Archive for the ‘West Virginia’ Category
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.
If you’re a high growth innovative company looking for funding, you still have a chance to present your business plan in front of top national venture capitalists and private equity professionals at the 2013 Southeast Venture Conference March 13th and 14th at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC.
Applications to present at the event are still being accepted.
The event seeks high growth, innovative companies from diverse technology industries including Software-as-a-Service, New Media, Bio-IT, Clean-Tech, Medical Devices, Mobile, Security, among others.
You’ll meet hundreds of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and high growth company executives (from startups to pre-IPO), National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the high growth technology community.
SEVC highlights both early and later stage investment opportunities from: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.
Last year’s SEVC Average Presenter Profile:
- Average Annual Revenue: $5.9 million
- Average Capital Raised to Date: $6.7 million
- Average Number of Employees: 35
While the presenting companies are from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the investors fly in from all parts of the country, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, as well as those that are regionally focused.
Exclusive panels, speakers, programming
The SEVC features market relevant investor and executive panels, exclusive networking opportunities, featured speakers and dozens of the region’s top private technology firms presenting to a national audience of venture capitalists, investment bankers and private equity investors.
As a TechMedia company and sponsor of the event, the TechJournal has reported on many firms that subsequently landed angel or venture backing. Venture capitalists tell us, they find new firms to put on their radar and track at each year’s event and many have returned year after year to spot hot Southeast opportunities.
SEVC is also an unparalleled networking event in which innovative firms meet potential partners, customers, and employees, in addition to making invaluable contacts within the venture and angel funding community.
Additional information on presenting and registration can be found at seventure.org andyou can view a list of past presenters here.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
For the eighth year in a row, CEOs rate Texas as the #1 state in which to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine’s annual Best & Worst States Survey, released today.
Florida rose one spot to take the #2 rank, while North Carolina slipped to #3.
Tennessee remained at #4 while Indiana climbed a spot to capture the #5 rank. CEOs named the worst states to do business as California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan.
The Best & Worst States Survey measures the sentiment of CEOs on business conditions around the nation.
For the 2012 survey, 650 CEOs from across the country evaluated the states on a broad range of issues, including regulations, tax policies, workforce quality, educational resources, quality of living and infrastructure. The survey was conducted from Jan. 24 to Feb. 26, 2012.
Louisiana biggest gainer
Louisiana was the biggest gainer in the survey, rising 14 spots to be the #13th most attractive state in the country to do business. The biggest loser was Oregon, which dropped nine spots to #42.
CEOs surveyed said California’s poor ranking is the result of its hostility to business, high state taxes and overly stringent regulations, which is driving investment, companies and jobs to other states.
According to Spectrum Locations Consultants, 254 California companies moved some or all of their work and jobs out of state in 2011, an increase of 26 percent over the previous year and five times as many as in 2009.
“CEOs tell us that California seems to be doing everything possible to drive business from the state. Texas, by contrast, has been welcoming companies and entrepreneurs, particularly in the high-tech arena,” said J.P. Donlon, Editor-in-Chief of Chief Executivemagazine and ChiefExecutive.net.
“Local economic development corporations, as well as the state Texas Enterprise Fund, are providing attractive incentives. This, along with the relaxed regulatory environment and supportive State Department of Commerce adds up to a favorable climate for business.”
Inhospitable business environments mean less jobs, as entrepreneurs and established corporations seek more cost-efficient and tax-friendly locales, said Marshall Cooper, CEO of Chief Executive magazine and ChiefExecutive.net. “This survey shows that states that create policies and incentives are rewarded with investment, jobs and greater overall economic activity.”
For complete results, including individual state rankings on multiple criteria, methodology and more, please visitChiefExecutive.net.
|Best 5 States for Business
Source: Chief Executive magazine (ChiefExecutive.net)
|Worst 5 States for Business
Source: Chief Executive magazine (ChiefExecutive.net)
|2012 Biggest Gainers
Source: Chief Executive magazine (ChiefExecutive.net)
|2012 Biggest Losers
Source: Chief Executive magazine (ChiefExecutive.net)
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
The U.S. high-tech industry lost 115,800 net jobs in 2010, for a total of 5.75 million workers. This two percent decline in tech industry employment was less than half of the 249,500 jobs lost in 2009, which followed several years of sustained growth, according to the TechAmerica Foundation’s 14th annual Cyberstates report.
Over the longer term of 2007 to 2010 – the span of the economic downturn – the tech industry fared better than the private sector as a whole, with a four percent decline in employment versus a seven percent decline in the private sector.
“Of the four high-tech sectors highlighted in our report, only software services added jobs in 2010 – 22,800, a one percent gain,” said Robert F. Bennett, chairman of TechAmerica Foundation. “Of the jobs lost, 72,100 were in communications services, 53,600 were in tech manufacturing, and 12,900 were in engineering and tech services. Fortunately, the initial numbers for 2011 look more promising in terms of job growth.”
Job growth occurred in all four tech industry sectors
TechAmerica Foundation also today released a midyear jobs report for 2011 based on a different monthly data set from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This report shows that between January and June 2011, the tech industry added a net 115,000 jobs, a two percent gain, not adjusted for seasonality.
During this time period, job growth occurred in all four technology industry sectors, with the fastest growth in engineering and tech services. A 12 month review of June 2010 in comparison with June 2011 also shows growth in three of the four tech industry sectors, with job losses occurring in communication services.
“Tech jobs were down in 2010, trending with the rest of the economy, but we have fared better than the private sector as a whole over the course of the economic downturn and there are some positive signs for 2011, said Dan Varroney, acting President and CEO of TechAmerica. “We are poised not only to grow our own industry but to support the growth of the economy as a whole. The key to growth is to support what we call the Four T’s: technology, talent, tax, and trade.”
“Technology: We need robust federal investment in basic research to create the scientific base that companies can use to produce new products and innovations.
“Talent: We need to invest in STEM education to provide our children with the foundation in math and science that will prepare them for high paying careers while allowing highly skilled foreign nationals educated at our universities to remain in the United States and join American companies instead of returning to their home countries and competing against us.”
Tax system needs reform
“Tax: We need to reform our tax system to make capital welcome. We are competing against countries that are aggressively implementing tax policies that lower the cost of business. We need comprehensive tax reform that attracts investments in technology and creates a framework that encourages repatriation of profits made by foreign operations of U.S.-based corporations.
“Trade: We need to open new markets to U.S. products and services by finishing the pending Free Trade Agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea and continue to pursue other opportunities to expand trade.”
Eight states added tech jobs in 2010
The state-by-state data reveal that eight states added tech jobs in 2010. The largest gains occurred in Michigan (+2,700), the District of Columbia (+1,400), West Virginia (+400), Utah (+400), and South Carolina (+300). On a percentage basis, the District of Columbia saw the fastest job growth in 2010 at 4.3 percent, albeit at a small base.
For the sixth straight year, Virginia led the nation with the highest concentration of tech workers – 98 of every 1,000 private sector workers in the state were employed in the tech industry. Massachusetts and Colorado ranked second and third, respectively.
Cyberstates 2011 relies on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides 2010 national and state-by-state data on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, wage differential, and employment concentration. All data are the most recent available at the time of publication.
Cyberstates 2011 may be purchased for $150. The 2011 midyear report may be freely downloaded. Both reports can be accessed at: www.techamericafoundation.org/cyberstates.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
By Allan Maurer
The InZero security device
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Cybersecurity still seems to be an afterthought among everyone from McDonald’s to Gawker Media, not to mention the U.S. government and military. Too many entities worry about digital security only when it is breached.
Great business strategy that. Apparently, even giving your email address to a publication such as Gawker or to McDonald’s during one of its promotions, can expose your private data these days. Both admitted to serious security breaches as 2010 ends, while many Twitter accounts – including mine – were hacked by someone selling Acai for weight loss this week. Probably because I used the same password for both sites (see: Spammers Exploit Gawker) on Gawker, where I commented maybe once.
TechJournal South had its own problems with a hacked ad server a few months back and had to shift to another. Two major ad networks were hit with a similar problem this week.
And most of those security breaches were relatively minor in the scheme of things. Many more serious ones have already occurred and we have little doubt are to come.
But coming on the heels of the WikiLeaks fracas, these breaches all show a laxness about cybersecurity that I think is increasingly dangerous on the part of commercial enterprises, government agencies and the military, not to mention to each of us personally.
The problem is partly inherent in the open, accessible nature of the Internet. The very ease with which we swim the Internet’s electron sea makes us vulnerable to sharks. Still,the bad guys, be they foreign hacker crews backed by their own governments, malware creators, spammers, scammers or plain old crooks, actively hack away at us, while credit card companies, government agencies, and businesses remain all too often re-active.
We can’t win the cybersecurity battles that way.
It is absolutely necessary – probably for all of us, but certainly for government and commercial entities – to actively combat this problem. Harden passwords, be careful about what we put on thumb drives or pick up on them, shred documents with sensitive data, and find and use security systems not so easy for cyber criminals to break through.
I’ve noted one approach that seems to be powerful, that of using a security device separate from other equipment that acts as a lockbox preventing suspicious or actual malware and other intrusions from ever reaching operating systems. See: Herndon-based firm grabbing media attention for security device. And: NZero keeps the bad guys out.
Meanwhile, Panda Security of Orlando, which provides antimalware software in the cloud rather than on individual machines, has listed the top ten cyber security threats it sees for 2011.
See also: WikiWars: The Face of future conflicts.
There are contrary views. Over at InformIT, Gary McGraw & Ivan Arce explain how the current climate of exaggeration and FUD surrounding cyber attacks does not ultimately serve the best interests of computer security research in Cyber Warmongering and Influence Peddling.
Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
The office of the future might not be an office at all. As virtual teams become more prevalent, we edge ever closer to a culture where “work” means logging in to your company’s online project management site from your home or collaborating with people who each work for different teams or functions at their local co-working establishment.
“Company headquarters” is becoming more of a concept than an actual building. And as physical location becomes less important, companies can hire the best talent regardless of their location. In addition, companies can enhance their efficiency by handing off work across time zones, enabling them to be productive around the clock.
Especially in the Internet company start-up culture and in early-stage biotechnology companies, virtual teams are increasingly prevalent.
But far too often, say Darleen DeRosa and Rick Lepsinger, this vision of the global economy workplace falls short of today’s reality. In other words, virtual teams may be increasingly popular…but they’re not necessarily successful.
“Today it isn’t uncommon for companies to have as many as 50 percent of their employees working on virtual teams,” says Lepsinger, coauthor along with Darleen DeRosa of Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-470-53296-6, $50.00, www.onpointconsultingllc.com).
“Our research finds that many organizations recycle the same guidelines and best practices they use for their co-located teams and hope for the best,” says DeRosa. “Frankly, that just doesn’t work. Virtual teams and face-to-face teams are the proverbial ‘apples and oranges’—and leaders who recognize this fact are the ones whose teams succeed.”
To help organizations maximize their investment in virtual collaboration, OnPoint Consulting conducted a study of forty-eight virtual teams to understand the success factors of top performing virtual teams. Surprisingly, 27 percent of virtual teams in the global study were not fully performing. Given these results, the authors recognized the need for a resource that could help organizations and leaders enhance virtual team performance—and so they wrote Virtual Team Success.
Through the study, the authors recognized that virtual teams regularly fall victim to four pitfalls:
Lack of clear goals, direction, or priorities—Because it is tougher to communicate with and inform team members who are geographically dispersed, it is often difficult to keep all team members focused on the same goals, especially over time.
Lack of clear roles among team members—In virtual teams, it is especially important for team members to clearly understand their individual roles and how their work impacts other team members.
Lack of cooperation and trust—Because there is a lack of face-to-face contact inherent in virtual teamwork, the process of establishing trust and relationships that lead to group cooperation can be very arduous. Over time, this lack of collaboration can lead to a lack of trust amongst team members.
Lack of engagement—With virtual teams, people can easily become bored and “check out” because there is a lack of dynamic face-to-face interaction and because there are more distractions.
Eliminate these pitfalls and a team’s chances for success greatly increase. Below DeRosa and Lepsinger identify six lessons—excerpted from the book—for creating successful virtual teams.
We’ll be presenting the rest of the lessons tomorrow, including a reprise of Lesson 1, below.
Lesson #1: Focus on people issues. Essentially, successful teaming depends largely on the effective interaction of team members. Virtual teams need to compensate for the inherent lack of human contact by supporting team spirit, trust, and productivity. The authors identify warning signs that indicate that a team’s “people issues” need more attention.
“You may notice that team members work independently and do not reach out to other team members to collaborate,” says Lepsinger. “You may also notice that an ‘us versus them’ mentality has developed between locations or sub-groups. The truth is, when everyone is engaged and communicating, it is much easier to succeed as a virtual team. When team members build relationships with one another, it prevents people issues from taking over and impacting team efficiency.
Lesson #1 in Action:
- Develop a team web page where virtual team members can share information and get to know one another.
- Create ways for team members to interact and communicate informally. Use real-time communication tools like Instant Messaging or social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to create a virtual water cooler of sorts that allows people on virtual teams to communicate more spontaneously.
- Build a collective online “resource bank” to share information and experiences.
- Find ways to “spotlight” team members.
- Send electronic newsletters or updates to the team.
- Create ways to virtually celebrate successes as a team
- Partner team members at different locations on projects and rotate these periodically.
Darleen DeRosa, Ph.D., is a managing partner at OnPoint Consulting. Darleen brings more twelve years of management consulting experience, with deep expertise in the areas of talent/succession management, executive assessment, virtual teams, and organizational assessment. Her client list includes Accenture, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi-Sankyo, Gerdau Ameristeel, and Johnson & Johnson.
Richard Lepsinger is president of OnPoint Consulting and has a twenty-five-year track record of success as an organizational consultant and executive. His client list includes Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Citibank, Coca-Cola Company, ConocoPhillips, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, NYSE Euronext, PeopleSoft, Prudential, and Subaru of America, among many others
Tomorrow: the other five lesson.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
FAIRFAX, VA – SRA International Inc. (NYSE: SRX), a leading provider of technology and strategic consulting services and solutions to government organizations and commercial clients has agreed to buy Platinum Solutions Inc., which sells systems integration and collaborative solutions to the federal government for approximately $90 milllion.
Platinum Solutions is a privately held systems integrator and software developer with headquarters in Reston, and offices in Bridgeport, W. VA and Rockville, MD. The company specializes in developing customized software applications and providing data management solutions for customers in the national security and civil government arena.
Platinum Solutions’ revenue in calendar year 2010 is expected to be approximately $55 million. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings per share in SRA’s fiscal year 2011.
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
DURHAM, NC – Parata Systems, which sells a retail pharmacy automation solution, has named Tom Rhoads CEO and D. J. Dougherty CFO.
They replace Jess Eberdt, the current CEO, and Doug Townsend, the CFO.
During his 20-year career in healthcare, Rhoads has acquired direct experience in all fundamental areas of business operations, from manufacturing to information technology. He joined Parata in 2004, where he has served as executive vice president for marketing, national accounts, sales and product service. Dougherty joined the company in 2003, and most recently served as executive vice president for finance and operations.
The company makes and sells robotic drug dispensing units.
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
WAYNESBORO, VA – NETELOS Holding Corp. (Nasdaq:NTLS), which sells wireless and wireline communications services in Virginia and West Virginia, has agreed to acquire the FiberNet business of MA-based One Communications Corp. for about $170 million in cash.
The FiberNet fiber optic network of approximately 3,500 route miles covers all of West Virginia and extends into surrounding areas in Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. The Company is a leader in its regional markets, offering retail voice and data services, transport and IP-based services primarily to regional retail and wholesale business customers.
The FiberNet fiber optic network of approximately 3,500 route miles covers all of West Virginia and extends into surrounding areas in Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. The company is a leader in its regional markets, offering retail voice and data services, transport and IP-based services primarily to regional retail and wholesale business customers.
Monday, June 28th, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the challenge to the constitutionality of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the attempt by Congress to bring stricter accounting standards to the corporate world following the Enron and WorldCom scandals.
The court did find that the way members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board are removed is unconstitutional and made the members removable at will rather than only for “good cause.”
Many business lobbying groups had hoped the court would declare the entire law invalid due to problems with the way members of the board are appointed.
But Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Act “Remains fully operative as law.”
Many public companies and business lobbying organizations contended that the Act is unduly expensive and did not do anything to curb fraud while constricting the number of companies that could afford to go public and slashing the number of foreign corporations listing on U.S. stock exchanges.
We’ll bring you reactions from industry sources as they’re released. The decision is bound to disappoint many smaller public companies which find the act burdensome and expensive.
Contact Tech Journal South Editor and writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
Dean Williams, Services Development Manager, Softchoice
By Allan Maurer
TORONTO – With less than 4 weeks before Microsoft discontinues support of Windows XP SP2, a Softchoice study finds that 77 percent of organizations are still not prepared. Toronto-based Softchoice, which has Southeast offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Norfolk, VA, and DC, says these surprising findings will have a significant impact on the overall security of a company’s data if computers are not upgraded before July 13, 2010.
It is estimated that nearly eight out of every 10 organizations have a high enough prevalence of SP2 in their environment to warrant immediate action to update their systems. Failing to do so could create unnecessary security risks as hackers continue to look for vulnerabilities knowing that software updates will no longer be forthcoming from Microsoft.
How much is a high enough prevalence? If 10 percent of a company’s computers are running XP Service Pack 2, that’s enough to worry about, Softchoice says.
“We were surprised by the number of people who have not yet deployed Service Pack 3,” said Dean Williams, Services Development Manager for Softchoice.
Williams tells us XP is still the most popular operating system in the world. “The more popular an operating system is, the bigger the bullseye on it,” he says. “Every day, people are looking to exploit known XP vulnerabilities, so there is no more dangerous operating system in the world.”
XP is “like a comfortable pair of jeans” for many users, a fact that forced Microsoft to extend its support of the system. Many also may have experienced disruptive issues when installing XP’s service pack 2, Williams notes, which may have made them reluctant to update to the XP service pack 3.
A whopping 93 percent of users are still running XP, says Williams, which we find amazing.
Also, While offered free of charge by Microsoft, the work involved in deploying Windows SP3 is not insignificant for larger organizations or those without systems management technology in place.
Service pack 3 is a much more incremental update compared to the major overhaul of SP2 and does not cause those troublesome issues. Users should update immediately, says Williams. Even better, he suggests, would be to upgrade to a current system such as Windows 7.
Hackers will be actively looking even harder to exploit vulnerabilities in XP Service Pack 2 once Microsoft discontinues software updates, Williams notes.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
By Joe Procopio
Look, we all know that the world economy is in the toilet. Our own stock market seems caught in a range depending on what’s gushing, exploding, or opening its stupid mouth on any given day. Europe has had it, thanks for all those awesome centuries of culture and civilization, fellas. And Twitter still hasn’t figured out how to make any money.
Or have they? It’s hard to tell.
But I have a question for you on this, the fortnight before the season for the eve of all financial destruction: Which is the more valuable currency play? A) Euros; B) Flooz ; C) Badges
Answer Below (No Cheating!)
As far as the Euro is concerned, yeah, I’m the ugly American, but we do have the World Cup going on and that 1-1 draw with England is stuck in my craw like a keeper deftly securing a dribbling shot into his professionally gloved hands. You can actually buy Euro futures with an options collar using World of Warcraft money (I don’t know… pence?) and General Mills box tops. The only way you lose is if the scone market goes belly up.
If you read the word “Flooz” and didn’t laugh, you’re either twelve years old or Whoopi Goldberg. No wait, you can’t be twelve and not laugh at the word “Flooz.” Sorry, Whoopi.
And if you’re not 100% sure what badges are or why they might be the right answer, well, you’re not alone.
Badges Are Not Euros
Here’s what badges are in 15 words: Things that don’t exist with no intrinsic value other than to the few who seek them. But don’t take that explanation the wrong way. After all, a Star Wars action figure in the original packaging is just a few cents worth of plastic and cardboard. You can’t eat gold, yada and yada.
What badges are not are actual currency, certified or overseen in any way (and I say this knowing there is indeed some self-appointed badge certification website out there with tons of members who go by Monty Python referencing handles and nothing better to do than send me corrective email, I’m just too lazy to look it up), or linked to a central qualification.
You want the TechJournal South Ultra-Mega-Reader-And-Understander Badge?
There. Now you can put it wherever these things go, like on your MySpace page or above your fireplace.
Badges Are Not Flooz (Still Chuckling)
What badges are also not… are Flooz.
See. It’s confusing. Hang with me, we’ll get there.
Badges aren’t Flooz because Flooz was an Internet currency with a pre-determined cash value. You spent Flooz on the Internet instead of cash.
Badges have no, repeat, no value other than as a collectible and only, it seems, as a collectible to a single entity – a social network like FourSquare or an event like the World Cup. They come from the gaming industry, which is where I get my wobbly expert knowledge on the subject. I know of them, but I don’t have any, because while I can deftly destroy my wife and toddler children at Halo (the little one STILL has nightmares about the Flood, by the way, but you take your edge where you can get it), any kid beyond the age of five makes me look like my Dad.
Who, for the record, can still beat the hell out of Dr. Mario.
When badges came over to social networking they, like every other Internet idea, actually started out with good intentions, like Facebook, and were used to raise money for charity. These were actually less like badges and more like widgets.
But when used improperly, what badges can do, like every other Internet idea shamelessly copied and mutated into something awful for attention or money, like Facebook, is fall victim to a mix of trendhopping, poor program design, and automation, and bring down the worth of every achievement that they purport to reward.
Let’s say I decided that I want to get some sort of reliable return out of my ultra-mega TechJournal badge. This is the reason why anyone would want to do something like this and insert snarky social marketing advice here. If I do it right and offer something valuable in return for achieving the badge, like I come to your house and make fun of TV with you for an hour, then I’m actually on the right track.
But something of value to you requires something of value to me. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, no matter what kind of Groupon Schlotzkys is offering. So I’m going to make you do something to get the badge, like, let’s say, leave awesome glowing, ego-bending comments for my columns
Thank you. But unless I do it right, insert snarky social marketing cautionary tale here, I can actually devalue the badge and my return on it. We’ll hit it off great, with comments like “Joe, this column changed my life. I actually finished reading it and developed an idea for a new mobile business and now have term sheets from both coasts. Thank you!”
Then sooner or later, you’ll figure it out, and it’ll be “Nice column.” And finally, when it’s all blinders on and hell bent for leather, it’s “dsajhfsjh.” Basically whatever you can type with your fist before hitting “Post.”
It’s not long before I retaliate with automated monitoring and “Report Abuse” links on every post and then we’re getting bots and using captchas and then before you know it I’m fighting fraud on every front.
Which is exactly what happened to Flooz. Well that and people remembered they had credit cards.
A Fad. For Now.
Badges are a fad, but they’re the kind of fad like Angelfire was a fad or ringtones were a fad. There’s something there, most definitely, and when used correctly, badges can be another step on the way to actually monetizing all this social activity.
And there’s no reason you can’t figure it out before Twitter does.
Joe Procopio is the founder of Intrepid Company, a technical and management consulting firm (intrepidcompany.com) that has spun out publishing company/creative network Intrepid Media and digital incubator ExitEvent. You really can keep the ultra-mega badge, but what you really want is the super-ultra-giga badge, and to get that he’ll need one Star Wars action figure in original packaging. He can be reached at email@example.com or twitter @jproco.
Friday, June 11th, 2010
Content is King... again
By Allan Maurer
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – “Content is King,” is an idea that has had its ups and downs as a guiding principal for developing not just traffic but value on Web sites, but it is clearly back in the forefront. Yahoo recently agreed to buy Associated Content, which relies on more than 300,000 low paid freelance contributors to churn out 50,000 pieces of unique media monthly, paying $100 million for the company.
The Examiner.com, a similar operation recently bought NowPublic, a Vancouver-based citizen journalism site and continually advertises for “Examiners” to provide content on news, restaurants, entertainment and other topics nationally.
AOL recently announced its intention to hire hundreds of journalists, editors and videographers in addition to the 500 full-time editorial employees it now has, David Eun, president of AOL’s media and studios division told Crain’s New York Business.com.
“Our mission at this company is to be the world’s largest producer of high-quality content, period,” Eun, said.
Content hot again
Bob Butler, CEO and founder of BestThinking.com, a rather unique Research Triangle, NC-based content site, has predicted the content space would become hot again even before the Yahoo/Associated Content deal was announced.
The Triangle region, he notes, is home to a number of content oriented Web businesses in addition to his own, including www.BrightHub.com and www.Lulu.com, while many other content driven Internet companies dot the entire Southeast region. Butler tells us he thinks well run content sites will be delivering a good return on investment if they land venture dollars.
“This is Yahoo’s answer to what AOL is doing with Seed.com… basically acquiring their own internal freelancer-driven content website to reduce content costs and increase content volume,” Butler tells us.
“In any event, this clearly shows an increasing demand for ventures that can generate content for major media and their Internet offerings,” he adds.
Barrier to entry lower
Why all this renewed hoopla over content? For one thing, the barrier to creating an Internet company is, as Edwin Warfield, founder of Localbusiness.com (originally dbusiness.com) that thrived during the Internet boom years, much less now than it was then. Now founder and CEO of Potomac-based Citybizlist.com, Warfield tells us “It costs less than 5 percent of what it did then.”
So many more Internet sites are competing for traffic and search engine notice and getting original, unique and frequent content on a site is the reliable way to attract both search engine attention and visitor traffic, which translates into advertising dollars and a firm’s eventual worth.
We suspect that successful content-focused sites will gravitate more and more toward professional contributions rather than the type of low-paid, search-geared material now offered by Associated Content and Examiner.com.
A corollary of the renewed interest in building sites through content is a renewed interest in content management systems. We’ve used half a dozen in our decade of providing content to a variety of Web sites, and here’s a bit of advice: talk to some professionals in the content management space before you decide on a CMS.
The right CMS will have a lot to do with whether your subject matter experts or other contributors publish regularly.
Editor’s note: sponsored content is not necessarily provided by the sponsor. It may also be content of interest to the sponsor, such as this post.
Sponsored by webslingerz
webslingerz helps organizations utilize interactive media to create and maintain connections with customers, partners, and employees.
Friday, May 28th, 2010
It is difficult to overstate the importance of entrepreneurs to the success of the U.S. economy, says a new report from TD Economics.
“While economists spend a lot of time analyzing near-term trends and developments in aggregate data, economic growth over the longer-term is driven primarily by individuals taking risks and making sacrifices in order to bring innovative ideas to market,” writes TD economist James Marple in “Small and Medium Sized Businesses Key to U.S. Economic Recovery.”
Marple points out that small and medium-sized businesses, typically firms with fewer than 500 employees, make up 99.7 percent of all U.S. companies and more than half of total employment in the country.
He adds, “They are also profoundly important to generating new employment.”
We noted in an earlier post that while large tech firms such as IBM continue to shed jobs, portfolio companies at many venture firms are hiring (see: Job hunting? Venture-backed startups are hiring
The TD report says that businesses formed within the last five years have been responsible for the vast majority of net job growth in the last two decades (a statistic we found amazing).
Looking ahead, the report says, the U.S. economic recovery will depend largely on the performance of U.S. small businesses, which “suffered a disproportionate share of the job losses and many still have difficulty accessing credit form some lenders.”
Fortunately, he adds, things are beginning to look up.
We think this is another indication that government policy on national, state and local levels should pay much more attention to supporting, nurturing, and developing small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups rather than spending so much time and money on chasing large manufacturers and big companies.
North Carolina invested a lot of time, money and energy in recruiting a Dell computer manufacturing plant to the state that is shutting down operations after only a few years.
Would that money have been better spent helping develop and support startup operations that would generate jobs for a decade or more?
We see more and more evidence that making sure small businesses and startups have access to capital and support they need to succeed is far more important than shoring up large industries that are often dinosaurs that face near extinction every time some economic volcano blows its top. – Allan Maurer
Friday, May 7th, 2010
By Allan Maurer
WASHINGTON, DC – The financial reform bill now being debated in the U.S. Senate could throw a monkey-wrench into the early-stage startup funding process. Two provisions in the bill, which is supposed to be aimed at taming Wall Street, would adversely affect “angel” investors, the high net worth individuals who often seed early stage companies.
Those provisions in the proposed “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” (S. 3217) could limit the availability of angel investment to small business and start-ups, says CompTIA, the IT trade industry.
One of the provisions increases the amount of income and assets an angel investor would need to qualify as accredited investors. The other requires a company seeking an angel investment to seek U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approval–a process that could take months.
Many early-stage startups simply do not have those extra months and might never get off the ground if the provision is included in the final bill, some angel investors say.
Startups are job creation engines
“We recognize that this proposed legislation seeks to address the myriad of complex issues that led to the financial crisis,” said Elizabeth Hyman, vice president, public advocacy, CompTIA, one of at least ten associations requesting amendments to the bill to change the provisions.
“We are concerned that certain provisions contained in this legislation would effectively cut off early-stage angel investors who provide a critical source of funding for start-ups, small businesses and other entrepreneurs,” she stated. “Access to capital continues to be a significant concern for all small businesses.”
In an opinion piece about the financial reform bill in on Philly.com , Steve Welch asks why Washington bureaucrats cannot seem to distinguish between Wall Street bankers and entrepreneurs and the angel investors who back them. He notes that the bill in its current form “Will hurt the process that helps turn entrepreneurs’ innovateive ideas into viable, job-creating businesses.
Getting SEC involved “Almost a joke”
We understand his pain. For some reason, legislators seem clueless about how important startup funding is to getting the country back on track in creating new jobs. We spend billions to bail out firms responsible for the financial meltdown while doing little to rein in their excesses or help the part of the economy that is at the root of real job creation.
Bill Warner, of Wake Forest, NC-based Paladin and Associates, tells us, “These provisions in the Dodd bill will substantially stifle investment in startup companies.”
He adds, “Getting the SEC involved is almost a joke. These folks are one of the many who never blew the whistle on the pending mortgage industry collapse and they knew it was coming. Getting them involved in deciding what the risk is in an angel investment adds no value to the process and will only slow down investment.”
Welch points to the Kauffman Foundation study that found that between 1980 and 2005, companies less than five years old created nearly all the net gain in new jobs. But, Welch notes, that rather than supporting the effective bottom-up economic development, Washington legislators continue to focus on “mis-guided top-down policy making.”
Amendments requested by CompTIA and others
In a letter sent to Chairman Christopher Dodd and Ranking Member Richard Shelby of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, CompTIA has asked for two amendments to the bill:
* Section 412: As written, this section would increase the threshold for qualified investors by applying the inflation factor measured since these limits were first enacted. Applying this inflation factor would more than double the existing net asset requirement from $1 million to approximately $2.3 million.
CompTIA supports an amendment that would keep the existing $1 million cap, but would exclude the value of the investor’s primary residence.
* Section 926. The section would require a 120-day SEC review of all Regulation D 506 private offerings, which include angel investors. However, instead of adding an additional 120 days onto the funding process, CompTIA supports an amendment that would simply disqualify “bad actors” as determined by Federal and State authorities.
“These amendments will ensure that high growth small businesses and entrepreneurs have access to a strong pool of angel capital and that investors are better protected from fraud,” said CompTIA’s Hyman.
Supporters of these provisions say they are intended to protect angel investors from risky investments. Welch says it’s true that angel investing is risky, but “Calculated risk-taking has allowed the United States to become the most innovative society in the world.”
Nine national associations concerned about reform bill
Angel Capital Association Supports Amendments to Reform Bill
ACA Joins NVCA in concerns on reform bill
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. high-tech industry lost 245,600 jobs in 2009, for a total of 5.9 million workers. This recession-induced, four percent decline in tech employment is slightly lower than the five percent decline experienced by the private sector as a whole and follows four years of steady growth in tech industry employment.
TechAmerica Foundation‘s 2009 quarterly breakdown revealed a bright spot amidst the losses – software services added 10,100 jobs in the fourth quarter, growing by one percent. Not only that, at TechJournal South we found that many venture-backed companies are hiring (see: Job Hunting?) even as larger firms such as IBM continue to shed jobs.
“While it weathered the storm better than the private sector at large, the U.S. high-tech industry clearly felt the effect of the recession in 2009,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of TechAmerica Foundation. “Every corner of the industry experienced job losses, though software services, which helped tech hold up longer than most at the recession’s onset, saw growth in Q4 2009.”
Every high-tech sector saw employment losses in 2009. Of the 245,600 jobs lost, 112,600 were in manufacturing, concentrated in sectors like electronic components and semiconductors. Space and defense systems manufacturing was least affected with employment declining by 0.5 percent, or 1,200 jobs.
Engineering and tech services also saw a net loss of 59,000 jobs, as did communications services, shedding 53,000 jobs. Software services experienced the smallest decline, losing 20,700 jobs, or one percent.
Cyberstates 2010 relies on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides 2009 national data on tech employment as well as 2008 national and state-by-state data on high-tech employment, wages, establishments, payroll, wage differential, and employment concentration.
Tech America CEO and president Phil Bond warned that DC policy makers need to take decisive action to fuel a full tech job recovery.
“Without decisive action, policymakers in Washington might not see the recovery that we’re all hoping for,” said Bond.
“Washington could help put more of America’s brightest minds to work by enacting a comprehensive innovation agenda. We continue to look for leadership in key areas like tax policy, broadband deployment, and workforce to support the creation of more well-paying tech jobs across the country.”
Friday, April 2nd, 2010
FAIRMONT, W. VA – Global Science & Technology Inc. has offcially opened its Innovation Lab (iLab), located on the first floor of the Alan B. Mollohan Innovation Center in Fairmont. It is the first privately managed facility of its kind in West Virginia.
“The concept is unique,” said GST iLab vice president Brian Bell.
“Innovation is vital for the continued economic growth of West Virginia, and we want to be at the forefront of creating new opportunities. The first step in the innovation process is to tear down barriers. Old business models don’t always work well. The iLab is an alterative business model. It is open to anyone who has a concept that falls under our theme of information relevancy.
“There are no offices, no walls, no stifling bureaucracy, only open space, many areas for collaboration and a lot of energy. The concept is all about sharing information and exchanging ideas with the intent to advance technology and create new commercial offerings.”
“The Innovation Laboratory is a community where concepts emerge and ideas are generated,” stated Julian Pucci, iLab Coordinator. “We help innovators share ideas, find funding, build prototypes, make connections, and fulfill the commercial potential of their concepts. Innovation is not just for entrepreneurs and startups, but also for established businesses, academic institutions, and the government.”
For a look at what the lab does see: “The concept is unique,” said GST iLab Vice President Brian Bell. “Innovation is vital for the continued economic growth of West Virginia, and we want to be at the forefront of creating new opportunities. The first step in the innovation process is to tear down barriers. Old business models don’t always work well. The iLab is an alterative business model. It is open to anyone who has a concept that falls under our theme of information relevancy. There are no offices, no walls, no stifling bureaucracy, only open space, many areas for collaboration and a lot of energy. The concept is all about sharing information and exchanging ideas with the intent to advance technology and create new commercial offerings.”
For a look at what the lab does, see: Fairmont lab turns data “trash” to treasure
Friday, March 19th, 2010
By Allan Maurer
OAK RIDGE, TN – Meritus Ventures is the only venture capital firm between Cincinnati and Atlanta and between the NC Research Triangle and Nashville, says Grady Vanderhoofven, a partner and fund manager with Meritus. “It’s a big, wide open, tech rich area in a capital starved region,” he says.
Meritus is a Rural Business Investment Company established in 2006 in response to the creation of the Rural Business Investment Program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Meritus is a $36.5 million fund that invests from $250,000 to $2.5 million in rural areas of central and Western Appalachia. “One million is the sweet spot for a first bite for us,” says Vanderhoofven, “and we might invest $2.5 million over time.”
The competitive advantage of tech
The fund’s roster of investors includes a number of banks and several private financial institutions, including member institutions of the Farm Credit System, several large foundations, a number of high net worth individuals, and regional stakeholders such as the University of Kentucky, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. In addition, the fund is partially capitalized via the sale of debentures guaranteed by USDA.
“We’re generalists and we’ll look at most things except life sciences,” says Vanderhoofven. “We like technology and the competitive advantage technology can provide,” he adds. So the firm looks at firms in IT, software, medical devices, diagnostic tools, and semiconductors.
Working in a captial-starved region has its advantages. “We don’t have to fight over deals,” says Vanderhoofven. “We just look and sift.”
The fund’s portfolio companies include Greenville, SC-based Zipit Wirelss, which develops and makes wireless communication and entertainment devices that allow consumers to access the Internet; SinglePipe a facilities-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider that delivers residential and business services to the wholesale and channel markets; Kentucky-based Wazoo sports.com; and Oak Ridge-based Aldis, which focuses on the transportation logistics and advanced infrastructure management markets.
Oak Ridge Labs getting huge funding
Vanderhoofven tell us he previously worked at Oak Ridge National Labs, first as a materials engineer, then in its tech transfer office. “That’s what led me into this,” he says. “I became enamored of spinning out Oak Ridge Lab technology.”
But, he says, companies would spin out, then go where they found a source of capital, landing in Austin or San Diego or Long Island.
“So this is an effort to establish a local source of venture capital with the idea that we can capitalize on some of the technical resources in the region.”
He points out that there is a “huge amount of money flowing into Oak Ridge National Labs right now. They’re receiving something like a billion dollars from the stimulus package and building new one-of-a-kind facilities. You wouldn’t recognize it from five years ago.”
But Oak Ridge isn’t the region’s only source of technology expertise. There is also the University of Kentucky, the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, the Army Missile Command at Huntsville, Alabama, and more.
Fund shifted from early to expansion stage firms
Vanderhoofven says Meritus “plays will with others” and prefers to co-invest and isn’t opposed to deals that include angel investors.
“Historically we have been early stage investors, but in the last year or so we migrated toward more expansion stage investing.”
Early stage investing, he says, “Is a riskier proposition than it was five years ago, so we migrated to the expansion stage where some of the risk is taken out.”
That follows a trend we have seen from venture capitalists generally in the last several years.
Over time, however, Vanderhoofven says Meritus may “Swing back to earlier stage investments.”
For those entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina lo0king for funding, here’s a tip: “We’d like to do a deal in Western NC, but just haven’t found the right one yet,” says Vanderhoofven.