning NBCSports Network, which has long been rumored to be interested in Thursday night to boost its ratings and recognition, as a candidate.

Another issue the NFL must determine is how many games to put in a Thursday night package. It does not want to leave its own NFL Network too bare.

Update: Flint wrote today (Sunday) that NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt declined to confirm that NBC had entered a bid on the Thursday night package, but said "we’d love to have more NFL games," and "Thursday night games might be really interesting to us." Greenblatt's comments came at the semiannual Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Sunday.

First Round Capital’s Kopelman Challenges Conventional Thinking at NJ Tech Meetup

@Alan Skontra

                                   Josh Kopelman spoke to the NJ Tech Meetup in December. | Aaron Price

College entrepreneur, Internet pioneer and award-winning investor Josh Kopelman schooled more than 100 attendees of the NJ Tech Meetup’s 43rd monthly meeting Dec. 16, 2013 at the Stevens Institute of Technology campus in Hoboken.

Kopelman shared success stories and offered contrarian opinions about entrepreneurship, which meetup organizer Aaron Price praised for highlighting many of the ideas the group has explored this year.

Kopelman started his first company, a homework helper called Infonautics, in 1992 while he was still a student at the Wharton School of Business. He listed Infonautics on the NASDAQ exchange in 1996, and three years later he founded, which created a resale market for books, movies and music.

Kopelman sold to eBay in 2000, and three years after that he founded TurnTide, an anti-spam company that Symantec bought after just six months.

In 2004 Kopelman turned to investing by founding seed firm First Round Capital, which Kopelman said explores more than 3,000 ideas annually out of offices in New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. This year Forbes magazine ranked Kopelman 12th on its annual “Midas’ Touch” list.

Kopelman said he is from Philadelphia, a large city but no Silicon Valley or even Silicon Alley. He mentioned his background to show that the adage of “right place, right time” covers a much larger map these days.

 “Great entrepreneurs can come up with great ideas anywhere in the country, just like great actors aren’t all born in Hollywood,” he said.

He then said he wanted to share some contrarian opinions.

First, he challenged a notion, taught by one of his Wharton professors, that successful entrepreneurs find an unmet market need.

 “It took me about 10 years to realize that I disagree with that professor,” Kopelman said. “We’ve funded many companies that are not trying to find an unmet market, but are instead finding a solution to an existing market but doing it faster, better, cheaper,” he said.

For example, Kopelman’s company was one of the seed investors of Uber, the new taxi service similar to AirBnB, through which private individuals use their own cars to give rides to people. Riders can use an app to request a driver, follow that driver’s progress en route, pay for the trip via credit card, and rate drivers for performance. “Uber is about solving an existing need of getting from place A to B faster, better, cheaper,” he said.

From the Uber story Kopelman segued into another idea about shrinking markets. He mentioned how Microsoft toppled what was a $1.2 billion print encyclopedia market by adding the digital Encarta encyclopedia to its software suite. The market soon collapsed in half, but Microsoft took a larger share of it.

Kopelman further promoted his idea of shrinking markets by telling the story of “Our whole business model was based on the fact that when people buy books or movies, they typically read or watch them only once,” he said. “We would send an email to people asking, would you like your $30 back?” found that people are interested in reselling their entertainment. Kopelman said that a Harry Potter book would resell an average of four times, with taking $3 from every sale. The site challenged established and larger retailers that only sold new.

“That’s a really asymmetric way to compete,” Kopelman said. “We cost our competitors 10 dollars for every dollar we made but we were able to turn them in such velocity and such volume that we were shrinking the market by removing the inefficiencies.” The plan worked; a year later eBay bought for $350 million.

Kopelman dispelled one more myth, that seed investing and venture capital are the same. “The goal of venture investing is to take a business and to scale it, to pour fuel into the engine,” he said. “That’s not the goal of seed investing.”

Seed investing, Kopelman explained, is about validating or disproving an entrepreneur’s hypothesis. “Oftentimes people pitch venture capitalists without validating the hypothesis and when they need to be pitching growth, and they pitch seed investors on growth when they should be talking about the hypothesis they want to validate,” he said.

Kopelman told the story of how as a seed investor he supported TechForward, which enables buy-back programs for electronics. At the time, retailers were losing traditional revenue because customers stopped extending warranties for products, such as televisions and phones, that they would soon upgrade.

TechForward thought to replace the lost revenue by creating a buy-back program in which a customer would pay money upfront for a guarantee that a retailer would buy back a product later, when the customer wanted to replace it. By offering store credit, retailers could lock customers into a cycle of upgrades.

Kopelman said that as a seed investor he gave TechForward $300,000 and asked the company first to test its hypothesis by collecting data from eight used computer stores in Los Angeles. He said that research enabled TechForward to hone its idea, and that later it was able to earn exponentially larger investment amounts from venture firms.

“At the seed stage you’re trying to run a series of experiments,” Kopelman said.

He ended his talk by opening the floor to audience questions, such as on what he looks for in a successful pitch. He said that entrepreneurs should be able to tell a story and have strong marketing ideas.

He added that he always looks for a team with a diversity of member strengths. “We’ll turn down ideas if we don’t like the team, though we won’t tell them that,” Kopelman said.

Alan Skontra is a journalist and writer based in Hoboken, and a contributor to NJTechWeekly.

This article originally appeared in NJTechWeekly, and is republished here with its permission.