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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Durham-based ArchiveSocial selected for Code for America Accelerator program

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Anil Chawla

Anil Chawla, founder, CEO, Archive Social..

Durham-based ArchiveSocial has been selected out of 190 national applicants to join the Code for America Accelerator, an exclusive four-month program focused on startups disrupting the state of technology in the public sector.

ArchiveSocial CEO Anil Chawla tells the TechJournal, “We receive an equity-free $25,000 grant, get to spend a week in their San Francisco headquarters each month for four months (Aug – Nov), and receive mentoring from high-caliber folks like Tim O’Reilly and Aneesh Chopra. O’Reilly is credited with coining the term Web 2.0 and Chopra is the former White House Chief Technology Officer.

Impact government for the greater good

ArchiveSocial was founded in 2011 to provide business-grade record keeping of social media for a variety of industries, but quickly realized that there was a special opportunity to impact government for the greater good.

An example of ArchiveSocial’s commitment to disrupting the state of technology in government, the startup pioneered a first-of-its-kind interactive “Open Archive” of social media available for any citizen to access. The states of North Carolina and South Carolina were the first to launch Open Archives with the company, with other major cities and counties following suit.

Although the company will temporarily work from San Francisco for the four months of the program, it says it remains “dedicated to its roots in Durham.”

ArchiveSocial has participated in several local initiatives including Startup Stampede, Triangle Startup Factory, and NC IDEA. The company was also the first tenant of the highly-touted American Underground @Main campus in Durham, which is now home to more than 40 local startups.

“The local startup community has opened more doors for us than I can count, and I can directly credit our involvement here in the Triangle with creating this opportunity for us. We now hope to play our small part in building the bridge between Silicon Valley and the incredible talent, technology, and unique perspective that the Triangle community has to offer,” Chawla said in a statement.

ArchiveSocial enables public entities to safely and effectively utilize social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. ArchiveSocial is the industry’s first archiving technology providing 100% authentic capture of social media for compliance with state and federal records laws such as FOIA. It provides a legal safety net, and eliminates the time and effort required to respond to public records requests.

Chawla participated in TechMedia’s Startup Summit, part of the Internet Summit in Raleigh in November last year. The Startup Summit will again be part of this year’s event.

Many city/county economic development programs lack transparency

Friday, May 31st, 2013
Charlotte skyline

Charlotte, NC is one of the cities that don’t disclose enough information about economic development subsities.

Two-thirds of the economic development subsidy programs run by the nation’s largest cities and counties do not use the web to report which companies are receiving the tax breaks and other forms of financial assistance.

Among the third of programs that do practice online transparency, most do so poorly, failing to disclose the dollar value of the subsidies. An even smaller number reveal key outcomes such as how many jobs were created.

These are the central findings of a report released today by Good Jobs First, a Washington, DC-based non-profit research center on economic development accountability. The report, Show Us the Local Subsidies, is available at www.goodjobsfirst.org/localsubsidies.

Here at the TechJournal, we’ve seen several reports questioning the effectiveness of many of these subsidy driven economic development programs, as well. They often fail to produce promised jobs.

Poor state of transparency

“While a handful of cities enable taxpayers to see the costs and benefits of every deal, we were disappointed by the poor state of transparency in most major localities,” said Leigh McIlvaine , a research analyst at Good Jobs First and principal author of the report. “Taxpayers in those cities and counties deserve better.”

The report is part of an ongoing effort by Good Jobs First to track and promote online transparency of subsidies. “Most major localities are far behind state governments when it comes to job-subsidy transparency,” said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy . “We hope our new report will inspire them to improve their disclosure practices.”

Show Us the Local Subsidies looks at transparency in the country’s 25 most populous cities and 25 most populous counties. Thirty-six of those localities have locally-controlled subsidy programs. One or two major programs in each were graded for a total universe of 64.

Key findings:

  • Among those 64 programs, only 21 (in 16 jurisdictions) report recipient company names online.
  • Among those programs that do disclose, costs and benefits are mostly still missing. Only 10 of the 21 programs report the dollar value of the subsidies initially awarded, and only 6 report actual disbursements. Only 4 programs report jobs actually created, and only 9 report other outcomes such as wages.
  • The best disclosure practices are in: Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee; New York City; Austin, Texas; and Chicago.
  • Among the 20 large localities still failing to disclose are Broward County (Florida), Charlotte, Cook County (Illinois), Dallas, Harris County (Texas), Los Angeles (both city and county), Miami-Dade County (Florida), Philadelphia, and San Francisco

That pretty much spans the country. We suspect that one reason for a lack of transparency is that the programs have questionable success.

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.

SJF Ventures triples size of previous fund

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

SJF VenturesSJF Ventures, which has offices in Durham, NC as well as in New York and San Francisco, conducted the final closing on its third fund with more than $90MM in capital commitments, tripling the size of the previous $28MM second fund.

The target for SJF Ventures III was $75MM and the fund was substantially oversubscribed at its final April closing.   “We are honored that so many investors choose to join our partnership,” said David Kirkpatrick, SJF Managing Director and Co-Founder.

“We are particularly excited that a wide variety of bank, insurance, foundation, family office, pension, mutual fund, and individual investors have recognized that SJF’s impact investing strategy can yield above market financial and mission results.”   SJF’s current, second fund is performing in the top quartile all US venture capital funds of its vintage year.

Invests in high growth companies

SJF Ventures invests in high growth, positive impact companies seeking expansion capital rounds of $1 million to $10 million.

SJF has invested in 36 portfolio companies over the last decade.   “We realize SJF’s success is due to the exceptional results achieved by our portfolio companies such as Aseptia, BioSurplus, CleanScapes, Community Energy, eRecyclingCorps, Fieldview, Optoro, MediaMath, MedPage Today, and ServiceChannel,” said David Griest, SJF Managing Director.   “We are eager to find the next set of great entrepreneurs for our third fund.”

SJF Ventures has a team of six senior investment professionals, based in offices in Durham, NC, New York and San Francisco, and invests nationwide. SJF has particular expertise and focus on the asset recovery, recycling & reverse logistics, energy & resource efficiency, intelligent infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and food, education, health and wellness sectors.

 

Top 10 markets and occupations for IT workers

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Monster.comA “Recruiting for IT Talent” survey of U.S. companies conducted by Monster, the worldwide leader in successfully connecting people to job opportunities and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: MWW), revealed a large majority of employers who hire for IT professionals are likely to hire in the next 60 days.

Their hiring activity is primarily driven by staff increases (60%) and company expansion (45%).

Employers of all sizes are focused on IT roles that support aligning business and technology goals with primary hiring needs; this includes application development (72%), database analysis and development (58%), web design/development (57%), networking (56%), and business intelligence/analytics (55%).

IT demand remains stable

“The demand for IT expertise remains relatively stable with employers confident that they will look to fill these types of roles in the near-term,” said Jeffrey Quinn, Vice President of Monster’s Global Insights. “Meanwhile, on the job seeker side, the IT jobs viewed on Monster see millions of views each month, indicating high interest by, if not volume of potential candidates seeking employment in this field.”

While the survey revealed nearly one-half (49%) of employers were confident in their ability to find the talent they need for all these roles, some hiring challenges remain, including:

  • A skills gap, with 70% of employers reporting the number of qualified candidates available to fill all the opportunities as smaller than the total opportunities, creating increased competition for talent;
  • Specialized requirements, with 52% of employers reporting many of these technical roles are increasingly defined by highly specific skills further limiting the number of qualified candidates;
  • An inability to attract talent due to compensation. 52% of employers report they are unable to compete on salary alone.

More than one-half (53%) of employers responded that there are fewer IT Professionals searching for jobs in the U.S. And, nearly half of employers (48%) believe IT jobs continue to be outsourced to other countries, a contributing factor to a shrinking number of U.S.-based IT jobs to be available.

For those who may be seeking employment in the IT fields, it’s important to note that the majority of employers (92%) feel that careers in IT are promising and rewarding.

Additionally these companies believe academic training is not enough (40%) while certifications provide an advantage (85%). Employers also report that qualifications beyond technical skills that are critical to the assessment of IT talent include: communication skills, personality/cultural fit, type of work experience and interpersonal skills.

Here are the top occupations and markets for IT jobs by volume1:

Top 10 Occupations:

1. Software Developers, Applications
2. Web Developers
3. Computer Systems Analysts
4. Network and Computer Systems Administrators
5. Computer User Support Specialists
6. Information Technology Project Managers
7. Computer Programmers
8. Software Quality Assurance Engineers and Testers
9. Computer Systems Engineers/Architects
10. Database Administrators

Top 10 Markets for IT:

1. New York
2. Washington DC
3. Boston
4. Los Angeles
5. Dallas-Fort Worth
6. Chicago
7. Atlanta
8. San Francisco
9. San Jose
10. Philadelphia

For a copy of the full report, visit the Monster Resource Center.

Crowdtilt nabs $12M for group funding platform

Friday, April 19th, 2013

CrowdtiltHere’s yet another way to raise money via the crowdfunding meme.

Crowdtilt , the simple-to-use platform to pool money online,has closed a$12 million Series A funding. Launched in February 2012, San Francisco-based Crowdtilt is a simple way for groups to pool money online.

The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Sean Parker, SV Angel, DCM, as well as CrunchFund, Alexis Ohanian, Elad Gil, Naval Ravikant, Sam Altman, Matt Mullenweg, Dave Morin and Justin Kan. Also joining Crowdtilt’s board of directors is Jeff Jordan, partner at Andreessen Horowitz and former CEO of OpenTable.

The investment will support the explosive growth of the company, while further improving the product and user experience.

Fantasy football to community fund-raisers

Crowdtilt is being used for everything from collecting money for a fantasy football league among friends, all the way to an entire community rallying together to save their iconic toy store from closure.

Crowdtilt’s API, currently in closed beta, also allows anyone to create their own crowdfunding application, such as group payments, pre-sales commerce options, complete standalone crowdfunding applications or even social fundraising sites.

“Manual processes for coordinating payments across groups is inefficient and increasingly obsolete. Crowdtilt has built a highly efficient platform that is being used by all kinds of groups for all kinds of use cases — buying movie or concert tickets, collaborating on gift or travel spending, even funding school programs or public works projects. It is a robust collaborative payments platform for an increasingly collaborative web,” said Jeff Jordan, partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

 

Mobile ad secret sauce: capture moments of achievement

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

By Allan Maurer

Brian Wong

Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip, is participating in the Atlanta Digital Summit May 14-15.

On a long flight to Asia some time ago, Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip, one of the top four online ad companies according to Forbes, noticed that as he walked down the jet’s aisle, everyone was playing games on smartphones. What an opportunity for advertisers, Wong thought.

“But it’s terrible the way it played out,” Wong, the youngest person who ever received venture funding according to the Wall Street Journal, said. Many mobile apps and services, for instance, let users pay to have advertising removed.

“I feel bad for the hundreds of thousands of people involved in a creative industry like advertising. The idea of having people pay to remove your work is depressing,” Wong says.

Say display advertising had never existed, he suggests. Then how would you engage users on smartphones and other mobile devices?

That’s what led to the philosophy of Kiip, (pronounced “keep”, which is transforming mobile advertising from “billions of moments of annoyance into billions of moments of delight,” says Wong.

Participating in the Atlanta Digital Summit

Wong  has been recognized with many awards for his accomplishments and leadership, including: the Top 20 Under 20 awards for all of Canada; Business Insider’s Top 25 Under 25 in Silicon Valley and 18 Most Important People in Mobile Advertising; Forbes’ 30 under 30; Mashable’s Top 5 Entrepreneurs to Watch; and the AdAge Creativity Top 50. Before starting Kiip, Brian led key publisher and tech partnerships at the social news website Digg.com, where he accelerated the company’s mobile presence by launching the Digg Android mobile app.

He is one of dozens of digital thought-leaders participating in the upcoming Digital Summit in Atlanta, May 14-15.

San Francisco-based Kiip lets premium brands provide rewards to casual mobile gamers for in-game achievements. Their platform is designed for in-game engagement via a universal game moment: the achievement moment.

Catch those special moments

The idea is to catch the user while he or she is the most engaged, happy, and attentive. It’s the first solution to help premium brands reach the exploding casual mobile gaming market using fleeting real estate in meaningful moments. It is venture backed by Hummer Winblad, True Ventures and a group of rockstar angels.

“We work with clients to find out which moments they’d like to own,” Wong explains. A client such as Gator Aide wants fitness moments, for instance. Where are those moments? They’re when a user logs a run, checks into a gym for the fifth time, or completing a workout.

Then, Gator Aide rewards them with say a free song for their workout.

Think creatively

Kiip isn’t the only organization taking advantage of moments of achievement, Wong notes. “Facebook gifts lets you send a physical gift to a friend on a birthday or other moments of achievement and is making a lot of money making it easy,” he says.

“I don’t want to sell people hard,” Wong says.

Kiip, which is just over three years old, thinks creatively to find those special moments when a marketing ploy might be welcome instead of annoying. Just finished a run? You might be thirsty and appreciate a Gator Aide. Just looked up and bookmarked a recipe? That could be messy. You might need some Sparkle paper towels.

“Marketers burden themselves complaining about how limiting a phone’s screen size is,” Wong, now just 21, says. “They bitch and moan, it’s a tiny screen. But it’s one of the most intimate devices we own. So there are opportunities for a brand to create a close connection to the user.”

Advisor to XPCP

Just today is was announced that Wong has joined CrossPacific Capital Partners (XPCP) as Advisor. Brian will focus on advising XPCP’s investments in the areas of internet, gaming, social media, and mobile. Wong graduated from the University of British Columbia at the age of 18. In 2010 Wong became the youngest entrepreneur to ever raise Venture Capital in North America.

After initial seed contributions by a number of angel investors including XPCP Managing Partner Frank Christiaens, Wong closed a total of more than $4M for his A Round, and all this before he turned 20. Other investors in KIIP include Verizon, Hummer Winbladt, and Relay.

In 2012 KIIP did a B Round of more than $11M on the strength of its rewards platform, which reached 1 billion moments at the end of 2012. In 2013 KIIP is seeing major revenue growth as its products continue to sell exponentially.

 

U.S. cities with the most gaming early adopters (infographic)

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Mobile gameMaxPoint, a company that helps retailers and brands drive local in-store sales, has identified U.S. cities with the neighborhoods most interested in gaming.

By analyzing billions of in-store purchases and online data points, MaxPoint identified two distinct groups of gamers: early adopters, or those looking for the latest gaming technology, and latecomers, or gamers who prefer time-tested technologies.

According to the NPD Group, retail sales of gaming hardware, software and accessories totaled $13.26 billion in 2012. As the industry continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for advertisers to know where to find gamers and what motivates them to buy.

MaxPoint’s proprietary interest data indicates that these groups approach gaming-related products from different perspectives and have different needs in the purchase cycle.

Here’s an infographic detailing the findings:

 

What should you wear to an IT job interview?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Robert HalfEven in the IT field, you have to dress for success – especially when applying for a job. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) want to hire IT professionals who are “well suited” for the job — both literally and figuratively.

According to a new Robert Half Technology survey, nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs said a business suit is the most appropriate attire for someone interviewing for an IT position.

Thirty-four percent of respondents favored khakis and a collared shirt.

Geography can influence interview attire expectations, the survey revealed: Respondents in Philadelphia and Denver were among the cities with the most traditional tastes, with58 percent and 51 percent, respectively, citing business suits as the outfit of choice for IT job candidates.

CIOs in Raleigh, N.C., and San Francisco were less formal in their expectations, with only 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively, preferring formal interview attire.

The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 2,300 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, “Which of the following, in your opinion, is the most appropriate interview attire for someone interviewing for an IT job with your company?” Their responses:   

Formal business suit 46%
Khakis and a collared shirt 34%
Tailored separates (for example, a skirt and blouse) 14%
Jeans and a polo shirt 4%
Something else/don’t know 2%
100%

“Even in casual IT departments, hiring managers want to know that a job candidate has made an effort to look polished and professional,” said John Reed , senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “When in doubt, it’s better to err on the conservative side than risk appearing overly casual.”

Reed added that networking before the interview can help job candidates get a sense of how to dress when meeting with a hiring manager. “Candidates should consult an insider at the firm, a recruiter or an HR representative for information about the corporate culture and how people tend to dress.”

Robert Half Technology offers these additional interview attire tips:

  • Choose something comfortable. You want to look as relaxed as possible, so avoid uncomfortable clothing. If you purchase new interview attire, wear it a few times to break it in before your meeting.
  • Pay attention to details. Don’t overlook the less obvious aspects of your appearance, like your shoes, socks and accessories. Make sure your outfit is free of wrinkles and stains, your hair and nails are well groomed, and your shoes are polished.
  • Don’t overdo it. Ultimately, you want your experience and skills to be the focus of the interview — not your outfit. Avoid any distracting clothing or jewelry, as well as excessive perfume, cologne or makeup.
  • Turn off electronic “accessories.” Make sure any mobile device you have with you is off before the meeting.
  • Dress the part for a video interview. Even if your interview is via webcam, you want to look the part. Make sure you dress appropriately from head to toe and the background is free of distractions.

Is your city mobile-savvy? Houston tops list

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Houston, TXIs your city one of the most mobile savvy in the United States? As numerous reports say up to a quarter of shoppers will use mobile devices this year, Houston has claimed the top spot for the second year in a row  on the  Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and its Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence “Mobile Shoppers” study.

Houston’s number one ranking, driven by its mobile shopping versatility and dexterity, is closely followed by Seattle-Tacoma, which catapulted to the second spot from its number ten perch in 2011, followed by San Francisco, which is new to the top ten list. Among other notable changes, Boston made its debut in the top ten, while New York and Atlanta both saw slight declines. In comparison, Los Angeles and Chicago held steady in their rankings between this year and last.

The complete “2012 IAB U.S. Mobile Shopping Savvy Cities Index” is:

1. Houston 9. Boston
2. Seattle-Tacoma 10. Philadelphia
3. San Francisco 11. Washington, D.C.
4. Los Angeles 12. Detroit
5. New York City 13. Tampa-St. Petersburg
6. Atlanta 14. Phoenix
7. Chicago 15. Minneapolis-St. Paul
8. Dallas-Ft. Worth

The rankings were determined by reviewing data about mobile usage patterns, as well as the frequency of usage among mobile-savvy shoppers across major U.S. cities. For research and survey purposes, “mobile shopping” refers both to completing purchases via a phone or tablet, as well as to using a phone or tablet to research or shop for products that are later purchased in physical retail locations or online.

“Mobile is a growing digital retail platform that provides consumers with incredibly valuable, timely and convenient information touchpoints for product research and purchasing,” said Anna Bager, vice president and general manager, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, IAB.

“Identifying mobile shoppers and delivering relevant consumer messages to them on the go, as they shop, represents a key opportunity for brand marketers.”

“Determining which cities are more receptive to mobile can be a critical component in driving successful campaigns that reach audiences in the palms of their hands,” said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director, Prosper Mobile Insights. “Whether planning for a last-minute holiday push or looking to mobile platforms for other advertising opportunities, this sort of regional intelligence can make or break a marketer’s efforts.”

Some of the other findings explored in this report include:

  • More than 80 percent of smartphone owners have accessed retailer websites or apps on their device
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans owned a smart mobile device (smartphone, tablet, or eReader) in 2012, up strongly from 57 percent in 2011
  • Nearly half of U.S. consumers say they have a QR code (barcode) reader app on their mobile device
  • Smartphone shoppers are evenly split between males and females and tend to be younger than users who are desktop-based retail shoppers
  • Over half of smartphone owners, and nearly 30 percent of tablet owners, have used their devices in a store in the past three months

To download this years “Mobile Shoppers” study, please visit www.iab.net/mobileshoppers2012.

To view the 2011 top “Mobile Shopping Savvy Cities” list, please visit www.iab.net/mobileshoppers2011.

Will Facebook disrupt search and online review sites?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

FacebookWill Facebook’s move into search disrupt the search business?

Facebook amasses a huge amount of information about people and businesses, and is looking to use what it calls “friend mining” to provide more accurate and detailed search results.

The move could  put it into direct competition with search engines such as Google, question service Quora, as well as with local search and review sites like Yelp, according to CNET.

Google

The current king of internet search engines is Google. The California-based search engine and advertising company was founded in 1998 and has grown to be the largest search engine, and one of the most visited websites on the planet. Google owns a 66.4 percent share of the search engine market in the United States, and posted a $2.79 earnings report in the second quarter of 2012.

Here at the TechJournal, we seriously doubt that Facebook search will hamper Google search. Can you imagine saying “I Facebooked it?” when you look something up online?

QUORA

Quora, founded in 2009 by two former employees of Facebook, is a site with the goal of providing answers for every question that someone may have.

People can register for the site, and then either search for the answer to a question, or post one themselves. Other users can then post answers for that question, and the members of the community can positively or negatively vote for them.

Facebook could compete with Quora due to  its already huge amount of data, and circumvent the need for live answers.

YELP

Since its beginnings in San Francisco in 2004, Yelp has grown to have more than 78 million monthly users. It has become a prime online and mobile source of information and reviews of local businesses. Users can find information on a local business, and also read or write a review of that business.

Each company is also rated between one and five. This system gives users a way to search for highly-rated businesses in their area. It can also be a source of local internet marketing, as local establishments can advertise through Yelp.

Facebook’s “friend mining” could certainly slash inroads into business reviews. People still trust word-of-mouth from their friends more than any other source of information.

A CNET article recently concluded that Facebook launching into the search engine arena could have many consequences for existing companies, consumers, and small businesses. It highlights how important online reputation can be for small businesses, as potential customers have more and more opportunities to discover information online. A foray by Facebook into searching may see Facebook attack the likes of Google, Yelp, Foursquare, and Quora head on.

Editor’s note: comments by Allan Maurer

Lumosity lights up with $31.5m for brain training, Couchsurfing nabs $15m

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

LumosityThe IPO market may not be treating consumer Internet companies such as Facebook and Groupon very well, but venture capitalists are still putting significant amounts of money in online firms.

Some of the more interesting deals we saw today include:

San Francisco-based Lumosity, which sells online brain training programs,  has raised $31.5 million in Series D financing.

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) led this round of financing, along with participation by existing investors FirstMark Capital, Harrison Metal, Menlo Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners.

In the past year, Lumosity’s membership has doubled to over 25 million members and the Lumosity mobile app has been downloaded 10 million times since launching in 2010. The mobile app has reached the #1 spot in the overall app store and is consistently the top app in the Education category.

We’ve seen conflicting reports on the effectiveness of these digital brain-training tools. We tried the Neuro-Active Brain Fitness program from Miami-based Brain Center of America. It did sharpen our attention and seemed to help reduce uncaught typos in our copy.

Some studies have cast doubt on their effectiveness, however, suggesting that what they do best is improve your performance on brain training games and not necessarily on other tasks. Some experts think that actual physical exercise, which has proven benefits for brain health, would be better than digital exercises.

 Others suggest they do work.

Lumosity’s own games are based on the latest discoveries in neuroscience, with continuing independent third-party studies being conducted by researchers at Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and other academic institutions

The company will use the funds to continue its  research into human cognitive performance, build the leading science-based learning brand, and reach hundreds of millions of users. Lumosity has received a total of over $70 million in funding to date.

 Couchsurfing rides a $15M funding wave for social travel network

CouchSurfing logoAnother San Francisco company, CouchSurfing, a social travel network,  has closed $15 million in funding from new lead investor General Catalyst Partners, with participation by Menlo Ventures and existing investors Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network.

The additional funding brings the company’s total funds raised in the past year to $22.6 million and will help expand product management and engineering teams to enable faster innovation across its mobile and online platforms.

CouchSurfing enables people from around the globe to discover each other online so they can share their cultures, hospitality and experiences offline.

Along with hosting travelers and staying with locals, there are thousands of activities hosted by more than 40,000 interest groups on CouchSurfing, including language exchanges, bicycle tours, museum visits and volunteer opportunities.

In the past year, CouchSurfing’s nearly 5 million users have shared more than 10 million face-to-face experiences. The company recently released an infographic highlighting the diversity of its users and their experiences.

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.”

Huddle nabs $24M for enterprise content collaboaration

Friday, May 25th, 2012

HuddleHuddle, the leader inenterprise content collaboration, has completed a $24 million Series C round of funding and will use the capital to bring intelligent collaboration to organizations across the globe.

With the additional funds, Huddle will drive the transformation of the enterprise content management (ECM) and social software markets and continue its rapid growth that has seen the business triple in size each year since launch.

The financing was led by Jafco Ventures, with participation from DAG Ventures and existing investors Matrix Partners and Eden Ventures. Subrah Iyar, the founder of WebEx, and experienced venture investor Herb Madan also participated in the round.

Following four quarters of record growth in 2011 and sales to enterprise customers increasing fivefold, Huddle has now raised $40 million in equity funding since the product’s launch in 2007.

Co-headquartered in London and San Francisco with customers in 180 countries worldwide, Huddle launched operations in New York City this month to better serve its major enterprise customers on the U.S. East Coast.

People in more than 100,000 organizations worldwide use Huddle to securely store, discover, share and collaborate on content in the cloud, on any device, with teams inside and outside the firewall. Huddle’s customer list includes brands such as Procter & Gamble, Saatchi & Saatchi, NASA, PwC, Rockwell Automation and 80 percent of the Fortune 500.

“In today’s knowledge economy, the most successful companies are those that make the best use of information. Yet traditional ECM systems are failing to support the new ways in which people are now sharing information and working together.

“These systems were designed for content storage, not collaboration; for servers — not for the cloud,” said Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO, Huddle.

“Huddle is revolutionizing the ECM market by making it collaborative, social, ubiquitously accessible and — above all — intelligent.”

It opens up content silos across the global enterprise ecosystem, enabling people to share, discover and work on content wherever, whenever and with whomever they need to.

According to Tom Mawhinney, General Partner at Jafco Ventures, intelligence is going to become a must-have attribute for enterprise content management software. This shift will be driven by the rapid growth in the amount of content being created and the evolution of the enterprise from a single isolated entity into a virtual ecosystem of customers, partners and suppliers.

“The intelligence in Huddle’s content collaboration software helps people and organizations discover valuable information that they never knew existed. We see intelligent features becoming as important, if not more so, than social features and we’re delighted to be supporting a company that is revolutionizing enterprise technology.”

Which cities have the most social media savvy businesses?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

FriscoTopping the list of most social small business cities in the U.S. on the just released Radius Social Small Business Report: San Francisco and Los Angeles, as West Coast cities overall ranked higher than their East Coast counterparts. New York ranked #7, while other major East Coast cities, such as Boston, and NC Research Triangle cities did not make the top 20.

Some of the other findings are surprising.

The results are the findings of the first annual Radius Social Small Business Report, which tracks SMBs in the top 85 U.S. cities and ranks them via the Radius Social Index, a score compromised of social media presence and daily deal activity.

Radius’s technology collects and monitors information from more than 15 million SMBs in the U.S. and can measure social media presence by the number of SMBs with company websites, social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter, check-ins on Foursquare and Yelp reviews.

It can also measure daily deal activity based on the number of SMBs that have issued a daily deal.

“This report shows how small business owners in large metropolitan areas are embracing social media,” said Darian Shirazi, Founder & CEO of Radius.

“With our data on small businesses, we can extract valuable insights that are not only a competitive advantage for SMBs and large enterprises, but also an economic asset for a variety of civic institutions.”

Radius’ innovative, cloud-based technology collects and monitors information from hundreds of thousands of sources via multiple channels including social, news and government sites. Radius provides the most accurate online and social data available on the SMB market.

The top 10 cities with the most socially savvy SMBs, based on the Radius Index:
City Radius Social Index Score (out of 10)
San Francisco, CA 8.84
Los Angeles, CA 7.61
Washington, DC 7.31
Seattle, WA 6.37
San Diego, CA 6.28
Chicago, IL 6.03
New York, NY 5.67
Dallas, TX 5.57
Phoenix, AZ 5.52
Tampa, FL 5.44

Other notable findings from the Social Small Business Report include:

  • Grand Rapids, MI (29%) and Oklahoma, OK (28%) have the highest percentage of SMBs with Facebook pages.
  • Metropolitan cities that serve as home to major daily deal companies such as Living Social (Washington, DC – .5%) and Groupon (Chicago, IL – .4%) have the highest percentage of SMBs that have done at least one daily deal. However, both cities are less than 1 percent.
  • Buffalo, NY (20%) and Rochester, MN (20%) have the highest percentage of SMBs with Foursquare check-ins.
  • Charleston, WV ranked last amongst the top 85 U.S. social small business cities with a score of 1.8.

 

Competition for talent creating tech-oriented sub-markets

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Jones Lang LaSalleStrong growth in high-tech sector hiring and increasing  competition between firms for talent created new  tech-oriented submarkets around the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of 2012, according toJones Lang LaSalle’s High Tech Industry Report.

“Despite high-tech’s relatively small footprint in office markets, accounting for just 8.5 percent of all jobs using office space, it has had a tremendous impact on the absorption of office space in the top five tech-oriented markets.

Additionally, the sector’s recent employment growth — roughly three times the overall U.S. employment rate – has begun to affect a growing number of other markets around the U.S. and Canada,” said Colin Yasukochi, Northwest Director of Research, Jones Lang LaSalle.

Top five markets see rent growth

Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that high tech accounts for nearly one-third of recent office market absorption nationwide.

The top five markets of Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley recorded annual rent growth across key tech-oriented submarkets between 16.8 and 57.9 percent in the first quarter.

“We’re now seeing strong evidence of the ‘high-tech effect’ spreading out beyond the five major markets as companies in the technology sector both expand their business models and engage in a vigorous battle to land new pools of talent.

This quest for more human capital is increasingly pushing firms to look outside traditional tech cities to set up new operations,” Yasukochi said.

The submarkets that saw positive annual rent growth in the period included Vancouver’s Yaletown submarket; Boulder, Colorado; downtown Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.’s East End; and the West Loop submarket of Houston, Texas.

High-tech demand for office space, which has led to rent recovery in many markets adversely affected by the financial downturn, is now spurring speculative construction activity in the office sector for the first time in more than five years.

“In markets like San Francisco, where high-tech demand is intense and tenants have been snapping up creatively configured office environments, there are very few large blocks of space available to accommodate additional growth.

With rents rising, we are now at the point where new construction — for those with access to capital to build – is now coming to the drawing board,” Yasukochi said.

Recently, a New York-based developer announced plans to build a spec office tower in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, the first such development in the city since 2006.

Mobile video firm Tango and Facebook networking app Branchout nab large rounds

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Retro video phone

Video phones popular in sci-fi and speculations about the future may finally be taking off via mobile

You can get a feel for what’s hot in the digital space from the large funding rounds two firms disclosed today.

Remember the video phones once so common in science fiction that never took-off in real life? Their mobile equivalent is doing much better.

Tango, a Palo Alto, CA-based mobile video calling service, has closed a $40 million Series C round of funding with investment that included new investors Qualcomm Incorporated, acting through its venture arm, Qualcomm Ventures, and Access Industries Inc., the industrial holding company founded by Len Blavatnik. The financing brings the company’s total funding close to $100 million.

This round also saw additional investment from members of co-founder Eric Setton’s family who have been supporters of the company since the early days. Other prominent Tango investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Michael Birch, Andy Bechtolsheim, and Bill Hambrecht.

Tango has seen record growth and usage in the last few months. The number of daily calls has doubled in the past four months and daily registrations have doubled since July 2011. In just 18 months, 45 million people have started using Tango, over 10 percent of them use Tango every day, and 44 percent are active.

BranchOut trees $25M fore Facebook professional networking app

San Francisco-based BranchOut, the largest professional networking application on Facebook, has surpassed 25 million registered users, adding more than three new registered users every second.

The continued adoption of BranchOut by global users spurred another round of funding, the company says, as it closed $25 million in Series C financing led by Mayfield Fund. Previous investors Accel, Norwest Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures also participated in the round. This financing brings BranchOut’s total funding to $49 million.

BranchOut’s 25 million registered users can leverage their network connections of more than 400 million professional profiles to help them find jobs, recruit talent, and open doors to new opportunities.

Much of BranchOut’s growth has come from its emerging mobile user base. Since adding the ability to connect with Facebook friends from its mobile application in February, 40 percent of its new users now join from mobile devices. BranchOut is now accessible via Android smartphones, Apple iOS devices, and tablets.

With an average of nearly two million new registered users joining weekly since February, BranchOut is also growing rapidly from increased international adoption. Approximately 50 percent of all new users join from countries outside of the U.S. — primarily in the U.K., Europe, Australia, Canada, and India — to utilize both their personal and professional relationships on a single network.

The Series C funding will allow BranchOut to expand its San Francisco-based team of 45 people.

Which wireless carriers have the fastest 3G-4G service?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

At&tWhich 3G and 4G wireless services are fastest in your city and overall? PCWorld found out.

Mobile internet service is a major monthly expense for most American consumers, and a very big business for U.S. wireless companies.

The marketing machines of those companies are now in high gear, touting their services as the industry transitions from 3G service to the much faster 4G. Problem is, everybody’s service is “4G”, “most reliable”, “biggest”, “fastest” and “best,” if you believe all the names and claims flying about on TV, radio, print media and the Web.

“The big surprise in this year’s study is T-Mobile’s performance”

That’s why PCWorld has once again hit the road to measure the real-world performance of the four major wireless services on America’s streets and in its coffee shops. During February and March of this year, PCWorld measured the speeds of the major U.S. carriers’ 3G and 4G wireless services from 130 locations in 13 major U.S. cities.

wireless chart

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STUDY

  • AT&T had the fastest download speeds of any 4G service, along with an HSPA+ service that’s very competitive with 3G services–a compelling service combination for AT&T dual-mode phones.
  • T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21 service proved faster overall than comparable 3G services in our study, and the carrier’s high-end HSPA+ 42 service held its own with the 4G services of its larger competitors. Those services, and the array of flexible and affordable plans it offers, make T-Mobile a good choice for many wireless users.
  • Verizon has 4G service in many more locations than other providers, but in most localities the download speed of its 4G service doesn’t match AT&T’s (though its upload speeds are faster, more often than not). And Verizon’s 3G speeds have not improved much, especially when compared to the competition.
  • Sprint is a consistent laggard in the wireless speed races. The company appears to have virtually stopped developing its network while looking for a way to transition from its outdated WiMAX 4G technology to LTE.

“The big surprise in this year’s study is T-Mobile’s performance,” says PCWorld Senior Editor Mark Sullivan, who designed and managed the study.

“By offering data speeds that are very competitive with AT&T and Verizon along with its affordable data plans, T-Mobile is proving why its proposed acquisition by AT&T last year would have been bad news for US consumers.”

“The other (rather sobering) surprise in this year’s data is Sprint’s poor performance, both in 3G and 4G service. The carrier’s speeds suggest that both the Sprint CDMA and WiMAX networks have seen very little investment and upgrade over the past year—in a mobile data market where the rule is ‘grow faster or perish.’”

“While a majority of wireless consumers still use slower 3G devices today, most will transition to faster 4G devices over the next five years as carriers push them to upgrade to newer 4G devices when their contracts expire,” Sullivan says. Meanwhile wireless companies will continue to increase their networks’ data transfer speeds to compete for new customers and retain old ones.

FASTEST 3G AND 4G SERVICES BY CITY:

Atlanta – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
Boston – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
Chicago – 3G: AT&T 4G: AT&T
Dallas – 3G: AT&T 4G: AT&T
Denver – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: Verizon
Los Angeles – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
Las Vegas – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
New Orleans – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: Verizon
New York – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
San Jose – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: Verizon
San Francisco – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T
Seattle – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: Verizon
Washington DC – 3G: T-Mobile; 4G: AT&T

“Our annual speed study is an important part of what we do at PCWorld,” explains VP, Editorial Director, Steve Fox. “Many consumers look to us for an unbiased, independent, empirical assessment of the wireless technology and services being offered in the U.S. today.”

“It’s exciting to see the data speed wars heating up as the wireless providers move from 3G to 4G technology in their networks and devices,” Fox says. “We only hope that the competition eventually translates into better performance and better value for consumers.”

Read the complete article with detailed results and data at: http://pcwrld.us/HILktj

Sharp rise in labor demand seen in monthly online advertised vacancies

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The Conference BoardOnline advertised vacancies rose 246,300 in March to 4,669,600, according toThe Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series.  The March rise is the fourth consecutive monthly rise.  The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.9 unemployed for every vacancy; however, nationally there are still 8.4 million more unemployed than advertised vacancies.

“The March sharp rise in labor demand continued to narrow the gap between the unemployed and available job opportunities,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board.

Nationally advertised vacancies are 60 percent above their levels inJune 2009, the official end of the great recession.  However, that increase has varied greatly among the States with some Midwestern States exceeding the national average, including Minnesota (+ 121%); Ohio (+ 102%); Wisconsin (+ 95%); Indiana(+ 92%); and Michigan (+86%).  Some states where the housing market tank — including Nevada (+ 21%) and New Mexico (+ 24%) — remain well below the national average while other States like Florida (+50%), where the housing market was also an issue, showed more resiliency.

REGIONAL AND STATE HIGHLIGHTS

  • In March all of the largest States except Pennsylvania post gains
  • 12 of the 20 largest States are on an upward trend in job demand

In March the South gained 74,700 advertised vacancies, with gains in all six of its largest States.  Texas was up 19,000, reflecting increases of 11%+ over the last four months for labor demand in the metro areas of Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Virginia gained 9,200 for a combined three-month gain of 14,300.  North Carolina rose 6,700 bringing its two-month increase to 8,500.  Maryland gained 5,800 for a combined two-month gain of 9,600.  Georgia was up 4,800 in March.  Florida rose 2,400.  Among the less populous States in the South, Tennessee rose 7,800, South Carolina increased by 1,600, Louisiana gained 1,200, and Arkansas gained 900.

The West gained 61,700 advertised vacancies, reflecting gains in all four of its largest States.  California had by far the largest increase, 23,300.  Over the past four months, labor demand in California was up 80,200 with gains in all of its larger metro areas, led by notable increases of 21.7 percent in San Diego and 20.6 percent in Sacramento.  Washington State gained 9,600.  Colorado rose 4,400 while Arizona gained a mere 500.  Among the less populous States in the region, Oregon rose 4,300; Nevada gained 2,600; and Utah rose 1,500.

The Midwest region gained 48,800 vacancies in March.  Ohio experienced the largest gain — 8,700 — and, at 181,900 advertised vacancies, reached its highest level since the HWOL series began in May 2005.  Minnesota rose 6,700. Missourirose 5,600 for a combined two-month gain of 8,200. Michigan gained 5,200 for a two-month gain of 6,500.  Wisconsin rose 4,700.  Illinois gained 1,600.  Among the less populous States in the Midwest, Indiana gained 5,100, Kansas rose 1,800, South Dakota gained 1,300, and North Dakota rose 600.

Labor demand in March in the Northeast  rose 23,100, which included a rise of 9,300 in New York.  New York is up 17,700 over the last four months with the New York metro area up 14.8 percent and Rochester up 12.2 percent.  New Jersey rose 7,100 while Massachusetts gained 4,900 for a combined four-month gain of 11,500.  Pennsylvania was down 1,700 in March.  Among the smaller States in the Northeast, the number of advertised vacancies in Connecticut fell by 300.  Maine rose 1,000 in March while New Hampshire gained 1,400 and Rhode Island gained 300.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in February (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stood at 2.90, indicating that there are just under 3 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 8.4 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.

The Supply/Demand rates for the states are for February 2012, the latest month available for unemployment data.  The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.88.  States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.23), Nebraska (1.28), Vermont (1.41), Alaska (1.56), Minnesota(1.60), and New Hampshire (1.68).  The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (5.97), where there are nearly 6 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Other States where there were more than 4 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy included Nevada (4.42) and Kentucky (4.13).

It should be noted that the Supply/Demand rate only provides a measure of relative tightness of the individual State labor markets and does not suggest that the occupations of the unemployed directly align with the occupations of the advertised vacancies.

METRO AREA HIGHLIGHTS

  • 19 of the 20 largest metro areas posted gains in labor demand in March
  • San Francisco up 7 percent in March.

In March, 19 of the 20 large MSAs posted increases in the number of online advertised vacancies.  Overall 47 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately also showed increases in March.

A number of the largest metro areas have shown real strength since the official end of the recession in June 2009.  Four have posted increases of over 100 percent since then: Cleveland, up 142%; Minneapolis-St. Paul, up 124%; Detroit, up 116%; andSan Jose, up 112%.

Six MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in January 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) below 2, indicating there fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy.  Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.21) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker.  Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.36),Boston (1.54), Oklahoma City (1.63), and Salt Lake City (1.67) were metropolitan locations with the next lowest Supply/Demand rates.

Metro areas where the number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies includeRiverside, CA — with over 8 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (8.23) — Sacramento (4.56), Miami (4.53), Las Vegas (4.47), Los Angeles (4.19), and Memphis (4.04).  Supply/Demand rate data are for January 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.

OCCUPATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Supply/Demand rates range widely for the 22 major occupational categories
  • Labor demand for retail sales help rises in March
  • Demand for Healthcare practitioners dipped in March but job opportunities continue to outnumber unemployed looking for jobs 

Changes for the Month of March

In March, nineteen of the 22 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately posted gains and three declined.

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Sales and Relatedworkers rose 35,900 to 596,500 and was led by an increase in demand for Retail Salespeople and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers.  The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by over 2 to 1 (S/D of 2.30) but is substantially below the slightly over four unemployed for every available advertised vacancy in April and May 2009.

Labor demand for Computer and Mathematical Science workers rose 25,800 to 620,700.  Over the past four months, labor demand has increased by 77,100.  The higher demand included increases for Computer Systems Analysts and Applications Computer Software Engineers.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by over 3 to 1 (0.28 S/D based on February data, the latest unemployment data available).

Demand for Management occupations rose 25,700 to 461,200 for a combined four-month increase of 56,600.  Responsible for the rise was higher demand for Marketing Managers and General and Operations Managers.  The number of unemployed in these occupations was just over one (1.39) unemployed for every advertised vacancy in March and significantly below the almost three (2.9) unemployed for every advertised vacancy at the HWOL series high in October 2009.

Labor demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 22,700 to 476,900 for a gain of 50,100 since January, but the March level is still slightly below the level of demand in late 2011.  Largely responsible for the March increase was higher demand for Customer Service Representatives and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.  The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with close to 3.6 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Business and Financial Operations positions increased by 17,100 to 268,100 advertised vacancies in March.  Accountants, Training and Development Specialists, and Financial Analysts were among the advertised vacancies that showed increases.  In this field there are 1.56 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations fell 18,800 in March to 578,100.  Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Physical Therapists. The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to be quite favorable and outnumbers job-seekers by 2.4 to 1 (0.41 S/D).

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