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Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Angel investment groups eye larger deals, national scope

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

By Allan Maurer

Jamie Lewis

Jamie Lewis

Atlanta Technology Angels (ATA) decision to join other angel groups in financing Austin-based Wisegate, was significant in more ways than one, says ATA and Wisegate board member Jamie Lewis.

Lewis, formerly CEO of  The Burton Group, like Wisegate, an IT research and advisory firm that sold to Gartner for $56 million in 2009, tells the TechJournal the ATA/Wisegate deal “Is largely a reflection of how significantly the capital markets have changed in the last five years or so.”

National, not just regional deals sought

A member of ATA for about a year, Lewis notes there is a move afoot in the Angel investor space to create a national syndication network so deals can happen nationally rather than just regionally.

The ATA itself says the decision to invest in a company outside of Georgia represents its own desire to expand its footprint throughout the Southeast and possibly beyond.

Reasons for the change

“There is a lot of interest in deals occurring as widely as possible, even though it’s natural for most to occur regionally,” Lewis says.

A primary reason for this change in angel investing strategy, says Lewis, is that many venture capital firms have altered their own strategies.

“Back ten or 15 years ago,” says Lewis, “the typical VC was doing lots of early stage deals, including companies with a little seed funding, not a lot, and maybe some revenue, but not profits.”

VCs more like private equity firms

Not so much any more, he says. “Most VCs now act more like private equity firms,” he says. “They like later stage deals, investing in companies that have proven themselves in the markeplace and are well beyond the seed stage.”

That creates a much talked about early stage funding gap.

Why? “It’s by choice,” says Lewis. “They don’t want the risk.” He adds that it also has to do with the risk profile of their limited partners (those who invest in the venture funds). They’re taking money from institutional investors and pension funds. Those have a much different risk profile than the typical angel investors.:

Many angel investors are themselves former or current entrepreneurs who are more accustomed to risk, he notes.

The change opens the field for angel groups to step up. The syndicate that invested $3 million in Wisegate included Texas, New York, and Georgia angel groups. By investing together, the groups can structure larger deals the size of many Series A rounds.

Not your typical IT service firm

“That’s how Wisegate sees this,” says Lewis, “as a Series A raise. It’s interesting that a syndicate of angel networks can pull together that kind of money and fund a company at that level. ”

Wisegate, he says, “Is not your typical IT service company.” Right now it is focused on what Lewis calls “One of the biggest issues worldwide – the whole concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).” That is causing security problems for many companies.

Wisegate brings -by invitation only – IT experts together to discuss best practices, what works, what doesn’t, which tools are effective, which not, and so on, to provide clients with IT advice from people in the know.

For more about Jamie Lewis, see “Be What You Aspire to Be.” In it, an interview about commitment, determination, and passion in business and life, he quotes Randolph Bourne who said, “He who mounts a wild elephant, goes where the elephant goes.”

Atlanta Technology Angels expanding reach beyond Georgia

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The Atlanta Technology Angels has invested in a company outside of Georgia for the first time. The move signals that the Angel investor group is opening up to investing with other angel groups and venture capitalists in firms across the Southeast.Atlanta Technology Angels

“We’d like to get the word out that the ATA is looking at investment opportunties outside of Atlanta,” Jenn Pratt, who handles PR for the group with Carabiner Communications, said.

The ATA joined Cowtown Angel Network and Central Texas Angel Network and Golden Seeds in a $3 million investment in Austin-based Wisegate,an innovative IT research service founded in 2011.

Here at the TechJournal, we’ve noticed that a number of Angel groups are forming syndicates with other angel groups and early-stage venture capital firms to do somewhat larger than usual deals.

Using a crowdsourcing model

Through its service qualified senior technology professionals share information without the bias of analysts, vendors, media or advertisers.

Using a crowdsourcing model and advanced algorithms, Wisegate gives technology professionals trusted, timely, relevant and affordable access to the   collective knowledge and experience of their peers.

Wisegate membership is available to senior IT professionals working for companies that do not sell IT products or services, and all applicants are screened to ensure they meet strict membership guidelines.

 

Top ten cities for new college grads named

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Raleigh is number six on the list of the top ten cities for new college grads from Apartments.com.

Raleigh is number six on the list of the top ten cities for new college grads from Apartments.com.

College graduates from across the country have more in common than that shiny new diploma and the class of ’13 distinction. No matter where they received their degree, they all face the same life-changing decision: where to work and where to live.

 While the national unemployment rate is moving down, competition for jobs is still stiff, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics citing 11.7 million unemployed persons (April 2013) and a mere 3.8 million available jobs (March 2013).

With apartment rents increasing each year and the continuing challenges of a slower economy, it is becoming more important for recent grads to explore the possibility of starting their professional lives in a city that offers the best overall opportunity for employment, career success, living affordability and an energetic, youthful culture.

Making the decision easier

For the sixth year, Apartments.com has complied the “Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” to help make this big decision a little easier.

“When starting the search process, it can be tempting to focus on just the biggest cities,” said Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager for Apartments.com. “In fact, many other ‘best of’ lists tend to be heavily weighted toward the country’s largest markets, which obviously offer a lot of career opportunities.

However, it is important to carefully consider all aspects that a city, even a smaller market, has to offer before deciding where to settle down.”

Personally, we’d look at how these cities and the states they are in treat the “creative class,” and their support for education, and recreation, as well, for instance.

Kotula added that the first step should be to identify cities that offer affordability alongside professional opportunity. Hand-in-hand with this qualification is to try and determine if the city’s demographics line up with those of a recent college graduate.

“If you are single and in your early to mid-20s, chances are the lifestyle in a city with a similar demographic profile will be more appealing than it would if you were striking out on your own in a market that is heavily skewed toward married households with a higher median population age,” continues Kotula.

The sixth annual Apartments.com “Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list is a resource designed to help identify the best places in the country for new graduates to begin this chapter of their lives, taking into account employment opportunities, salary, rent for a one bedroom apartment and the city’s median age and percentage of male and female only households, as an indicator of the youthful singles’ scene.

The Apartments.com 2013 “Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list, along with the average rent for a one bedroom apartment, includes: 

Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates Average Rent for 1 Bedroom Apartment
1.        Phoenix, AZ $ 708
2.        Orlando, FL $ 857
3.        San Antonio, TX $ 794
4.        Columbus, OH $ 634
5.        Austin, TX $ 1,006
6.        Raleigh, NC $ 788
7.        Oklahoma City, OK $ 722
8.        Fort Worth, TX $ 795
9.        Dallas, TX $ 983
10.     Minneapolis, MN $ 1,177

The Apartments.com “Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list distinguishes itself from other “best of” lists through its comprehensive view of what qualifies a city to be considered.

“Over the past six years that Apartments.com has been culling this list, we have adapted to economic changes and have adjusted our methodology accordingly,” states Dick Burke, senior vice president and general manager, Apartments.com. “This way we are evaluating what is most meaningful to recent graduates in the context of the bigger picture in unemployment, affordability and other key factors.”

Affordability, unemployment considered

This year’s list took into account affordability vs. just median income, which gave advantage to cities where the average rent for a one bedroom apartment falls within the recommended 25% of gross median income. In addition, unemployment was a major factor in determining this sixth annual list. Cities with unemployment above 7% were eliminated.

Burke adds, “We believe that a low unemployment rate contributes to a vibrant community with more job opportunity across the board, which is good not only for entry level positions, but also as an indicator of potential as a person moves through his or her career.”

In addition, this year’s list takes into account demographics. Added weight was given to cities with the highest percentage of population between 25-29 years of age and men-and-women-only households, as an indicator of the youthfulness and singles scene in each market.

In addition, cities with significantly low or high median age for population were eliminated. Kotula comments, “This helped steer our list away from all college towns, which is reflected by a low median population age, as well as cities that skew more middle to retirement age population-wise.”

MicroVentures investors pump $16M into seed stage startups

Friday, May 17th, 2013

MicroventuresSan Francisco, CA and Austin-TX-based MicroVentures, the only combined equity crowdfunding platform and broker-dealer in the US, announced says that accredited investors on their platform have invested $16 million in startups.

With investments in 34 companies, MicroVentures has now invested more with legal, accredited investors than any other equity based crowdfunding platform.

MicroVentures employs a crowd-sourcing process that enables the power of the crowd to decide which startups will receive investments in an effort to provide a higher probability of successful outcomes. Further, MicroVentures has a dedicated due diligence team that screens out companies that may have potential growth inhibiting challenges.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of MicroVentures, said, “As we patiently wait for the SEC to enact rules around the JOBS Act, we are utilizing traditional securities laws to connect startups with great investors. This is only possible as a result of our being one of the only registered broker dealer in the space. This is the first time ever that accredited investors have had the ability to invest alongside VC’s without taking major stakes and ending up with similarly diversified portfolios. However, we may find that the crowd does an even better job at picking winners.”

He added, “We’ve reached a milestone that proves that our platform doesn’t just ‘work’ — but that there is significant demand from smaller investors to take part in this asset class.”

Invests in seed stage startups

MicroVentures’ platform invests primarily in seed stage startups, but will participate in follow on rounds alongside the VCs throughout the life of a company.

For example, visual book publishing platform Graphicly (www.graphicly.com) and rich media advertisement platform Republic Project (www.republicproject.com) have both received multiple investments from MicroVentures as they have continued to gain traction and required additional capital to accelerate their growth.

Other investments include SupplyHog (www.supplyhog.com), a Tennessee-based company that operates a platform that streamlines the process for buying building supplies and material online, along with Kickfolio (www.kickfolio.com), the first foreign management team, who have created a platform that enables developers to run iOS app demos in a standard web browser.

“Our platform has created the opportunity for our investors to invest in everything from seed stage startups to huge companies such as Twitter and Facebook through secondary transactions. We’re giving investors the chance to participate and the transparency to make decisions in a way they have traditionally never been able to,” said Sullivan.

Top ten cities for private tech M&A ranked

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Washington DC

Washington, DC made this years list of the top ten cities for private tech M&A at number 7.

PrivCo has released rankings of the Top U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A, based on the number of private tech companies acquired in 2012.

PrivCo has provided its Exclusive Top 10 Ranking below, with Silicon Valley ranking as the #1 metro area with 226 private tech company acquisitions in 2012.

Ranked just behind it were New York (Ranked #2) & Boston (Ranked #3).

San Diego, Research Triangle miss top ten

Interestingly, up-and-coming tech hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are challenging traditional leaders like Raleigh-Durham’s “research triangle” and biotech hub San Diego, who missed this year’s Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A.

Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A in 2012

(Ranked By Total Number of U.S. Private Tech Companies Acquired in Each Metro Area)

1. Silicon Valley
2. New York
3. Boston
4. Los Angeles
5. Seattle
6. Austin
7. Washington, D.C. (Arlington)
8. Atlanta
9. Dallas
10. Houston

To access PrivCo’s 350 page 2012 Private Tech M&A Industry Report:

http://www.privco.com/products/2012-m-and-a-industry-overview-technology-sector-volume-I

AI game bots pass Turing test at University of Texas

Monday, October 1st, 2012
The UT^2 faces off against an opponent in the BotPrize.

The UT^2 faces off against an opponent in the BotPrize.

An artificially intelligent virtual gamer created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.

The competition was sponsored by 2K Games and was set inside the virtual world of “Unreal Tournament 2004,” a first-person shooter video game.

“The idea is to evaluate how we can make game bots, which are nonplayer characters (NPCs) controlled by AI algorithms, appear as human as possible,” said Risto Miikkulainen, professor of computer science in the College of Natural Sciences. Miikkulainen created the bot, called the UT^2 game bot, with doctoral students Jacob Schrum and Igor Karpov.

Bots face off in tournament play

The bots face off in a tournament against one another and about an equal number of humans, with each player trying to score points by eliminating its opponents. Each player also has a “judging gun” in addition to its usual complement of weapons. That gun is used to tag opponents as human or bot.

The bot that is scored as most human-like by the human judges is named the winner. UT^2, which won a warm-up competition last month, shared the honors with MirrorBot, which was programmed by Romanian computer scientist Mihai Polceanu.

Winning bots did better than humans

The winning bots both achieved a humanness rating of 52 percent. Human players received an average humanness rating of only 40 percent. The two winning teams will split the $7,000 first prize.

The victory comes 100 years after the birth of mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, whose “Turing test” stands as one of the foundational definitions of what constitutes true machine intelligence. Turing argued that we will never be able to see inside a machine’s hypothetical consciousness, so the best measure of machine sentience is whether it can fool us into believing it is human.

“When this ‘Turing test for game bots’ competition was started, the goal was 50 percent humanness,” said Miikkulainen. “It took us five years to get there, but that level was finally reached last week, and it’s not a fluke.”

Bots mimic humans in several ways

The complex gameplay and 3-D environments of “Unreal Tournament 2004” require that bots mimic humans in a number of ways, including moving around in 3-D space, engaging in chaotic combat against multiple opponents and reasoning about the best strategy at any given point in the game. Even displays of distinctively human irrational behavior can, in some cases, be emulated.

“People tend to tenaciously pursue specific opponents without regard for optimality,” said Schrum. “When humans have a grudge, they’ll chase after an enemy even when it’s not in their interests. We can mimic that behavior.”

In order to most convincingly mimic as much of the range of human behavior as possible, the team takes a two-pronged approach.

Some behavior is modeled directly on previously observed human behavior, while the central battle behaviors are developed through a process called neuroevolution, which runs artificially intelligent neural networks through a survival-of-the-fittest gauntlet that is modeled on the biological process of evolution.

Defining “human-like” a challenge

“In the case of the BotPrize,” said Schrum, “a great deal of the challenge is in defining what ‘human-like’ is, and then setting constraints upon the neural networks so that they evolve toward that behavior.

“If we just set the goal as eliminating one’s enemies, a bot will evolve toward having perfect aim, which is not very human-like. So we impose constraints on the bot’s aim, such that rapid movements and long distances decrease accuracy.

By evolving for good performance under such behavioral constraints, the bot’s skill is optimized within human limitations, resulting in behavior that is good but still human-like.”

Miikkulainen said that methods developed for the BotPrize competition should eventually be useful not just in developing games that are more entertaining, but also in creating virtual training environments that are more realistic, and even in building robots that interact with humans in more pleasant and effective ways.

Download videos from the competition

Need tech talent? Hacker Tour connecting startups and students

Friday, August 24th, 2012

hacker tour busIt can be tough for tech start-ups to recruit engineering and science students for internships and jobs without brand recognition. The Readyforce Hacker Tour 2012 is intended to help remedy that via an eight-week national bus tour designed to connect students and startups.

The Hacker Tour includes campus career fairs, CEO/CTO speakers, meetups, coding competitions and “maybe a party or two.”

It will stop at schools across the country, many in tech hubs from the San Francisco Bay Area to The Research Triangle, NC. It will visit Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Other stops include Boston, Austin, and San Diego.

Stops on the Hacker 2012 Tour:

hackerforce tour map

Companies invited to sign-up

Readyforce invites companies interested in joining Hacker Tour 2012 to learn more and register at: www.hackertour2012.com.

Sponsors include early stage companies like Red Owl Analytics, Codeacademy and Quixey and later stage organizations like Etsy and Sonos.

It seems to be helping start-ups looking for talent.

“Partnering with ReadyForce on the Hacker Tour will expose ZestFinance to thousands more students across a much more diverse set of universities than we would be able to accomplish on our own,”  says Adam Redlich, Head of Talent Acquisition at ZestFinance.

“At Elance, we create opportunities for students to work for themselves while they build an online portfolio that gives them an edge in the competitive job market,” said Rich Pearson, Chief Marketing Officer, Elance. “We are excited to be a part of the inaugural Hacker Tour because it is a unique way to tell students about a unique job opportunity.”

“At SoundCloud, we are always looking to hear from talented and motivated individuals across all disciplines, so sponsoring Readyforce’s Hacker Tour represents a natural fit for us,” said Eric Wahlforss, CTO and co-founder, SoundCloud.

 Colleges like the program

Colleges and universities are also enthusiastic.

Corbett Morgan,  startup analyst at the Technology Commercialization & Knowledge Transfer Office, The Ohio State University, says,  “Readyforce is the progressive, soon to be widely adopted, method for students to interface with startups; the Readyforce Hacker Tour makes this opportunity tangible.”

He adds, “Telling a talented student, ‘Startups want you and your skills. They are coming to you and they want to meet YOU,’ is a powerful message and undoubtedly bridges the disconnect inherent in the outdated apply-online recruitment method.”

 

An early start is need to interest girls in science and tech

Monday, August 13th, 2012
Sally Ride

The late Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space.

Nearly 30 years after Sally Ride became the first female astronaut, not much has changed for America’s girls.

In college, young women continue to enroll in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors in far fewer numbers than boys.

Numerous studies have shown that the decline in interest and motivation to study STEM subjects begins early in life, but there are ways to help girls become more confident and interested in studying STEM subjects.

According to electrical engineer and Technigirl founder Melissa Montanez, in order to achieve these goals, it is very important to start building girls’ confidence from an early age.

Why so few?

A report by the American Association of University Women entitled “Why So Few” shows that just over 20% of entering men planned to major in physical sciences, engineering, or computer science, while only about 5% of women planned to major in those fields.

Why do girls seemingly have less interest in studying STEM subjects than boys?  Studies show that one major issue is societal stereotypes such as “girls aren’t as good at math as boys”:

If a girl believes that most people, especially those in her immediate environment, think boys are better than girls at math, that thought is going to affect her, even if she doesn’t believe it herself. (Why So Few, p.45)

In order to gain the confidence they need to succeed in math and science, a study by the Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse concluded that it is important that girls be taught that academic abilities are expandable.

Teaching this will enhance girls’ beliefs in their capabilities in math and science.

“It’s really important that we start giving girls positive messages about their capabilities in math and science as early in life as possible,” said Melissa Montanez.

“As an electrical engineer, I know how lonely it can be for women in this field.  Too many young girls and women dismiss it as a career choice early in life.”

Technigirl was founded in 2011 in Austin, TX and creates intelligent clothing for girls.  The company’s mission is to encourage girls to be proud of their intelligence and to help build their intellectual confidence from birth onward.

Salaried workers see small raises, performance pay more common

Monday, August 13th, 2012

AonIf you’re like most U.S. workers, you probably saw only small salary raises if any the last few years. But you may also be able to put more money in your paycheck by meeting performance goals.

If you’re in Denver, Austin,Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, San Diego, Houston or Kansas City, however, you may be seeing a bit more than the average raise in your paycheck in 2012..

A new survey by Aon Hewitt, the global human resources solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), reveals that salaries for U.S. workers continue to rise incrementally as concerns remain about the stability of the global economy.

However, workers have the potential to offset low base pay increases through performance-based awards.

Salaries rose 2.8 percent in 2012

According to Aon Hewitt’s survey of more than 1,300 U.S. companies, base pay increases for salaried exempt workers were 2.8 percent in 2012, up marginally from 2.7 percent in 2011. Salaries have inched upwards year-over-year since 2009 when pay increases reached an all-time low of 1.8 percent.

Pay increases are expected to rise slightly in 2013. For executives, salaried exempt and salaried nonexempt workers, Aon Hewitt projects base pay increases of 3.0 percent in 2013.

“It is unlikely that salary increases will reach pre-recession levels of 4 .0 percent or higher any time soon,” said Ken Abosch, compensation marketing, strategy and development leader at Aon Hewitt.

“Companies are more impacted by the global economy than ever before, as a result organizations continue to be conservative with their spending, but we anticipate that attitude will remain even after the economy rights itself—holding down spending on base pay is the new normal.”

Historical U.S. Salary Increases
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

 (projected)

Executive 1.4% 2.4% 2.8% 2.9% 3.0%
Salaried Exempt 1.8% 2.4% 2.7% 2.8% 3.0%
Salaried Nonexempt 1.9% 2.4% 2.8% 2.7% 3.0%
Nonunion Hourly 2.0% 2.4% 2.7% 2.7% 2.9%
Union 2.2% 2.5% 2.6% 2.5% 2.6%

Performance-Based Awards
According to Aon Hewitt’s report, employers continue to offer variable pay, or performance-based awards that must be re-earned each year, as a primary way to drive performance and increase engagement while minimizing their fixed costs. In 2012, 90 percent of companies offered at least one variable pay program, in line with 2011.

Variable pay spending continues to rise

Overall spending on variable pay as a percentage of payroll continues to rise steadily for salaried exempt workers. In 2012, companies spent 12.0 percent on variable pay, compared to 11.6 percent in 2011. Spending is expected to rise slightly to 12.1 percent in 2013.

Nonunion hourly workers saw the biggest jump in variable pay in 2012. As a percentage of payroll, employers spent 6.0 percent on variable pay rewards for nonunion hourly workers in 2012, compared to 5.2 percent in 2011. However, spending is expected to fall slightly to 5.6 percent in 2013 for this group.

“Organizations are being more strategic with the limited compensation dollars they have to spend,” explained Abosch. “They are spending less on base pay increases for all workers, and instead, are rewarding high performing workers with larger performance-based awards. This allows them to better control spending, while still providing incentives for their best employees.”  

Historical U.S. Variable Pay Increases
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

(projected)

Salaried Exempt 12.0% 11.3% 11.6%

 

12.0% 12.1%
Salaried Nonexempt 6.5% 6.0% 6.3 6.2% 6.0%
Nonunion Hourly 5.8% 5.3% 5.2 6.0% 5.6%
Union 6.6% 4.6% 5.0 4.9% 4.5%

Salary Increases by City
According to Aon Hewitt’s survey, workers in some U.S. cities can expect to see salary increases higher than the national average in 2013.

These cities include Denver (3.6 percent); Austin,Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit and San Diego (3.4 percent); and Houston and Kansas City (3.3 percent).

Cities that can expect lower-than-average increases in 2013 include San Francisco (2.7 percent), Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul (2.8 percent).

Salary Increases by Industry
The industries that can expect to see the highest salary increases in 2013 include mining/milling (3.8 percent); computers/related products and energy (3.6 percent); and automotive/vehicle manufacturing (3.3 percent). The lowest increases are projected to be in education (2.5 percent), rubber/plastic/glass, government and health care/medical services (2.6 percent).
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1kGAD)

Atlanta, Miami startups have bright outlook despite tough economy

Monday, June 4th, 2012
Atlanta skyline

Atlanta startups are optimistic about their local economy.

Research released today by Dell and Intel reveals a bright local outlook for Atlanta and Miami startups and small businesses despite the tough broader economic environment.

The optimistic picture shows a favorable view of the local economy and local organizations supporting businesses as well as healthy expectations for growth.

“We must look past doom-and-gloom headlines and remain focused on strengthening local entrepreneurial ecosystems to support startups and small businesses.”

“The confidence of entrepreneurs gives us good reason for optimism, even while everyone worries about the national economy,” said Jonathan Ortmans, senior fellow at Kauffman Foundation and president of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“We must look past doom-and-gloom headlines and remain focused on strengthening local entrepreneurial ecosystems to support startups and small businesses.”

The release of the Dell-Intel survey findings kicks off a nine-city Small Business Think Tank tour aimed at understanding the state of small business at the local level.

Through listening and dialogue, the research and tour will examine the prospects, perceptions and priorities of startup and small business owners in Atlanta, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin over the coming months and help inform recommendations for the tools and resources they need to grow both at home, nationally and globally.

The events are hosted in collaboration with local chambers of commerce and national partners including Global Entrepreneurship Week and Startup America Partnership.

At the conclusion of the tour, Dell and Intel will publish a comprehensive report on the state of U.S. small business based on the quantitative and qualitative data gathered from the nine cities.

MIAMI AND ATLANTA SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Growth remains the focus in the face of the tough economy. Nearly all startups and small businesses plan to grow (97 percent, Miami; 91 percent, Atlanta) and say growth is important (96 percent, Miami; 91 percent, Atlanta). Despite reporting challenges of growing a small business in today’s economic environment and worries about sustaining the success of their businesses, more than half plan to grow in the near-term (53 percent, Miami; 52 percent, Atlanta).
  • Views of the outlook and support for small business generate greater optimism in the local economy. Most respondents are optimistic about their companies’ financial situations; they expect a better year (63 percent, Miami; 60 percent, Atlanta), sales outlook (74 percent, Miami; 84 percent, Atlanta) and growth opportunities (66 percent, Miami; 67 percent, Atlanta) next year. Compared with a 14.6 percent aggregate national approval rating for Congressional job performance reported by RealClearPolitics, they rate local elected officials much higher (49 percent, Miami, 64 percent, Atlanta).
  • Limited hiring shifts the focus to technology as a growth driver, but the priority placed on talent suggests hiring on the horizon. Nearly half of small businesses stayed the same size over the past three years (44 percent, Miami; 45 percent, Atlanta), most are neither hiring nor firing (73 percent, Miami; 71 percent, Atlanta), and in the face of limited hiring, more than half expect growth will come by investing in technology (50 percent, Miami; 57 percent, Atlanta).

“We know small businesses are doing more with less and employing technology to be more productive, and this enables them to grow their businesses profitably,” said Mel Parker, vice president and general manager of Consumer, Small Office and Member Loyalty at Dell.

“The growth technology fuels promises to improve future hiring, especially since technology-savvy small businesses create more jobs than their counterparts.”

DC the strongest local economy, Des Moines, Seattle, Nashville follow

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Capitol building

DC is number one on the Norton list of the riskiest online U.S. cities.

For the second year in a row, the Washington DC metropolitan area ranked as the strongest local economy in the United States in POLICOM’s annual “economic strength” rankings. With an expanding federal government as its economic anchor, the metropolitan area has been virtually immune to the national recession.

The Des Moines, IA metropolitan area placed 2nd in the rankings driven by the expansion of the Finance and Insurance sector.

POLICOM annually ranks the 366 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and 576 Micropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States for “economic strength” to enable POLICOM to study the characteristics of strong and weak economies in the country.

For the economic strength rankings for all areas, go to http://www.policom.com.

Concord, the capital of New Hampshire, is top among the 576 “Micropolitan” areas. Micropolitan areas are smaller economies and do not have a city with a population greater than 50,000 people.

The Huntsville, AL MSA improved significantly, jumping from 52nd to 16th place as a result of rapid growth in the high-wage Professional and Scientific Services sector.

“The top-rated areas have had rapid, consistent growth in both size and quality for an extended period of time,” William H. Fruth, President of POLICOM. POLICOM, located in Palm City, FL, specializes in analyzing local and state economies.

“The rankings do not reflect the latest ‘hotspot’ or boom town, but the areas which have the best economic foundation,” Fruth continued.

The study measures 23 different economic factors over a 20-year period to create the rankings. The formulas determine how an economy has behaved over an extended period of time. Data stretching from 1991 to 2010 was used for this study.

POLICOM has created this study each year since 1997.

The following are the 10 strongest Metropolitan and Micropolitan areas.

2012 Ten Strongest Metropolitan Areas

1 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA
2 Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
3 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
4 Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
5 Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
6 Salt Lake City, UT
7 Madison, WI
8 Kansas City, MO-KS
9 Sioux Falls, SD
10 San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

2012 Ten Strongest Micropolitan Areas

1 Concord, NH
2 Helena, MT
3 Lexington Park, MD
4 Gillette, WY
5 Sheridan, WY
6 Durango, CO
7 Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
8 Lebanon, NH-VT
9 Bozeman, MT
10 Grand Island, NE

Open Table names 100 U.S. restaurants providing best service

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

OpenTableBusiness travelers frequently need restaurants that have great food, but also good service, since they’re often on the run. If you’re looking for U.S. restaurants with top notch service, here’s some help from Open Table.

OpenTable, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN), a  provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, has disclosed the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the 100 restaurants in the United States providing the best service.

Open Table founder Chuck Templeton is among the top speakers at the Southeast Venture Conference which started this morning in Tysons Corner, VA, and runs through tomorrow.  Templeton created and defined the restaurant reservation space after founding OpenTable in 1998, after his wife spent a frustrating evening one night trying to make dinner reservations for his visiting in-laws one night in San Francisco.

OpenTable’s successful IPO in 2009 was a milestone that helped to reopen the public market for tech companies.

Awards reflect millions of opinions

These awards reflect the combined opinions of nearly 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Regionally, the honorees span 29 states and Washington, D.C. The South reinforces the notion of southern hospitality, with 22 restaurants in the region being singled out for best service. The Northeast boasts 15 winning restaurants, including 10 in New York alone.

The Pacific region accounts for 14 winners, 10 of which are in California, as does the Mid-Atlantic, with six restaurants in Virginia claiming spots. Eleven winners come from the Great Lakes Region, four of which are in the Twin Citiesarea.

The Pacific Northwest and the Southwest follow with seven honorees apiece. The Rocky Mountain States count five winners, while the Central Plains has four, three of which are in Missouri. One restaurant in Hawaii also earned a nod.

American food restaurants rack up 40 winners

Superior service can be found across a number of cuisines. Restaurants serving American food, however, account for 40 winners. French restaurants earned 25 places on the list.

Steakhouses followed with 17 spots. Seven Italian restaurants are among the winners. Other cuisines include continental, global international, Japanese, seafood, and sushi.

“The most memorable part of a meal may not be just what’s on your plate, but also, that exceptional staffer who goes the extra step to ensure an enjoyable dining experience,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s Chief Dining Officer.

“These winning restaurants understand this concept and have consciously created a culture of hospitality that is embraced by both front and back of house professionals. Whether it’s a grand gesture, such as a tour of the kitchen, or a simple one, like a warm smile from an attentive server, diners are coming away from these restaurants feeling special.”

The Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 restaurants providing the best service are generated from nearly 5 million reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between February 2011 and January 2012. All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the highest average rating in the service category.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the top 100 restaurants with the best service in the U.S. according to OpenTable diners.

The complete list may also be viewed athttp://www.opentable.com/bestservice.

2012 Diners’ Choice Award Winners for Restaurants in the U.S. with the Best Service

Acqua Restaurant & Wine Bar – White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Acquerello – San Francisco, California

Addison at The Grand Del Mar – San Diego, California

Bacchanalia – Atlanta, Georgia

Bibou – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Binkley’s Restaurant – Cave Creek, Arizona

Bistro L’Hermitage – Woodbridge, Virginia

Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York

Bluestem – Kansas City, Missouri

Bones – Atlanta, Georgia

Cafe Renaissance – Vienna, Virginia

Canlis – Seattle, Washington

Capital Grille – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Castagna – Portland, Oregon

Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Downers Grove, Illinois

Charleston – Baltimore, Maryland

Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Chez Francois – Vermilion, Ohio

Chez Nous French Restaurant – Humble, Texas

CityZen – Washington, D.C.

Congress – Austin, Texas

The Copper Door – Hayesville, North Carolina

Corbett’s Fine Dining – Louisville, Kentucky

Cyrus – Healdsburg, California

Daniel – New York, New York

Daniel-Lounge Seating – New York, New York

Del Posto – New York, New York

Dewz – Modesto, California

The Dining Room-Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina

Eleven Madison Park – New York, New York

Elizabeth on 37th – Savannah, Georgia

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant – Forestville, California

Fat Canary – Williamsburg, Virginia

Fearrington House Restaurant – Pittsboro, North Carolina

Fig Tree – Charlotte, North Carolina

Forage – Salt Lake City, Utah

Fountain Restaurant – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Frasca Food and Wine – Boulder, Colorado

The French Room – Dallas, Texas

Genoa Restaurant – Portland, Oregon

Gordon Ramsay at the London – New York, New York

The Grill-The Ritz Carlton – Naples, Florida

Grouse Mountain Grill – Avon, Colorado

Halls Chophouse – Charleston, South Carolina

Hannas Prime Steak – Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Herons – Cary, North Carolina

Highlands Bar & Grill – Birmingham, Alabama

The Hobbit – Orange, California

joan’s in the Park – St. Paul, Minnesota

Kai-Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona

Killen’s Steakhouse – Pearland, Texas

The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, California

La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, Minnesota

La Grenouille – New York, New York

La Mer at Halekulani – Honolulu, Hawaii

L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia

Le Bernardin – New York, New York

Les Nomades – Chicago, Illinois

L’Etoile Restaurant – Madison, Wisconsin

Madrona Manor – Healdsburg, California

Mahogany Prime Omaha – Omaha, Nebraska

Marcel’s – Washington, D.C.

The Melting Pot – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Menton – Boston, Massachusetts

Michael’s-South Point Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

Mitchell’s Ocean Club – Columbus, Ohio

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Portland, Oregon

New York Prime – Myrtle Beach, Florida

Niche – St. Louis, Missouri

Nicholas – Red Bank, New Jersey

o ya – Boston, Massachusetts

Opus 9 Steakhouse – Williamsburg, Virginia

Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio

The Painted Lady – Newberg, Oregon

Palace Arms at the Brown Palace – Denver, Colorado

Peninsula Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Pepper Tree Restaurant – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Per Se – New York, New York

Plume at the Jefferson Hotel – Washington, D.C.

Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse – Dallas, Texas

The Restaurant at Meadowood – Saint Helena, California

Restaurant Iris – Memphis, Tennessee

Rover’s – Seattle, Washington

Rudy & Paco’s Restaurant & Bar – Galveston, Texas

Russell’s Steaks, Chops, and More – Williamsville, New York

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Jacksonville, Florida

Saint Jacques French Cuisine – Raleigh, North Carolina

Sedgley Place – Greene, Maine

Sonoma – Princeton, Massachusetts

St. John’s Restaurant – Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Steak House at Silver Reef – Ferndale, Washington

Tony’s – St. Louis, Missouri

TRU – Chicago, Illinois

Uchi – Austin, Texas

Uchiko – Austin, Texas

Vetri – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse – Las Vegas, Nevada

Vintage Tavern – Suffolk, Virginia

White Barn Inn – Kennebunk, Maine

Woodfire Grill – Atlanta, Georgia

Diners can also read more about the Diners’ Choice Awards for the Best Service restaurants in the U.S. by visiting OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter’s “Dining Check” blog.

Are you in one of the top ten riskiest online U.S. cities?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Capitol building

DC is number one on the Norton list of the riskiest online U.S. cities.

The top ten riskiest online U.S. cities reads like a list of the top ten U.S. digital hubs, with DC, Seattle and San Francisco at the top, Boston in the middle, and Raleigh, NC just making it on the list.

Norton teamed up with independent research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces to uncover the nation’s top 10 cities1 that have the highest number of cybercrime risk factors.

The Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities in the U.S. are:

#1 – Washington, D.C.
#2 – Seattle
#3 – San Francisco
#4 – Atlanta
#5 – Boston
#6 – Denver
#7 – Minneapolis
#8 – Sacramento, Calif.
#9 – Raleigh, N.C.
#10 – Austin, Texas

Cities with the greatest risk factors do not necessarily correlate with the highest infection rates, reflecting the fact that many consumers are taking precautions to keep themselves safe.

“In our examination of the riskiest online cities, we’ve considered a number of factors that can potentially affect online safety,” said Bert Sperling, founder of Sperling’s BestPlaces and lead researcher for the analysis. “By looking at data from consumer lifestyle habits as well as cybercrime data provided by Symantec, maker of Norton products, we’re able to provide a holistic view of the various factors that put a person at potential risk.”

DC placed exceptioanlly high in all risk categories

Sperling’s BestPlaces determined the per-capita rankings by examining several consumer behaviors — from the prevalence of PCs and smartphones, to ecommerce, social networking and accessing potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, among others.

  • As the leading riskiest online city, Washington, D.C., placed exceptionally high in almost all the categories measuring potential risk, and had the second-highest reported usage of smartphones. The nation’s capital also ranked high among cybercrime data factors, including attempted malware infections and attempted Web attacks.
  • The second city on the list, Seattle, which was the riskiest online city in 2010, scored at the top in the majority of the categories surveyed, including email usage and social networking activity. Both Seattle and San Francisco (which ranked third), reported high numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots and hours spent on the Internet.
  • Residents of Atlanta and Boston, which ranked fourth and fifth respectively, share high rankings among the cybercrime data. In particular, Atlanta recorded the highest per-capita number of spamming IP addresses. Both cities’ inhabitants exhibit a tendency toward potentially risky online consumer behavior, such as online financial transactions.
  • The other cities in the top 10 include Denver, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Raleigh and Austin. According to the research, Denver and Minneapolis placed high among potentially risky factors within the cybercrime data. Sacramento, the only city that wasn’t included on the 2010 top 10 list, ranked above average across all categories, while Raleigh and Austin reported high levels of risky online behavior.

Detroit has something to brag about

“With the explosion of smartphones, tablets and laptops in recent years, and the rise of apps and social networking sites, our online and offline lives are blending together in ways that we’ve never before experienced,” said Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate.

“While there are many positive aspects as a result, this analysis highlights the potentially risky factors we face each time we go online. By taking a few simple precautions now, people can make sure they stay protected against online threats.”

Of the 50 U.S. cities examined, Detroit was once again ranked the least risky online city, returning low scores in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots, potentially risky online consumer behavior and PC expenditures. Other low-ranked cities include Tulsa and El Paso, which placed in the 48th and 49th spots, respectively.

Where the social media jobs are and what they pay (infographic)

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Where are the social media jobs and how much do they pay? The most jobs are in New York, San Jose, San Francisco, LA, Boston, DC and Baltimore, says Onward Search. They pay the most in New York, San Francisco, LA, Boston and DC.

Social media jobs initially fell into the hands of traditional marketers, but more and more it is separate job category. Onwardsearch.com not only offers advice on how to find a job in social media, it has created a series of infographics outlining the best cities for social media positions, and now a social media salary guide.

The blog also offers some solid advice to those in social media. Brian Chappell of Ignite Social Media, for instance, suggests, “Steer away from fuzzy metrics and focus on social media marketing that can move the needle.”

For more, see Onward Search feature, “Social Media Advice from Leading Marketers.

Here’s the firm’s infographic on social media salaries:

infographic social media

 

 

 

 

salary infographic

Research could lower device energy use, extend battery life

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Kathryn McKinley

Kathryn McKinley

The first systematic power profiles of microprocessors could help lower the energy consumption of both small cell phones and giant data centers, report computer science professors from The University of Texas at Austin and the Australian National University.

Their results may point the way to how companies like Google, Apple, Intel and Microsoft can make software and hardware that will lower the energy costs of very small and very large devices.

“The less power cell phones draw, the longer the battery will last,” says Kathryn McKinley, professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Austin.

“For companies like Google and Microsoft, which run these enormous data centers, there is a big incentive to find ways to be more power efficient. More and more of the money they’re spending isn’t going toward buying the hardware, but toward the power the datacenters draw.”

McKinley says that without detailed power profiles of how microprocessors function with different software and different chip architectures, companies are limited in terms of how well they can optimize for energy usage.

The study she conducted with Stephen M. Blackburn of The Australian National University and their graduate students is the first to systematically measure and analyze application power, performance, and energy on a wide variety of hardware.

This work was recently invited to appear as a Research Highlight in the Communications of the Association for Computer Machinery (CACM). It’s also been selected as one of this year’s “most significant research papers in computer architecture based on novelty and long-term impact” by the journal IEEE Micro.

Measurements no one did before

“We did some measurements that no one else had done before,” says McKinley. “We showed that different software, and different classes of software, have really different power usage.”

McKinley says that such an analysis has become necessary as both the culture and the technologies of computing have shifted over the past decade.

Energy efficiency has become a greater priority for consumers, manufacturers and governments because the shrinking of processor technology has stopped yielding exponential gains in power and performance. The result of these shifts is that hardware and software designers have to take into account tradeoffs between performance and power in a way they did not ten years ago.

“Say you want to get an application on your phone that’s GPS-based,” says McKinley, “In terms of energy, the GPS is one of the most expensive functions on your phone. A bad algorithm might ping your GPS far more than is necessary for the application to function well. If the application writer could analyze the power profile, they would be motivated to write an algorithm that pings it half as often to save energy without compromising functionality.”

McKinley believes that the future of software and hardware design is one in which power profiles become a consideration at every stage of the process.

Intel, for instance, has just released a chip with an exposed power meter, so that software developers can access some information about the power profiles of their products when run on that chip. McKinley expects that future generations of chips will expose even more fine-grained information about power usage.

Even consumers may get app energy use info

Software developers like Microsoft (where McKinley is spending the next year, while taking a leave from the university) are already using what information they have to inform their designs.

And device manufacturers are testing out different architectures for their phones or tablets that optimize for power usage.

McKinley says that even consumers may get information about how much power a given app on their smart phone is going to draw before deciding whether to install it or not.

“In the past, we optimized only for performance,” she says. “If you were picking between two software algorithms, or chips, or devices, you picked the faster one. You didn’t worry about how much power it was drawing from the wall socket. There are still many situations today—for example, if you are making software for stock market traders—where speed is going to be the only consideration. But there are a lot of other areas where you really want to consider the power usage.”

MicroVentures raises $300K to buy private shares in Facebook

Friday, October 28th, 2011

MicroVenturesAustin-based MicroVentures, an online peer-to-peer investment service that allows accredited investors to invest in deals that they might not see, says it has raised $300,000 for a fund created to buy private shares in Facebook, on a secondary market.

“In the first ten minutes of making the investment available on the MicroVentures,, investors committed $40,000 to the fund,” said Bill Clark, founder and CEO. At the end of two weeks, the fund closed with $300,000 from investors in five states. The average investment was $10,000.

Buying shares from employees and preferred stockholders of hot Internet sites on what’s known as the secondary market has gained steam in the past six months as fund managers and retail investors try to get in on the pre-public deals.

“I always try to identify promising, high-growth tech start-ups and get in early, but there are hurdles for individual investors. The peer-to-peer network at MicroVentures opens up this process,” said David Winikoff, one of the program investors. “It lets me quickly connect with other investors who share similar goals and companies with a large upside. It’s crowdfunding done right.”

The Facebook investment fund was created by MicroAngel Capital Partners, an Austin-based venture capital management company founded by Clark. MicroAngel Capital Partners opens doors for those who have never invested in a venture fund or other alternative investment products like the Facebook fund.

“As the market continues to go through its own adjustments, VCs and angles are beginning to look more closely at start-ups courting them for funding. This crowdfunding method is a viable option for start-ups, especially those that are concerned that funding might be drying up,” said Clark. “Traditionally, it takes many months for an entrepreneur to raise money from venture capitalists or angel investors, but we help cut that time down significantly.”

Information void creates risk in IT decision-making

Friday, October 21st, 2011

WisegateSenior IT professionals are experiencing an information void that is leading to increased risk in critical decision making. according to a new report from Austin-based start-up Wisegate, a social knowledge network.

Amid the growing volume of vendor sales hype and social networking noise, Wisegate’s study shows that access to the most trusted sources of information – peers who work in the same industry with similar experience – is declining.

As a result, IT management is less likely to have the information they need to make the best data security and information technology decisions for their companies.

At a time when technologies and corporate IT environments are rapidly growing in complexity, resource-strapped IT professionals are called upon to make more high-impact decisions in less time. In this high-pressure atmosphere, many senior IT leaders report that they don’t have sufficient time or adequate resources to gather all the facts they need to confidently and quickly make IT decisions.

In hundreds of hours of interviews with senior IT professionals Wisegate found that:

· 81% said they want more practical IT project and technology information
· 89% rated peers as their preferred source of most trusted IT information
· 81 % said trusted feedback from senior IT peers would help reduce risk in IT
decisions

Wisegate’s research found that IT decision makers commonly expressed a higher level of trust in their peers because they are not influenced by vendors, they have practical knowledge through experience and are usually able to provide a superior level of detailed IT information that includes the full story – both good and bad – about their experiences. The research also found, however, that despite the preference for peer feedback, meaningful peer relationships are on the decline.

Wisegate is an invitation-only community where senior IT professionals meet in a private environment to exchange knowledge and solve problems with their peers. By enforcing strict membership guidelines, which exclude vendors from joining, Wisegate is able to provide members with unmatched access to senior-level IT professionals and quality content.

For example, Kristin Knight, senior privacy director for Phillips Electronics North America, says the big-picture advice she got from Wisegate peers on data loss prevention equipment helped her to shape a successful Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) program. Although she was asking about a specific technology, the advice she got from other members brought up some red flags in her overall approach and steered her in a different direction.

Request a copy of Wisegate’s report titled “Reducing Risk in IT Decisions.”

High tech job growth is 4 times national average

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Jones Lang LaSalleThe combination of consumers’ unquenched demand for new technology and businesses’ application of new technologies, such as cloud computing, to gain efficiencies has given the high tech industry a job growth rate nearly four times faster than the national average since the employment trough was reached inFebruary 2010 (5.1 percent vs. 1.4 percent).

Additionally, rising venture capital and initial public offering (IPO) activity is fueling key rapid evolution and growth segments of the high-tech industry.

The services sector, which excludes manufacturing components of the high-tech industry, has the greatest direct impact on office space demand and is growing even faster at 5.9 percent, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s high tech report that tracks 18 U.S. markets and provides an overview of the impact high-tech growth is having on office space supply, demand and pricing conditions.

High-Tech Report Highlights

  • The high-tech growth cycle appears to be in the early stages with plenty of running room ahead for more hiring. Data indicates that this cycle is markedly different from the tech boom of the late 1990s.
  • Of the more than 500,000 office-using jobs created nationally since February 2010, 127,000 jobs or 25 percent were in high-tech services illustrating the high-tech sector’s rapid growth rate.
  • High-tech has accounted for 50 percent of total venture capital funding over the past four quarters.  Biotechnology and medical devices combined comprise 25 percent.
  • A national office market recovery is underway with established high-tech clusters substantially outperforming other areas of the office sector by recording strong rent growth, the highest net absorption levels and diminished space availabilities.

“Consumer demand for gadgets, apps and new forms of media, coupled with businesses’ technological needs, are what’s driving high-tech employment,” said Colin Yasukochi, San Francisco-based Director of Research for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Northwest Region.

“Employment in the high-tech sector is a bright spot in an otherwise gray economic picture. While not strong enough to uplift the entire national economy, high-tech strength is impacting office markets across the country with San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Baltimore experiencing the strongest growth.”

Rising venture capital

High-tech has accounted for 50 percent of total venture capital funding over the past four quarters with biotechnology and medical devices combined comprising 25 percent. Of the high-tech funding, Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area total) dominated venture capital funding at nearly 40 percent with New England taking 12 percent and New York nearly 9 percent.

Silicon Valley’s market share over the same four quarters in 2000 – the funding peak – grew by almost 8 percentage points, while most other areas remained stable or shrank.

The high-tech growth cycle is in the early stages and differs greatly from the boom of the 1990s. This time around, venture capitalists are much more cautious, funding has been more contained and the types of companies receiving funding are more viable.

Additionally, a gauge of high-tech industry strength is near its past highs, but stock valuations have declined and remain near past lows. This suggests earnings are supporting business operations and stock prices are not overvalued.

“Because venture capitalists are putting a dominant amount of money into the mobile, search, social media and cloud computing sectors of the high-tech industry we are naturally going to see increased job creation in these sectors and in the geographies where these firms reside,” said Yasukochi.

High-tech employment vs. office-using employment

Office-using employment sectors comprise 20.9 percent of total employment in the U.S., while high-tech services makes up just 1.7 percent. Nonetheless, high-tech services jobs increased by 5.9 percent from the trough, while office-using sectors increased by 1.9 percent. Though traditional office users are greater in number, high-tech office users are increasing at three times the pace, and this growth is more concentrated in specific markets thus driving office demand to a greater degree in those places.

High-tech, healthcare services and energy-related employment are the strongest sectors in the U.S. economy, which overall has struggled to regain momentum especially in recent months.

Unemployment remains high at 9.1 percent nationally as of August; however, there are bright spots in the overall employment landscape with all three of the aforementioned sectors surpassing their peak employment levels reached prior to the start of the recession, and are still adding jobs.

These three sectors account for nearly 650,000 or 35 percent of the 1.8 million jobs added since the employment trough in February 2010.  High-tech employment has surged growing its job base by 5.1 percent (5.9 percent for services and 3.6 percent for manufacturing), surpassing growth of any other sector on a percentage basis.

High-tech geographic clusters benefit

Geographies with clusters of high-tech growth are experiencing dramatic impacts on office space demand and local market conditions. The national office market recovery is underway with established high-tech clusters largely outperforming other clusters and recording strong rent growth, high net absorption and diminished space availabilities.

Strongest markets nationally

San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York and Baltimore are the strongest markets on Jones Lang LaSalle’s high-tech industry economic cycle clock. San Francisco, San Francisco Peninsula, New York, Pittsburgh and Austin are achieving the top rent growth nationwide.

Markets with growing high-tech cluster strength and that are positioned for rising rents and demand over the next 12 months include Boston, Seattle, Portland, Raleigh-Durham and San Diego. Many of these markets are becoming landlord-favorable with more moving in that direction.

“High-tech innovations and a shift in workforce dynamics are changing the way companies view and use office space,” saidPeter Miscovich, Managing Director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Corporate Solutions group.  “As these trends become more impactful, property owners will need to employ their own forward-looking strategies to remain relevant.”

High-tech tenants such as Facebook, Google and Zynga typically seek creative space with open work spaces, exposed ceilings and brick surfaces. Landlords are increasingly adapting and reconfiguring office space to meet these demands.

“The old rule for planning corporate real estate was that 80 percent of the space was allotted to individuals who worked in their assigned offices and 20 percent of space was collaborative, but high-tech firms were the first to pioneer the concept of more open space,” said Miscovich. “Today, 60 to 80 percent is collaborative and interactive space, and 20 to 40 percent is individual, but not territorial.”

As a result, the average amount of space allotted per employee has dropped from about 400 square feet in 1985 to 250 today. Another 100 square feet per employee is expected to drop away in the near future.

 

Funded: Charlotte’s Adaptivity; Austin’s Whaleshark; LA’s BetterWorks; FirstRain, Twitter

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Whale Shark MediaWe’re seeing an uptick in venture funding rounds for Internet-centric companies in the third quarter, although it’s still too early to tell if it will continue in the face of an economy still in the doldrums. Investors are still looking favorably on deal-focused startups, with Google Ventures taking a stake in WhaleShark, and angels backing Choozon, which was started by former Yahoo execs.

WhaleShark Media, Inc., a marketplace for coupons and deals named Brian Sharples, CEO and co-founder of HomeAway, to the company’s board. In addition, the company announced an investment in an undisclosed amount from Google Ventures.

WhaleShark continues to demonstrate strong progress. The company’s websites worldwide, which include RetailMeNot.com in the United States, connect consumers with discounts from more than 100,000 top merchants, stores and retailers. More than 230 million visitors come to shop its sites every year.

The WhaleShark Media portfolio of coupon and deal websites includes www.RetailMeNot.com, the largest online coupon site in the United States, www.Deals.comwww.Deals2Buy.comwww.CheapStingyBargains.com, www.CouponSeven.com and www.CouponShare.com.

ChoozOn closes on $3.2M funding for deal discovery

Bellevue, WA - ChoozOn, the world’s first personalized service for deal discovery and social shopping for deals, has closed a $3.2 million Series A round of funding.

Leading this round and joining ChoozOn Corp’s Board are Michael Orsak of Worldview Technology Partners and James Brown of AVG Ventures.

Founded by former Yahoo! executives and led by a team of digital marketing experts, ChoozOn will use the resources to ramp up the development of its innovative service, which allows consumers to create customized “personal deal networks” comprising their favorite stores, brands, product categories, loyalty programs, deal clubs, daily deal services, and shopping pals. The company also revealed that, in the three months since ChoozOn’s founding was announced, over 1,000 leading brands have signed on to be “chozen” by consumers for inclusion in their personal deal networks.

FirstRain grabs $6.4M for business monitoring engine

SAN MATEO, CA.- FirstRain, the innovative Business Monitoring Engine used by global business professionals to track the critical developments impacting their business has raised $6.4 Million in new funding led by global technology venture capital firm Oak Investment Partners.

FirstRain had previously raised a total of $41 Million since FirstRain President & CEO, Penny Herscher reset the product strategy in 2006 and brought in Oak Investment Partners as the new majority owner. “This new capital will be used to help maintain our growth trajectory, grow the sales team and invest in the product development that keeps us in the forefront of the B2B digital information industry.”  www.firstrain.com

Charlotte-based Adaptivity nails half of planned $6M round

Adaptivity Inc., a computer services company, has raised $3 million of a targeted $6 million rais according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

BetterWorks nabs $8M for employee engagement tech

Los Angeles-based BetterWorks, a company focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses recognize, reward and engage employees, has raised an $8 million Series A round from Redpoint Ventures. Funding will be used for hiring, expansion and continued development of the BetterWorks Perks platform, a simple online solution for employers to create, manage and measure employee perks programs. Total raise, including an early angel-backed round, brings investments to $10 million. www.betterworks.com

Campusbookrentals.com shelves $20M 2nd round

Utah-based CampusBookRentals.com has raised $20 million in a second funding round led by Level Equity, Five Elms Capital, and Cherokee & Walker. The company serves college students on more than 5,600 U.S. campuses and also buys back textbooks.

Twitter gets “significant” funding

DST Global has invested a “significant” but undisclosed amount of funding in Twitter. The company said on its blog that several existing investors participated.

Twitter says it will use the funds – which some online sources say is worth at least $400 million and may also include $400 million in secondary funding.

The funding, which values the company at $8 billion, reports say, would be a record for a venture round, includes backing from Russia’s DST Global, which also made a large investment in Facebook.

AT&T data crunch; Facebook offers bug bounty; Symantec names chair, fundings

Monday, August 1st, 2011

At&tAT&T says that starting Oct. 1, heavy data users may see downstream connections slow if they end up in the top 5 percent in use during any billing cycle.

The change will only affect unlimited data plan users. Data use on Wi-Fi won’t count toward the total.

The company says it is also investing in continually upgrading its network and attempting to acquire more network capacity. But AT&T says throttling heavy data users and its other efforts will not meet the data crunch challenge.

“Nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near-term challenges,” the company said in a statement, speaking of the $39 billion merger announced in March. The deal faces some opposition from Washington legislators and competitors.

Symantec names Steve Bennet chair

Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) says its board intends to elect independent board member Steve Bennett to the position of chairman. Bennett will succeed John W. Thompson, former Symantec CEO and chairman. Thompson will continue to serve the remainder of his term, but has chosen not to stand for reelection in order to pursue other business and personal interests. Bennett will assume the Chairman position effective October 25, 2011, at the conclusion of Thompson’s term and immediately following Symantec’s 2011 annual meeting of stockholders.

Facebook offers bug bounty

facebooklogoFacebook says it will pay hackers to uncover pr0blems on its website as long as they report it to Facebook’s security team first.

The company’s Web Bounty program, similar to efforts from Google and Mozilla, will pay a base rate of $500 to discover security problems such as cross site scripting flaws and will pay even more to uncover even more serious security problems.

Security researchers can sign up at Facebook’s Whitehat Hacking Portal.

Austin-Texas-based Kimbia lands $4M for online fundraising tech

Kimbia Inc.it raised more than $4 million in a Series 2 round of funding led by S3 Ventures to expand industry adoption of its Web-based fundraising and event management software. Kimbia’s innovative platform is designed to power the next generation of online fundraisers, event organizers and social advocates. Kimbia donation and registration forms are fully customizable through a Web-based control panel and are deployable anywhere on the Web via fully-secure form widgets — effectively allowing any Web page, blog or mobile device to accept credit card donations and/or registration fees.

Nashville-based EDO Interactive grabs $20M funding

EDO Interactive, which sells a digital deals and incentives platform, has reaise $20 million in a B round led by Baird Venture Partners and VantagePoint Capital Partners.

Hearsay Social raises $18M to connect local branches and reps

Hearsay Social, a San Francisco-based firm selling social media SaaS solutions for local branches and representatives of brands, raise $18 million from New Enterprise Associates with participation by existing investor Sequoia Capital.

BigCommerce nabs $12.6M for ecommerce software

BigCommerce, based in Austin, Texas, which sells ecommerce software for SME’s, has raised $12.6 million in a B round led by Madrone Capital. Sigma Partners participated in the round.