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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:

Many IT skill sets in greatest demand did not even exist a decade ago

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

ZinnovSilicon Valley continues to be an innovation hub, but Seattle, Dallas, Boston and Baltimore are also in the game, says the Zinnov “Talent Outlook 2013″ report. Skill sets in the highest demand did not even exist a decade ago: big data analytics, cloud computing experts, user experience designers and mobile app developers among them.

Key Findings

  • Organizations believe 25% of their current talent will become redundant in the next 3-5 years, while specialized skill sets in User Experience and Mobility see rising demand
  • Hiring for Innovation will primarily be in the United States
  • Tier II locations in the United States will be a key focus area for organizations looking to expand, while India and China will witness marginal growth

The Silicon Valley continues to be an innovation hub, with 80% of respondents to the Zinnov survey indicating that their organizations’ headcount will increase the highest in this region.

Respondents also said that 36% of their innovation, on average, would be driven in the Valley, with other US cities and states such as Seattle, Maryland, Dallas and Boston accounting for 18%. India ranked third as potential innovation region, with organizations revealing that 15% of innovation is expected out of the country, followed by EMEA at 10%.

cloud computingVamsee Tirukkala , managing principal, Zinnov, said, “Data scientists and user experience designers will witness very high demand, while mobile application developers and cloud computing experts will witness moderate to high demand. Significantly, all these skills were non-existent a decade ago. Organizations are also expected to increase their focus on soft skill development across levels and functions.”

Hot skill sets

Big DataOrganizations are seeking talent with skills in the areas of Engineering (50% of respondents indicated that it would be among the top 3 skills of the future), followed by Analytics skills (40%) such as Big Data, Predictive Modelling, HR Analytics, and Mobility (32%).

The biggest talent challenges that organizations face are in the areas of niche hiring and skill set assessment, with 50% of respondents suggesting that these would be key focus areas for HR in 2013.

While dedicated statistical teams within HR departments can reduce challenges around skill set assessment, large volume data analysis and workforce planning, over half the organizations do not have such resources and just 20% are focused on it for 2013.

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.


  • 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

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

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.

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


  • 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.


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:

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.

Study names top ten states for “app economy” jobs

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

TechNetWASHINGTON, DC – A new study showing that there are now roughly 466,000 jobs in the “App Economy” in the United States, up from zero in 2007.

The study, sponsored by Illinois-based TechNet and conducted by Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics, also found that App Economy jobs are spread throughout the nation.

Two-thirds of app economy outside CA and NY

The top metro area for App Economy jobs is New York City and its surrounding suburban counties, although together San Francisco and San Jose together substantially exceed New York. And while California tops the list of App Economy states, more than two-thirds of App Economy employment is outside of California and New York.

The results also suggest that the App Economy is growing quickly and that the location and number of app-related jobs are likely to shift greatly in the years ahead.

“America’s App Economy — which had zero jobs just 5 years ago before the iPhone was introduced — demonstrates that we can quickly create economic value and jobs through cutting-edge innovation,” said Rey Ramsey, president and CEO of TechNet.

Creating jobs in every part of America

“Today, the App Economy is creating jobs in every part of America, employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers today and even more in the years to come.”

“The App Economy, along with the broad communications sector, has been a leading source of hiring strength in an otherwise sluggish labor market,” said Dr. Michael Mandel, the report’s author and President of South Mountain Economics and former Chief Economist forBusinessWeek.

“As the technology industry and in particular software evolves, the app economy is becoming a critical new area of development and growth,” says Fred Hoch, President, Illinois Technology Association. “Illinois, with rich resources in data, development, advertising and design, is poised to take a leading role in this newly evolving ecosystem and related job creation.”

The full study, entitled “Where the Jobs Are,” is available at:

Top U.S. Metro Areas With Highest Percentage of App Economy Jobs

New York-Northern N.J.-Long Island 9.2%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont 8.5%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara 6.3%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 5.7%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 5.1%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria 4.8%
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet 3.5%
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy 3.5%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta 3.3%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2.6%

Top Ten States for App Economy Jobs (Percentage)

California 23.8%
New York 6.9%
Washington 6.4%
Texas 5.4%
New Jersey 4.2%
Illinois 4.0%
Massachusetts 3.9%
Georgia 3.7%
Virginia 3.5%
Florida 3.1%

The research shows that when it comes to employment impacts, each app represents jobs — for programmers, for user interface designers, for marketers, for managers, for support staff. Conventional employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not able to track such a new phenomenon because this economic ecosystem is so new. The research analyzed detailed information from The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) database, a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute compilation of want ads, to estimate the number of jobs in the App Economy.

The total number of Apps Economy jobs includes jobs at ‘pure’ app firms such as Zynga as well as app-related jobs at large companies such as Electronic Arts, Amazon, and AT&T, as well as app ‘infrastructure’ jobs at core firms such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. In addition, the App Economy total includes employment spillovers to the rest of the economy.

TechStars, Microsoft offering startups $60K in Windows Azure cloud services

Monday, January 30th, 2012

TechstarsTechStars, recently recognized as the No. 1 startup accelerator in the world, and Microsoft Corp. are working together to help startups fast-track their businesses with free cloud services.

The enhanced program allows TechStars accelerators in Boulder, Colo.; Boston; New York; Seattle; and Texas to offer each of their startups up to$60,000  of Windows Azure compute and storage over a 24-month period, at no cost.

Interviewing entrepreneurs over the last few years for the TechJournal and hearing their pitches at TechMedia’s annual Southeast Venture Conference (next one slated for Tysons Corner, VA, Feb. 29-March 1), we know that the ability to operate via cloud services has enabled many tech startups to launch with much less capital then they needed previously.

Many use Amazon’s cloud, which eliminates the need for them to have significant in house infrastructure. It also makes software that only large Enterprise firms could afford just a decade ago, available to small and medium-sized businesses.

BizSpark Plus is an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark program, designed to accelerate the success of startups around the world. BizSpark Plus works through select incubators and accelerators such as TechStars to provide value-added products and services to high-potential startups.

In addition to offering this to TechStars, Microsoft is making this offer available to all founders whose accelerator is part of theGlobal Accelerator Network, a network of nearly 40 high-quality accelerators from around the world that follow a model similar to TechStars.

“Our passion is helping startups succeed around the world by providing funding and mentorship from the best and brightest Internet entrepreneurs and investors on the planet. The enhanced relationship with Microsoft will allow us to provide our founders with even more valuable support and services,” said David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars. “Access to technologies such as Windows Azure and other software and services from Microsoft through the BizSpark Plus program gives our companies a leg up in the all-encompassing race to scale and succeed.”

TechStars has a wealth of experience working with tech startups around the world that are building products and services in the cloud. Cloud applications and smart devices are driving the new startup ecosystem, affording startups the ability to drive user adoption, scale their companies and generate financial returns with far less capital and much more quickly than ever before.

Windows Azure offers a simple, comprehensive and powerful platform for the creation of Web applications and services.

Seattle No. 1 for online giving, Alexandria, Arlington, DC in top five

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

SeattleConvio, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNVO) has released of its fourth annual ranking of Most Generous Online U.S. Cities. 2011 saw a change at the top with Seattle, WA, earning the #1 spot, followed by Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC finishing second and third respectively as the nation’s most generous large cities based on 2011 online giving data from Convio customers.

The biggest movers in the top ten from the 2010 annual ranking are Seattle rising three spaces to number one; Cambridge, MA falling three spaces from number two to number five; and Ann Arbor, MI moving up three spaces from number nine to number six.

The report ranks the 273 cities with total population of more than 100,000 based on per capita online giving and total amount donated through Convio’s online marketing and fundraising suites.

The average gift size remained steady in 2011 compared to 2010 at $65, as more than $435 million was donated by people who reside in the 273 major cities. The donors in the most generous cities increased their total online contributions by more than 11 percent over 2010.

The 2011 rankings are based on the almost $1.355 billion in total online donations generated through the Convio online marketing and fundraising suite that powers the online efforts of thousands of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations. The current rankings come from donations processed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.

The top ten most generous large cities (population > 100,000) in 2011, based on per capita giving are:

1. Seattle, WA

2. Alexandria, VA

3. Washington, DC

4. Arlington, VA

5. Cambridge, MA

6. Ann Arbor, MI

7. Berkeley, CA

8. San Francisco, CA

9. Bellevue, WA

10. St. Louis, MO

“According to a May 2011 study by Pew Internet, 96 percent of American adults with annual incomes greater than $75 thousand are online,” said Gene Austin, chief executive officer of Convio.

“The Internet is a key component of a comprehensive, integrated constituent engagement and fundraising strategy. Our 2011 U.S. online giving data reinforces that nonprofits are increasingly leveraging the Internet to generate more meaningful relationships, raise more money and maximize the lifetime value of every individual they touch.”

From a regional perspective based on the U.S. Census grouping of states, the top 25 large cities have the South achieving the #1 spot (three cities in the top ten), followed by the West, then the Midwest and lastly the Northeast. To view the complete rankings of large U.S. cities, visit

Starbucks boasts more than 26M first year mobile transactions

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

StarbucksCoffee drinkers apparently like paying for their Starbucks habit via mobile phones. Nearly a year ago, Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) rolled out the nation’s largest mobile payment program with the goal of offering a truly innovative mobile experience for customers worldwide.

U.S. customers were introduced to a smartphone application with a Starbucks Card stored within the app, providing a convenient and fastest way to pay for Starbucks purchases. That momentum has continued as the company heads into its first mobile holiday season.

During 2011, Starbucks expanded its mobile payment program to give customers access to the fastest way to pay at more than 9,000 U.S. locations, introduced the Starbucks for Android app, rolled out the Starbucks Card eGift feature, started international expansion and developed the Starbucks Cup Magic app to share augmented reality experiences in its stores and beyond.

“2011 was a year of great mobile exploration and expansion for Starbucks and an opportunity to give our customers a new way to connect with Starbucks through a variety of mobile experiences,” said Adam Brotman, svp and gm Starbucks Digital Ventures.

“The customer response to our mobile apps has been phenomenal. Not only are they using their phone as a wallet, but as a connection point to Starbucks as they manage their Starbucks Card accounts, send eGifts and get into the holiday spirit with the Starbucks Cup Magic app.”

Mobile Pay

Since the launch of mobile payment in January, there have been 26 million mobile transactions to date. In the first 9 weeks of the program, there were 3 million transactions and in comparison for the 9 week period starting in October, there were 6 million transactions, demonstrating a significant jump in customer adoption and use.

Globally, the Starbucks Card program had $2.4 billion loaded onto cards during FY11, and Starbucks Cards are currently used for 1 in 4 transactions in the U.S. Since the card launched just over 10 years ago, more than $10 billion has been loaded on Starbucks Cards.

On the mobile front, since Jan. 2011, there has been $110.5 million reloaded onto Starbucks Cards directly through the mobile app.

Starbucks took its mobile payment program beyond its nearly 7,000 U.S. company-operated stores and more than 1,000 Target stores to include nearly 1,000 Safeway stores in June, giving customers more opportunities to experience mobile payment.

Currently the top five US cities for Starbucks mobile app adoption are New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and San Jose.

Within the mobile apps, customers have access to a host of features that allow them to manage their Starbucks Card account: reload their Starbucks Card balance directly from a smartphone device, find nearby Starbucks stores with the store locator feature, check their Starbucks Card balance and My Starbucks Rewards™ status.

There are currently 2 million Gold-level My Starbucks Rewards members in the U.S. and 3.6 million My Starbucks Rewards members overall – with 2 million  members added in FY11 alone.

Other features available in the Starbucks app line-up include a drinker builder, Starbucks food and beverage information and Starbucks coffee information. Starbucks Card mobile payment is the most popular app feature overall.

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.


U.S. business journalists confident their local economies will improve (video)

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

NCBJU.S. business journalists — who keep their fingers on the economic pulse of their local communities — said they expected business conditions in their areas to improve in the next six months, according to a new survey commissioned by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

In a phone survey of 300 business journalists conducted nationwide in mid-July, many described their local economies as suffering:

  • One in three said business conditions were bad.
  • Four out of 10 said jobs were hard to get.

But most expressed optimism that their local economies would improve, with only 6 percent saying they expected things to worsen in six months.

When asked about their local housing market, one in four said the residential real estate market was better now than six months ago. Only one in 10 thought it would be worse in six months.

Conditions were toughest in the West, where half the business journalists said their local economies were bad and jobs were hard to get.

In Atlanta, too, Rachel Tobin, commercial real estate reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution was not so optimistic. She said:

“In Atlanta, our economy really isn’t improving, and signs only point to things getting worse:

  • Unemployment ticked up again to 10.5 percent in June – which is above the national average.
  • Housing prices dropped again. (We have now lost about 13 years of equity in our homes.)
  • The commercial real estate vacancy rate rose again, to 17.2 percent, according to CoStar Group.
  • Very few jobs are being created. When few jobs are created, that means there’s less demand for office space and homes.

“To be sure, Atlanta’s economy is diverse – it still has many Fortune 1,000 headquarters, from Home Depot and UPS to Coca-Cola and SunTrust Bank. The hope is that once the economy begins growing again, Atlanta will reap the benefits. But that time can’t come soon enough for the unemployed workers here.”

In Seattle, economics columnist Jon Talton of The Seattle Times said business conditions are mixed. “Apartment construction is rebounding: I can see four cranes out my window for high-rises now,” he said, but “many small businesses continue to struggle with weak consumer spending and tight credit.”

Pamela Yip, personal finance writer for The Dallas Morning News, agreed on the mixed picture. “Dallas-Fort Worth added more jobs than any other U.S. metro area during the six months ending in June,” she said. “But…unemployment is 3.6 percentage points higher than it was three years ago.”

In North Carolina, major technology companies such as IBM, among others, have shed thousands of jobs, state budget problems will result in cuts in state employment and education, and the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average at nearly 10 percent (9.9 percent in June 2011). Things are a bit better in the Research Triangle. Unemployment in Durham and Wake Counties where the educational level is particularly high, is at 8.3 percent.

Personally, I’ve been covering business for a variety of publications since the 1980s – including two business journals and three online technology news sites, including the TechJournal. While there are upsides to the U.S. economy that may be under-reported, the recent debt ceiling debacle, stock market volatility, and the continuing reluctance of financial institutions to lend small businesses money, make recovery look like a long, slow process.

On the other hand, the U.S. economy has often shown surprising powers of recovery. What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Is this economy poised to get better or will it be treading water for an extended period?

The full survey report includes an interactive map and an additional video.

Business Journalists Study 2011 (PDF) was conducted by the Behavior Research Center Inc., using questions similar to those for The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey.

The phone survey conducted July 18-21 has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. Neither Talton nor Yip were among the 300 randomly selected business journalists surveyed, who came from print, online, broadcast, wire services and freelancing.

–Allan Maurer

“Analysis of Business Journalists Survey on their Local Economies 2011” from Reynolds Center on Vimeo.

DC, Baltimore, Raleigh-Durham, among top ten cities for staying young

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Capitol BuildingSAN DIEGO–Want to live a longer life? Move to Salt Lake City, the DC-Balitmore area, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill,  San Francisco, or Austin. On the other hand, Knoxville and Nashville, TN, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Tampa and Jacksonville, FL, may make you old before your time. So says and new report by RealAge.

Southeast and western cities are among the top ten on RealAge’s list of the “youngest” cities in America—metropolitan areas with such healthy lifestyles that on average their residents are physically at least two years younger than their chronological age, and many are years younger than that. RealAge analyzed data from the largest 50 metropolitan areas to compile the rankings.

A passion for fitness and a loathing for smoking are key factors in Salt Lake City’s number one ranking. At the other extreme, residents of Knoxville, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Nashville are aging faster than they should. (Get an infographic of the 10 youngest and oldest cities here.)

What are the 10 metro areas where you have the best odds of staying young?

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Calif.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Denver, Colo.
5. Boston, Mass.
6. Washington, DC/Baltimore, Md.
7. San Diego, Calif.
8. Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C.
9. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
10. Seattle/Tacoma/Bremerton, Wash.

Which metro areas are likely to make you old before your time?

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C.
3. Nashville, Tenn.
4. Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
7. Oklahoma City, Okla.
8. Las Vegas, Nev.
9. Jacksonville, Fla.
10. Tulsa, Okla.

“Each city’s ranking is more than just a number,” says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of RealAge and a co-creator of its test. “It’s a unique assessment of the healthy lifestyles, or lack of them, in each metro area—of how people live there, what they’re doing right and what they need to change. If you live in one of the 10 oldest cities, take this as the alarm on your body’s aging clock going off! It’s never too late for a fresh start.”

Note that half of the 10 youngest cities are in the Western U.S., from Denver to Seattle.

“Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the mountains, but Western cities have adopted active lifestyles that can slow down the aging process,” says Dr. Roach.

Behind the Rankings

To compile the rankings, RealAge analyzed data for America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas generated by its landmark online assessment, the RealAge Test, taken by over 27 million people. This is the first time the company has analyzed aggregated results on a city-by-city basis.

A random sample of 1,000 RealAge members was drawn from each city. The sample data was adjusted for age differences, so a metropolitan area that’s a magnet for retirees wasn’t penalized, and a city jammed with university students didn’t benefit.

The Test uses a powerful algorithm that combines the latest scientific studies with lifestyle, genetics, and medical history to calculate your RealAge—how old your body thinks you are.

What Makes a City Younger or Older

While multiple lifestyle factors are involved, here are four big ones that help people in Boston (the 5th youngest city), for example, stay younger and healthier than those in Cincinnati (the 5th oldest):

1.   Getting the right amount of sleep. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among those with stellar sleep habits. And (surprise) New York isn’t the city that never sleeps—the Big Apple ranks second in ZZZ’s; Austin is first. Sleeping six to nine hours a night can make your RealAge as much as 3 years younger.
2.   Stubbing out cigarettes for good. Four of the five fastest-aging cities have the highest percentage of smokers.
3.   Not sitting around. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among the most physically active in the country. A daily 30-minute walk can make your RealAge up to 3.5 years younger.
4.   Controlling your blood pressure. Five of the 10 fastest-aging cities—Knoxville, Cincinnati, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and Tulsa—are among the worst for high blood pressure. Nothing ages you faster. Who has the lowest BP? Residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the 9th youngest city.

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MaxPoint’s CEO Joe Epperson on crises, computing, and creativity

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

By Grace W. Ueng

Special to TechJournal South

Joe Epperson

Joe Epperson, CEO of Max Point, addressing the NCCBA. Both photos on this page by Tingting Liu.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – On March 23rd , The North Carolina Chinese Business Association, which serves as a catalyst in bridging China-North Carolina science and technology business relationships, hosted a standing room only crowd at the RTP Foundation that came to hear Joe Epperson, the visionary co-founder and CEO of MaxPoint.

He held the attention of analytic gurus, MBA faculty and students, and entrepreneurs; many having experience with or an interest in business in China. He shared his contagious passion and inside stories on starting and successfully funding an analytics powerhouse, why he chose to move from the Bay Area – where he was an early eBay employee –  to the Triangle, and how China will someday benefit from Maxpoint’s ingenuity.

MaxPoint is a high growth and industry-leading consumer targeting technology company that serves household name brands, including those of my former Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods employer, and retail powerhouses.

They are backed by blue chip funds Trinity Ventures in the Bay Area and Seattle-based Madrona, whose success stories include Starbucks and Amazon.

MaxPoint leverages proprietary data and targeting techniques for online advertising efficiencies to drive in-store sales for the retail, CPG, and pharmaceutical verticals.

In interviewing the audience following Epperson’s talk, one SAS product manager told me what MaxPoint is doing is “really, really cool…more significant than Groupon for major retailers.”

Many were struck by an interesting fact Joe presented: 75 percent of all US consumer spending occurs at retail within 15 miles of one’s home. While people under 45 get more content online than from any other source, digital ad spending is low and mainly drives online, not offline behavior.  80 percent of online advertising is focused on the 10 percent of total consumer spending that occurs online.

Joe said that the way companies currently try to drive in-store sales is ineffective, based on the zip code concept developed decades ago.

What follows is a synthesis of the NCCBA audience’s lasting impressions from Epperson’s presentation:

1. A technology company that happens to use media.

“We are a technology company that happens to use media, rather than media company that happens to use technology,” declared Epperson.  Joe presented an online “wow” factor, real-time product visualization; demonstrating the enormous scale of the process whereby tens of thousands of impressions were being analyzed each second using MaxPoint. Thereby, he revealed their secret sauce — a unique targeting technology that allows brand owners and retailers to find the right neighborhoods online to drive in-store sales.

Rather than traditional zip code targeting, Joe’s team has developed a more precise “Digital Zip” strategy, which helps them deliver better results.  MaxPoint can do this across the entire country in real time, as he demonstrated. “Hundreds of billions dollars in market value have been generated to bring supply to demand just in time.

But what you see here is a trend that is going to emerge in the next ten years—people have the ability to bring demand to a specific point in just-in time fashion,” Joe stated.  He called this new trend  “real-time demand generation” and stressed his belief in the full potential of online advertising in driving sales. MaxPoint’s customers typically see a 10-20% lift in retail unit sales within hours of deploying their online campaign; their offering has proven to be faster and more effective than traditional promotional methods.

What stuck with many of the attendees I spoke to later is the massive scale of MaxPoint’s cloud: cluster computing that only a few dozen companies in the world have as part of their core business. Right here in the Triangle, MaxPoint is changing the landscape of online advertising, and how demographics are viewed in the digital age.

2. We try anything.

Joe said that if a potential client asked if MaxPoint could do something, he would say “yes”.  He shared a story of how saying yes to a company that everyone in the room had heard of led to catastrophic failure which later became a catalyst for MaxPoint’s success.

Like any start-up story, Maxpoint’s first years did not follow a straight path. “Every great start-up has to have that crucible moment,” Joe said. “When you have those disasters, you can choose to ignore them  or embrace and fix all the way.”

Michael Chen, President of NCCBA and CEO of New Mind Education; Grace Ueng, CEO of Savvy Marketing Group, NCCBA Advisor; Joe Epperson, CEO of MaxPoint.

Michael Chen, President of NCCBA and CEO of New Mind Education; Grace Ueng, CEO of Savvy Marketing Group, NCCBA Advisor; Joe Epperson, CEO of MaxPoint.

In the year after Maxpoint was founded, the team worked non-stop all through Thanksgiving and Christmas to fix a system problem, which resulted  in their “home run” the following year. While embracing crisis, Joe also believes in seeking opportunities.

After saying “sure, yes” to his first client when being asked whether he could do it, the “Digital Zip” concept was born. Under his “try anything” philosophy, Joe grasped potential opportunities, and led his team to make the most out of challenges and crises.

3.  Persistence in pitching and serving clients.

The audience wanted advice on how MaxPoint has become successful in having so many customers line up to work with them.  Joe pointed out two keys: one is “persistence”, and the other is “networking”.

Joe told an interesting anecdote about how his persistence opened the door to attain their first Fortune 500 global client. After flying in to meet the decision maker, Joe was told that he no longer had time to meet.

Joe continued to walk boldly into his office, was given  five minutes, and 45 minutes later they had the agreement to conduct a test with the company. After MaxPoint’s technology proved itself, this individual has turned out to be a huge advocate for MaxPoint, recommending the technology to his entire network.

4.  Relentless focus on hiring and inspiring the smartest people.

After Joe and his family decided to move to the East Coast to build MaxPoint, he thought there were two places where he could source top-notch analytics talent, and Boston was just too cold!

Joe focuses on quality of hiring, on securing the smartest folks and fueling their growth. He thinks the greatest thing about smart people is that “they could become intensely smart when you unleash them, when you let them go.” He believes that “the smart people tend to congregate with other smart people.”

Having seen Joe in action leading meetings at MaxPoint, he brings to the Triangle Silicon Valley wisdom. He describes his office as “a Silicon Valley office stuck in Cary” and is proud that “our team is a great team with great energy.” He inspires this energy and draws frequently from his experiences at eBay where he was an instrumental agent of change and worked closely with former CEO, Meg Whitman.

5.  I have a competitor.  I just haven’t seen him yet.

In spite of being a successful entrepreneur, Joe is well grounded in reality when he says that he is paranoid about staying ahead of potential competitors. With its cluster computing and analytics power, Maxpoint is doing something no one else has the capacity to right now.

Joe always has, however, potential competitors in mind, and he is preparing his team to continue to stay ahead. “I actually have a competitor, but I just haven’t seen him yet,” he continues, “That’s one of the things about technology that you always have to assume there is another person out there.”

This assumption fuels Joe and his team to strive for innovation. “I embrace the world in such a way that  whatever I build today will be copied, so we work very hard to constantly innovate.”

6. Global expansion—China: go early, go hard

In working with their global customers that are also large brand owners, Joe shared that 9 out of 10 mention China and emerging markets as where they’d like to see MaxPoint deliver a solution.

“Our biggest expansion would be global,” said Joe. “And we do believe very strongly in international expansion.”  From his eBay experiences, he learned the lesson to  “go international and go early”.  Joe believes that the emerging market such as China is “where the game is still on”.

To build a new standard in China for online advertising is both a huge opportunity and challenge. DoubleClick struggled in China and eBay is not doing well.  Timing is an issue.  And finding the right local partner to gain know-how and build a cross-cultural relationship is also critical.

Outside counsel on how to work with Chinese law and regulation to gain control over consumer data that is of good quality or restricted data required for their analytics modeling  is critical.    Consumers are quite price driven so trade promotions can work. The overall market is more fragmented than the US so understanding of the differences in Tier 1, 2, 3 cities is important for large brand owners.

Editor’s note:
Advisor to the NC Chinese Business Association, Grace Whi-Tze Ueng is founder and chief executive officer of Savvy Marketing Group which advises high potential businesses on how to maximize their chances for success. They recently announced their China practice, helping U.S. companies and investors achieve rapid, sustained success in China.

Tingting Liu and Bryce Roberts contributed to this story.

MaxPoint nabs $8M for targeted neighborhood online ads

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

MaxPointCARY, NC – MaxPoint, a company focused on real-time neighborhood-level targeting technology for online advertisers,  has secured $8 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group.

The Seattle-based investment firm specializes in funding early-stage technology companies. Trinity Ventures, which funded MaxPoint’s initial institutional round of $3 million in 2010, also participated in this round. This is MaxPoint’s second round of institutional funding.

“Since our initial round of funding last fall, MaxPoint has seen a strong acceleration in the growth of our company, as advertisers have been clamoring for a solution to successfully drive offline purchases by using online ad campaigns,” said Joe Epperson, CEO and co-founder of MaxPoint. “Our new funding allows us to accelerate our growth.”

“Over the past year, MaxPoint has been instrumental in proving to brick-and-mortar companies, the key to an effective online advertising campaign is measuring how well it drives traffic into an actual physical location,” said Len Jordan, venture partner at Madrona, who joins MaxPoint’s board of directors. “We are investors in MaxPoint because we truly believe the value in online advertising is in leveraging the neighborhood-level proximity of a qualified consumer base to a retail location. Such targeted advertising leads to the in-store purchase of the product featured in the ad served.”

To accommodate its recent growth, MaxPoint recently moved its sales office in New York City to a larger location in Manhattan and also expanded its sales team.

MaxPoint, which says it is the only provider of precision neighborhood-level online ad targeting, employs proprietary data-driven technologies to drive in-store purchases for national and regional brands.

By combining multiple data sets to form customized neighborhood profiles, MaxPoint identifies the best potential neighborhood for any brand – those both interested and capable of purchasing the product. To do this, MaxPoint draws point-of-sale data from retail stores nationwide, demographics, psychographics and other publicly available data sources – all of which contain no personally identifiable information.

MaxPoint then uses its Digital Zip technology to find the most qualified neighborhoods for the advertised product, based on the characteristics and interests of the people who live there. MaxPoint’s Digital Zips segment the country into 34,000 distinct neighborhoods, each with approximately 3,400 households, allowing marketers to pinpoint locations within a retailer’s trade area, more precisely serving their targeted online ads.

MaxPoint evaluates each individual online impression in real-time, delivering the campaign creative only if the impression matches the brand’s customized neighborhood profile – without using cookies as part of the solution.

Applied Global Technologies rings up investment from Rock Hill Capital Group

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

AGTROCKLEDGE, FL – Applied Global Technologies, a service provider to the video conferencing marketplace, has received an equity investment in an undisclosed amount from Rock Hill Capital Group.

The company, which is based in Rockledge and has offices in Kennesaw, GA, and Chantilly, VA, was founded in 1993. It is hte fourth largest managed services provider in the video conferencing space.

Its customers include Fortune 500 companies, Federal, Department of Defense, and state agencies, and the education and emergency clients.

The company evolved from providing telemedicine solutions over satellite and microwave links and began selling managed video services in 2000.

AGT’s video infrastructure hardware for bridging, streaming, and recording, and video network management is designed to simplify and improve the end user experience, provide scalable and proactive remote management capabilities with less complexity to manage, and reduce overall cost of ownership.

The company has field support offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Okinawa, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Virginia Beach, and Washington, DC.

Square 1 Bank CEO and founder, Richard Casey dies

Friday, November 12th, 2010
Richard Casey

Richard Casey

DURHAM, NC – Richard Casey, founder and CEO of Durham, NC-based Square 1 Bank, has died. The cause of death was not disclosed.

“Richard had immense passion for innovation and the entrepreneurial community. He believed this was the foundation upon which America was built and will continue to prosper.”

It noted, “Square 1 Bank was founded in 2005 by Richard and his wife Susan to help entrepreneurs succeed by creating a bank exclusively devoted to the unique needs of startups. Richard’s vision was to build a bank that was quick, flexible, accessible and high-touch, and run by highly-experienced talent who understood the needs of entrepreneurs,” Square 1 said in a statement.

Square 1 now has 10 offices throughout the United States and $1.2 billion in assets. Headquartered  in Durham, it also has offices in Austin, Bsoton, Boulder, McLean, New York, San Diego, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. Square 1 is a full service commercial bank exclusively  serving the financial needs of the venture capital community and entrepreneurs in all stages of growth and expansion.

Bob Keith, Square 1 Bank’s Lead Director, said “Richard was an inspiration to his family, employees and the larger entrepreneur community. We will work tirelessly with the experienced management team that Richard built to honor his legacy and continue to grow an institution that supports entrepreneurs whose efforts drive innovation and economic growth.”

Casey is survived by his wife Susan, his daughter Leigh and his father, John.

Services will be held Saturday, November 13, 1:00 PM at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Richard J. Casey Foundation whose mission is to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in America; c/o Square 1 Bank, 406 Blackwell Street, Suite 240, Durham, NC 27701.

Amazon customer privacy rights upheld, but battle likely to continue

Monday, November 8th, 2010

By Allan Maurer

AmazonSEATTLE – Reports by some media outlets in North Carolina suggest that up to 450 top out-of-state retailers may face audits of their books as the state tries to collect current and back sales taxes from the firms. In late October, however, a federal court judege in Seattle ruled that government requests for detailed information about customers purchases violates their rights of free speech, anonymity and privacy.

The ruling evolved from a lawsuit Amazon filed to stop the NC Department of Revenue (NCDOR) from gathering personally identifiable information about customers that could be linked to their specific Amazon buys.

The case has already disrupted the Internet sector startup community and some established online retailers in North Carolina, who lost their associate status as a result of North Carolina’s attempts to establish “nexus,” a retailer’s physical presence in a state via brick and mortar stores or warehouses and so on, that allows a state to collect sales taxes from the business. North Carolina argued that by having associates in NC, Amazon established nexus. Amazon responded by firing all of its NC associates, spurring some larger sellers to pull up stakes and leave the state.

American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and ACLU of Washington intervened in the Amazon lawsuit on behalf of several customers.

Judge rules NC request violates First Amendment rights

Recognizing that government requests for expressive information can have an unconstitutional chilling effect on constitutionally-protected behavior, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the Western District of Washington at Seattle wrote:

“The First Amendment protects a buyer from having the expressive content of her purchase of books, music, and audiovisual materials disclosed to the government. Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously. …The fear of government tracking and censoring one’s reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project said, “This ruling is a victory for privacy and free speech on the Internet. Disclosing the purchase records of Internet users to the government would violate their constitutional rights to read and purchase the lawful materials of their choice, free from government intrusion, and undermine the very basis of American democracy and our cherished freedoms.”

He concluded, “With this ruling, the court emphatically reemphasized what other courts have found before – that government entities cannot watch over our shoulders to see what we are buying and reading.”

While Amazon, its customers and the ACLU may have won this round, it is likely only one battle in an ongoing war as states nationally scrounge for new taxes to bolster recession ravaged state budgets.

We’ll be making calls to the NCDOR and ACLU to follow up on this  story as it unfolds further.

To contact TJS editor/writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Here’s the court decision.

More information is available here: vs. Kenneth R. Lay

Lawyers battle over Amazon tax (includes links to many background articles).