TechJournal South Header

Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

50 high growth companies presenting at Southeast Venture Conference

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

SEVC 2013You can make connections with 50 high growth technology companies from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic as they present to hundreds of executives from the region’s innovation, entrepreneurial and venture communities at the Southeast Venture Conference March 13-14th at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to presenting companies and hours of executive networking – the conference will feature a speaker line up inlcuding SAP CEO Bill McDermott, dozens of leading venture capital investors from groups like Advanced Technology Ventures, Intel Capital and Edison Ventures; industry  insiders like Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard and policy makers such as North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

This year’s confirmed presenting company line-up includes:


The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.

In addition to the showcase presenters and hours of networking – SEVC 2013 will feature current market relevant panel and presentation topics for investors and executive entrepreneurs. These events sell out, so register now if you plan on going.

Panel & Presentation topics include:

  • State of Venture Capital
  • Early Stage Fundraising
  • Value Creation: Company/Investor Relationship
  • Growth Stage Funding
  • M&A Outlook and Strategies
  • LP Viewpoint
  • SaaS Investment Trends
  • Getting to Market
  • IPO & Secondary Market Outlook
  • Entrepreneur’s Roundtable
  • International Health Care Trends

Grotech VC offers seven lessons on entrepreneurship “from the dark side”

Monday, February 18th, 2013

By Allan Maurer

Don Rainey

Don Rainey

Does price really matter in a venture financing deal? Can “small ideas” still get funded?

Don Rainey, a former entrepreneur, says his 12-years “on the dark side” as a venture capitalist, have taught him a handful of lessons that still serve him daily, among them, answers to those questions and others.

Rainey, a general partner with Grotech Ventures since 2007, was named to the Washingtonian’s “Tech Titans” list in 2011, and currently serves on the boards of Grotech portfolio companies Clarabridge, GramercyOne, HelloWallet, LivingSocial, Personal, SnappCloud, and Zenoss. He’s one of more than two-dozen venture capitalists and other investors participating in the upcoming Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.

Price doesn’t matter

On his blog, VC in DC, Rainy outlined ten of the lessons about entrepreneurship that still guide him.

That business about price, for instance. “Price doesn’t really matter,” he says. “If you invest in something htat fails, it’s immaterial. If it wins, you might hope you had bought it a little cheaper, but you’ll always wish for that. The question is, is it something you believe in? If a deal works out, the price was right at some level. Get in good deals, and forget about getting the last dollar in a negotiation for that good deal.”

He adds, “We’re judged by whether the companies we invest in succeed, not the price.” Also, he notes, “Sometimes you do everything right and sill lose. Macro events can put real pressures on a company. Just think if you had gone into something aimed at financial services in 2007. Some things are beyond your control.”

Don’t pursue small ideas

Big ideas and small ideas are equally difficult, he says. But a venture capital firm has to have some multiple return on the capital it invests and can’t support small ideas, Rainey says. On his blog, he writes,  “What’s the point in trying to change the neighborhood when you can change the world.”

You’re not a rock star

“I’m very suspect of the venture capitalist who wants to be in front of the parade,” Rainey says. “That’s the role of the entrepreneur. We’re enablers, not the primary actors.”

Add value outside of board meetings

Portfolio company board meetings are not the place where a VC adds real value to the firm’s investment. “Private conversations over coffee, lunch, or late at night is when you really can influence the CEO,” Rainey says.

Don’t Invest in People who don’t take advice

Some entrepreneurs have a world class talent for ignoring good advice, Rainey notes on his blog. “I’ve done this 12 years and only had one CEO who ignored my advice and failed. He made a point of it. It wasn’t personal, he ignored everyone’s good advice. A good CEO listens to everyone.”

Then, he’ll let you know he heard you, saying something like, “I concur on these four items from your suggestions. “That’s what the smart ones do,” Rainey says. “They assimilate all that advice and incorporate it into their own perspective.”

Never Panic

Starting and running a business is often fraught with extreme ups and downs, more than one entrepreneur has told us. One day you land a really big customer, the next everyone you talk to says “No.” An entrepreneur has to be able to ride that roller coaster. “One of the great assets of an entrepreneur is confidence,” Rainey says.

“It does ebb and flow. There are days when you’re driving to work thinking there is no way you could be more screwed than you are at that moment, but when you get to work, you find out you were wrong, there are ways it can be worse. It’s hard. People don’t always appreciate how challenging it can be to be able to swing above your weight in the face of weeks or months of bad news. But you have to keep on fighting, even with a strong headwind.”

Be nice to people, it pays well

“In a business like ours,” Rainey says, “You have to say ‘no’ to 99 of 100 people who come to you for money. If you’re not nice to people, even when you have to say ‘no,’ they remember. They also remember if you were nice about it. None of knows where we’ll be in five years or what we’ll be doing.”


Open Table Diner’s Choice top 100 U.S. restaurants named

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

OpenTableIf you’re looking for that special restaurant in which to wine and dine a potential big ticket customer, woo a business partner, or just to have a great meal while at home or on the road, OpenTable (NASDAQ: OPEN), a provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners guest management solutions for restaurants, has named the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the United States.

These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration.

Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to a score calculated from each restaurant’s average rating in the “overall” category along with that restaurant’s rating relative to others in the same metropolitan area and the average number of restaurants reviewed by diners who reviewed that restaurant.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the U.S. according to OpenTable diners.

2012 Diners’ Choice Award Winners for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the U.S.

Acquerello – San Francisco, California
Addison at The Grand Del Mar – San Diego, California
Altura – Seattle, Washington
Andrea at Pelican Hill – Newport Coast, California
Annisa – New York, New York
Artisanal Restaurant – Banner Elk, North Carolina
The Ashby Inn – Paris, Virginia
Atelier Crenn – San Francisco, California
Auberge du Soleil – Rutherford, California
Bacchanalia – Atlanta, Georgia
The Belvedere – Beverly Hills, California
Bibou – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Binkley’s Restaurant – Cave Creek, Arizona
Bistro L’Hermitage – Woodbridge, Virginia
Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York
Bouchard Restaurant and Inn – Newport, Rhode Island
Bouley – New York, New York
Café Provence – Prairie Village, Kansas
Café Renaissance – Vienna, Virginia
Canlis – Seattle, Washington
Capital Grille – Kansas City, Missouri
Capital Grille – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Carpe Vino – Auburn, California
Castle Hill Inn – Newport, Rhode Island
Chachama Grill – East Patchogue, New York
Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Downers Grove, Illinois
Charleston – Baltimore, Maryland
Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina
Chez Francois – Vermilion, Ohio
Chez Nous French Restaurant – Humble, Texas
CityZen – Washington, D.C.
Commis – Oakland, California
Cottage Place Restaurant – Flagstaff, Arizona
Daniel – New York, New York
Daniel-Lounge Seating – New York, New York
Del Posto – New York, New York
Eleven Madison Park – New York, New York
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant – Forestville, California
Fearrington House Restaurant – Pittsboro, North Carolina
Fountain Restaurant – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The French Laundry – Yountville, California
The French Room – Dallas, Texas
Geronimo – Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Goodstone Inn & Estate Restaurant – Middleburg, Virginia
Gracie’s – Providence, Rhode Island
Gramercy Tavern – New York, New York
Hannas Prime Steak – Rancho Santa Margarita, California
The Hobbit – Orange, California
Jean Georges – New York, New York
Joseph Tambellini – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JUNGSIK – New York, New York
Kai – Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona
Keiko à Nob Hill – San Francisco, California
King Umberto – Elmont, New York
The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, California
La Ciccia – San Francisco, California
La Folie – San Francisco, California
La Grenouille – New York, New York
L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia
Le Bernardin – New York, New York
Le Vallauris – Palm Springs, California
Le Yaca – Williamsburg, Virginia
L’Espalier – Boston, Massachusetts
The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach – Laguna Beach, California
Mama’s Fish House – Paia, Hawaii
Manresa – Los Gatos, California
Marcel’s – Washington, D.C.
Marinus-Bernadus Lodge – Carmel Valley, California
Menton – Boston, Massachusetts
Michael’s – South Point Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada
The Modern-Dining Room – New York, New York
n/naka – Los Angeles, California
NAOE – Miami, Florida
Nicholas – Red Bank, New Jersey
Norman’s at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando – Orlando, Florida
The North Fork Table & Inn – Southold, New York
o ya – Boston, Massachusetts
ON20 – Hartford, Connecticut
Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio
The Painted Lady – Newberg, Oregon
Palace Arms at The Brown Palace – Denver, Colorado
Per Se – New York, New York
Perry Street Brasserie – Galena, Illinois
Providence – Los Angeles, California
Restaurant Alma – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Restaurant Iris – Memphis, Tennessee
Rover’s – Seattle, Washington
Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar – Galveston, Texas
Saint Jacques French Cuisine – Raleigh, North Carolina
Saison – San Francisco, California
Scalini Fedeli – New York, New York
ShinBay – Scottsdale, Arizona
Sonoma – Princeton, Massachusetts
Splendido – Beaver Creek, Colorado
Studio at Montage Laguna Beach – Laguna Beach, California
Tony’s – St. Louis, Missouri
Tosca Ristorante – Washington, D.C.
Vetri – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
VOLT – Frederick, Maryland
Woodfire Grill – Atlanta, Georgia

Diners can also read more about the Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the U.S. by visiting OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter’s “Dining Check” blog.

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 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:

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

Monday, February 13th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

infographic social media





salary infographic

Which U.S. cities are best for tech jobs?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

SeattleWhat are the best cities for technology jobs now? You can probably guess that Seattle, would be high on the list, and it indeed came in at number one on a list compiled by But if you guessed the Silicon Valley, you would be wrong.

The Valley, despite a concentration of tech jobs- six times the national average – it came in at 17 on the site’s list of the top 51 cities for tech jobs. It points out that the Valley was one of the biggest tech job losers over the last decade, dropping 80,000 positions, despite the more recent dot-com funding craze.

San Francisco itself is way down at number 29.

Newgeography used high-tech employment data from EMSI, an economic modeling firm. It then charted those areas that have gained the most high-tech manufacturing, software and services jobs over the past 10 years.

The top ten, newgeography says, are:

Seattle, Baltimore, Columbus, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Jacksonville, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Riverside/San Bernardino, and San Diego.

The next batch inlcudes more surprises: Indianapolis is 11, Buffalo 12, San Antonio 13, and Charlotte 14. Boston is way down at 22.

Factors affecting high-tech job creation, the site says, include the presence of a major research university – although that wasn’t of much help to Boston, which lost 45,000 tech jobs (18 percent) in the last decade.

Business costs are another factor. They’re high in the Valley, Boston, and the Bay area, less so in many of top ten cities. Even low business costs are not a sure path to tech job creation though. Texas has good business metrics, but nevertheless experienced losses in tech jobs, primarily due to cutbacks in telecom, electronics, and communications equipment manufacturing.

Personally, we think a careful look at the results of this study suggest something we’ve said all along: big manufacturing operations are not the be all and end all of job creation. Placing an emphasis on creating a welcoming atmosphere for startup tech companies is a better way to go, and some areas, including Durham in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, are taking that route.

Newgeography suggests that two up and comers in this decade might be Detroit, which it says “has some real high-tech mojo,” and New Orleans, which has expanded its tech workforce by about 10 percent since 2009.

Top ten Thanksgiving storms pose warning to holiday travelers

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Historic Thanksgiving storm of 1950This Thanksgiving, there will be an estimated 42.5 million people traveling across the United States. With a history of tumultuous weather ranging from tornados to snow and dust storms, MyWeather is reminding travelers to keep the weather top of mind when making their holiday plans this week. and its popular apps for the iPhoneiPad 2 and Android devices feature personalized weather forecasts that are six times more precise than the competition — accurate down to your block, not just your zip code. This means that whether your in-laws are in Manchester, New Hampshire or Manchester, England, MyWeather has you covered.

This Thanksgiving, travelers nationwide will be hoping for blue skies and clear roads during a season known for some of the worst weather — and traffic — in history.

Here are ten of the worst Thanksgiving storms on record:

  • 2001 — A tornado outbreak occurred across the southeastern U.S. early on Thanksgiving morning in Mississippi,Alabama and Arkansas. Three of the twisters were classified F4 on the Fujita scale. Hundreds of homes and buildings were destroyed and 13 people lost their lives.
  • 1993 — Texas experienced a Thanksgiving Day “Blue Northerner,” the local name for a cold front that occurs during the winter, bringing a characteristic blue-black color to the sky. The Thanksgiving football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins was played in sleet and icy conditions that led to a slip of Leon Lett during the last seconds of the game, giving Miami the win.
  • 1991 — Travelers heading home after the holiday were impacted by a dust storm in drought-stricken Coalinga, Californiaon Interstate 5. Winds gusting at nearly 40 mph swept dust over the highway limiting visibility and creating a mile-long chain reaction of collisions. 17 people were killed and 150 were injured in the storm.
  • 1989 — New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade took place in 4″ of snow leaving a few floats unable to withstand the weather.
  • 1987 – Northern New England was hit with heavy snow as 18″ coated New Hampshire and up to 20″ fell in Maine.
  • 1983 – Following two weeks of high winds in the Pacific Northwest, Thanksgiving Day saw peak gusts of 62 mph inSeattle, Washington and Astoria, Oregon. The storm downed trees and power lines throughout the region.
  • 1983 — Also in 1983, Denver was hit with 20″ of snow. The system was one of the biggest storms to ever hit a major U.S. city on Thanksgiving.
  • 1975 – Chicago had more than 8″ of snow at Midway Airport on Thanksgiving, severely impacting holiday travel. Despite its famously harsh winters, records show that Chicago has only had 11 white Thanksgivings since 1884.
  • 1971 – New York State saw some of the heaviest November snowfalls on record as more than 22″ fell in Albany. Other areas across the Empire State saw up to 30″ of snow.
  • 1950 — Also known as “The Great Thanksgiving Storm of 1950,” most of eastern Ohio had 20-30″ of snow and winds of over 40 mph. In the face of the storm, the Ohio State v. Michigan football game took place as scheduled on Saturday. The “Snow Bowl” was played in 5 degree weather with the Wolverines defeating the Buckeyes 9-3 in a game that saw 45 collective punts.

T-Mobile grabs 2nd place across 3 regions in JD Power study

Friday, September 16th, 2011

TmobileAs T-Mobile USA, Inc. continues the rapid expansion of its 4G network, J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, Volume 2, shows that customers in the Northeast, Southeast and West regions are satisfied with an improved network experience, including call quality and messaging and data performance.

In its study, which compares network performance among the largest U.S. wireless carriers, J.D. Power and Associates recently announced that T-Mobile earned the second highest ranking in these three regions covering 32 states, tied in the Northeast.

T-Mobile ranked second out of four in both the Southeast and West regions, and tied in the Northeast. The Northeast region covers the seven states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Southeast region covers nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The West region covers 16 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

“T-Mobile’s ongoing commitment to making reliable connections available to more Americans continues to pay off as shown by the results of this J.D. Power study,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile USA. “In the past six months, we have continued to advance the performance of our 4G service while also driving improvements in call quality, reliability and the overall experience for our customers.”

The J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study measures consumers’ wireless network experience, based on 10 criteria that impact a carrier’s performance. Wireless phone subscribers surveyed were asked about their experiences with dropped calls, static/interference, connection on first try, immediate voice mail notification, message transmission failures and mobile Web and e-mail connection errors. Call quality and data performance were examined in six regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West.

Results of the 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM, Volume 2, are based on more than 22,000 Internet survey interviews conducted between January 2011 and June 2011.

Use social media to create a “halo effect” of excitement around your brand

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Jamie Grove

Jamie Grove of

By Allan Maurer

WASHINGTON, DC – While tracking social media related to your business and participating in discussions is important, “You shouldn’t obsess over either,” says Jamie Grove, vice president of Evil Schemes and Nefarious Plans (aka Marketing) at, the site where you can satisfy your geek lust with such things as pizza slicers shaped like Star Trek’s Enterprise.

Instead, when done right, social media create a “halo effect” around a brand in which customers create excitement around your brand.

Grove, who has worked online at places such as CompuServe before the Internet boom and as VP of e-commerce at Highlights for Children, has also been architect of several eCommerce websites and created iPhone apps, will talk about how retailers can use social media at the upcoming Digital East Conference at Tysons Corner, VA, Sept. 28.

Thinkgeek does things differently

“We do things a little differently at Thinkgeek,” Grove tells us. Once marketers “get hold of something, they tend to ruin it,” he says. “Most brands are trying to control the social media conversation. Many firms have poured resources into social media and now they’re scratching their heads trying to figure out how to make money from it. Our approach is more about participating in the community and celebrating it.”

That is a direction we’ll see more companies taking, he predicts, noting that it’s based on a really simple idea: treat your customers the way they want to be treated.


A top 200 online retailer, Thinkgeek focuses on fun gifts and toys. The 12-year-old firm has revenue of about $100 million annually. The company describes its genesis this way on its website:

“ThinkGeek started as an idea. ThinkGeek started as a way to serve a market that was passionate about technology, from programmers, engineers, students, lovers of open source, to the masses that helped create the behind-the-scenes Internet culture.

“Three out of the four founding ThinkGeek members started an ISP in the Northern Virginia area way way back in 1995. We couldn’t afford Solaris, learned about a free UNIX-like OS, and spent almost an entire day downloading it onto over 50 floppies for installation on an old 486 laptop with no cd-rom (thanks Slackware!). After a few years with the ISP gig, the ThinkGeek idea popped into our heads, and, operating out of a spare room at the ISP office we setup shop and launched the site on Friday the 13th, 1999.

“A month or so later we were Slashdotted. Promptly thereafter, ThinkGeek was acquired by the good folks at Andover.Net who through an acquisition and a bunch of name changes, is now known as Geeknet. So we’re part of a cool gaggle of sites including,,, and”

Grove says the first thing a retailer getting into social media needs to consider is “what are you going to talk about?” A lot of companies come out “blabbing about themselves all the time basically,” and that’s the wrong way to go. “People like to associate themselves with brands,” Grove says, “But they don’t want to hear about them all the time.

“Stop trying to use social media as an acquisition channel.” In fact, he says, company’s would be better off putting their social media into the hands of staff responsible for customer satisfaction rather than acquisition. “Put it in retention, not acquisition,” he says.

What brought the customer to you in the first place?

Be careful before you outsource your social media functions, he warns. “A lot of large firms outsource to PR companies or corporate communications. Those folks are not always in touch with your brand, so that may not be the best strategy. Find someone in your company who uses social media and is passionate about your brand. That’s the type of person you want handling your social media.

He suggests, “Think about what draws that customer to you in the first place.” In Thinkgeek’s case, he notes, “We’re a geeky company and we celebrate the geeky product line we sell. We share our geekiness with others. So, conversations revolve around topics such as “Star Wars,” or “Star Trek,” gadgets, computer stuff, or other things that bring its customers to the site. “Get into it,” he says. “Interact with followers. Point out other people in the community.”

Thinkgeek has done that with a variety of approaches. “We’re the granddaddy of Internet pranksters,” he says. “We create fake products. Last year it was a Playmobile Apple computer store.” Sometimes the company will actually makes and sells them if they’re popular enough, such as the iCade, a retro game arcade cabinet for the iPad it launched this year.

Grove says you should do as much tracking as you can, but don’t obsess over it. “We’re very heavily into paid search and affiliate marketing so it’s in my nature to collect a lot of data and analyze it. But don’t obsess. Build tracking in where ever you can.”

It’s probably a mistake to look at social media just for ROI, he notes. “When you’re really good at social media, you get a halo effect,” he says. “Social media sharing creates deep interest in a brand. People get excited about what you’re doing and share it, creating excitement around your brand.”




Some states enjoy Internet connections 10X faster than others

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

PandoTracking downloads by 4 millions users across the country from January through June 2011, a Pando Networks’ study revealed that some states are averaging connectivity speeds as much as ten times faster than those in other cities (see interactive maps at bottom).

The most striking findings were the core differences between the average speeds on a state-by-state basis. The data indicates that the fastest state was Rhode Island at an average of 894 KBps, which was almost three times faster than the slowest, Idaho, which had a dismal 318KBps. Rhode Island and Idaho may stand out as the extremities, but the disparities they highlight reflect more expansive, regional trends. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region contained eight of the ten fastest states.

With California, Oregon, and Washington in the top 15, the West coast was also a remarkably a speedy region. On the other hand, the rural Midwest and Mountain-West states of which Idaho is a member comprise nine of the ten slowest states. Middle America’s slow connectivity could be representative of its more widespread populations and a lower demand for high-speed data infrastructure.

Generally, the slower downloading, rural states were also the least likely to complete a download once begun, with some notable exceptions. Users in Hawaii, dealing with a fairly sluggish average of 432KBps, still managed to complete 87% of their downloads. Colorado residents averaged a relatively slow 474KBps, but managed to complete 86% of their downloads.

Bucking the trend in the opposite direction, the District of Columbia enjoys an average of 759KBps but only completes 80% of downloads. Such findings suggest high-speed internet users may not necessarily hold the most stable connections (or be the most patient internet users). Culver City, CA, the headquarters of Pando Networks client Riot Games, had the highest average completion rate at 98%.

More interesting findings are visible when the data is broken down to the city level. The fastest download averages tend to be concentrated in fairly affluent, metropolitan suburbs. Topping the list is Andover, a suburb of Boston with a median income of $114,000 and average download speeds of 2,801KBps.

Other notable, high-average suburbs include Burke, VA (an average of 1,674 KBps) outside of DC and Santa Monica, CA outside of Los Angeles (1,428KBps, with an average completion rate of 96%).

Keeping with the statewide trends, the slowest downloading towns tend to be in rural areas with low incomes. Taking the bottom spot is Pocatello, a small community in Idaho with a median income of $34,000. Other notably slow communities include Yuma, AZ (290KBps) in the Mojave desert and Mission, TX (270KBps) near the Mexican border.

Also notable are the wide margins between the various major ISPs. Excluding business and private networks, the data puts Comcast Cable at the top spot, averaging download speeds of 890KBps. Other notables near the top of the list included Verizon (788KBps) and Cox (757KBps). At 673KBps, Road Runner was the slowest of the major broadband providers.

Such wide gaps also exist amongst the providers of wireless 3G and 4G data plans. Topping the list are AT&T with an average of 416KBps and Sprint with a respectable 391KBps. T-Mobile turned in an average of 364KBps, Verizon Wireless had an average of 216KBps and ALLTEL was the slowest with an average of 155KBps.

More specific city and ISP-related data can be requested from

Average Completion Rate by State (%)

Average Download Speed By State (Kilobytes Per Second)

Facebook is good for research as well as advertising for politicians, study says

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Facebook logoWASHINGTON, DC -A DC Facebook agency says the popular social network a good tool for research as well as advertising for politicians, providing insights about the issues people care about and that have the most motivating power.

SocialCode, a full-service Facebook agency and subsidiary of The Washington Post Company, disclosed results from a new Republican political message study conducted on Facebook. The study was designed to demonstrate how the world’s largest social networking platform, when used correctly, can be a powerful research tool for politicians and brands.

“We believe this message test shows just how effective Facebook is as both an advertising and research platform for brands and politicians,” said Laura O’Shaughnessy, general manager at SocialCode. “Campaigns like this on Facebook give advertisers powerful insights into specific audiences and messages and allow advertisers to quickly understand what is resonating with a targeted group.”

SocialCode conducted a randomized campaign among Facebook users in Iowa and New Hampshire to gauge the power of specific messages for seven potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Between May 23 and June 4, Facebook users in these critical early voting states were asked to show support by clicking “Like” in response to randomly displayed image combinations of seven declared or prospective candidates (or a GOP elephant) with five common Republican messages.


  • On every message former Alaska governor Sarah Palin received the highest “Like” rate in both New Hampshire and Iowa;
  • “Values” rank fourth of the five-item message list across candidates, but it’s a major driver for Palin, who remains a shadow candidate. For Palin, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee, the values-oriented message performs significantly better than does a focus on the economy;
  • Palin is the only one of the seven potential candidates where economic messaging scores last;
  • Across candidates the most resonant GOP message is to tack against the president: of five common GOP themes for winning back the White House in 2012, a straight-ahead anti-Obama message tested best;
  • While President Obama’s re-election hopes may hinge on the fate of the nation’s struggling economy, from a pure policy standpoint it is the president’s health care overhaul that generates the sharpest opposition in this online message test;
  • While some GOP strategists see Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health plan as his Achilles’ heel in the nomination fight, an “anti-ObamaCare” message performs nearly as well for the former governor as does an economic one, the one he’s made the centerpiece of this bid for the GOP nod;
  • Romney and health care combination performed better online than did a combination of health care and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

Rank order of 2012 GOP messages (by “Like” rate)

Message Overall Iowa New Hampshire
Anti-Obama 26% 24% 27%
Healthcare 21% 23% 20%
Economy 18% 19% 17%
Values 17% 17% 18%
National security 17% 17% 18%
  • By State – in Iowa, the health care message rivals the basic anti-Obama meme, but in New Hampshire, the health care message fails to resonate as clearly;
  • By Age – the economy is a stronger message for younger adults in Iowa and New Hampshire than it is for those aged 30 and up. Across the two states, it’s particularly important for those aged 25 to 29. Values-based and national security messages are the lowest performers across all age groups;
  • By Gender – the anti-Obama message resonates far better with men than it does with women.

“If the 2008 campaign proved one thing, it’s that social media works when it comes to reaching voters who are researching issues online, reading blogs and debating issues with friends on Facebook,” continued O’Shaughnessy. “SocialCode’s methodology is focused on getting the exact right ads in front of users, allowing politicians and brands to tailor messages to maximize positive response among different segments of the population.”

SocialCode, a subsidiary of the Washington Post Company, is a full-service Facebook agency. SocialCode’s unique tools are built on a research engine that offers analytics and information for advertisers that far surpasses what they could get anywhere else. With advanced quantitative methods, SocialCode specializes in building targeted communities, engaging those audiences and monetizing potential customers all while conducting research to inform strategy.

Rabid Wolverines: Why Argyle Social is the Test Case for Durham 2.0

Monday, February 28th, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Eric Boggs needs money, people, and maybe small arms.

He’ll be making the trip to Atlanta with hundreds of other entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, and, well, me, for this year’s Southeast Venture Conference (hosted by TechMedia, the fine folks behind this very digital publication) on March 2nd and 3rd.

But for Eric and the company he co-founded, social media marketing software company Argyle Social as well as more than a handful of local early-stagers, this is more than just handshaking and a demo.

It’s a revolution.

Viva Argyle!

A little history.  Argyle Social was formed roughly 15 months ago when Eric and Adam Covati decided they had found their product. The two had always planned on starting a company, so much so that when Eric graduated from Kenan-Flagler in 2009 (a return trip after several years as the first employee at Bronto), he didn’t bother looking for a job. He knew starting a company was in his blood, it was just a matter of what to make.

Ten months later, at (yet another ridiculously valuable startup event from TechMedia) Internet Summit, Argyle won Best in Show. Go figure that a social media marketing company  took home the voter prize – Eric cringes at the thought of what losing would have said about the company. The prize included a March-Madness-like automatic bid to present to investors at this year’s SEVC.

Diaper Dandies?

Not that they needed the automatic invite, however, as Argyle is one of several promising early stage startups in the RTP. They raised their seed round earlier this year with investors like Idea Fund Partners, who themselves have a pretty decent sense of what’s going to work, along with iContact’s Aaron Houghton, ReverbNation’s Jed Carlson, and Shoeboxed’s Taylor Mingos; dudes who know a thing or two about starting up.

Their board, which includes Idea Fund’s Lister Delgado as well as Stephen Vanderwoude, has been of enormous value to Argyle, and it’s a good bet they’ll be very helpful down in Atlanta as well. Argyle is looking for three to four million in a Series A round, with which they hope to release the rabid wolverines.

Rabid Wolverines?

Yes. Rabid wolverines.

Sorry. This is something of an inside joke. No wait, it’s totally an inside joke, one that came out of Argyle when software engineer Mike Novi stated that’s how they should attack their target segment. So they put “rabid wolverines” in the job posting, to highlight the productivity expectations, and they tweeted it, and that in turn got picked up by Fast Company as one of the reasons why startups have an edge on hiring rock star talent.

Downtown Durham’s Alpha Release

Argyle is one of the first, if not the first, product born of the revitalization of Durham as an entrepreneurial hub.

They’re in downtown Durham in the Snow Building, an art-deco landmark on Main Street. And by “landmark” I mean it has the single most frightening elevator I’ve ever ridden in, including downtown London and the Tower of Terror. Eric and Adam are both products of other local startups. Their investors include the aforementioned successful entrepreneurs, all of whom are still diligently at work locally building their companies.

That’s evidence enough right there, but Eric and Adam have also spoken, presented, or attended most of the startup 2.0-style meetups and events. They’re an NC Idea grant winner. And as mentioned, they pivoted from there to Internet Summit and now SEVC.

They also have seven full-time employees, customers, revenue, and measurable growth, including doubling revenue month over month in 2011 thus far.

How can you not want to find out how this is going to play out?

“We’re Going to Succeed”

Eric is not just of hopeful for Argyle’s success, he’s convinced of it. Whether the next big step comes out of SEVC or not, whether it’s this investor or that, no matter the amount of tweaks to the plan or the strategy, they’re going to make it.

It isn’t a boastful thing, it’s a competitive thing and an aggressive thing. A wolverine thing.

And that ethos isn’t just limited to Eric and Argyle. SEVC will be packed with half-a-dozen companies presenting, and likely dozens of other entrepreneurs or soon-to-be entrepreneurs, who will someday evolve into the companies that solidify the RTP’s hold on the startup map.

I use Argyle as one example, the proof that Downtown Durham, and all the efforts going into the revitalization of the RTP as an entrepreneurial hub, and all these second-wave startups and the ever-increasing number of organizations and people and resources that are becoming available – deep breath – are all working.

So bring on the wolverines. It’s their time.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet.  He also retains ownership in consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media. In full disclosure, StatSheet and Argyle have what can only be called a “full-blown ping-pong feud” underway. It’s bloody. Joe can be reached via twitter:


LivingSocial describes how it’s handling negative response to its Amazon deal

Monday, January 31st, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – LivingSocial sold an amazing 3.5 million Amazon discount cards in a deal that vaulted its traffic to new highs but also caused some difficulties for the second largest social deals company. We reported on the deal and its trials and tribulations in  previous posts.

We asked LIvingSocial how it has responded to the problems the deal created and the company responded with the following unattributed comments:

“LivingSocial combs through all purchases after the sale closes to prevent scammers. As this was one of the biggest days in online sales in history, the LivingSocial team was working as quick as possible to manage the high volume of sales and customer care requests.. Overall, on a percentage basis, the number of customer care requests were on par with a normal deal.

To handle the influx of inquiries, LivingSocial updated its help page with a designated link to answer questions specifically about the gift card voucher and alerted customers that confirmation emails might be slightly delayed due to the overwhelming success of the gift card deal.

Using Twitter, LivingSocial tried to address customer complaints by directing them to the help page and confirming that customer service reps were working hard to get back to everyone in a timely matter.”

In the LivingSocial help section, they addressed the issue of delayed email confirmation and receipt of a redemption code. Here, they also provided information on how the service works on any other day, such as instructions on how to receive a gift card for free when three of your friends also buy the voucher.

Now, on LivingSocial’s homepage, there’s a clear link to Amazon deal purchasers to assist them with redeeming and applying their LivingSocial voucher to their Amazon account.”

LivingSocial is the second largest player in the hot social deals space, which is led by Chicago-based Groupon.

We suspect the influx of new customers – assuming most had no more trouble redeeming the deal than we did – will outweigh the difficulties the company had with some people on the deal. But we continue to watch how it handles the response to criticism, since that can itself be a “big deal” online.

–Allan Maurer

Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournal South dot com.

LivingSocial gained 80 percent boost from Amazon deal, but some had problems

Friday, January 28th, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – LivingSocial, the local social deals rival to Chicago-based Groupon, boosted its traffic by 80 percent selling a $20 Amazon card for $10 last week, but the deal spawned a rash of negative comments on the LivingSocial Facebook page and stories about the deal across the Web on sites that allow comments.

Some LivingSocial users complained they still had not received their paid for deal days afterward. Some users apparently tried to take advantage of the deal more than once, which is not allowed. Others claimed they were unfairly accused of doing so. Complaints ranged from credit card problems to the way LivingSocial agents responded. Many complaints about the company were harsh.

We have requested a response from LivingSocial both when we did our original story on the deal last week and again this morning.

Hitwise Intelligence data shows that LivingSocial “closed the gap” between it and Groupon, with its traffic surging 80 percent while Groupon’s actually fell 20 percent. Hitwise suggests that means that “the race for dominance in the group coupon space is far from over.” Mashable opined that LivingSocial’s traffic is likely to return to Earth this week, although the company likely gained many new members and national attention, good and bad, from the deal.

Groupon is recognized at the 800-pound gorilla in the space. Groupon turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google, which is launching Google Offers, its own version of social deals amid rumors that Facebook may also become a competitor, further demonstrating how hot the sector remains.

Not all comments on stories about LivingSocial’s Amazon deal were negative. One pointed out that in a deal this size (reportedly 1.3 million people bought the Amazon discount, the company says) there are always some disgruntled customers. However, the way a company deals with such responses on a social media platform and otherwise can seriously affect its business going forward.

The Amazon deal followed the online retail giant’s investing $175 million in LivingSocial, the second larger player in the space currently.

I noted in our first story that I bought the Amazon discount card from LivingSocial using a credit card and had no problems with the deal.

For more see: Was LivingSocial’s Big Amazon Deal a Bust?

–Allan Maurer

Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournal South dot com.

Virginia-based GridPoint electrifies with $23.6M in funding for smart grid tech

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

ARLINGTON, VA - GrindPoint Inc., which sells smart grid software and services, has raised $23.6 million in new funding, according to a regulatory filing. The company has raised $229 million over five rounds since 2006.

Investors in the company include Goldman Sachs, New Enterprise Associates, Susquehanna Private Equity, Perella Weinberg Partners, and Robeco.

Principals listed in the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing the new funding, in addition to company executives include:

J. Roderick Heller, Carnton Capital Associates, Washington, D.C.; Jeffrey Berman, Greenhouse Schools project, London; Robert Mancini, Cogentrix Energy, Inc., Charlotte, NC; Tom Soto, Craton Equity Partners, Los Angeles; Jacob Worenklein, US Power Generating Company, New York, Larry M. Kellerman, Goldman Sachs; Stephen Lehner Morgan Stanley; David W. Mohler, CTO, Duke Energy; Joseph M. Perta, Advanced Software Systems Inc., Sterling, VA; Paul J. Powers, Jr., partner, Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke, NY; George P. Stamas, Kirkland & Ellis, Washington, D.C.; and Eric C. Taubenheim, Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, NY.

GridPoint is working with several utilities including Duke Energy and Xcel Energy, which has selected the GridPoint Platform for its $100 million SmartGridCity initiative in Boulder, Colorado.

The platform applies information technology to the electric grid to provide utilities with an intelligent network of distributed energy resources that controls load, stores energy and produces power.

It offers utilities a single interface, located in a utility’s control room, for managing a variety of distributed energy assets including plug-in electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, advanced storage technologies and household devices such as thermostats, electric water heaters, pool pumps, and so on.

PointAbout raising funding round for mobile app development platform

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Point AboutWASHINGTON, DC – PointAbout, a DC-based company that has developed a mobile app development platform, is raising a round of funding from Charles River Ventures and angel investors.

On its Web site, PointAbout brags that its mobile development efforts were “location aware back when FourSquare was still only a game that elementary school kids played at recess.”

The 28-employee company has one patent pending on its technology.

Its more than 30 clients include Disney, Burger King, Kohl’s and The Washington Post.

The company, which opened a San Francisco office recently, was featured in the Sept. Fast Company magazine.

M&A roundup: acquisitions in Maryland, Georgia, DC

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

SK12SOUTHEAST – The summer doldrums are upon us, with a noticeable slacking of funding stories weekly, but tech related merger and acquisitions continue at a pace of about half a dozen or so weekly in the Southeast.

Scantron Corp. acquires Spectrum K12 Solutions

TOWSON, MD -In yet another deal involving a Southeast-based company with education-related software,  Scantron Corp. has acquired Spectrum K12 School Solutions, a recognized industry leader in providing response to intervention, student achievement management and special education software solutions. No financial details were reported.

Spectrum K12 complements and enhances the solutions currently being delivered to the education market by Scantron. Spectrum K12 develops, markets and sells products and services that allow educators to evaluate individual student academic progress.

This is the third deal involving Southeast educational software companies we’ve seen in the last two quarters. It’s obviously a space undergoing some consolidation.

Georgia’s Southwire agrees to acquire Tappan

CARROLLTON, GA – Southwire Co., which sells wire and cable industry products, has bought New York – based Tappan Wire & Cable Inc. . Tappan has headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Blauvelt, New York. Financial details were not disclosed.

Tappan supplies the electronics, signal/control and industrial markets.

SB Nation buys The Sporting Blog

WASHINGTON, DC – SB Nation, a network of sports blogs, has purchased The Sporting Blog, published by Charlotte-based Financial terms were not disclosed.

SB Nation raised $8 million in funding led by Comcast INteractive Capital a year ago. It runs more than 270 sports-related blogs. It gives its writers, mostly amateur sports fans, SB Nation equity and a share of ad revenue, an unusual arrangement in the blogging world.

Contact Tech Journal South Editor and writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Fortius One locates $4.9M for geo data analysis

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Fortius OneWASHINGTON, DC – Fortius One, a company selling a local data analysis solution, has raised $4.9 million of a targeted $5.9 million offering, according to a regulatory filing. Current investors Donald Spero, Stephen Walker, Cole Van Nice, Chart Venture Partners and Robert Smith are cited in the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fortius One raised a $5.45 million B round from Walker’s Invetement Fund II, SBIC, Spero’s New Market’s Growth Fund, Chart Venture Partners and In-Q-Tel and Frank Bonsal, a New Enterprise Associates founding partner.

Founded in 2005, the company set out to change the way organizations visualize and analyze data for real-time problem solving.

The company says devastating worldwide events such as the London bombings and Hurricane Katrina proved that legacy data analysis tools and techniques which used dated, static location information were no longer effective means for data sharing, risk mitigation or crisis response.

So, the company says, it  launched GeoIQ, the first completely web-based location analysis platform, with the capability to unleash a world of dynamic location information that had previously been locked in proprietary databases.

Fortius One was one of TechJournal South’s Tech 50 companies to watch in 2008.

Contact Tech Journal South Editor and writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.