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November 30, 2011

Baltimore startup Woofound raises $750K

A Middle River start-up, Woofound, raised $750,000 in equity financing recently, according to an SEC filing today.

That's a good chunk of money for a startup in Baltimore. That's what 410Labs, co-founded by Dave Troy, raised several months ago.

The Middle River-based company has built a web platform that seems to help people identify their interests in the world using a straightforward ME/NOT ME dichotomy. The company is calling it "intelligent discovery," which seems to be made possible by tagging experiences.

Hmm. I'm eager to try it. Especially on mobile.

For the moment, the website is still in beta (I signed up; waiting approval to join). They've got a mobile site, and are working on native smartphone apps for iOS and Android.

So who's behind Woofound? Daniel Sines is one of the folks listed on the SEC filing. Here's some info about him over at

Here's their video describing the product.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

November 29, 2011

Geek On A Train: Surveying the East Coast Startup Scene by Rail


The East Coast tech scene is a pretty silo'ed place. You obviously have entrepreneurs and investors up and down the coast, from Boston to New York to Baltimore to DC. But everybody usually seems to play in their own market, for the most part.

Some in Baltimore (including yours truly) are yearning for a more regional perspective. After kicking around some ideas on a Facebook group, a Baltimore tech geek named Mike Subelsky (that's him above, in my own mockup illustration -- hope you don't mind, Mike!) came up with an idea:

Why not ride an Amtrak train up and down the East Coast for a day, talk to startups along the way, and blog, tweet, video, podcast like a crazy fool about the "Amtrak Corridor" tech scene?

"My idea was to meet with at least one tech leader in each city," Subelsky said. "Maybe somebody you don't normally hear from, the on-the-ground entrepreneurs."

It's an idea, I posit, that could only come out of Baltimore. This city is basically at the crossroads of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. We don't think we're at the center of the universe. We're open to getting to know our neighbors well. For now, Subelsky's calling it "Geek(s) on a Train" -- which makes reference to another nerd effort called "Geeks on a Plane," which takes entrepreneurs and investors to visit tech companies in foreign lands.

I spoke with Subelsky today and he's lined up a sponsor to cover his Amtrak ticket for a day. He's got an itinerary planned out, with stops in cities such as Washington, Baltimore (obviously), Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

He's looking to undertake the trip in January and, most importantly, he's eager to hear from startups up and down the East Coast from Washington to Boston. He hopes to spend an hour at each stop, conduct audio interviews with entrepreneurs, and then hop back on the train and post updates by blog and Twitter. He's also planning a podcast that'll cover his entire trip.

If you're on the East Coast between Boston and Washington and want to be a part of Mike's "Geek on a Train" adventure, he'll take your email at And feel free to cc: me on it, too, over at

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

November 28, 2011

PayPal: consumers have been pretty busy on Cyber Monday

I just got an email from the PayPal PR folks who are touting some Cyber Monday statistics:

* By mid-day today, PayPal had seen a 514 percent increasing in mobile payments compared to the same period last year.

* And over on eBay, the Cyber Monday special of a white Apple iPad for $449 ($50 off MSRP), sold out in less than two hours today. More than four iPads were bought per minute.

Meanwhile, the LA Times says Cyber Monday this year could reach a record $1.2 billion in sales.

Did you buy anything online today?

Below is a snapshot from Costco's Website -- they sure were playing up Cyber Monday today:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:14 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 23, 2011

Facebook buys Baltimore company that sued it: report


Sometimes the surest way to get noticed by a giant is to just sue them.

A small Baltimore company that sued Facebook two years ago was reportedly acquired by the mega-social-networking company earlier this month.

WhoGlue Inc., a company owned and operated by Jason Hardebeck (that's him above), said in an interview this morning that he sold his company for an undisclosed amount to Facebook in early November. The lawsuit that he had filed against Facebook -- for infringing on a patent titled "distributed personal relationship information management system and methods" -- was settled last year in a "very positive" way, Hardebeck said, and he and Facebook execs kept in touch.

"It's not typically how you introduce yourself to someone, to serve them with papers," Hardebeck said. "My experience with Facebook was very positive, very surprising, given its perception in the press and certainly from the movie [The Social Network]. It turns out that they are really good guys."

Facebook has bought several companies over the years. The WhoGlue acquisition appears to be the first acquisition by Facebook in Baltimore. [List of Facebook acquisitions.]

WhoGlue specializes in designing private social networks, for member groups, such as alumni associations. Hardebeck sees a future where public social networks interact with private networks more seamlessly.

He declined to comment on what exactly Facebook acquired from WhoGlue Inc. As part of the deal, Hardebeck ended up buying back some assets, trademarks and customer relationships from Facebook, and formed a new company, WhoGlue LLC, that can continue to operate the same business. WhoGlue had about a dozen shareholders, including the big tech company Siemens, which created the technology in the patent that WhoGlue held.

Hardebeck declined to say if the patent was sold as part of the Facebook deal. But he made clear that his company's sale didn't mean an early retirement for him. He intended to keep working in the same industry.

"Where we intend to go is where the world is going," Hardebeck said. "Eventually, public social networks will need to interact with private social networks."

"What we've beeen working on for 12 years just gets accelerated," Hardebeck said. "There's a very good chance now that we go out and get big fast."

WhoGlue consists of just two full-time employees, Hardebeck and a developer in Berlin. The company also works with contractors, he said.

I have a request for comment into Facebook. The deal was first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal.

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November 21, 2011

Cyber (Mobile) Monday?

Personally, I hate shopping when advertisers and marketers tell me to shop. And I'm just not excited by cutthroat deals on a product, just because it's a great deal and kinda/sorta what I want, but not really.

So what moves my needle? Getting my holiday shopping done as quickly and painlessly as possible, without waiting in long lines and without killing hours and hours sprinting from store to store.

I'm talking quick and painless. And if possible, while sitting on my couch.

For the past couple years, I've done my shopping on my iPhone. Yes, I'm an early adapter. But two years ago, I gave myself a test, to see if I could buy all my Christmas gifts online, with my iPhone. And I did -- while sitting on my couch. I had the gifts shipped either to my house, or direct to my relatives.

If this isn't the future, I don't know what is.

So, for this holiday shopping season, the most interesting tech and retail story to watch will be how mobile shopping fares. Will people be using their smartphones and tablets to browse for gifts from their living room? What if it really booms? How will retailers act and react? No doubt, retailers will have to cater to savvy shoppers who comparison shop in stores with their mobile phones.

Reuters put together a good story on the topic.

Some salient factoids from the article:

The 300 largest U.S. mobile merchants, led by Inc, will generate $5.37 billion in sales through mobile devices this year, more than double 2010, according to a recent survey by Internet Retailer.


The peak day for mobile holiday shopping is expected to be the second Sunday in December (Dec. 11 this year), according to PayPal, the online payments business owned by eBay Inc. That's the last non-work day when orders will be shipped in time for Christmas. Last year on that day, total payment volume, or TPV, transmitted by mobile devices through PayPal's system was $4.7 million. This year PayPal expects more than $10 million of TPV on that shopping day.

I wish I could say I'll see you at the mall this season. But nope, instead you'll find me on my couch, shopping.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

Report: Alleged Wikileaks leaker to face military hearing at Fort Meade

Bradley Manning, the U.S. serviceman who is blamed for leaking thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, will be facing a military hearing in Fort Meade, here in Maryland, on Dec. 16, according to the Guardian via Twitter.

[We also have the story now, here.]

Manning, a US Army soldier, was arrested in Iraq more than a year ago and has been held oftentimes in isolation, with his supporters and advocates decrying his treatment at the hands of the US government. (See his Wikileaks page for more background.)

I'm not sure yet what exactly is the "military hearing" that the Guardian is reporting, but I'll post more when it becomes available.

This undoubtedly means that national, and even international, media could flock to Maryland for Manning's hearing. Manning's case -- and his treatment -- have been a big, ongoing story.

Update: I've put out a request for more details to the U.S. Army folks in Washington. Will update when I get more.

Update #2: U.S. Army spokeswoman confirmed to me via email that Manning's hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16. More details to come as I receive them.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:43 AM | | Comments (0)

November 16, 2011

Baltimore's 1st EduHackDay: the results

This past weekend, Baltimore's first "EduHackDay" was held over at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore.

Educators teamed up with computer geeks to build web and mobile apps for education. In many ways, Baltimore is becoming a little hotbed of education technology, and this grassroots effort to percolate ideas was a great effort.

I didn't get a chance to go to the event, because I was out of town. But with the help of Mike Brenner, one of the co-organizers and an advocate and conncector of startups in Baltimore, I'll share some details.

In Mike's words, here's how the weekend-long event unfolded:

We had roughly 70 attendees: ~ 40 developres, 20 designers, 10 teachers. We let the teachers pitch their ideas, read some some educator ideas that were pitched on our wish list from a global pool of teachers, and then let developers come up and pitch their own ideas. From that, we ended up voting on our favorite ideas, ending up with 10 ideas to work on throughout the weekend.

[On the] last night we had the 10 teams demo what they built to a panel of judges and the results are below.

Quick take away from me: I wanted to stimulate more activity from within our entrepreneurial community and thought education was a worthy customer / product to go after. I didn't expect folks to reinvent curriculum this weekend but I wanted to put the right problems and people in the room to show that there's a viable opportunity to build education technology products here in Baltimore. We need to be building less photo sharing apps and instead, more things that are meaningful.

The judges were:

Frank Bonsal, general partner at New Markets Venture Partners
Matt Van Italie, CAO of Baltimore City Schools, KIPP, McKinsey
Brian Eyer, Principal at Digital Harbor High School
Tom “TK” Kuegler, GP at Wasabi Ventures
Tom Murdock, Founder at Moodlerooms
Bill Ferguson, State Senator for Maryland
Scott Messinger, City Schools Teacher & Ed Tech Founder

The winning app ideas:

1st - Digital Harbor

2nd - Pluck

3rd - Pedante

4th - ParentConnect

5th - Board Speak

6th - CheckPlus

7th - Hey, Teacher

8th - What's Due?

9th - Baltimore School Watch

10th - Toader, a MakerBot project

Below are some screen shots of some of the projects:






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Hey Google: Let 410Labs show you how to launch an email app

If you're like me, so much of your emailing -- especially quick, short bursts -- is done while on the move, using a smartphone like the iPhone.

Shortmail, a new product launched by Baltimore startup 410Labs earlier this year, is all about short, quick messaging while tying together email, Twitter and the public Web. A few months ago, I remember asking 410Labs' cofounder Dave Troy if they were planning an iPhone app, and he said one was in the works.

Lo and behold, today it's here in the App Store. And for comparison's sake, unlike the Gmail app, which was introduced a couple weeks ago, pulled for bugs and then reinstated today coincidentally, I haven't spotted any bugs in the Shortmail app (yet). For starters, I like how you can easily claim multiple Shortmail accounts for your Twitter handles. Also, the app has some fun little sound effects, believe it or not. And overall, the design of the app is just fun and easy on the eyes. Kudos to whomever designed it.

FYI: My Shortmail is Gussent(at)shortmail(dot)com.

Here's a look at one of the Shortmail screens:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:38 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 15, 2011

Maryland Internet outage survey -- an early trend

We're into Day 3 of the BaltTech Maryland Internet Outage survey, and I want to share an early, interesting trend from this unscientific sampling. Btw, have you taken the survey yet? If not, and you're a Maryland resident, go here to take it -- it'll take you one minute, I promise.

So here's an interesting trend that's emerging already, from 60+ survey takers. The longest period that most survey takers' Internet stopped working was 24+ hours. The next longest is less than an hour. It seems when the Internet goes down, it's either a minor glitch -- or a major one. (The two -- "less than an hour" and "24+ hours" are really neck and neck at this point.)


Please take the survey!

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:23 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 13, 2011

Silly SNL Skit: "We're gonna make technology hump"

For the hard-core tech geeks among us, this Saturday Night Live skit from last night might make you giggle.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Geeks

November 11, 2011

BaltTech survey: Maryland Internet outages -- How do they affect you?

This week, I reported here on a Verizon outage that knocked out Internet service to 5,000 customers -- no wait, 22,000 customers -- including 20,000+ Baltimore city government email accounts.

It is difficult to gauge the quality, reliability and accountability of our Internet service providers. So, to follow-up, I'm conducting a survey to gather data from across the Baltimore region (and beyond, too) on these Internet outages. If you're a Maryland resident who has been affected by an Internet outage in the last 12 months, please share your experiences below.

I will share the results (though not any personally identifying information) with readers in a few weeks.

This survey will be open until Monday, Nov. 21st.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:05 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*

This Monday: Maryland's first Entrepreneur Expo

Hey -- are you an entrepreneur? Are you busy working your tail off every day to bring your dream to life?

Well, you may want to take a break on Monday to visit the state's first Entrepreneur Expo, over at the BWI Airport Marriott. There'll be lots of networking and schmoozing, I'm sure. And some noteworthy speakers, too. (Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend -- I'll be traveling that day, a "geek on a plane," so to speak.)

There is a registration fee. Details here.

TEDCO, the state agency that's lead organizing the event, says the Entrepreneur Expo will include:

• The Marketplace: home to business, university, technology transfer and entrepreneur exhibits and demos.

• Innovation Launch Pad: featuring Maryland’s coolest entrepreneurs, a panel of judges and live voting.

• Mentoring: More than 50 mentors on-hand all day for one-on-one business consultations.

• Entrepreneur Open Mic: a public forum like no other for entrepreneurs to create their own buzz.

• Social Media Clubhouse: for social media wanna-be’s up to pro engagers.

• Town Square: where all the action begins and continues throughout the day.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Events (Baltimore area)

Baltimore city gov phones set for a big VoIP upgrade

Baltimore's municipal phone system -- the phones that city workers use to do their jobs -- is set for a big upgrade.

The city comptroller's office is overseeing the process, which is moving steadily along. This week, a partnership between IBM and Avaya, was the only entity to meet the requirements for the city's RFP. The next step is for the city to consider a pricing bid from them. So far, IBM/Avaya has estimated to the city that the new system - a Voice over Internet Protocal system, or VoIP -- will cost $7.6 million to implement, according to Comptroller Joan Pratt, who spoke with me on Wednesday.

I hear the city has about 7,500 phones lines. One insight into how the current system works: when daylight savings time occurred last weekend, city technicians how to go to each city building and change the time on a "key system unit" -- a central box used to reset the time on each phone in that particular building, according to Pratt. (No, city techs did not manually change the clocks on every single phone, as one tipster suggested to us.)

With the new VoIP system, a task like a time change across thousands of phones will be able to handled remotely, from one location, according to Pratt.

Interestingly, in 1995, the city upgraded its phone system -- consisting of 9,900 phones -- for $7.2 million. Here's the Baltimore Sun article about it.

In that article, the city touted the savings it would reap -- several milllion a year at the time -- from the then-new phone system. I'll try to find out if the city sees any projected savings this time around with the VoIP system.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Government Tech

November 9, 2011

Verizon Internet outage actually affected 22,000 customers in Maryland, PLUS 22,000 Baltimore city employees

Verizon today revised upward the number affected by an Internet outage early this week to 22,000 customers, including residential, commercial and government, according to a company spokeswoman.

Yesterday, Verizon gave me an initial report that around 5,000 customers had been affected from Sunday to Monday, from the Baltimore metro area to parts of Montgomery County. The cause: a faulty router.

I had wondered aloud on Twitter if that 5,000 number sounded right. Not to toot my horn here, but if not for my questioning, the public would not have a sense of the scope of Verizon's Internet outage. It should not have to be this way.

Should Internet outage reporting by Internet providers in Maryland be more transparent? Should Internet providers give customers -- and the media -- the scope of an outage, so consumers, business and government clients can be informed? So much of our economy and daily living now runs directly through the Internet.

This morning, Sandra Arnette, a Verizon spokeswoman, emailed me the revised number when I asked about outages for Baltimore City employees. Rico Singleton, Baltimore Chief Information Officer, said in a Facebook comment at the Baltimore Tech Page that 22,000 Baltimore city government customers were affected, and the city had to work with Verizon to design workarounds for the network. Those city customers were city employees.

Slightly confusing: Arnette told me that 22,000 was the total outage number for the region, not just for one city agency. But Singleton told me in a follow-up exchange, that, yes indeed, 22,000 city employees' email accounts were affected by the Verizon Internet outage.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:59 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: *NEWS*

Maryland seeking consultant to guide new $70+ million InvestMaryland fund

This past year, Gov. O'Malley and the General Assembly pushed forward the Invest Maryland program, which plans to pump $70+ million into early and seed stage startup companies in the state over the next five years or so, to drive innovation and job creation.

I wrote about InvestMaryland in detail here, including the tax revenue and investment mechanics behind the plan. (Basically, the state is selling tax credits to insurance companies.)

So the state will use a consultant -- who is being sought through the RFP below -- who will advise the state and oversee the various venture capital firms that will compete to receive an investment from the state. Get it?

It looks like this consultant will play a big role in creating the nitty-gritty guidelines of how InvestMaryland will work on the ground and help the state manage a portion of the fund. The consultant will be asked to come up with an investment strategy for the venture capital firms that get access to the state money to invest.

What is not transparent in this RFP is how much the consultant can expect to be paid by the state. All it says is that the contract will be paid based on "mutually negotiated terms" out of the Department of Business and Economic Development's existing fund sources.

The report also lays out a timeframe that we can expect to see InvestMaryland follow as it "comes to market," so to speak. By June next year, the DBED Secretary intends to choose the VC firms that will invest Maryland's dollars in startup companies.

VCConsultantForInvestMaryland RFP

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 8, 2011

Verizon Internet outage: 5,000 customers affected, but you wouldn't know it

Over the last two days, I've gotten reports from coworkers and others on Twitter that their Verizon Internet service was down. It sounded like it was its DSL service, and the reports I picked up seemed to range from around Glen Burnie to North Baltimore. These weren't just people cheesed off about not being able to watch Netflix. These were small business owners who couldn't run credit cards, for instance.

I emailed a Verizon Maryland spokeswoman yesterday. Didn't hear back. Today, I went on Twitter and saw that Verizon had not tweeted about a significant outage in the Baltimore area. The vitriol directed at Verizon over its Internet service (just search @verizonsupport) is a bit astounding. (Sure, there are many who say they love FiOS, to be fair.)

As far as I can tell, Verizon's approach on Twitter was to handle every single customer complaint about the outage with a direct message. I could not find a record of any Tweet by @VerizonSupport that described the outage in broad, explanatory terms to Verizon's customers.

If @VerizonSupport did tweet out information about the outage, then I'd love for someone to point me to it, and I will amend and correct this blog post.

So today, I emailed the Verizon spokeswoman again, and called. This afternoon, I got an email response:

A router went down sometime late Sunday (11/6), early Monday morning (11/7) when a portion of the processing unit failed. Repairs were made and services restored around 3 p.m. yesterday. It’s my understanding that customers still experiencing difficulties need only reboot their routers at home and they should be back in business.

The statement didn't say how many customers were affected. So I emailed a followup question.

The response: Close to 5,000

Five thousand houses were without Internet service in the Baltimore area (updated: and parts of Montgomery County, too), and as far as I can tell, there was no public disclosure of this by Verizon, other than in response to my email questioning.

For comparison's sake, if you visit Baltimore Gas & Electric's website, a regulated utility by the Maryland Public Service Commssion, you'll see this super helpful map of power outages. In Anne Arundel County, six -- SIX -- people were without power on Tuesday afternoon. And BGE disclosed it to the public.

I asked Verizon's spokeswoman, Sandra Arnett, if the company would consider putting up an outage map for its phone and Internet customers.

In a followup email, Arnett told me: We don’t currently have an outage map. But, that is something we hope to develop soon to better keep our customers informed.

Verizon's telephone service is regulated by the PSC. But it's Internet service is not. The obvious question: If Internet service was regulated by the PSC, would Verizon have to do more to inform the community about Internet outages?

If you, as a Verizon customer, call the PSC to complain, it has to be about the phone service -- the PSC will just refer your Internet service complaint to the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. I'm waiting to hear back from them to see if they received any complaints about the Verizon outage this week.

UPDATE: I spoke with Alan Brody with the Maryland AG's office and he's trying to get me some consumer complaint data for Internet service in Maryland. In the meantime, if you have a complaint about your Internet service (with Verizon or another company), you can call 410-528-8662. 9 am to 3 pm Mon-Fri). Or visit:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:34 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: *NEWS*

Hopkins biotech startup raising $1M for eye disease treatment tech

A biotech startup called Graybug LLC is about two-thirds of the way to raising $1 million in equity financing from investors to fund its efforts to develop technologies to fight eye diseases.

Graybug filed the SEC disclosure today, and noted it had already raised $610,000.

Graybug's founder and CEO is Justin Hanes, a biotechnology professor at Johns Hopkins University who also co-founded Kala Pharmaceuticals.

Also listed on the filing as a director is Christy Wyskiel, who is a board member at another Baltimore biotech, BioMarker Strategies, and a CEO of Cureveda, another Baltimore biotech.

Baltimore biotechs continue to attract funding. Check out my coverage here from over the past couple years. The state's biotech tax credit has been a big help for biotech startups in Maryland, who are able to lure investors who then get a nice tax credit for the money they put into a biotech startup in this state. (Graybug raised the money without help from the state biotech tax credit.)

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BioTech, University Tech

Millennial Media snags InMobi exec to launch Southeast Asia operation

The mobile talent wars continue to heat up.

Mobile ad network Millennial Media said that it is expanding to Southeast Asia. It hired an executive away from a competitor -- after surveying numerous candidates -- to lead a team out of an office in Singapore.

Baltimore-based Millennial is a top, independent competitor in the nascent field of mobile advertising, going toe to toe with Google and Apple and others, such as InMobi, in the hot field of advertising on mobile devices.

Millennial hired an InMobi executive in Southeast Asia, Robert Woolfrey, to launch its Singapore office.

Mack McKelvey, a spokeswoman for Millennial, said in an email that Woolfrey's hiring was "more about Robert than his previous employer," and that "numerous candidates" were interviewed. She noted that Woolfrey had six years of collective experience working in mobile in Southeast Asia.

Millennial is a story of rapid growth for a Baltimore company that's at the forefront of the quickly-shifting mobile device landscape. Millennial Media was founded five years ago. It's growth was recently recognized by Inc. magazine in a survey that showed its revenues rose more than 3,000 percent from 2007 to 2010. And revenues last year totaled nearly $48 million.

Stephen Root, Millennial's chief operating officer, told me in an interview that Millennial is looking to hire 15-20 people to be based in Singapore and to cover the region, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Phillipines. " It's incredibly promsing what we can do in the region," he said.

"Our growth this year has been very strong," Root continued. "Things have gone very well in the market."

Millennial has about 200 employees total, with the majority in Baltimore. The company also has offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit. In Europe, it has an office in London and is getting ready to expand into France and Germany, Root said. Also in the works: a Washington DC office, he said.

Millennial has such a strong need for engineering talent, Root said, that it's looking to hire engineers in certain offices around the U.S., in addition to its openings in Baltimore. The company is trying to be opportunistic in hiring hard-to-find mobile talent in whatever markets they can find engineers, he said. But the bulk of the job openings -- 20 to 30 at any given time -- remain in Baltimore, Root said.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 7, 2011

Uppidy raised* $300K in equity for text message app

joshua-konowe.jpgA Northern Virginia and Columbia-based firm that markets the Uppidy app on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry is seeking to raised $300,000 in equity financing, according to an SEC filing today. according to company founder Joshua Konowe.

* Update: Konowe reached out to me to update with some more facts, after I initially reported in this post that Uppidy was in the process of raising $300K. He said that Uppidy has already raised the $300K.

The investors are Fortify.Vc of the Washington area, Paul Silber of Blu Ventures of Northern Virginia, and an angel investor group from Silicon Valley. They'll be spending the money to round out the tech team, and add premium services and game mechanics "to speed viral growth," says Konowe. What's interesting is that Uppidy has "spent $0 on marketing" so far, and has thousands of users, Konowe said. 

Uppidy, which is led by entrepreneur Joshua Konowe, is an app that allows smartphone users to "share, search and store text messages."

It's basically an app for managing your mobile messages, offering users a dashboard and even a hashtag service (#upp) that they can use to post messages on Uppidy's own Twitter-like site: Uppidy Live.

For people who are heavy texters (not me), it sounds like this app is a big help. TechCocktail has more details on the tech here.



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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Apps, Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

Massive data "pipeline" coming to Johns Hopkins


The National Science Foundation is giving Johns Hopkins University a $1.2 million grant to fund a telecommunications pipeline that will enable researchers to move massive amounts of data each day that's equivalent to 80 million file cabinets with text.

The university says the network will allow the university to quickly transfer large data sets produced today in scientific fields such as "astrophysics, medical research, genomics and turbulence modeling." It will be built at the university's Homewood campus.

The network will be one of the nation's first, public 100-gigabit per second Internet connections, the university said in a statement.

[Above: that's fiber optic cable being stored at an Elkridge warehouse; the fiber will be used by Maryland to upgrade fiber optic connectivity across its municipalities in the next couple years.]

To put the Hopkins announcement in perspective, much of the nation went bonkers when Google announced its contest to give some lucky communities a broadband network that would offer 1 gigabit-per-second speeds. This Hopkins data pipe would be 100 times that size.

So how will this network be used? According to Hopkins, researchers will be able to access large data sets from Google, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the San Diego Supercomputing Center to do research. The University of Maryland College Park's own engineering network is involved in the project, and getting about $250,000 of the $1.2 million in funding to upgrade their equipment and connect to the new Hopkins hub.

To read the Hopkins press release, hit the jump:



Financed by a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant, one of the world’s fastest and most advanced scientific computer networks—one capable of transferring in and out of The Johns Hopkins University per day the amount of data equivalent to 80 million file cabinets filled with text—will be built on the university’s Homewood campus, with support from the University of Maryland, College Park.
The grant was announced last week by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who is chair of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Committee.
The network will allow for the transfer and analysis of the kind of complex and massive datasets being produced today in scientific fields such as astrophysics, medical research, genomics and turbulence modeling, according to Johns Hopkins physicist and computer scientist Alexander Szalay, one of the lead researchers on the new grant.
“Computer science has drastically altered the way we do science and the science that we do, and this networking capability is a crucial part of that,” said Szalay, the Alumni Centennial Professor in the Krieger School’s Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science. “This NSF-funded network will be one of the nation’s first public 100 gigabit per second Internet connections and will allow us to move data sets thousands of times bigger than we previously thought possible. Johns Hopkins will finally have world-class computing facilities.”
This installation, supported by the NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure, will allow Johns Hopkins to receive huge data sets from Google, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the San Diego Supercomputing Center, among others, according to Szalay, who is the co-principal investigator on the grant with Jonathan Bagger and Mark Robbins, both professors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins.
The new system will be housed in a powerful, energy-efficient computing center in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on the Homewood campus, in a space that once served as the mission control center for NASA’s Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer satellite. This renovation and transformation is being supported by a $1.3 million stimulus grant administered through the National Science Foundation.
Housed in the new space will be the Homewood High-Performance Computing Cluster, which brings together the resources of investigators in both the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Whiting School of Engineering to create a powerful and adaptive co-op facility that is designed to support large-scale computations on the Homewood campus.
Also housed in the new center will be the Data-Scope, a powerful cluster of computers capable of handling colossal sets of information. The cluster will be able to handle five petabytes of information, which is the equivalent of 66.5 years of HDTV data. (To put this in context, 50 petabytes would equal the entire written work of humankind, from the beginning of history until now, in all languages.)
The new apparatus will allow Johns Hopkins researchers—not to mention those at other institutions, including universities and national laboratories such as Los Alamos and Oak Ridge—to conduct research directly in the database.
“This new National Science Foundation grant will facilitate lightning-fast connections to the Internet, which together with our new NSF-funded computer facility, will allow Johns Hopkins researchers to lengthen their lead in data-intensive science and engineering,” Bagger said.
The network will be supported by the regional Mid-Atlantic Crossroads research and engineering network at the University of Maryland, College Park. About $950,000 of the grant money comes directly to Johns Hopkins, and the remaining $250,000 goes to the University of Maryland. This will enable Mid-Atlantic Crossroads to upgrade the equipment connecting their Internet hub to Johns Hopkins.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:53 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

Monday morning quarterbackin': tech news round-up


Happy Monday! Now get back to work. But before you do, here are some news bits you might have missed this weekend.

* Read about Sean Lane (that's him above) and his hot tech company, BTS, geared towards solving our Defense Department's communications problems in the battlefield. I did a Q&A with him, which was printed in this past Sunday's newspaper.

* Mike Brenner, over at StartupBaltimore, recapped a big deal that occurred in September: Connections Education (formerly Connections Academy), a Baltimore-based company that offers online education programs to public school systems across the country, was sold for $400 million to Pearson, a UK-based publisher and learning services company. That's a big exit for a Baltimore company. I'm waiting to hear more from Connections' CEO, Barbara Dreyer, for an update on its plans.

* And on that note.... Education Hack Day is happening this Saturday/Sunday. Designers, developers (and maybe teachers and even students?) will be gathering to build apps to help teachers and students in the classroom. In my view, education tech is percolating pretty well in Baltimore, obviously with Connections Education, but also with Moodlerooms, Laureate, StraighterLine and a host of other startups and small companies. A lot of folks care about improving education in Baltimore.

* Citybizlist pulled some numbers on what the Groupon IPO meant for some big local investors. Find out how much the Groupon stakes owned by T. Rowe and NEA were now valued at here.

What else did I miss?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:22 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 4, 2011

Baltimore cybersecurity firm raising $10M investment fund

cyberpoint-logo-official.pngCyberPoint LLC, a privately held company with offices at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, is spearheading a planned $10 million investment fund that will seek to bring foreign cyber security technologies for sale to federal government agencies.


In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, the new investment entity, Prescint Fund I LLC, disclosed that it had raised $2.25 million so far, with a minimum investment threshold of $250,000. The director of the fund is Gerald Caponera, CyberPoint's director of products.

Caponera oversees a nascent program within the company, called Prescient, that seeks to identify foreign companies with promising technologies that hope to sell to the U.S. government. That's not a typo: the new fund is called Prescint Fund, while CyberPoint's in-house program for tech development is called Prescient.

[As an aside, CyberPoint's security conscientiousness can be seen in how it teases, yet blocks, their employees' identities on its site.]

In an interview today, Caponera said the Prescint investment fund is an independent entity, with its own board, and comprised of some representatives from CyberPoint. He said CyperPoint's in-house Prescient program would be used to cultivate new companies and technologies, but the decision on whether to fund them would be made by the Prescint Fund itself.

"We set up this fund to help foreign companies cross the bridge," said Caponera. "It's a tactical fund. The goal is to make small investments to help bring foreign companies here quickly."

He said the fund would consider technologies in Maryland and across the United States, but there are also technologies in such markets as Canada and the United Kingdom that are worth pursuing.

The Prescint Fund would invest in the technologies and own the intellectual property of any derivative work that's developed, he said.

The funding approach could eventually mean technology jobs for Maryland, if new companies gain access to federal markets and locate some of their work close to the numerous federal agencies in Maryland, according to Caponera.

CyberPoint is extending a business development approach that was developed by Allen Shay, a government contracting expert who used to run a company called Prescint and is involved with the Security Technology Institute.

The original Prescint company had worked in Maryland technology circles to try to help startup companies gain access to federal government contracts, and also attract foreign investment to Maryland. (Here's a version of the original Prescint website that's since been taken down.)

Caponera said that CyberPoint acquired the Prescint business from Shay.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

This week in Google: Barrel rolls, Gmail, Reader and Offers

This week, we've seen Google do a bunch of attention-grabbing things:

1. It launched a Gmail App in the Apple App Store, which didn't work, and then promptly pulled it. (It also redesigned Gmail for the desktop)

2. It redesigned Google Reader, which brought some howls -- and some Google+ integration.

3. It amused Google searchers the world over by making screens do barrel rolls if you simply typed in the term: "Do a barrel roll." Google said they did this to highlight new web-browser technology.

4. And it launched a Google Offers app in the Android Market.

It's been a busy week for Google, although I have to say, I'm not sure if I'm more excited about the Gmail App for iPhone, which Google is still trying to get right, or the Google Offers app. I'm not a big deals scavenger, so I can't see myself using Offers that much. I could get excited about a powerful Gmail app, but I don't know if that's what Google will really deliver for iOS.

Personally, I'd love to see a kick-butt native iOS app for Google Reader.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:51 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*

November 2, 2011

Survey: 2/3 of young workers choose Internet access over car


A new worldwide survey of 3,000 people, including college students and young workers, shows how the Internet has become a primary medium for news, social networking and communication, and for many, as important water, food, air and shelter.

The Cisco Connected World Technology Report can be found here.

It's chock full of snapshots of the Millennial generation, such as: More than half of the study's respondents could not live without the Internet and cite it as an "integral part" of their lives. In some cases, they call it more essential than owning a car, dating, and going to parties.

Indeed, the survey found that 2/3 of global students/young workers would rather have Internet access than a car.

As Fast Company points out, the next generation of workers want full access to social media and the Internet as part of their work life. And they have a whole set of expectations that employers are going to have to grapple with, to keep them happy.

[Thanks to @jessica_lee for tweeting about the report!]

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:53 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Social Media

November 1, 2011

BTS: Keeping the Digital Harbor dream alive

For those who've been around Baltimore awhile, you'll recall the term "Digital Harbor" being given to the city in the early 2000s to brand it during the last tech bubble.

A bunch of tech companies that started back then are still around here in the city, but many aren't. But the idea of "digital harbor" still resonates for many, including entrepreneur Sean Lane.

Lane is the CEO of Battlefield Telecommunications Systems LLC, a 60+ firm that's based in Columbia and that started up three years ago to serve government customers. The news today is that BTS officially opened a Baltimore office, at the Foundry on Fort building in South Baltimore/Locust Point.

The office is for a subsidiary, BTS Software Solutions, and has about 10 employees. But the company expects to hire 40 or so people over the next 18-24 months, they tell me.

As far as I can see, this looks like a positive story for Baltimore. BTS builds mobile tactical cellular 3G networks for the military -- so soldiers can use smartphones and even iPads on a networked battlefield. I asked Sean Lane why he chose Baltimore over Columbia or further south, i.e. Bethesda or Northern Virginia, and he said the city has a lot going for it, such as talented workers, a quirky vibe, inexpensive real estate, and a good sense of place. He believes in the idea of growing the city's "digital harbor" economy and community.

I took a tour of the new office on Fort Ave. Lots of rough, exposed brick, bright sunlight, and splashes of red in the new office, which is above the Wine Market restaurant. There's even a ping pong table -- ah, those techies sure love their office games.

Here are some pics of BTS in Baltimore -- yes, that's Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (left) cutting the ribbon with Lane :





This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:14 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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