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Digital marketing: build relationships rather than buying eyeballs

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

Adrian Parker

Adrian Parker

Looking at the future of digital marketing, social and mobile technologies are creating many opportunities for real people to connect, So, it is less about buying eyeballs or paid media buys and “More about  building out authentic relationships and trust,” says Adrian Parker, head of social, mobile, and emerging media at Intuit’s accounting professionals division.

Traditionally, Parker says, “Marketers invested in scale, frequency, ROI. But what builds trust are peer recommendations, referrals, blogs, editorial, forums. Those can build a significant amount of trust among your consumer base. You can’t buy a relationship.”

Parker’s work has spanned client and agency-side strategies for Foot Locker, ESPN, Nike, adidas, Liz Claiborne and Body Shop and he served as director of social media and digital strategy at Radio Shack, where he launched its social practice across 35,000 employees in 27 countries. In 2011 he won a Forrester Groundswell award, recognizing him for top-performing B2C digital campaigns.

Discussing the “Relationship Era” at Dallas Digital Summit

Parker will join speakers from brands that include Google, AOL, Twitter, Stumbleupon, PBS, reddit, Cheezeburger Network, Oracle and Vistaprint, among others, at TechMedia’s Dallas Digital Summit Dec. 4-5 at Union Station, Dallas, TX.

He’ll be discussing what some have called “The relationship era.”

The relationship era changes the game, Parker notes. “In the past,” he says, “the big brands had all the power. That’s shifting. Now a lot of smaller brands are faster and nimbler.”

At Intuit, Parker’s goals include building out channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn, creating content to “allow consumers to use our products,” but also “how to make you a promoter,” he says.

So far Intuit’s efforts are working extremely well. “We’ve had significant success even in the last couple of weeks,” Parker says.

“We launched an enhanced Facebook and YouTube presence and website. We’ve seen a 5X increase in Facebook reach since launching with a mix of paid media, contests and promotions to speak to influential businesses. We’re also targeting them with video and rich media content.”

Three ways to build social relationships

We asked Parker what the top three things you should consider when building digital relationships.

First, he says, “Less is more. It’s not really about the volume or quantity of communications but about being simple and authentic.”

Second, “Think mobile first. I know that 70 percent of my accounting customers use a smartphone and can be reading my marketing message or email on a phone. It’s now the first screen of preference, surpassing the TV screen, laptop or desktop. So think of the mobile screen first.”

Progress over Perfection

Third, he says, consider “Progress over perfection. Things are changing so fast there is no way to be perfect. You have to improvise and test. We did a series of tests and experiments before achieving that 5X increase in Facebook reach.”

Parker predicts we’ll see a pivot away from “Big Bang Campaigns” to smaller test campaigns. “You always have to move forward,” he says, adding, “That’s easier said than done.”

A regular speaker at events such as the Dallas Digital Summit, Parker says the number one question he hears is how to translate social and digital campaigns into something a marketing team of one can handle as opposed to big brands with million dollar marketing budgets.

How smaller businesses can play

“How do I translate your marketing strategy into something actionable for me?” they ask.

“Before Radio Shack, I had my own business,” Parker says. “I learned from the ground up – some of the best social campaigns are not the ones that cost the most money. You can be creative on Facebook and Twitter with pictures and posts that cut through the clutter. It does take time to manage those things. But there are a host of free and automated tools people can use to optimize their presence and make it a meaningful experience.”

He advises, “Do a little with what you have. Pay for expertise when you can. Choose the best channel and go all in. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may give you the best bang for the buck and you may not need a Facebook presence.

 

Don’t let energy zombies gobble on Turkey Day

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Thanksgiving mealThanksgiving is this week and before you know it, you’ll be busy preparing that big Thanksgiving meal and your family and friends will be coming over. However, don’t let energy zombies be one of your guests.

Energy zombies are lurking everywhere in your home, from your cell phone chargers to your computer monitors and even your oven. Zombie electronics are those household appliances and devices that mindlessly use energy and eat away at your energy bill, even when you think they are turned off.

When it comes to cooking a feast like Thanksgiving, electricity bills can suffer. The average weight per turkey is 16 pounds. It is recommended to cook a thawed, stuffed turkey of that size for at least 4-4.5 hours in an electric oven set at 350 degrees.

An electric oven set at 350 degrees for an hour uses 2 kWh of electricity. Therefore, you could be consuming roughly 8 kWh of electricity just to cook your turkey, without including side dishes.

With all of the other additional expenses that the holidays ensue, your monthly electricity bill shouldn’t be one of them. Help combat energy zombies in your home that gobble up unnecessary energy consumption while still relishing in all of the food and fun during the holidays.

Direct Energy offers the following tips for carving down your kWh usage this Thanksgiving:

  • During the hustle and bustle of the day, don’t forget to turn off the oven when you’re done cooking and don’t leave it on longer than it has to be. Use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Cook with a snug-fitting lid on your pans. This helps to retain the heat, which means you can cook at a lower temperature and for a shorter period of time.
  • Use the microwave in place of the oven, when possible. Microwaves use less than half the power of a regular oven.
  • Open your oven door only when necessary. Each time the oven door is open, 25 to 50 degrees of heat is lost, causing your oven to work harder to regain that lost heat and thus, delaying the cooking process of your turkey.
  • Consider using the dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes because it uses less water.
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher and use the air-drying setting if you have it. It reduces the energy use by 7 percent.
  • If you have the oven on all day while food is also cooking on the stove, you can probably turn the heat down in the home a bit. The heat from your oven, not to mention dinner guests, should keep your home warmer than usual, and your furnace won’t have to work as hard.
  • Use an ice chest or cooler for drinks if you’re hosting a large group. This cuts down on wasting electricity when the refrigerator door is opened and closed frequently.
  • To use your cook-top range as efficiently as possible, choose pots and pans that are relatively the same size as the burner you’re cooking on. This is the best way to effectively heat up food without wasting energy.

For more energy saving tips and to see our very own energy zombies, Chunk and Rita Shambles, in action, visit www.youtube.com/thedirectenergy. Direct Energy also has non-Zombie energy experts available for interview if you would like to help them fight the energy zombie apocalypse. Watch the videos and good luck out there.

Telsa clinches top spot on Deloitte Technology Fast 500

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Telsa Model S

Telsa Model S

Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) clinched the top spot in the Deloitte 012 Technology Fast 500 with fiscal year 2011 revenue of $204.24 million and a growth rate of 279,684 percent from 2007 to 2011.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the company designs and manufactures electric vehicles and electric vehicle power train components. Palo Alto Networks, in Santa Clara, CA, was second.

Software firms dominated the list for the 17th straight year, comprising 40 percent of the list with 200 companies. Biotech and the Internet sector tied for second place, each with 13 percent of the list.

“The 2012 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 winners have demonstrated remarkable innovation and spectacular growth,” said Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader, Deloitte.

“Some of the most exciting and useful developments of the future are being created by the companies on this list. We congratulate Tesla and all of the winning companies on this impressive achievement.”

“Tesla took great strides as a company this past year by successfully delivering Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan to customers, and executing a steep production ramp while creating more than 2,000 jobs in the U.S.,” said Deepak Ahuja, chief financial officer at Tesla Motors. ”

The top ten ranked companies are as follows:

2012 Rank Company Sector Revenue Growth

(2007 to 2011)

City, State
1 Tesla Motors, Inc. Clean technology 279,684 percent Palo Alto, CA
2 Palo Alto Networks Communications/

Networking

166,938 percent Santa Clara, CA
3 Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Biotechnology/

pharmaceutical

146,443 percent Schaumburg, IL
4 FireEye, Inc. Communications/

Networking

55,413 percent Milpitas, CA
5 Aerohive Networks, Inc. Communications/

Networking

44,569 percent Sunnyvale, CA
6 Avail-TVN Media and entertainment 38,479 percent Reston, VA
7 NeoStem Biotechnology/

pharmaceutical

31,721 percent New York, NY
8 Avigilon Corporation Software 29,917 percent Vancouver, BC
9 Recondo Technology Software 25,482 percent Greenwood

Village, CO

10 EcoSynthetix Inc. Clean technology 25,327 percent Burlington, ON

Innovation hot spots continue to sizzle

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 winners hail from cities far and wide across North America - from Portland, Maine; to Denver, Colo.; to Vancouver, British Columbia. Of the dozens of cities represented on the list, some have a particularly strong track record of consistently attracting inventive entrepreneurs and providing them with a supportive environment.

“Creative and cutting-edge cities often have several things in common including access to capital, supportive local governments, and world-class education systems,” said Bill Ribaudo, national technology, media and telecommunications leader for audit and enterprise risk services, Deloitte & Touche.

“Many of these cities have the resources and culture that startups need to thrive, and so they have become innovation powerhouses and consistently turn out fast-growing companies year over year.”

Following is a list of innovative cities with a significant concentration of winners.

Location Percent of List Fastest-growing Company in the

Region

Company

Overall

Ranking

San Francisco Bay area 20 percent Tesla Motors, Inc. 1
Boston 9 percent HubSpot 17
New York 6 percent NeoStem 7
Los Angeles 6 percent EdgeCast Networks 13
Washington D.C. 6 percent Avail-TVN 6
Philadelphia 6 percent MeetMe, Inc. 32
San Diego 6 percent Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 15
Toronto 5 percent EcoSynthetix Inc. 10

Software still dominates

For the seventeenth consecutive year, software companies dominated the list, comprising 40 percent of the overall list with 200 companies. The biotechnology/pharmaceutical sector and internet sectors were tied for second place with 13 percent of the list, and the communications/networking sector came in at a close third place with 12 percent of the list.

Sector rankings are as follows:

Sector Sector make-up

of Fast 500

Fastest-growing Company in

the Sector

Company

Overall

Ranking

City, State
Software 40 percent Avigilon 8 Vancouver, BC
Biotechnology/

Pharmaceutical

13 percent Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 3 Schaumburg, IL
Internet 13 percent EdgeCast Networks 13 Santa Monica, CA
Communications/Networking 12 percent Palo Alto Networks 2 Santa Clara, CA
Clean Technology 7 percent Tesla Motors, Inc. 1 Palo Alto, CA
Medical devices 5 percent MAKO Surgical Corp. 18 Fort Lauderdale, FL
Media and entertainment 4 percent Avail-TVN 6 Reston, VA
Semiconductor 3 percent SiTime Corporation 38 Sunnyvale, CA
Computers/peripherals 2 percent Layer 7 Technologies 183 Vancouver, BC
Scientific/technical instrumentation 1 percent Obzerv 239 Quebec, QC

For additional detail on the Technology Fast 500 including the complete list and qualifying criteria, visit www.fast500.com

Facebook air-cooled its NC server farm even in Southern summer heat

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Facebook's forest city data center

Inside Facebook’s Forest City, NC data center, which is cooled with fresh air and a misting system.

Facebook cooled its servers at its Forest City, North Carolina facility using only fresh air even during the Southern summer in which heat reached as high as 102 degrees, the company says. How did they do it?

They allowed temperature to rise to 85 degrees inside the server farm, demonstrating that servers can run in warmer environments.

Facebook pioneered the air-cooled server farm concept at its Prineville, Oregon facility, but wasn’t sure it would work in the South, where the temperature and humidity are much higher in the summer.

In the past, server farms have kept the temperature a cool 68-74 degrees using energy-sucking air conditioning to offset the heat generated by the servers.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Mechanical Engineer wrote that to make the air cooling system work in North Carolina, “We expanded the environmental conditions on the high end.” They increased the upper end of the server temperature range to 85 degrees and allowed humidity to rise to a maximum of 90 percent RH as opposed to 65 percent RH.

Lee said that fortunately, relative humidity was low on record hot days, allowing its misting system to provide all the needed cooling.

Facebook today debuted a video tour exploring the inner-workings of the data center. See the video here.
Facebook’s facilities in Forest City are among the most advanced and energy efficient in the world. At 355,000 sq ft., each of the two data center buildings are the size of three football fields. More than 1,500 people worked on the first building, clocking in more than a million hours.
Those same crews immediately went to work on a second building, to help Facebook — which now counts more than one billion users — keep up with its unprecedented growth. Many of the innovations featured in the data center originate with Facebook’s Open Compute Project.

Facebook will describe its air-cooled center designs at teh Open Computing Summit in Santa Clara, CA, Jan. 16-17.

 

Would you buy all your digital home services from one provider?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

JD PowerDo you get your digital services – phone, cable, Internet, home security, home energy management – from a variety of firms or bundled from one? Would you consider a digital lifestyle package combining them all from one firm?

Most consumers would consider such a package, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Digital Lifestyle study.

The inaugural study examines customer brand loyalty, propensity to subscribe to and preferences for aggregation of their telecommunications, entertainment and home energy management services from one provider. Referred to as a digital lifestyle service package, this integration of services is invoiced on a single bill and allows customers to digitally monitor and control several aspects of their lives simultaneously from their computer or handheld device, such as smartphone, game console or tablet.

It found that most consumers are open to bundled packages combining different service types. When a particular service type is dominant, they do prefer buying it from an experienced provider.

Looking for a way to consolidate bills

“Consumers are looking for a way to consolidate invoicing and to manage their lives with easy-to-use digital packages,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. “The challenge for consumers is finding an economically attractive service package that meets the feature and functional needs of their household.”

Almost half (45 percent) of the study’s respondents said they would buy a digital lifestyle package from a cable provider, with  19 percent would select a telecommunications company; 17 percent a security provider; and 10 percent an energy provider. Such packages are particularly appealing to renters.

Younger consumers expressed a preference for do-it-yourself home electronics systems they install themselves.

Home automation opportunities for first to market firms

“The opportunities associated with home automation represent a tremendous opening for several industries,” said Perazzini.

“Companies that are first to market are poised to gain the most from the convergence of these technologies. The key to the success of these integrated packages will be minimizing customer discomfort during the transition process—no surprise charges and no compromises in service, particularly where at least some of the existing service must be moved from another provider, such as a security alarm company.”

“Our research indicates that energy management is becoming an important pillar in the market for digital lifestyle services,” said Christopher Perdue, director of the smart energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

“These services may draw new customers, increase retention among current customers, and lead to new recurring revenues. There is huge value in information, and many companies are looking at ways to leverage consumer data to drive the next wave of energy management solutions.”

A majority of consumers would prefer a pricing plan that offers a lower price up front and a monthly fee, as opposed to a higher price up front with no monthly fee or to pay nothing up front but pay a monthly fee.

IBM named the “greenest company” in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

IBMIBM (NYSE: IBM) has been recognized for the second consecutive year as the greenest company in the U.S., according to the Newsweek 2012 Green Rankings survey, released today.

A panel of independent judges ranked major companies based on numerous criteria, including their environmental impact, environmental management and sustainability disclosure.

The survey is regarded as one of the most comprehensive analyses of environmental leadership, and IBM was one of 500 large U.S. organizations evaluated.

Other tech firms on the list include Microsoft, which charges each of its individual divisions a “carbon fee,” to make them minimize electricity use and air travel; EMC, Dell, Sprint, Intel, CA Technologies, and Invidia.

The report notes that IBM’S Smarter Planet products and services help clients measure and reduce their resource consumption while saving money. It points to a system developed at the company’s Zurich Research Lab, where water that cools a supercomputer is used to warm nearby buildings.

Financing of U.S. solar projects on the brink of transformation

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
soloar cell photo

Solar cells are only one product Blue Nano materials improve

Financing of US solar projects is in the midst of a transformation, with new business models, new investors, and new financing vehicles gaining sway, according to new research by specialist research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance commissioned by Reznick Group.

“However, investors still need to pay attention to tax and structuring issues as these are the factors that will often determine the viability of a project.”

US solar projects have historically been bankrolled by some combination of energy sector players, banks, and the federal government, but the landscape is rapidly changing.

Emphasis on third-party financing

New business models are emerging with an emphasis on third-party financing. New investors, including institutional players, are entering. And new financing vehicles such as project bonds and other securities are being assembled to tap the broader capital markets.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a provider of news, data, and analysis on clean energy, water, power, and the carbon markets, has worked with Reznick Group, a national accounting, tax, and business advisory firm, to describe this ongoing evolution of US solar financing: where the market is today, where it is heading, and what’s behind this important transition.

The resulting report, “Re-imagining US solar financing”, can be downloaded at http://www.reznickgroup.com/sites/reznickgroup.com/files/Re-imagining-US-Solar-Financing.pdf.

The evolution towards a broader investor base will help maintain growth for US solar deployment. Asset financing for US photovoltaic (PV) projects has grown by a compound annual growth rate of 58% since 2004 and surged to a record $21.1bn in 2011, fueled by the one-year extension of the Department of Treasury cash grant program.

Funding the next nine years of growth (2012-20) for US PV deployment will require about $6.9bn annually on average.

Two factors driving the evolution

Two factors will drive the evolution. First, traditional players are scaling back their participation. Constrained by regulatory requirements and by the continent’s financial crisis, Eurozone banks are offering loans of shorter duration and with slightly wider spreads.

In the US, a key Department of Energy loan guarantee program lapsed in 2011 making less low-priced capital available for large-scale projects.

Second, thanks to the continuing low-interest rate environment, non-traditional investors are becoming more interested, lured by the risk/return profiles of solar projects that employ well proven PV technology.

Motivated by attractive yields and the examples set by Chevron and Google, US corporations are eyeing forays into tax equity.

New models to broaden universe of solar investors

Pension funds and insurance companies are willing to give solar projects a serious look in the wake of the successful bond issuance for a solar project owned by a Warren Buffett-backed utility.

The past year has seen a crescendo of conversations around financing vehicles that draw on the capital markets, such as solar-backed securitization, master limited partnerships (MLPs), structures resembling real estate investment trusts (REITs) and publicly listed solar ownership funds.

In parallel, new business models for deployment of solar have flourished, including variations of third-party financing structures which enable customers to enjoy the benefit of local systems at little or no upfront cost. These models have the potential to broaden substantially the universe of solar investors.

“Solar equipment prices have dropped by more than half since the start of 2011 but financing costs matter too,” said Michel Di Capua, Head of Analysis, North America, at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York.

“New financing vehicles and new investors across the solar project lifecycle – development, construction, commissioning, and then long-term operation of assets – will cause the costs of equity, debt, and potentially even tax equity to migrate down.”

Policy could accelerate the transformation. Investors surveyed as part of this report seek stronger SREC programs, new standards, more flexible tax credits, and sanctioned high-liquidity investment vehicles such as solar REITs.

“A greater understanding of project risk and return is driving new investors into the solar PV market,” said Tim Kemper, Renewable Energy Practice Leader at Reznick Group. “However, investors still need to pay attention to tax and structuring issues as these are the factors that will often determine the viability of a project.”

US. Solar energy soared 109 percent in 2011

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

SeiaThe U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, more than doubling the previous annual record of 887 MW set in 2010, according to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

The record amount of solar installations is enough to power more than 370,000 homes, and represents a 109 percent growth rate in 2011. It is the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA®) estimate the U.S. solar market’s total value surpassed $8.4 billion in 2011.“In 2011, the market demonstrated why the U.S. is becoming a center of attention for global solar”

This unprecedented growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar photovoltaic (PV) system prices, which fell 20 percent last year and a shift toward larger systems. The Dec. 31 expiration of the U.S. government’s 1603 Treasury Program drove developers to commission projects before yearend.

Concentrating solar power projects are expected to come online later in 2012 with a surge in 2013. More than 1,000 MW of CSP are under construction, enough to power 200,000 homes.

As of year-end 2011, cumulative PV capacity in the U.S. reached nearly 4,000 MW and cumulative CSP capacity topped 500 MW. Together this represents enough solar capacity to power nearly a million households.

“In 2011, the market demonstrated why the U.S. is becoming a center of attention for global solar,” said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of GTM Research’s solar practice.

“It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations; there were 28 individual PV projects over 10 megawatts in 2011, up from only two in 2009.”

“The solar industry is the fastest growing industry in America for the second year in a row. What we are seeing in the U.S. is that policies are working to open new markets and remove barriers for solar,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “But we face a number of challenges that have the potential to slow this growth.”

Full release with executive summary of report, including state rankings, 2012 forecast: http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=2000

Where to get a green job (infographic)

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Where are the most green jobs? Believe it or not, Los Angeles and New York City hire the most workers in environmentally friendly jobs.

MastersDegree.net offers this infographic to help you scout the landscape for green jobs and where to get one:

Home Solar Power Discounts – One Block Off the Grid

Gen-Y’s taste for hybrid vehicles may tip the auto market

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Honda Insight hybrid

Gen Y’s strong affinity for hybrid vehicles could make it the “generation that leads us away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles,” reports Craig Giffi, vice chairman and automotive practice leader at Deloitte LLP, after seeing the results of Deloitte’s annual survey of Gen Y consumers and what they want in an automobile.

A strong majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents surveyed prefer an ‘electrified vehicle’ over any other type of car or truck. Moreover, Gen Y consumers heavily favor hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles (57 percent) over pure battery electric vehicles (2 percent) or vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain (37 percent).

The annual survey, now in its fourth year, canvassed 1,500 Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomer consumers in the United States, as well as 250 Gen Y consumers in China and 300 Gen Y consumers in Western Europe. Deloitte conducted the survey in September and October 2011. It defines Gen Y consumers as those ranging in age from 19 to 31.

According to Giffi, Gen Y consumers may be the game changers in the United States because, at nearly 80 million strong, they are one of the biggest domestic automobile buying market segments and the largest consumer segment since the baby boomers. Giffi indicates that, according to projections, one out of four new automobiles sold this year in the United States, and 40 percent of vehicles sold in the next 10 years, should be bought by a Gen Y consumer.

From the study, Giffi found that Gen Y consumers are drawn to hybrids for several reasons. Most notably, fuel efficiency: 89 percent of Gen Y consumers are considering buying a vehicle that gets better mileage, especially true when gasoline prices rise above $2.75 per gallon – the median price Gen Y consumers see as ‘fair.’ Further, 49 percent of Gen Y consumers are willing to pay an additional $300 for each mile-per-gallon of improvement they can get out of a hybrid – only $50 less than the$350 mile-per-gallon premium that Deloitte estimates a hybrid vehicle currently costs compared to an internal-combustion engine vehicle.

“Gen Y consumers also view hybrid technology as proven and reliable,” says Giffi. “Almost 6 in 10 Gen Y respondents prefer a hybrid over any other type of vehicle, while a mere 2 in 100 prefer a pure battery electric vehicle – demonstrating that Gen Y is familiar and comfortable with hybrid technology, but not so much with battery-only technology.”

Further, the survey shows that Gen Y respondents are married to the convenience of traditional gasoline-powered automobiles, strongly preferring powertrains that do not require plug-in recharging. Even with their overall preference for hybrids, Gen Y consumers still prefer a non-plug-in hybrid by a margin of more than two-to-one over a plug-in version.

The smart-phone on wheels
“Gen Y consumers prefer automobiles that are an extension of their social-media and digital lifestyles,” reports Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. “Based on the survey, we found that auto manufacturers may have an opportunity to capitalize on Gen Y’s connected lifestyle by developing innovative and low-cost personalization options for this powerful consumer segment,” he says.

In-dash technology is the most important part of a vehicle’s interior for a majority (59 percent) of Gen Y respondents, with almost three-quarters (73 percent) seeking touchscreen interfaces. Gen Y consumers also rank smartphone applications as highly desirable in a new automobile (72 percent). In addition, they want to be able to customize their automobile interiors after the initial purchase with embellishments that include technology features: 77 percent would like to buy additional accessories and upgrades for their automobiles on an ongoing basis.

“Gen Y consumers clearly view their automobiles as more than just a way to get from point A to point B,” says Vitale, “They see them as a way to stay connected around the clock, and, they’re willing to pay it.” On average, Gen Y consumers are willing to spend more than $3,000 for hardware that delivers connectivity.

Safety first – but let the automobile lead
Gen Y consumers also realize that this increased connectivity can create safety issues. Solution: a vehicle that may compensate for the distractions that result from increased connectivity with ramped-up safety features.

“Gen Y consumers are willing to pay for technology that can help them better manage all the distractions created by connectivity,” says Vitale. “On average, they will shell out approximately $2,000 for a bundle of safety features like collision-avoidance systems, blind spot detection and sleep alert systems. In fact, Gen Y respondents graded safety bundles as their second most important priority – right behind technology bundles – when ranking their desire to buy additional vehicle features.”

Deloitte announced the preliminary results of the survey at its Shifting Gears conference yesterday in Detroit. Full survey findings will be released in February.

Most U.S. households spending more on tech bills than on utilities

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

iYogiA new report revealed that 63% of US households spend 35% more on technology bills than utility bills.

The report published by iYogi Insights titled, Consumer Research on Growing Spends on Technology Services 2012 also shows that mobile phones top the chart on monthly technology spends.

The findings certainly apply to us. We pay more for Internet, digital phone, cable and mobile services than for energy. We do use a product called Granola to manage power on our our PCs and laptops, which lowered our power bill from the previous year when we were not using it. Its free and lets you feel good about saving not just money, but being environmentally friendly too.

iYogi, a  remote tech support company published this new research based on surveying nearly 1100 of its customers to understand their technology usage and monthly spend on services.

Is technology now the real utility?

The rising cost of energy has become a topic of hot debate, with US Department of Energy reporting that consumers spend 6% to 12% of their income on utilities. iYogi put its hypothesis, “is technology now the real utility” to the test through this research.

The research based on an in-depth survey offers interesting insights into the digital home, with technology bills for services surpassing utility bills for a majority of the respondents.

Research shows that with the ever-increasing role played by technology in every sphere of life, consumer spending on connecting to the Internet, subscribing to online services, mobile communication, and multimedia entertainment has also risen.

“iYogi Insights is a new initiative that reviews emerging and disruptive technologies and trends impacting our lives. Our large panel of customers, across multiple geographies, contribute to these insights,” says Vishal Dhar, president marketing and co-founder of iYogi.

“Technology is now the real utility as increasingly households spend more on a combination of technology bills to stay connected than their utility bills. The results of the survey also cite that technology continues to be the key enabler for empowering people in today’s fast-paced interconnected world, driven by demand for newer and smarter devices that connect to the Internet and to each other.”

Key highlights from iYogi Insights: Consumer Research on Rising Technology Spends 2012:

* Number of technology devices in households with more than two members goes up to 10-11.

* The highest expenditure is on mobile services with an average of $94 a month and an additional $19 on downloading games, music, movies, etc. Voice and data services are the most popular with 60% respondents subscribing to them.

* Triple Play package for Internet +TV+ Phone is the most popular with 50% respondents opting for this.

* Households spend $20-$180 per month on their ISP bills.

* Online back-up services, still a new concept, has already reached 30% adoption with a spend of about $10 per month. Such cloud services have immense potential as new types of services are launched.

* Nearly 30% use instant messaging applications, and app downloads topped the chart followed by music, movies, videos and games.

 

No spark in electric car sales for a decade, execs say

Friday, January 6th, 2012
Electric car

Auto execs think it will be a decade before electric cars reach 15 percent of annual global sales

Despite continued heavy investment by auto makers in electric propulsion technologies, global automotive executives don’t expect e-car sales to exceed 15 percent of annual global auto sales before 2025, according to the 13th annual global automotive survey conducted by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm.

In polling 200 C-level executives in the global automotive industry for the 2012 automotive survey, KPMG found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of executives don’t expect electrified vehicles (meaning all e-vehicles, from full hybrids to FCEVs) to exceed 15 percent of global annual auto sales before 2025.

Executives in the U.S. and Western Europe expect even less adoption, projecting e-vehicles will only account for 6-10 percent of global annual auto sales.

“Electric vehicles are still in their infancy, and while we’ve seen some recent model introductions, consumer demand has so far been modest,” said Gary Silberg, National Automotive Industry leader for KPMG LLP. “While we can expect no more than modest demand in the foreseeable future, we can also expect OEMs to intensify investment, fully appreciating what is at stake in a very competitive industry.”

Automakers Inject Investments into Range of Electric Technologies
Despite the relatively modest sales projections for electric vehicles over the next 15 years, automotive executives in the KPMG survey indicate that a wide range of electric technologies will be an increased focus of their investment matrix. In fact, over the next two years:
83 percent say automakers will increase investment in e-motor production,
81 percent say investment in battery (pack/cell) technology will rise,
76 percent expect increased investment in power electronics for e-cars, and,
65 percent predict increased investment in fuel cell (hydrogen) technology.

Additionally, executives expect that hybrid fuel systems, battery electric power and fuel cell electric power will be the alternative propulsion technologies to attract the most auto industry investment over the next five years.

Placing Bets ‘Across the Board
“What’s interesting is that automakers are placing bets across the board, and large bets at that, because no one knows which technology will ultimately win the day with consumers,” added Silberg.
“In last year’s KPMG survey, execs told us it would be more than five years before the industry is able to offer an electric vehicle that is as affordable as traditional fuel vehicles for mainstream buyers. It will be interesting to see how consumer adoption progresses as automakers discover ways to offer these electrified cars at better price points and the infrastructure for these vehicles becomes more robust and accommodating,” he said.

However, despite all the investment and energy being focused on electric platforms, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of executives say the optimization (so-called downsizing) of internal combustion engines (ICE) still offers greater efficiency and CO2 reduction potential than any electric vehicle technology based on the current energy mix.

No Clear Electrified Propulsion Winner Yet
When asked to name the electrified propulsion technology that will attract the most consumer demand until 2025, auto executives were as mixed as their projected investments. In fact, the variation in response rates between fuel cell electric vehicles (20 percent), battery electrified vehicles (16 percent), full hybrids (22 percent), plug-in hybrids (21 percent), and battery electrified vehicles with range extender (18 percent) was ever so slight.

According to KPMG’s Silberg, “The industry faces a tough decision about whether to place more trust and resources in fuel cell or battery vehicle concepts, and these results show that it’s way too early to call right now. Clearly hybrids, whether plug-in or full, are more mature and have more market presence, but this battle for the dominant technology platform will continue for years to come.”

Consumer electronics account for about 13 percent of home energy use

Friday, December 23rd, 2011
Samsung Smart TV

Flat screen TVs use less power than older cathode ray models.

A new study, “Energy Consumption of CE in U.S. Homes in 2010,” shows that despite their popularity in American homes, consumer electronics (CE) account for a relatively small share – roughly 13 percent – of the average U.S. home’s electricity consumption, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

There are nearly 2.9 billion CE devices in U.S. households and an average of 25 devices per household, including battery-operated CE devices.

Home use of CE devices equaled 13.2 percent of overall residential electricity consumption and 9.3 percent of residential primary energy consumption. Within that 13.2 percent, televisions accounted for 34 percent, PCs 16 percent, and set-top boxes 13 percent.

For instance, the study estimated the installed base of televisions rose to 353 million in 2010 from 342 million in 2009, though unit energy consumption declined slightly (details on page 101 of the report) because of the shift from legacy cathode ray tube TVs to more efficient flat-panel TVs.

The energy efficiency gains of this trend were detailed in a separate study earlier this year, “Power Consumption Trends in Digital TVs.”

“This landmark study provides a recent and comprehensive assessment of CE energy consumption, which is helpful to policy makers and others interested in efficiency trends,” said Douglas Johnson, CEA vice president of technology policy. “Energy efficiency improvements in consumer electronics are driven by innovation, competition and market-oriented programs such as ENERGY STAR.”

The study was commissioned by CEA and conducted by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems to quantify the electricity consumption of CE products in U.S. households in 2010.

Devices covered in depth in the study include: audio-visual equipment, audio video receivers, Blu-ray players, DVD players, televisions, video game consoles, set-top boxes (cable, satellite, telco and stand-alone), computers and peripherals, PCs, computer speakers, monitors, networking equipment and printers.

“Given the quick pace of change in our industry, it is important to have a comprehensive assessment from time to time,” Johnson added. “Too often we have seen unnecessary government mandates advanced on the basis of poor data and analysis. We hope this latest study is a welcome contribution to current and future policy and program discussions.”

The Fraunhofer report follows a study released by the Brattle Group last month that estimates U.S. energy consumption will drop five to 15 percent by 2020.

According to the authors, economists Ahmad Faruqui and Doug Mitarotonda, the drop will occur due to an increase in ENERGY STAR appliances, less usage of incandescent light bulbs, incentives that encourage users not to consume as much energy during peak hours, and other programs that raise awareness of people’s energy consumption.

New cell-phone type battery could last a week, charge in 15 minutes

Friday, November 18th, 2011
Harold Kung

Harold Kung

Imagine a cellphone battery that stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes. That dream battery could be closer to reality thanks to Northwestern University research.

A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.

The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations — energy capacity and charge rate — in one fell swoop. In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.

The technology could be seen in the marketplace in the next three to five years, the researchers said.

A paper describing the research is published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”

Kung is professor of chemical and biological engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also is a Dorothy Ann and Clarence L. Ver Steeg Distinguished Research Fellow.

How Lithium-ion batteries work

Lithium-ion batteries charge through a chemical reaction in which lithium ions are sent between two ends of the battery, the anode and the cathode. As energy in the battery is used, the lithium ions travel from the anode, through the electrolyte, and to the cathode; as the battery is recharged, they travel in the reverse direction.

With current technology, the performance of a lithium-ion battery is limited in two ways. Its energy capacity — how long a battery can maintain its charge — is limited by the charge density, or how many lithium ions can be packed into the anode or cathode. Meanwhile, a battery’s charge rate — the speed at which it recharges — is limited by another factor: the speed at which the lithium ions can make their way from the electrolyte into the anode.

In current rechargeable batteries, the anode — made of layer upon layer of carbon-based graphene sheets — can only accommodate one lithium atom for every six carbon atoms.

To increase energy capacity, scientists have previously experimented with replacing the carbon with silicon, as silicon can accommodate much more lithium: four lithium atoms for every silicon atom. However, silicon expands and contracts dramatically in the charging process, causing fragmentation and losing its charge capacity rapidly.

Currently, the speed of a battery’s charge rate is hindered by the shape of the graphene sheets: they are extremely thin — just one carbon atom thick — but by comparison, very long. During the charging process, a lithium ion must travel all the way to the outer edges of the graphene sheet before entering and coming to rest between the sheets. And because it takes so long for lithium to travel to the middle of the graphene sheet, a sort of ionic traffic jam occurs around the edges of the material.

The best of both worlds

Now, Kung’s research team has combined two techniques to combat both these problems. First, to stabilize the silicon in order to maintain maximum charge capacity, they sandwiched clusters of silicon between the graphene sheets. This allowed for a greater number of lithium atoms in the electrode while utilizing the flexibility of graphene sheets to accommodate the volume changes of silicon during use.

“Now we almost have the best of both worlds,” Kung said. “We have much higher energy density because of the silicon, and the sandwiching reduces the capacity loss caused by the silicon expanding and contracting. Even if the silicon clusters break up, the silicon won’t be lost.”

Kung’s team also used a chemical oxidation process to create miniscule holes (10 to 20 nanometers) in the graphene sheets — termed “in-plane defects” — so the lithium ions would have a “shortcut” into the anode and be stored there by reaction with silicon. This reduced the time it takes the battery to recharge by up to 10 times.

This research was all focused on the anode; next, the researchers will begin studying changes in the cathode that could further increase effectiveness of the batteries. They also will look into developing an electrolyte system that will allow the battery to automatically and reversibly shut off at high temperatures — a safety mechanism that could prove vital in electric car applications.

The Energy Frontier Research Center program of the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, supported the research.

Megan Fellman, science and engineering editor, and Sarah Ostman, content specialist at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, contributed to this story.

Venture capital investments decline in both dollars and deals in Q3

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Venture capitalists invested $6.95 billion in 876 deals in the third quarter of 2011, falling in both dollars and deal volume, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

The software industry saw the highest level of funding and was one of the few to see an increase in dollars invested. Early stage funding deals represented nearly half the total dollars invested, although first time financing deals fell 22 percent.

Quarterly venture capital (VC) investment activity fell 12 percent in terms of dollars and 14 percent in the number of deals compared to the second quarter of 2011 when $7.9 billion was invested in 1,015 deals. For the first three quarters of 2011, venture capitalists invested $21.2 billion into 2,725 deals, representing 20 percent more dollars and three percent more deals as the first three quarters of 2010.

Life sciences industries see marked decline in dollars and deals

The Life Sciences (biotechnology and medical device industries combined) and Clean Technology sectors saw marked decreases in both dollars and number of deals while the Software sector enjoyed its strongest quarter in almost 10 years.

“Challenges in the regulatory environment for Life Sciences companies are prompting VCs to look to other industries to put their money to work for a faster return on their investment as indicated by the notable increase in Software investments,” remarked Tracy T. Lefteroff, global managing partner of the venture capital practice at PwC US.

“Accordingly, over the past two quarters, we’ve seen a clear shift in Life Sciences investments from Seed/Early Stage companies over to more Later Stage companies. VCs are continuing to support the companies in their pipeline but appear to be curbing their investments in new Life Sciences companies.

Despite the dip in Life Sciences and in the overall investment total for Q3, 2011 is still on track to exceed the $23.3 billion invested in all of 2010.” “Given the tremendous impact that venture capital has on company creation, it is easy to forget that our industry is small and highly susceptible to the many market forces presently at work,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA.

“Public policy challenges in the life sciences and clean technology sectors are impacting investment levels this quarter as is the IPO market that basically came to a screeching halt in August.

Venture fundraising levels are the lowest they have been in nearly a decade so it is reasonable to expect investment levels to decline in the coming years. Yet despite the challenges, the industry continues to fund new companies because history has shown us that innovation always prevails and there remains significant promise across all industry sectors for these emerging growth companies.”

Software industry received highest level of funding

The Software industry received the highest level of funding for all industries with $2.0 billion invested during the third quarter of 2011. This level of investment represents a 23 percent increase in dollars, compared to the $1.6 billion invested in the second quarter, and the highest quarterly investment in the sector since the fourth quarter of 2001.

The Software industry also had the most deals completed in Q3 with 263 rounds, which represents a one percent decrease from the 267 rounds completed in the second quarter of 2011. The Biotechnology industry was the second largest sector for dollars invested with $1.1 billion going into 96 deals, falling 18 percent in dollars and 20 percent in deals from the prior quarter.

Medical device industry sees decline

The Medical Devices and Equipment industry also experienced a decline, dropping 18 percent in Q3 to $728 million, while the number of deals declined 21 percent to 74 deals.

Overall, investments in the Life Sciences sector (Biotechnology and Medical Devices) fell 18 percent in dollars and 21 percent in deals, dropping to the second lowest quarterly deal volume since the first quarter of 2005.

To the contrary, Healthcare Services investments surged with $152 million going into 11 deals, a 200 percent increase in dollars and 38 percent increase in deal volume over the second quarter. Investment in Internet-specific companies fell in the third quarter to $1.6 billion going into 231 deals. This level of investment represents a 33 percent decrease in dollars and a 21 percent decrease in deals from the second quarter when $2.4 billion went into 292 deals, a ten-year high.

Internet-specific is a discrete classification assigned to a company with a business model that is fundamentally dependent on the Internet, regardless of the company’s primary industry category.

The Clean Technology sector, which crosses traditional MoneyTree industries and comprises alternative energy, pollution and recycling, power supplies and conservation, saw a 13 percent decrease in dollars to $891 million in Q3 from the second quarter when $1.0 billion was invested.

The number of deals completed in the third quarter also declined nine percent to 80 deals compared with 88 deals in the second quarter Fourteen of the 17 MoneyTree sectors experienced decreases in dollars invested in the third quarter, including:

Telecommunications (49 percent decrease), Semiconductors (44 percent decrease), Consumer Products & Services (51 percent decrease), and Media & Entertainment (11 percent decrease).

Stage of Development Seed stage investments fell 56 percent in dollars and 26 percent in deals with $179 million invested into 89 deals in the third quarter. Early stage investments also fell seven percent in dollars and six percent in deals with $2.0 billion going into 341 deals.

Seed/early stage deals nearly half the total

Seed/Early stage deals accounted for 49 percent of total deal volume in Q3, compared to 48 percent in the second quarter. The average Seed deal in the third quarter was $2.0 million, down from $3.3 million in the second quarter. The average Early stage deal was $5.7 million in Q3, down from $5.8 million in the prior quarter.

Expansion stage dollars increased two percent in the third quarter, with $2.5 billion going into 260 deals. Overall, Expansion stage deals accounted for 30 percent of venture deals in the third quarter, up from 26 percent in the second quarter of 2011. The average Expansion stage deal was $9.6 million, up from $9.2 million in the prior quarter. Investments in Later stage deals decreased 20 percent in dollars and 30 percent in deals to $2.3 billion going into 186 rounds in the third quarter.

Later stage deals accounted for 21 percent of total deal volume in Q3, compared to 26 percent in Q2 when $2.9 billion went into 265 deals. The average Later stage deal in the third quarter was $12.5 million, which increased from $11.0 million in the prior quarter and represents the largest average deal size for Later stage companies since the third quarter of 2001.

First-time financings fell 22 percent

First-Time Financings First-time financing (companies receiving venture capital for the first time) dollars decreased 22 percent and the number of deals fell 18 percent with $1.2 billion going into 269 deals. First-time financings accounted for 17 percent of all dollars and 31 percent of all deals in the third quarter, compared to 20 percent of all dollars and 32 percent of all deals in the second quarter of 2011.

Companies in the Software, Media & Entertainment, and IT services sectors received the most first time rounds in the third quarter. There was a significant decline in the number and dollar level of first time rounds in the Life Sciences sector.

The average first-time deal in the third quarter was $4.5 million, down slightly from $4.7 million in the prior quarter. Seed/Early stage companies received the bulk of first-time investments, garnering 74 percent of the deals. MoneyTree Report results are available online at www.pwcmoneytree.com and www.nvca.org

Software companies dominate Deloitte’s 2011Tech Fast 500

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

DeloitteSoftware companies dominate on Deloitt’s 2011 Technology Fast 500, an annual ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Software firms account for 39 percent of the entire list, with 194 companies. Not surprisingly the West is home to the most (37%) Fast 500 tech firms.

Five of the top 10 companies in this year’s rankings are from the software industry, including Avigilon (No. 4), ServiceNow (No. 5), NexJ Systems Inc. (No. 6), Real Matters (No. 7) and HubSpot (No. 8).

MAKO Surgical Corp., an orthopedic medical device company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., ranked No. 1.

MAKO Surgical Corp.’s fiscal year revenue of $44.29 million and five year fiscal growth rate of 70,211 percent topped this year’s ranking which is based on the percentage of fiscal year revenue growth from 2006 to 2010.

“Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 recognizes some of the most exciting technology companies in North America today,” saidEric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. Technology, Media & Telecommunications leader, Deloitte LLP. “We are proud to honor MAKO Surgical Corp., and we congratulate all of the ranked companies for their extraordinary achievements.”

The top ten ranked companies are as follows:

2011 Rank Company Sector Revenue Growth(2006 to 2010) City, State
1 MAKO Surgical Corp.www.makosurgical.com Medical Equipment 70,211 percent Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2 Accedian Networkswww.accedian.com Communications/Networking 50,136 percent Saint-Laurent, QC
3 RTI Cryogenics Inc.www.rticryo.com Clean Technology 46,278 percent Cambridge, ON
4 Avigilonwww.avigilon.com Software 38,796 percent Vancouver, BC
5 ServiceNowwww.service-now.com Software 32,048 percent San Diego, CA
6 NexJ Systems Inc.www.nexj.com Software 29,161 percent Toronto, ON
7 Real Matterswww.realmatters.com Software 28,265 percent Markham, ON
8 HubSpotwww.hubspot.com Software 27,746 percent Cambridge, MA
9 AVI BioPharma, Inc.www.avibio.com Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical 25,483 percent Bothell, WA
10 ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.www.ariad.com Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical 19,875 percent Cambridge, MA

Mark Jensen, managing partner of Deloitte’s national venture capital services group, added, “During the 17 years Deloitte has published this list, some deeply entrenched patterns have evolved. Software companies have dominated year-over-year, and the western and northeastern regions of the U.S. have consistently attracted innovative, high growth companies.”

West region yields highest concentration of Fast 500 companies, followed by Northeast

Overall, the West remains home to the highest concentration of Technology Fast 500 companies (37 percent), trailed by the Northeast (24 percent), Canada (15 percent), Southeast (12 percent), Midwest (6 percent), and Southwest (6 percent).

Region Percent of List Fastest-growingCompany in the

Region

City, State
West 37 percent ServiceNowwww.service-now.com San Diego, CA
Northeast 24 percent HubSpotwww.hubspot.com Cambridge, MA
Canada 15 percent Accedian Networkswww.accedian.com Saint-Laurent, QC
Southeast 12 percent MAKO Surgical Corp.www.makosurgical.com Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Midwest 6 percent Gevo, Inc.www.gevo.com Englewood, CO
Southwest 6 percent SoftLayerwww.softlayer.com Dallas, TX

Software sector dominates – again

Five of the top 10 companies in this year’s rankings are from the software industry, including Avigilon (No. 4), ServiceNow (No. 5), NexJ Systems Inc. (No. 6), Real Matters (No. 7) and HubSpot (No. 8).

The software sector comprises 39 percent of the overall list with 194 companies, followed by biotechnology (15 percent), communications/networking (12 percent) and Internet (11 percent).  Medical equipment, scientific/technical instrumentation, semiconductor, computers/peripherals, media/entertainment and clean technology companies round out the remaining 23 percent of the list.

The percentage of companies from industry sectors are represented on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 as follows:

Sector Percent of List Fastest-growingCompany in the Sector City, State
Software 39 percent Avigilonwww.avigilon.com Vancouver, BC
Biotechnology/Pharmaceutical 15 percent AVI BioPharma, Inc.www.avibio.com Bothell, WA
Communications/Networking 12 percent Accedian Networkswww.accedian.com Saint-Laurent, QC
Internet 11 percent SAY Media, Inc.www.saymedia.com San Francisco, CA
Medical Equipment 7 percent MAKO Surgical Corp.www.makosurgical.com Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Clean Technology 5 percent RTI Cryogenics Inc.www.rticryo.com Cambridge, ON
Semiconductor 4 percent MaxLinear, Inc.www.maxlinear.com Carlsbad, CA
Media and Entertainment 3 percent Collectivewww.collective.com New York, NY
Computers/Peripherals 2 percent PlumChoicewww.plumchoice.com Billerica, MA
Scientific/TechnicalInstrumentation 2 percent Digital Ally, Inc.www.digitalallyinc.com Overland Park, KS

Technology Fast 500 Ranking Methodology

In order to be eligible for Technology Fast 500™ recognition, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or technology that is sold to customers in products that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues.  Companies must have base-year (2006) operating revenues of at least $50,000 USD or CD, and current-year (2010) operating revenues of at least $5 million USD or CD. Additionally, companies must be in business for a minimum of five years, and be headquartered within North America.

Ranking is rounded to the nearest percentage point. Revenue growth is calculated as follows: [(FY'2010 revenue – FY'2006 revenue)/ FY'2006 revenue] x 100.  For example, a company with reported revenues of $350,000 in 2006 and$7,500,000 in 2010 would have fiscal year revenue growth of 2,043 percent during the period from 2006 to 2010.

The ranking is compiled from nominations submitted directly to the Technology Fast 500™ Web site, and public company database research conducted by Deloitte.  Deloitte has not audited the ranking and, accordingly, does not express an opinion or any other form of assurance on it.  Some companies that may be eligible to appear on the ranking are not included because they did not submit the required information or otherwise declined to participate.

For additional detail on the Technology Fast 500™ including the complete list and qualifying criteria, visit www.fast500.com.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte & Touche LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please seewww.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

 

SOURCE Deloitte

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Solar industry employment on the rise, more growth expected

Monday, October 17th, 2011

solar FoundationThe “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce” found that hiring in the solar workforce is on the rise. More than 100,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry.

“The solar industry has grown into a major economic force with more than 100,000 employees in the United States,” saidAndrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation.

“We expect even greater growth in the foreseeable future. But policymakers, workforce training providers, and the industry must work together to continue creating good jobs for skilled workers.”

California leads in solar employment

As of August 2011, the Census identified more than 17,198 solar employment sites and 100,237 solar jobs in all 50 states. The solar industry’s job growth rate of 6.8 percent is significantly higher than the 2 percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of 0.7 percent growth over the same period.

California continued to be the national leader in solar employment, with 25,575 workers. Rounding out the top 10 states areColorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Colorado, Arizona,Florida, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts showed the strongest growth rates from August 2010.

The Census also found that solar employers expect to increase the number of solar workers by 24 percent, representing nearly 24,000 net new jobs by August 2012. Over the next 12 months, nearly half of solar firms expect to add jobs.

“These survey responses merely reflect employers’ best estimates at expected new hiring, but it demonstrates a clear growth pattern for the industry and tremendous optimism by employers in the industry,” said Luecke. “Employers expressed similar optimism last year, but failed to meet their hiring expectations because of stalled legislative initiatives and continued policy uncertainty.”

The survey examined employment along the solar value chain and included data from more than 2,100 solar company survey respondents. The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership’s Green LMI Consulting division with technical assistance from Cornell University.

The full report and case studies are available at thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2011

Silicon Valley’s Khosla Ventures raises $1B fund

Friday, October 14th, 2011

khosla-venturesKhosla Ventures, a top Silicon Valley venture capital firm, has raised a new $1.05 billion fund to help great entrepreneurs continue to harvest their potential for breakthrough and innovative ideas.

The Khosla Ventures IV fund will further the firm’s strategy to invest in early stage investments in the areas of clean tech, IT, mobile, and Internet technology.

“We have identified the ‘Clean Dozen’ companies in clean tech that can achieve unsubsidized market competitiveness and the ‘Cool Dozen’ categories in Internet and mobile in the post-PC world such as big data, emotion, interest graphs and consumer health,” said Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla.

Khosla Ventures IV follows the Khosla Ventures III fund and Khosla Ventures seed fund. The Khosla Ventures III fund of $1 billion of investor commitments focused on traditional early stage and growth stage companies.

Khosla Ventures also previously raised $300 million for the Khosla Ventures seed fund which invests in high-risk, high-return opportunities, particularly groundbreaking science or internet developments, besides traditional venture investments.

Given the success of the previous funds Khosla Ventures does not anticipate any change in strategy. Khosla Ventures will continue to do Internet, mobile and the clean tech ventures roughly in the same ratio as previous funds. The firm will also continue to invest in IT and cloud services as well as new areas outside of traditional venture capital.

“We fundamentally invest in the companies that we expect to have significant impact, and that’s precisely what the Khosla Ventures IV fund will do,” said Khosla. “We don’t mind failing but do care that the impact be material if we do succeed; and we believe that our willingness to fail gives us an ability to succeed. We will continue to not compute IRR’s when investing as we believe in helping entrepreneurs build companies with high impact and high option value that are not subject to traditional financial metrics.”

Solar industry continues rapid growth in America

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
soloar cell photo

Solar cells are only one product Blue Nano materials improve

The U.S. solar energy market continued its rapid growth during the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest release of GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)’s quarterly U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

Solar photovoltaics (PV) led the way with 314 megawatts installed across the U.S. in the second quarter, 69 percent more than during the same period last year.

“Even in this tough economy the U.S. solar industry continues to be one of the fastest growing in America,” said SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch. “There are now more than 100,000 Americans working in the solar industry, twice as many as there were in 2009. They work at 5,000 companies – mostly small businesses – across all 50 states.”

The utility and commercial solar market segments grew 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The residential PV segment slowed, installing 60 megawatts, a 5.7 percent drop over last quarter. Still, the industry’s overall growth means it is powering the equivalent of 630,000 homes.

The industry faces challenges in 2012 that could slow its torrid pace from the past year and a half.

“The potential expiration of the 1603 Treasury program, along with current malaise in major markets, such as New Jersey andPennsylvania, threaten to slow growth in 2012,” said Shayle Kann, Managing Director of Solar at GTM Research. “Still, with increasing market diversity and the continued emergence of the utility-scale solar market, we anticipate that the U.S. market share of global installations will triple over the next four years.”

“The dynamic second quarter growth is a result of increased competition in the solar market, competition that drove down the price of solar panels by 30 percent since the beginning of 2010,” added Resch. “This is good news for residential and business customers as solar becomes more affordable every day.”

Full statement: www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=1592

 

Silicon Valley’s Khosla Ventures names Chung a partner

Friday, September 16th, 2011
Andrew Chung

Andrew Chung

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Khosla Ventures has named Andrew Chung a Partner. Chung will focus on developing leading companies in cleantech and information technology. He will be the firm’s sixth investing Partner, joining founder Vinod Khosla, Samir Kaul, Pierre Lamond, Shirish Sathaye, and David Weiden

Chung joins Khosla Ventures from Lightspeed Venture Partners, where he helped build the firm’s cleantech practice. During his five-year tenure at Lightspeed, he helped drive and manage the firm’s investments in Solazyme (SZYM, biofuel), Stion (solar), LS9 (biofuel), Coaltek (clean coal), Leyden Energy (energy storage), Orbis (online education), and Personalis (genomics).

“Khosla Ventures has the broadest platform for cultivating breakthrough technologies in cleantech,” said Chung.

Prior to joining Lightspeed, Mr. Chung was an investor at Bain Capital and TL Ventures, was a management consultant with Bain & Co. in Greater China, and co-founded UberWorks, an Internet startup incubated at Trilogy that was later acquired by a public company. Mr. Chung holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University.