January 31, 2012

Look at how easy it is to organize a tech event in Baltimore

There's been a flowering in Baltimore in the area of event planning and organizing, among the tech/entrepreneurial crowd. Social media has really connected people like never before. One of the more dynamic groups at the moment is the Baltimore Tech Facebook group, which is an organic mass of 600+ members. (Are you a member yet? And while you're at it, follow BaltTech on Facebook too, for news updates from me.)

One of the points I make in today's article is that some of the traditional groups normally behind Baltimore tech events -- TEDCO, Emerging Technology Center, and the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, for instance -- find themselves attending as many, or more, independent community events as they now organize for the community. Such as yesterday's Practice Your Pitch event, organized on the Facebook group and held at Naden/Lean in Cockeysville.

Monica Beeman tweeted about Practice Your Pitch here. And I expect local video tech guru Eli Etherton to post a video soon of all the pitches and feedback. I'll post it here when he does.

This is an archived version of the technology blog.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

January 6, 2012

Fun facts from Millennial Media's IPO filing

Did you hear? Baltimore's Millennial Media filed to go public yesterday, letting everyone know they hope to raise $75 million from Wall Street to fuel their mobile ad business's growth (and make its founders and early investors rich.)


Up above, those are co-founders Chris Brandenburg (left), chief technology officer, and Paul Palmier, chief executive officer.

Below are some fun facts from Millennial Media's S-1 registration statement with the SEC for its initial public offering:

* Quite literally, the money paragraph (note the improvement in gross margin) and the rapid closing of the gap from a $7 million loss in 2010 to a $417,000 loss in the first nine months of last year: "From 2009 to 2010, our revenue increased from $16.2 million to $47.8 million, or 195%, our gross margin improved from 29% to 34%, our net loss improved from $7.6 million to $7.1 million and our adjusted EBITDA improved from a loss of $7.0 million to a loss of $6.4 million. For the nine months ended September 30, 2011 as compared to the same period of 2010, our revenue increased from $29.1 million to $69.1 million, or 138%, our gross margin improved from 33% to 39%, our net loss improved from $5.4 million to $417,000 and our adjusted EBITDA improved from a loss of $4.9 million to earnings of $650,000."

* Employee growth: "We grew from 54 employees at December 31, 2008 to 190 employees at September 30, 2011." And more up to date: "As of December 31, 2011, we had 222 employees, of which 72 were primarily engaged in product and technology and 69 were engaged in sales and marketing."

* Fascinating chart of the ramp-up in spending among the top 100 advertisers with Millennial over the last three years:


* The top four executives at Millennial are all over 30 -- and the CEO Paul Palmieri and COO Stephen Root are over 40. (Sorry for pointing this out, Paul and Stephen. But I think it should be made clear Millennial's success as a startup so far is because of some relatively veteran executives, not fresh-faced kids out of college.)

* Those four executives earned this much money in 2011:


* Co-founders Paul Palmieri and Chris Brandenburg own 11.3 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively of outstanding shares in Millennial. Investment firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Columbia Capital are tied for the top shareholder spot, at 20.6 percent each.

* Millennial's five-year lease at the American Can Co. complex in Canton is up in July 2013. It's paying between $21 and $22 per square foot for 16,000+ square feet of space. It's annual lease has gone up from $201,000 in the first year, to $361,000 in its final year of the lease.

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

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 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.

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

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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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

October 28, 2011

Head-to-head on taxes: Baltimore vs. Philadelphia

One thing I discovered today is that if you're interested in doing business in Baltimore, the city has a great website for helping you get started. It's called: Baltimore: Open For Business.

But it would be super-handy if Baltimore simply put all the tax, fee, and license costs on one page, so that business owners and entrepreneurs can be sure they're not missing one because they're not looking in the right place. (Kind-of like what Philadelphia does here.)

With some help from Internet helpers today, we put together a public Google Spreadsheet that lists various Baltimore taxes, licenses and fees in one place -- and compares them to our neighbor, Philadelphia.

Check out the spreadsheet there:

Some highlights:

* Philly has a weird "business privilege tax" of 6.45 percent. Baltimore doesn't.
* Baltimore's amusement tax is double Philly's.
* Billboard advertisers pay a tax in Philly, not in Baltimore.
* Vehicle rentals are taxed in Philly, not in Baltimore.
* And people who live and work -- or just work -- in Philly pay a local income tax of 3.4% or 3.9%; in Baltimore, you only pay a local income tax, of 3.2%, if you live in the city
* Baltimore hasn't legalized "illegal" drugs, but it has no problem taxing drugs classified as "controlled dangerous substances."

What I think may be worth doing -- just for fun and informational purposes -- is compiling similar tax/fee/licensing rates and numbers from other Mid-Atlantic and East Coast cities, i.e. Washington DC, Newark, Richmond, etc. Feel free to help. Just add some columns and rows and leave links to any information you cite.

So far, what I think the spreadsheets show is that both Baltimore and Philadelphia use taxes and licensing/registration fees in varying degrees to raise revenue. Philadelphia is trying to streamline startup expenses for new businesses, to make their city less "business unfriendly", according to this article.

What's your experience starting a business in Baltimore or Philadelphia? Are taxes and fees really a big part of your consideration in establishing a business within (or outside) either city? Or do other things matter more, such as access to talent, technological resources, and clients?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast

October 24, 2011

A Baltimorean in Silicon Valley

The Economic Alliance of Baltimore took 30 business and community leaders on a field trip to Silicon Valley recently. Local entrepreneur and tech-scene advocate Mike Brenner put together a thoughtful post describing Silicon Valley's startup ecosystem -- and how it compares to Baltimore.

Here's the post, over at the Startup Baltimore website.

Some key takeaways that Mike covers:

* Investors are less risk averse in Silicon Valley.... and

* Mentorship is everywhere.

Read the post for more of Mike's observations.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:42 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, West Coast

October 10, 2011

Technology, social media disrupt Baltimore's tech association

sharon-webb.PNG I recently caught up with Sharon Webb, the new-ish CEO of the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, for a nice long chat about technology, the GBTC, and entrepreneurial activity -- oh, and raising multiples. (She's a parent of triplets and I have twins.)

Since I've been covering local tech the last 2+ years, I've definitely noticed a big surge in networking and startup events. The GBTC is sometimes involved, sometimes not.

So the main line of questioning I took with Sharon was: Can the GBTC be relevant in a world where anyone (with a half decent reputation and set of connections) organize meetups, talks, breakfasts, panels and events.

Here's the full interview with Sharon. Take a look.

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

August 29, 2011

Hacking email, government: a conversation with Dave Troy


I recently sat down for an interview with Dave Troy -- CEO of 410Labs and longtime Baltimore-area entrepreneur -- over Skype. You'll see a tightly edited portion of that interview in the above video.

A more in-depth representation of the interview can be found at this link.

Troy is not your ordinary computer geek. He's a bit of a Renaissance man, in fact. His interests vary from computer programming to the environment to politics. At the intersection of many of his interests is his belief in the power of technology and the Internet to improve society, and specifically, the functioning of government, for the people, by the people.

I've thought some about how technology impacts government, and I've taken to heart one of the central points of Evgeny Morozov's recent book, "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom." Morozov gives examples of how the Internet was used in other countries, not only by government critics and revolutionaries, but by the established government power structure to further monitor and repress people.

This is the larger debate we face as a society. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus are all wonderful tools for connecting people. But there are also powerful interests -- governments, corporations, etc. -- that are increasingly handling their dealings with individuals with more sophistication.

Case in point: Techdirt today reports on a DOJ report obtained by security blogger Chris Soghoian that showed requests for warrantless "emergency" ISP requests quadrupled in 2009.

And in other news: The Obama Administration refused to release the Bush Administration's legal rationale for allegedly illegal wiretapping of Americans.

So yes, the power of the Internet cuts both ways for us, at the same time enabling and hindering our freedoms in the hands of different players.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:11 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Geeks, Startups

August 9, 2011

Baltimoreans can rent out their parking spots thru Parking Panda

parking-panda-image.gifHey Baltimore: Here's your chance to make a buck off your own parking spot.

Parking Panda, a Baltimore web startup, recently went live with its website -- -- which can also be accessed by mobile phone browsers.

Parking Panda is kinda like the Airbnb (a site that lets people pay for or rent out homes and apartments for travelers) of parking.

People who are looking to make a little extra money off their unused or lightly used parking spot can list it for rent on the site. And people who are looking to park in city neighborhoods -- perhaps during big events such as baseball or football games, or the upcoming Grand Prix -- can turn to it to find a spot they can rent with their smartphone.

The site is the work of Nick Miller and Adam Zilberbaum, two young guys from Baltimore who won a startup competition in the city in the spring. They are currently working on their startup in New York City, at the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, but they plan on returning to Baltimore to jump-start their business.

[I wrote a story about Parking Panda and the trend of business accelerators recently.]

And they're hoping the Grand Prix, over Labor Day weekend, will generate demand for their app as people struggle to find parking downtown.

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August 8, 2011

Baltimore-based Localist scores 8 university contracts, a Baltimore-based startup that's developed a social calendar platform, announced today that it had scored deals with eight universities which will use its platform for connecting students with events.

Here are the universities:

* DePaul University - Chicago, Ill.
* Emmanuel College - Boston, Mass.
* Georgetown University - Washington D.C.
* Towson University - Towson, Md.
* University of Delaware - Newark, Del.
* University of Rhode Island - Kingston, RI..
* Virginia Military Institute - Lexington, Va.
* Williams College - Williamstown, Mass.

In addition to these eight, is also using Localist's platform. Eleven other universities are currently using the Localist platform.

This is more good news for Localist, whose founders used to operate it as a consumer-facing Website, but switched gears last year to sell it as a white-label product to universities and other organizations. They're now serving 105,000+ students.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

The new "innovation community manager" at GBTC

HazlettGBTC.jpegGive a big hello (and "follow" on various social networks) to Andrew Hazlett, the Greater Baltimore Tech Council's new "innovation community manager."

Catch his blog here.

Back in June, I wrote about this new job created at the GBTC. It's great to see someone else who's going to be writing about the tech and entrepreneurial scene in Baltimore.

Andrew has a pretty diverse background, as he writes, in journalism, government, urban public policy and book publishing.

I'm looking forward to following the stuff he does. 

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Events (Baltimore area), Social Media

June 30, 2011

Shortmail: A Baltimore-grown email service

Shortmail.jpgThere's a new email service on the block as of today, and it's called Shortmail. But do we need another email program? you ask.

Well, if you're overwhelmed with spam, tired of long-winded dissertation-type emails, and suffering from inbox overload, maybe you do.

Shortmail, created by 410Labs, is the latest offering in the nascent trend of short email services. It's somewhere between traditional email and Twitter. Whereas Twitter has a 140 character limit on messages, Shortmail has a 500 character limit. It integrates nicely with Twitter, too.

For instance, my Twitter account is @gussent, and my Shortmail address is automagically

You can merge your Gmail and Twitter contacts into your Shortmail contacts.

But I think one of the most useful features of Shortmail is that you can keep a message private, or make it public, via your own Shortmail personal page (i.e. This can definitely come in handy, especially in my job as a journalist.

The folks behind 410Labs include Dave Troy, an entrepreneur and vocal advocate for Baltimore's tech scene, and Matthew Koll, a veteran entrepreneur.

The company also makes other other social communication products, including, which helps you get answers to questions in a social-y, Twitter-y way, and Mailstrom, an inbox analytics tool that aims to be the of your email life.

For more details on Shortmail's launch, which happened officially in San Francisco this week, check the news release here.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

June 27, 2011

Bam! A Glen Burnie tech company just raised $35M

It's not everyday -- or every week -- that a Maryland company can boast that it raised $35 million from investors. Honestly, I can't say I see that kind of private money tossed at a company much at all here in the Free State, as someone who follows this kind of stuff. (Oh, but how I wish it were more frequent....)

But today at least, Glen Burnie-based Novasom Inc. can be the braggart. For people who suffer from sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, Novasom has a gadget for you.

The company has a device on the market that measures and diagnoses sleep apnea in a suffering sleeper. These devices are not sold to the general public, but rather shipped to patients at their homes, and covered under certain insurance plans (Novasom essentially makes money from "renting" the device as a service to patients who are covered by insurance.)

The patient uses the device to take measurements when they sleep at nigh over three dayst, and then ships the device back to the company, which shares the data with your medical providers.

Here's what's cool about Novasom: this company is actually making a device, a piece of hardware, and they have a business model. They've hired a 100+ people in the last few years. And did I mention they're actually making a tangible product, and not just another Facebook competitor?

Making an actual piece of stuff doesn't guarantee success in the U.S., and software has been insanely popular lately (App Store anyone?). But economists like to see hardware getting made, especially since it can lead to demand for more and new software.

A few months ago, I was told by Roger Richardson, Novasom's vice president of operations, that the company is making a next-generation device that will enable the electronic delivery of your sleep data over a wireless telephone connection, i.e. a 3G network. No need to wait till it gets shipped back for a data download. And yes, this device has all the regulatory approvals for use.

Imagine if Novasom can get approval to do other sorts of medical-related-things with their wirelessly connected devices. There's a bigger market potential here than just sleep apnea sufferers.

So, the news today is that Novasom raised a new round of investment -- $35 million worth -- led by Safeguard Scientifics Inc., with participation from existing investors including TPG Biotechnology II Fund and Quaker BioVentures.

It plans to use the new money to "fund growth, expand its leadership position in payer and provider markets, and develop additional innovations within the company's proprietary NovaSom(R) diagnostic medical device and cloud-based MediTrack(R) Patient Management Portals."

Novasom, which used to be known as Sleep Solutions Inc., has been around since 1992 and had been based in California. The company moved to Glen Burnie in 2008 and uses a Baltimore County company, Zentech, as its contract manufacturer for its devices.

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

June 22, 2011

UMBC biotech startup raises $1.5 million

Plasmonix Inc., a biotech startup whose technology comes from research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, this week announced it raised $1.5 million of a planned $2 million Series A equity offering.

The investment was led by the Maryland Healthcare Product Development Corp. Plasmonix is working on commercializing a technology called Metal Enhanced Fluorescence, which was developed at UMBC.

Basically, the technology enables super-fast detection of heart attacks, sexually transmitted diseases, salmonella -- within 20 seconds.

Watch the Youtube video of founder and MEF inventor Dr. Chris Geddes (Other founders include William M. Gust II, President and CEO and Dr. John Holaday, Chairman.)

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, BioTech, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers

June 13, 2011

NEA Partner: Creating a "virtuous cycle" of investment in Maryland

david-mott-NEA.jpgNew Enterprise Associates is one of the heavyweights in the world of venture capital and, lucky for me, they're right in my backyard here in Maryland.

I had a wide-ranging interview today with David M. Mott, NEA partner and former head of MedImmune, the biopharma success story based in Montgomery County, Md.

Mott and NEA invest billions far afield from Maryland, hunting for promising companies across the country and around the world. Lately, he and NEA have been doing deals in India and China, getting involved in services and infrastructure business in those developing countries, such as outpatient treatment centers for oncology and diabetes, Mott said.

Back home in the U.S., Mott observed that Maryland needs more big company success stories such as MedImmune and Human Genome Sciences, where top management and entrepreneurial thinkers from such organizations spin out and start their own businesses.

We've seen some of this effect in Baltimore with the success of, and the spinoff of talent that have led to some new businesses, most notably Millennial Media.

In Montgomery County, this type of "virtuous cycle" has started taking root, according to Mott. Baltimore, not so much -- yet. But Mott touched upon something that I tangentially covered, coincidentally, in my latest story this weekend about startups and business accelerators.You need  entrepreneurs and trained leadership talent -- those who have the "social capital" to convince weary investors of investing in them --  to roll up their sleeves and embark on new startup projects.

What Mott and others at NEA look at when they invest are the quality of management teams. They like to cultivate entrepreneurs and even new technologies, according to Mott.

What may not be as well known is that NEA funds its own virtual incubators, where talented brains work on new medical devices in-house at NEA, leading sometimes to funding and new companies.

"Over half of our investments are internally generated by entrepreneurs in conceptual virtual incubators," Mott said. "We back them to come up with ideas."

NEA has had six medical device companies spin out into their own businesses in the last few years, Mott said. NEA also has launched a seed fund to make investments ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, according to VentureWire.

Mott couldn't talk publicly about the seed fund, but it looks like the kind of move that NEA is making to compete in the angel and "super-angel" end of the investment pool, where there's a lot of activity at the moment.

Startups are also going from conception to high-flying much more quickly, so NEA and other VCs apparently see some necessity in interacting with some of these young companies just as they're forming.

Wait too long as a VC and suddenly, before you know it, startup valuations are through the roof.

I asked Mott the cheap nickel-and-dime question that every tech journalist is asking today: are we in the midst of another tech bubble?

He said he mostly didn't think so. Valuations are wild in a few specific niches, such as social media, but others, such as biopharma and healthcare (his specialty area), are fairly normal, he said.

"These businesses, unlike back in 1999, have some significant revenues," Mott said. "They're becoming big businesses in very short periods of time...and with relatively little capital in a very short period of time, you can build a deep business."

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

May 27, 2011

Tech boom hits New York -- can Baltimore feel the aftershock?

The headline reads "New York startups ride tech boom."

It's the Wall Street Journal, and it's declaring that New York is experiencing boom times in its startup scene. Some may automatically -- and skeptically -- wonder that when a newspaper declares a boom, you know a bust isn't too far behind. I'm not ready to be that skeptical, yet.

As the article points out, there are a couple of different pieces in play in New York right now that's working in Silicon Alley's favor. There's talent, a mix of relative success stories, and a community of eager entrepreneurs fueling the ecosystem. Just as importantly, investors from Silicon Valley and elsewhere are now checking into the New York scene to grab on to any shooting stars that fly out of there, according to the article.

If there's a boom going on in New York, here in Baltimore, the startup scene is hoping for some positive aftershocks. There's still a fair amount of investment dollars flowing into the Washington-Baltimore region, but most of the money is going to that Northern Va./Washington corridor.

Many in Baltimore's tech scene were looking forward to the Startup City -- a business accelerator -- acting as a sparkplug for entrepreneurs and investors. But alas, that program has been postponed because enough investors couldn't be lined up, and the organizers are going back to the drawing board.

My rough sense about Baltimore is that investments are being made in biotech, cybersecurity and other targeted areas where there's money to be made, i.e. health care. Local angel investors seem to be less inclined to invest in popular consumer-facing apps and tech that captivate the general public, such as "the next Facebook" or "the next Twitter" or "the next Foursquare." The scene here is more B2B than B2C, which is fine, because there's money to be made in B2B -- it's just not as sexy to the average joe.

When you look at the latest stats from the National Venture Capital Association, the reality is that investments in New York and the DC-Metroplex (that includes us) were actually down in the first quarter this year.

You know who's up? Silicon Valley. And Texas (Austin, anyone?). And Philadelphia (kudos to our neighbor's startup scene). And the U.S. southwest.

Here are investment numbers for the 1st quarter of 2010, from the National Venture Capital Association:


Now here are similar stats for this year's first quarter:


These numbers make me wonder if venture capital is just heating up in Silicon Valley, driving valuations ever northward, and forcing VC's and angels to go looking for smart companies and smarter deals in other tech hotbeds.

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

May 26, 2011

Moodlerooms Inc., a Baltimore startup, raising $1.5 million


Moodlerooms Inc., a company that got its start in Baltimore's Emerging Technology Center incubator, disclosed with the SEC today that it is raising a $1.5 million round of investment in the form of debt and unsecured promissory notes that will turn into equity.

Moodlerooms is a company, based in South Baltimore/Federal Hill, that is using the open-source online education platform Moodle and offering add-on services and support to its institutional clients, which range from public schools to colleges and universities. Moodlerooms is competing against such heavy hitters as Blackboard and K12 Inc.

And yes -- I've written about them before.

So far, Moodlerooms has raised $425,000 of the planned $1.5 million.

This is the third time the company has sought to raise money. Last year, the company -- on two separate occasions -- raised $750,000 and $7.1 million. The money has fueled its expansion and growth -- the company moved its headquarters from the ETC offices on E. 33rd Street down to South Baltimore, and it hired more people.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:19 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

May 20, 2011

AT&T's COWs at the Preakness

Maybe you've been to a large event where cellphone reception has been spotty due to the huge crowds.

Many large venues, such as sports stadiums, are nowadays working with telecom companies to add fixed gear that helps with cellphone communications traffic.

Wireless companies also have more mobile technology that they can deploy on the spot, to boost cellular transmissions. Meet AT&T's "COW" -- or cell sites on wheels. The company has deployed two of them to Pimlico Race Course, in preparation for the huge crowds tomorrow during the Preakness. Upwards of 100,000 are expected to attend -- and many will have smartphones that will stretch the capacity of wireless networks.

The COWs are in addition to the free Wi-Fi network that the Maryland Jockey Club is deploying during the event.

So, if you're planning to use your iPhone or Android, for instance, to play with the Preakness's smartphone app, during the day, hopefully you won't experience any delays or glitches.

Here's the AT&T COW in a Pimlico parking lot:

Photo courtesy of AT&T Wireless

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Events (Baltimore area), Gadgets, Wireless

May 17, 2011

Paying with your iPhone, browsing menus with your iPad


In today's story about technology in the Baltimore area, we take you to two popular destinations in Howard County, Md.: Houlihan's and Victoria's Gastro Pub.

At Houlihan's, the Columbia restaurant has enabled a smartphone app called Tabbedout to work with its point-of-sale terminals, where orders are punched in and credit cards are run. Tabbedout is made by an Austin, Tex.-based company and it's being marketed in partnership with MICROS Systems Inc., a big player in POS terminals for restaurants.

Basically, you input your credit card info once into the Tabbedout app and then you can request the tab -- and pay it -- with a few swipes of your finger while at the restaurant.

At Victoria's, also in Columbia, management there is allowing its restaurant to be used as a test bed for MICROS's iPad menu app, which is under development. The app allows beer and wine drinkers to browse the restaurant's extensive libations selection (250 beers enough for you?), and keep track of the beers you drink as a beer club member.

It remains to be seen in which direction MICROS will go with the iPad app, but don't be surprised if one day soon you're able to download your favorite restaurant's iPad app and interact with it, say, as a member of a diner's club, even when you're not there.

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

April 19, 2011

410Labs: Baltimore startup attracting outside investors

We've seen Dave Troy roll up his sleeves and help coordinate and promote Baltimore's tech scene over the last couple years, helping pull off such events as TedXMidAtlantic and BarCamp Baltimore.

He's also dabbled in politics lately, with a public endorsement of Otis Rolley, who's running for mayor in Baltimore.

But the local entrepreneur, who founded and sold ToadNet, an ISP, is coming on strong this year with a new startup venture. It's called 410Labs. The company is all about building nimble communication tools that make managing your flow of digital information better, whether its with Twitter or email.

A new tool that Troy and his colleagues demo'ed at the Baltimore Startup Weekend event is called Mailstrom, which helps people analyze and manage their email inboxes.

Last week, Troy tweeted that his company was receiving some investments to keep doing its thing. So far, 410Labs is about halfway through a $500,000-plus angel round of investing. And its attracted investors from San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington DC and possibly even New York.

Here's a short Q&A I did with Dave recently:

Q) Who are the principals in 410Labs?

A) David Troy, CEO; Matt Koll, Chairman (sold two companies to AOL). We also have two full-time developers and one part-time employee who have a stake in the company.

Q) What do you build?

A) We're building products that add value to people's lives using technology. So that's pretty broad. Our first product, Replyz, helps people find answers to questions. Our second product, Shortmail, is experimenting with innovations in email, which hasn't seen much innovation in a very long time. We anticipate having about four products in our portfolio by the end of the year.

Q) Why take investment?

A) We're not taking much, and the investments are strategic in nature. We want to build support within our industry, both in San Francisco and here in Baltimore. So it's really more about relationships, but this will also allow us to hire people and move faster than we have been. We also appreciate the vote of confidence and insights that we gain by working with outside investors.

Q) How much currently raised and how much targeted?

A) We are raising $500-$600K in this current round and are about half done. As I said, the investments we have secured so far are firmly in the "Angel" category.

Q) Who are your investors? (Is it Twitter and Living Social, per se, or individual executives from those companies?)

A) I can't speak to it in full before we close the round, but individuals at both Twitter and Living Social have committed to angel investments in the company. It's going to be a nice mix of people in San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington DC, and probably New York.

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

February 17, 2011

The smartphone/dumbphone digital Baltimore?

A commenter over on our Google Moderator page left a story suggestion that he'd like to see us cover: what is the state of the digital divide between smartphone and other cellphone users? Here's Craig's comment:

"There's an app for almost everything, but does everyone have a smartphone? What's the digital divide for smartphone users vs. non-smartphones. What's the real market for apps?"

Good question, Craig. I know in Baltimore there are the usual telecom wireless operators, i.e. Verizon and AT&T. But we're also seeing a company called Cricket getting in the action, offering smart and feature phones for cheaper prices. Sprint has a subsidiary called Boost Mobile. These companies offer monthly plans and alternative pricing options.

I haven't poked around yet to see if there are breakdowns of smartphone/feature (or dumb) phone users by geographic region. That would be an interesting stat. If anyone finds any data, please drop a link in the comments below.

That said, I'd like to start a Google Doc Spreadsheet where we can all document examples of a "digital divide" in Baltimore, whether it's for businesses, or schools, or government.

Please add your ideas or examples here.

FYI: About a year ago, I wrote about the broadband digital divide in Baltimore when compared to other East Coast cities. Here's the story:

Baltimore City struggles to play catch-up with its suburbs and other U.S. urban areas in broadband Internet access

Access to faster broadband Internet service is increasingly viewed as an economic imperative, and not just a privilege for those who can afford it. But many rural and some urban communities, such as Baltimore, are worried that they're being left behind as commerce, innovation and prosperity are increasingly intertwined with the Internet."My take on it is that Baltimore is not equipped for the future," said the Rev. Johnny Golden, past president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and an advocate for improved access to technology in the city. "We have a decent broadband system for today, but it does not have the infrastructure to take us into the future where we need to go."

Continue reading "The smartphone/dumbphone digital Baltimore?" »

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:54 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Smartphones, Wireless

February 16, 2011

Tessco Technologies of Hunt Valley -- did layoffs recently happen?

I've been getting messages through sources on the Interwebs that there was a significant layoff at Tessco Technologies in Hunt Valley (possibly 30-40 people), but no one from the company is responding to my emails or tweets. (Were the PR folks laid off too?)

UPDATE: A Tessco happy hour to honor those who were laid off is being planned through this Facebook page.

Layoffs, if they happened, may not come as a surprise to those in the region who follow the company. Tessco had warned last month that its revenues could take a hit since one of its biggest customers is AT&T and that that telecom company was losing exclusivity for the heralded iPhone. Tessco apparently makes accessories for AT&T. (Here's a Baltimore Biz Journal story on the topic from January.)

So, I'm trying to get an accurate, confirmed picture of what happened at Tessco, if anything. Know something you can share? Leave in the comments below or email me at

Oh, by coincidence, it just so happens that a number of Tessco employees were "Glimpsed" as part of our regular feature on fashion attire in the workplace. Check out the photos if you got some time to burn.

:: If you're a Maryland tech company, don't forget to add your contact details in this public spreadsheet, so I have a way of reaching you. And if you have news ideas or tips to share, post them here for community review!

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 5:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Wireless

February 2, 2011

Ciena executives' pay declined in 2010


According to Ciena Corp.'s proxy filing today, compensation declined significantly for its top four executives, including CEO Gary B. Smith (above), in 2010.

The Linthicum-based company, which makes networking gear that's used by major telecommunications companies around the world, last year bought Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks division for $769 million. The acquisition of the Nortel division, which is based in Canada, doubled Ciena's size. Ciena's stock price roughly doubled last year.

In all four executives' cases, their salaries remained the same but their stock awards contributed to most of the drop in their compensation.

* Smith earnings dropped almost in half to $2.2 million in 2010 -- compared with $4.1 million in 2009. Smith's salary remained the same at $650,000, but his stock awards dropped from $3.5 million to $1.5 million.

* Chief financial officer James E. Moylan Jr. had a total compensation of $1.2 million compared to $1.8 million in 2009.

* Compensation for Stephen B. Alexander, chief technical officer, nearly dropped in half, declined to $1 million for $2.1 million.

* Michael G. Aquino, senior vice president of global field operations, declined to $1.1 million from $1.3 million.

A fifth executive, Philippe Morin, senior VP of global products, apparently was hired last year and earned a salary of $1.8 million.

UPDATE: I asked Ciena for an explanation on the compensation changes and specifically, I asked about the changes in stock awards. Spokeswoman Nicole Anderson gave me some good context in an email:

"...[E]xecutive compensation is determined by the independent directors on the Compensation Committee of Ciena's Board of Directors, and a number of factors are considered in during the process. I’d also remind you that 2010 compensations decisions were made in the fall of 2009, so under a different set of market circumstances, etc.

On your first question:
• There was no increase in base salaries from 2009 to 2010.
• Executives were not eligible for incentive cash for half of fiscal 2010, as the company placed more scrutiny on cash expenses given uncertain market dynamics.
o They were eligible in the second half, but no payments were made under the plan.

On your second question:
• 2009 was unique in nature with respect to stock awards as the Compensation Committee was focused on improving the retention profile given the lack of unvested equity at the time.
Also, the Compensation Committee was concerned with the low share count under the plan at the time."

[Photo by David Hobby, Baltimore Sun]

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast

January 26, 2011

Big news: Baltimore city opens up data spigot

Big news today out of Baltimore: the long-anticipated (by this blog) release of data sets by the city has finally arrived.

There's crime data, 311 data, tax data, parking citation data -- and much, much more. The data is available at this site:

What's cool about this new site is that it doesn't only allow you to view the data. Programmers and hackers and web geeks can export the data and come up with their own presentation methods for displaying the data.

What do you think? I want to see the mash-ups that get created with this data. Ping me if you plan on doing interesting things with it:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps

January 24, 2011

O'Malley's plan to jump-start venture capital in Maryland


It's not every year we get to see a big plan for small start-ups in Maryland. But that's what Gov. Martin O'Malley will be unveiling today, with his "InvestMaryland" proposal. It's a $100 million infusion over the next five years of state tax revenues into small Maryland-based, technology-based startups. It's not a total giveaway of revenue; rather, the state will be taking stakes in dozens of small companies over the next several years, and then hopefully, watching their investment grow as these companies grow and raise more money, merge, get acquired or go public with an IPO.

I took a close look at the plan in this article over the weekend. Below are the opening paragraphs:

Hoping to spur jobs, innovation and economic growth, Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to tap tax revenue to invest $100 million in fledgling technology, life sciences and other companies across the state.

O'Malley, a Democrat, plans to unveil details of the "Invest Maryland" program Monday as a centerpiece of his economic agenda in this year's General Assembly session. The state would invest in small businesses and start-up companies — partially through the dormant Maryland Venture Fund — and would reap both the risks and rewards.

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January 21, 2011

Baltimore's "tremendous potential as a smarter city"

I just finished browsing the IBM Smarter Cities report on Baltimore (update: which was made possible online by the industriousness of Nick Judd, writing about it for the site techPresident. Nick got a copy of the report and put it online.)

IBM used Baltimore as a guinea pig for an initiative it's undertaking to analyze how well 100 cities are performing when it comes to using and sharing information and data. Then the brains at IBM unleashed a slew of suggestions for how Baltimore can better manage information and data, with a focus on public safety, youth services and general information technology infrastructure.

If anything, the report is a sober analysis of the tough challenges that our city government faces in striving to make complicated information systems better (and simpler?), while at the same time dealing with stark budget constraints.

At 163 pages, the report is a little dense, but it makes for some interesting reading if you're a public policy or government management wonk. Among the findings, the IBM'ers agreed with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake transition report that recommended doing a better job of centralizing the city's information technology functions.

The challenge for political leaders is picking the battlefronts that should be fought to implement these changes, and ranking their priority based on budget realities, I'd say.

It ranked the city at the bottom of a pyramid it used to show how far along it was in terms of development of a strategic I.T. approach. Below is the pyramid:


Here's the full report, via Scribd, if you choose to hack your way through it. It's actually a good way to get a little knowledge of how some parts of our city government works, what it's already doing well, and what it can do better:

Smarter Cities Challenge_IBM

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech

January 5, 2011

Millennial Media, hot on mobile ad trail of Google/Apple, raises $27.5 million

Pictured: Millennial Media co-founders: Chris Brandenburg (left) and Paul Palmieri

Millennial Media, a Baltimore startup that's a top player in the growing mobile advertising industry, said Wednesday it raised $27.5 million in new investments from several venture capital firms, which it will use to continue to fund its growth.

The new funding round was Millennial's largest since it was founded more than four years ago. It has raised more than $65 million from investors. The new money comes from several existing investors in Millennial, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Charles River Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

The company said that it plans to use the new equity investment to fund the company's global growth plan this year. It also plans to build on its acquisition of TapMetrics, a mobile analytics company it acquired last year, and consider additional acquisitions this year.

The new funding comes as Millennial, which is competing toe-to-toe in the mobile display advertising market with Google Inc. and Apple Inc., said it tripled revenues last year, though the privately held company does not disclose specific revenue figures.

A recent report by market research firm IDC showed that Millennial had 15.4 percent of the mobile display advertising market, behind Google (19 percent) and Apple (18.8 percent). Mobile display ads are showed to cell phone users while they are perusing other content, usually on mobile websites.

The company says its mobile ads reach more than 85 percent of mobile users in the United States. The total mobile ad market was estimated at more than $1 billion last year, and is expected to grow quickly over the next few years.

The mobile ad market attracted Google and Apple, who have both bought competitors of Millennial for hundreds of millions of dollars. Several months ago, Millennial was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smart phones, but the negotiations reportedly fell through.

Paul Palmieri, Millennial's chief executive and co-founder, sees the mobile advertising industry applying to many different kinds of devices, from smart phones and tablet computers to appliances.

"The mobile model continues to expand beyond the phone, and is becoming the new, device based Internet via apps on everything from refrigerators to tablets to televisions," Palmieri said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Millennial currently has offices in New York, London, and San Francisco, plus sales offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

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

January 3, 2011

Baltimore's tech community and its rising political voice

I've been keeping this blog for about 18 months now, and I've noticed one overarching trend during this time in Baltimore: the "tech" community is expanding and pulling in excited people from all walks of life in the metro area. Social media (Facebook/Twitter, mainly) are connecting locals more than ever before.

Perhaps most importantly, the still-relatively-small community of tech/social media geeks are organizing for different goals, from business-oriented networking events to social projects. The fact that such organization is happening, so efficiently and quickly, leads me to believe in one thing: the Baltimore tech community is developing its own influential voice -- so much so that politicians are noticing.

It may not be one unified voice. But great power potentially resides in those who know how to maximize the use of technology and the Internet.

It is nowhere more apparent than last year's local effort to organize a Baltimore application for the Google Fiber for Communities project. It started as a grassroots effort that grew to the point where it made sense for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to embrace it. Suddenly, Baltimore was gussying itself up trying to impress Google, a West Coast company who's looking to build a spanking-new fiber optic network as a test bed for new technologies.

(We also shouldn't forget how, statewide, the tech community organized to defeat passage of a tech services tax a few years back -- one of the organizers was Tom Loveland, Baltimore's "Google Czar.")

Now we see another step in the political awakening of Baltimore's tech community: Dave Troy's endorsement of mayoral candidate Otis Rolley on Jan. 1. Troy (pictured) is a Maryland Renaissance man, dabbling in various entrepreneurial and startup projects, public/social endeavors, and big-idea thinking. He's got the business chops and the technology chops to make stuff happen, and increasingly, he's paying attention to who's politically in charge. (And politics watcher Adam Meister is now watching him.) Troy helped pull together Baltimore's Google Fiber effort, along with Tom Loveland.

And Dave, mind you, is well-connected to geeks across the land, not just Maryland. Geeks know how to work the Internet and social media -- and political candidates like Rolley and Rawlings-Blake, I think, recognize that they'll increasingly need the geeks in their corner.

President Barack Obama tapped the geeks for his campaign, with great success.

"[T]he use of the Internet for political and community organizing will usher in an era of unprecedented change in American cities," Troy writes. He says of Rolley:

I support Otis Rolley in his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore in 2011. At 36, Otis is part of the new guard. He’s qualified – he has a masters’ degree in City Planning from MIT. He has been in Baltimore since 1998. He served 10 years in the public sector and two in the private sector. As an executive, he led the Baltimore City Department of Planning and – shockingly – produced the city’s first actual master plan in 39 years.

If more geeks, in addition to Troy, break Rolley's way, we could see a very interesting and robust Internet-based campaign season break out in Baltimore for the mayoral election later this year.

Rawlings-Blake, for her part, has pushed for more transparency in city government using technology. The last we heard, her administration is working to unveil large sets of data from city agencies that will give the public -- and eager tech geeks -- material to create new Web mashups that inform the public about government operations.

For more info:

* Rolley's Website.

* Rawlings-Blake's Website.

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Amy Webb bringing Awesome to Baltimore


Hey, Happy New Year!

Did you catch the Q&A I did recently with Amy Webb, digital media consultant with Webbmedia Group in Baltimore? She's bringing something called the Awesome Foundation here to Baltimore. And she's an interesting and ambitious individual to boot.

Read on:

Amy Webb believes in the power of awesomeness so much that she wants to bring some to Baltimore.

As the founder of Webbmedia Group, a Baltimore-based digital media consulting firm, Webb moves in technology circles, where the idea for the Awesome Foundation originated.

The Boston-based foundation, begun in 2009, is encouraging the creation of chapters around the world. The idea is that a "dean" and 10 trustees at each chapter give $1,000 grants every month to a project in their community that they deem, ahem, awesome. Each board member is required to donate $100 a month to fund the grants.

Webb is the dean of the Baltimore chapter and is now recruiting trustees to help her fund Baltimore-based community initiatives each month.

A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Webb is a former reporter for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal in Asia, where she covered emerging technology. When she's not volunteering on boards and organizing events in the digital media world, she's advising corporate, nonprofit and government clients on how to harness the power of the Web and social media.

In a recent interview with The Baltimore Sun, Webb talked about the Awesome Foundation, her work and technology trends.

Question: Tell us about the Awesome Foundation. What's it about?

Answer: Rather than trying to reward people for huge projects that could take a long time to implement or ultimately not work out, the idea is to give people a chance to come up with something creative that somehow makes the city more awesome. The way we think about it is if the MacArthur Foundation had micro-grants to award for geniuses.

It's not a gigantic initiative. It's a way to help creative communities flourish and bring creative ideas into a city. People feel excited about the project. A thousand dollars is not a ton of money, but it's meant as a way to help get ideas off the ground.

Continue reading "Amy Webb bringing Awesome to Baltimore" »

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December 14, 2010

Growing Bwtech@UMBC, from life sciences to cybersecurity

Frank Turano was a biology and genetics researcher and professor tied to George Washington University, while his wife was a professor specializing in sensory systems at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

When it came time for the couple to launch their own startup, they looked around Maryland for public and private incubators and ultimately decided on Bwtech at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“We looked for support to grow a business,” said Turano, who launched Plant Sensory Systems three years ago, a small firm that investigates how to modify plant genes so they produce more biofuel and require less fertilizer. They have five full-time employees now.

“We liked the track record here,” Turano said.

While the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Hopkins have attracted headlines in recent years for developing bioparks in the city, the Bwtech Research and Technology Park has been chugging along for more than two decades, steadily expanding the number of companies and employees that call it home.

More recently, Bwtech officials are targeting cybersecurity, striking a partnership with Northrop Grumman last month to attract researchers and experts who could launch their own companies.
Cybersecurity is currently white-hot in academia, at least among Maryland’s public campuses.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is trying to push the state into the forefront of the industry, drawing on key government facilities in Maryland, such as the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

The University of Maryland, College Park recently created the Maryland Cybersecurity Center to promote education, research and technology in the sector. The University of Maryland University College this year launched bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity.
Bwtech@UMBC — as it is known in shorthand — is among 20 publicly sponsored incubators across Maryland.

Across the country, incubators have grown popular as a way to counteract the effects of a punishing recession. With some early funding, hardworking entrepreneurs and investors are taking bets on future growth during a down economy.

Startup companies are attracted to incubators for a variety of reasons, including the potential for low rent, a collaborative working environment with like-minded professionals and guidance from industry veterans.

The Bwtech park, spread across six buildings on two campuses on more than 40 acres, has focused on helping launch startups in the life sciences industry and clean energy. Five of the buildings in the Bwtech North campus, in Catonsville, have been built within the past decade and feature newer office space.

A sixth building, Bwtech South in Halethorpe, was formerly the Martin Marietta research lab, which the state bought in the mid-1990s. The sprawling building near Route 195 is home to Bwtech’s life sciences incubator companies. This building houses companies that have a need for lab space.

Three years ago, the companies that were based at Bwtech numbered more than 900 employees. Today, more than four dozen companies and research organizations employ more than 1,200 people, officials said.

Fifty-two companies, or 91 percent of Bwtech’s incubator companies since 2000, are either still in operation or have been sold, while a small percentage went out of business, according to program statistics.

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November 30, 2010

Maryland tech gifts: a guide

Many consumers now think "buy local" when it comes to food, or in choosing to shop at small local storefronts as opposed to national big-box chains.

But how about buying local when it comes to technology purchases, especially around the holidays?
BaltTech compiled a list of products — hardware, software, accessories and games — that originate in Maryland, and could make for holiday gifts. Your dollars also would help to support Maryland's technology entrepreneurs and businesses.

If you're still shopping, here's the local list of tech gifts by category:

Home Audio: Polk Audio is a Baltimore-based company that produces speaker systems for cars, boats and the home. Check out the $299 I-Sonic iPod radio dock. (

Console/PC gaming: Maryland has a pretty robust video game industry. Check out Sparks-based Firaxis Games' popular "Civilization" video games, including the newest fifth installment. $39.99 to $49.95 ( Bethesda Softworks, based in Rockville, makes a lot of video games for PC, Xbox and Playstation, and even the iPhone. Fallout 3 is a recent title that was designed by a Loyola University grad. $15-$43 (

Mobile device cases: M-Edge, of Odenton, Md., makes several cases for the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPads, and electronic readers by Sony, Borders and Barnes & Noble ( The Latitude Jacket for Kindle costs $34.99. ZeroChroma, a new Baltimore company, makes unique cases that double as stands for use with Kindles, iPods, iPhones and iPads. The iPad case, for $69.95, is very useful. (

Cybersecurity: Got a friend or a relative who hates it when people glance at their laptop monitors while he is working? Oculis Labs' Private Eye software might strike his fancy. The Hunt Valley-based company's software uses a computer's webcam to detect when someone other than the computer owner is looking at the monitor. It blurs the screen when it detects an eavesdropper or if the user turns his head away. $49.95. (

Baltimore-themed: For that recent transplant to Baltimore, help her learn about the city's geography and history with an audio tour. Baltimore Audio Tours sells a CD or digital download for an MP3 player that delivers an auditory tour of the city. $12.97. (

iPad/iPhone games: Jumbalaya is a $1.99 word game for sale in the Apple App Store designed by Fastspot, a Baltimore-based interactive design agency that works on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. It's addicting. And you can give it to someone through iTunes. (

Gift cards: Don't want to burn the mental energy of choosing a gift for someone? Go the gift card route. Save some money by buying discounted gift cards through, an Ellicott City-based company. Some stores include Cheesecake Factory, Bed Bath & Beyond and Radio Shack. (And for those who receive unwanted gift cards, you could sell them through GiftCardRescue.)

Got an idea for a Maryland-based technology product that might make for a good holiday gift? E-mail it to me and I'll try and share on the BaltTech blog.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:59 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Apps, East Coast, Gadgets, Gamers, Geeks

November 24, 2010

Baltimore Hackathon: I'd call it a success


These folks only had a weekend. Imagine if the Baltimore Hackathon lasted a week!

I'm belatedly and quickly recapping the first-ever Baltimore Hackathon, which took place over the past weekend at the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore. (Arthur Hirsch of The Baltimore Sun had a nice write-up of it, in case you missed it over the weekend.)

Dozens of hackers, geeks, programmers and tech enthusiasts participated. Millennial Media, a thriving Baltimore startup that's a dominant player in the mobile ad space, doubled the contest cash prizes at the last minute. And people broke out their soldering irons and laptops for a long weekend of hacking and modifying.

The proof is in the Flickr Photostream!

I was only there for most of the last-day presentations, and I must say, I was impressed with what the teams and individuals were able to pull off in a short weekend. There must have been around 20 presentations or so, I'm guesstimating. The judges, who included Chris Brandenburg, cofounder of MIllennial, chose the best individual and team efforts. (Chris blogged about it here.)

Here are the results with some descriptions of each -- sorry, I didn't get the names of the winners.

Best Individual Hardware: Black Candy Audio Scrambler Pedal (a modified guitar thingamabob)

Best Individual Software: iPad Interactive Ebook (a children's book!)

Best Group Hardware: RotoFoto (a rig that enables you to produce 3D rotating photo images with a cheap camera)

Best Group Software: Headline Split-Testing (for auto-test alternate headlines on blogs, and automatically choosing the one that's most popular with readers based on click feedback.)

Audience Favorite - Nickel for Scale (a device that can measure a hand, using a nickel for scale, so you could quickly make, say a ring with a plastic prototyping machine)

One of the sponsors,, gave out prizes for those who made best use of their programs for integrating voice and SMS applications in their projects.

Best Tropo App: Call-the-Door - a service that allows you to call a door, punch in a code with your phone, and unlock it.

Best Tropo App Runner-Up: Parking Spot Locator -- uses a sensor to let you know when a parking spot is free, and auto-dials your phone.

Best Tropo App 3rd Runner-Up (tie): CloudRant and Voicebump -- CloudRant generates word clouds based on commonly used words in conversation. VoiceBump enables a blogger to call a phone number, speak a blog post, and auto-transcribe it to a blog.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:35 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Apps, Big Ideas, East Coast, Events (Baltimore area), Gadgets, Geeks

November 23, 2010

KEYW: "Embrace the Parrot"

KEYW is a curious lil' company in Maryland. It works in the super-secret world of electronic and signals intelligence as a government contractor to defense/intell agencies, but it is -- as of last month -- a publicly traded company, with all the public disclosures that that status brings.

The company's executives, including the CEO Len Moodispaw, have an affinity for Key West. Hence, "KEYW." It seems to be a light atmosphere at KEYW's headquarters in Hanover, with stuffed parrots perched around Moodispaw's office. Last Thursday, the company rang the NASDAQ opening bell and gave investors and analysts a briefing they dubbed: "Embrace the Parrot." Seriously.

Anyhow, here's the story I wrote about KEYW today. Check it out. Below are the first few paragraphs:

Several big investment banks advised Leonard E. Moodispaw that he shouldn't do it — but the CEO of KEYW Corp., a cybersecurity company in Hanover that's been in business for just two years, wouldn't listen.

Restless and eager to expand quickly, Moodispaw took KEYW public last month — after canning the Wall Street naysayers who told him to wait for a more hospitable stock market. The company, with the help of smaller investment banks, raised $89 million on the day of its initial public offering. Within weeks, its market cap rocketed to about $300 million.

"We fired the big guys and did just fine without them," Moodispaw said in a recent interview.

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Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Government Tech

November 15, 2010

Baltimore's ZeroChroma launches: unique cases for mobile devices

I did a Q&A with Brian Le Gette, original co-founder of 180s (you know the company that makes those funky behind-the-head ear warmers) and we talked about his latest venture: ZeroChroma.

Le Gette (below left) teamed up with Dave Reeb (right) to design a patent-pending collapsible swivel stand that pops out of the back of a flat case. The design has great potential for many different kinds of applications, but for now, Le Gette and Reeb are focused on the mobile device case market.


The pair are doing a product launch push this week and, early next year, their hope is that their cases for Apple iOS devices are stocked in the Apple Store and Best Buy.

For those investment banker types out there, ZeroChroma is a self-funded operation that's based here in the Baltimore area but does manufacturing in Taiwan. Le Gette said their goal is to keep the company small and nimble and largely "virtual" and "in the cloud." They don't have a fancy headquarters office yet, in other words.

So far, I've tried out their cases for the iPhone and iPad and have been impressed with their finish and functionality. I particularly appreciate the iPad case, which is flexible enough to rotate from portrait to landscape mode. If you find yourself watching a lot of video while sitting at a desk, or in an airplane, this case may be for you.


You can even lower the iPad to a gentle typing level, which is very useful for those of us who do a lot of typing on the iPad. The cases range in price from $35 to $70.


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November 9, 2010

Baltimore is an IBM "Smarter City"

IBM today announced a $50 million philanthropic initiative to donate technology and services to help 100 cities around the world. It's called the Smarter Cities Challenge.

The challenge is a competitive grant process. According to IBM, the company will send "its top experts to those cities that have made the strongest case for participating in Smarter Cities Challenge. IBM consultants will immerse themselves in local issues involving the administration of healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities."

In preparation for the challenge, IBM embarked on pilot programs in three areas: Baltimore; Austin, Texas; and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (Greater Charlotte). Cities who wish to apply for the grant can find more details here.

Here's some basic details on IBM in Baltimore. I'm waiting to see the fruits of their labor and what they recommended to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The mayor is featured in this IBM promo about the Smarter Cities Challenge. Pretty good plug for Baltimore coming from a huge company.

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Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast

WellDoc, a small Baltimore tech company, partners with heavyweight AT&T

welldoc-phone-image.jpgWellDoc Inc., a Baltimore health care technology company, has hit some key milestones since it was launched five years ago. It has raised millions in venture capital, received FDA approval for its mobile phone-based diabetes management software, and even expanded operations to India, where diabetes is a burgeoning problem.

But perhaps the company’s biggest news is its recent partnership with AT&T Inc. The telecommunications giant launched a new business segment last week that will focus on technology solutions for the health care industry. And WellDoc’s software will be pitched by AT&T’s huge marketing muscle to commercial clients ranging from hospitals to insurers to employers.

“We knew we needed to have a partner to scale our solution,” Ryan Sysko, WellDoc’s chief executive, said Monday. “We can continue to focus on clinical application, and they [AT&T] could be our partner to bring it to market.”

WellDoc is on the cutting edge of the fast-growing mobile health field, where mobile phones, the Internet, smart software and medical devices are merging to improve health care. The company’s flagship product is web-based chronic disease management software that works with mobile phones, so that those with certain diseases, such as diabetes, can better manage their care.

The health care industry is experiencing a confluence of technology trends. More and more consumers are using the Internet and mobile phones to track and personalize their health care. For instance, applications abound for smart phones, such as Apple’s iPhone, that enable people to track their weight and calorie counts, or their exercise regimens.

At the commercial level, health care providers such as hospitals and insurers are increasingly adapting to new state and federal guidelines that require using technology to share patient data and diagnoses more efficiently and securely.

This is the profitable, multibillion-dollar niche that AT&T is trying to target with its new ForHealth business segment. AT&T believes the health care information technology market is worth about $34 billion. The telecom company said its own revenues from that market were $4 billion last year.

To use WellDoc, diabetes patients take blood readings with a wireless-enabled glucometer (example), which beams the data to the person’s cell phone. The patient then shares the data with WellDoc’s computer system, which tracks and analyzes the information, and then gives diabetes-management advice to the patient — all via cell phone.

A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project last month found that 17 percent of adults with cell phones have used their mobile devices to access health or medical information. That percentage was higher — 29 percent— for cell phone users between the ages of 18 and 29, the survey found. And nearly 10 percent of cell phone users have apps on their phones that help them track or manage their health, according to the survey.

Some examples of health care solutions that AT&T is offering, in addition to WellDoc, include medicine bottles whose caps glow and beep to remind patients to take pills; home-based devices that monitor patients’ heart levels; and audio and video feeds that can replace doctor’s office visits.

“We’re very excited to have that strategic alliance with” WellDoc, said Adena Handley, AT&T’s marketing director for health care. “Now that we have WellDoc as part of the entire ForHealth practice, it brings even more credibility to what we’re trying to do from a company perspective.”

Financial terms of the partnership between WellDoc and AT&T were not disclosed. WellDoc, which is privately held, expects to have revenue of more than $10 million this year, Sysko said. The company has five corporate clients and 20,000 users of its software, he said.

WellDoc was founded by Sysko and his sister, Dr. Suzanne Sysko, who was an endocrinologist at the University of Maryland and worked at the university’s Joslin Center for Diabetes.

Two pilot studies conducted by the company with partners such as CareFirst and Johnson & Johnson have shown that using WellDoc’s mobile phone-based program to manage diabetes brought dramatic improvements and stability to patients, according to Ryan Sysko.

In August, WellDoc received Food and Drug Administration approval to market its software for treatment for Type II diabetes. The company hopes to expand its offerings beyond diabetes management to cover other chronic diseases, such as treatments for cancer, congestive heart failure and respiratory diseases, Sysko said.

The company has 75 employees, 45 in Baltimore and the rest in Bangalore, India, Sysko said. WellDoc wanted to be in emerging markets overseas, Sysko said, because diabetes is a big chronic health problem in China and India.

In the United States, diabetes affects about 12 percent of the population, but the disease is growing rapidly in India, where it afflicts 7.1 percent, and China, where 4.5 percent suffer from it, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

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Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

September 23, 2010

Spotted: Zynga's chief game designer in natural habitat

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I recently visited Zynga East in Timonium, Md., just north of Baltimore, where I had a long chat with legendary (to the gaming masses) game designer Brian Reynolds.

Zynga, which runs online social games, such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars and FrontierVille, launched its first game studio outside of its San Francisco headquarters here in the Baltimore area last year. They started with about a dozen or so people and have now grown to about 30.

You couldn't tell it from the humble signage outside Zynga East's office, but the company is on a huge tear in the world of online social gaming, thanks to its success on Facebook.

This Baltimore (er, Timonium) office, including Zynga's chief game designer Reynolds, is responsible for the successful FrontierVille, which has about 35 million users. Reynolds, in his past life in the Baltimore area video game scene, worked for Microprose and co-founded Firaxis Games and Big Huge Games.

I'll be doing an in-depth story about Zynga that will appear shortly in the print Baltimore Sun and here online, but I wanted to give you a little photo peek. That's Reynolds below, holding a cup of black tea.



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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:49 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Coast, Gamers, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps

July 12, 2010

Biotech: Baltimore needs its own MedImmune?

In yesterday's Sunday Business cover story, I looked at the state of Baltimore's biotech industry, and compared it to its larger cousin to the south, in Montgomery County. Take a read.


What Baltimore's biotech industry needs: an 'anchor'
Young biotech startups hope to grow into major players, fueled by state tax credits and research from Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland

By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun

July 11, 2010

Baltimore's biotechnology industry has made strides. Two biotech parks by the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland now anchor the east and west sides of the city. A few dozen biotech startups have made their home here.

But Baltimore's nascent biotech industry doesn't yet have a breakout company — a darling of venture capitalists and Wall Street that has grown past the risky and unprofitable startup phase to achieve a steady stream of revenue and products in the pipeline.

A company like MedImmune in Montgomery County, which produces an H1N1 flu virus vaccine, among others.

"There's no giant here, but it would be nice to have one," Aris Melissaratos said about Baltimore. He's a special adviser for enterprise development at Hopkins and a former head of the state Department of Business and Economic Development. "Every company that starts up strives to do that. Very few succeed."

The future of Baltimore's biotechnology industry remains to be seen. Industry observers put the city up to two decades behind the biotech hub that has taken root along the Interstate 270 corridor in Montgomery.

While Baltimore's bioparks are still being built, Montgomery planners are moving forward on a $10 billion "science city" with 17.5 million square feet for research and development. That county has more than 250 of the state's 380 bioscience companies, with such heavy hitters as MedImmune and Human Genome Sciences. Baltimore has about 40 biotech companies.

But Baltimore has scored some wins recently, by landing the new headquarters of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, with its $100 million endowment, at the Hopkins Science + Technology Park. And the University of Maryland BioPark is planning a third building for young biotech companies.

Another indicator of how well Baltimore is faring in the intrastate biotech race is an annual Maryland tax credit that lets investors recoup half their investment — up to $250,000 — in a biotech company. Over the past year, 14 Maryland companies were able to attract investors who tapped the credit. Five were based in the Baltimore area.

The companies, by virtue of being savvy enough to attract investors in a tough economy, are some of the bright spots in the industry — and potential future breakouts.

In biotech, success can beget success. MedImmune, which was bought by AstraZeneca International in 2007 for more than $15 billion, has spurred new companies to locate nearby, to do business with it or tap into its talent. The company employs 1,400 in Gaithersburg, and several hundred more at a manufacturing facility in Frederick.

Continue reading "Biotech: Baltimore needs its own MedImmune?" »

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June 17, 2010

Baltimore's Arginetix merges with Immune Control Inc. to form Corridor Pharmaceuticals

And now, the latest in biotech news........

Baltimore-based Arginetix Inc. announced today that it is merging with Immune Control Inc. of West Conshohocken, Pa. to form Corridor Pharmaceuticals Inc. -- a company that will focus on developing treatments for vascular diseases.

The new company will develop treatments based on technology platforms developed by both Arginetix and Immune Control. The chief executive of Arginetix, Gary Lessing, will serve as the CEO of Corridor, according to a news statement issued this morning. Stephen Roth, formerly CEO of Immune Control, will be executive vice chairman of Corridor's board of directors. Arginetix licensed technology from the University of Pennsylvania and the Johns Hopkins University.

In addition to the merger, Corridor announced that it had secured new financing totaling $15 million to fund its operations. The company has a drug candidate called C-122 that treats pulmonary arterial hypertension, and proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the drug into clinical development.

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Categories: *NEWS*, BioTech, East Coast, Venture Cap

May 24, 2010

Live video: TechCrunch Disrupt conference

TechCrunch is hosting its first annual Disrupt conference in New York City this week, and it's being made available via a live video stream. Here's a chance to watch some tech pundits and innovators go at it for a couple days, from the comfort of your computer and BaltTech. :--)

Watch live streaming video from disrupt at

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Categories: East Coast, Startups

Connections Academy of Baltimore in the spotlight


I recently did a Q&A session with Barbara Dreyer, the CEO and co-founder of Connections Academy, a fast-growing Baltimore company specializing in K-12 online education. It's part of a growing trend of online learning that's really seeping into all levels of our society and economy. Here's the original link -- and I republished the interview below:

Virtual education firm making real-world progress
Barbara Dreyer, CEO of Connections Academy

By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun

May 23, 2010

Barbara Dreyer runs a virtual online education company that the longtime entrepreneur and educator hopes is making a real-world impact.

As online universities soar in popularity, Dreyer's company, Connections Academy, is one of the leaders in the field of K-12 online education and partners with public and charter schools; it also offers its own online private school. It employs about 1,000 people nationwide, with nearly 300 in the Baltimore area at its headquarters in Baltimore and at a warehouse in Elkridge.

Dreyer, 55, co-founded Connections Academy in 2001 and has guided it to steady growth. It briefly operated a pilot program in Baltimore County and now operates in 17 states, with more than 20,000 students taking online courses through its programs.

Connections Academy has grown quickly as more states explore online learning programs. The private company's annual revenue now stands at $120 million and has risen an average of 35 percent a year, according to Dreyer. The Baltimore Sun caught up with Dreyer to talk about how Connections Academy operates, what it offers parents and students, and its future in Maryland.

Question: How does your industry fight against a perception that virtual education isn't as "real" as a traditional brick-and-mortar education?

Answer: Nowadays, there's a lot more open consideration of it, but there are still people uncomfortable with that model. You remember, there were those same debates on whether you could take an online course in college. Today, there are plenty of people at very prestigious universities who are taking classes online. It can be a very powerful facilitator.

Q: So what's a typical day for a Connections Academy student who is in, say, the fifth grade?

A: A fifth-grade student is probably going to have, and should have, a parent or some other adult available to them daily. You would expect to see Mom and Dad or other relatives available, or people who do this as a cooperative.

We're going to tell you the classes and the content you have to cover, but we're going to allow you to have some flexibility. If you need to do five math periods in one week, some students may want to do them all in one day. You can't do that in traditional school. … What happens if you're a particularly bright kid? You can go ahead. In a traditional school, the child can get bored sitting there with his book closed.

You're going to work a specific amount of time, depending on the school district you're in, say 5.5 hours. We're going to fill your day with that amount of classes. But there's variability in when you start. We have families who start school at 6:30 in the morning. We do not have the kind of homework that a traditional school has. What we found for the most part is that you can get what you need done during the school day. We build in the homework through the course of the day. There's a lot of stuff in school that's built in that takes extra time, such as assemblies.

We can take that day and make it really focused on instruction. Oftentimes, your assignment will send you offline. We send you physical science supplies. You're outside, writing a journal. It's important to let people know that [their child] will be online part of the time but also offline a good part of the time.

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Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

May 6, 2010

Bmore Fiber wins.... in Philly!

Bmore Fiber, the Baltimore grassroots group that applied with the city for the Google Fiber for Communities project in February, won a competition -- in PHILADELPHIA -- for its ideas on how it would use one gigabit of Internet connectivity.

This is a nice coup for all the volunteers behind the Bmore Fiber effort, who worked closely with city officials to file Baltimore's application to Google in March.

The Bmore Fiber team won a $1,000 "popular genius grant" in the Philly competition, which was sponsored by leaders in that city's startup community. The win means Bmore Fiber is also eligible for a $10,000 "genius grant" prize, which will be awarded later this summer.

Okay, so $1,000 -- or even $10,000 -- can't compare to Google pumping a billion dollars worth of investment in Baltimore's Internet infrasture. But for Bmore Fiber's volunteers and organizers, it's great to get some props from our neighbors in the City of Brotherly Love.

Here's a video of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake discussing Baltimore and Google Fiber:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:14 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Geeks, Startups

April 9, 2010

Hey Google: Check out Baltimore's Google Fiber logo!


The folks behind the city's effort to lure the Google Fiber for Communities project to Baltimore roped in another creative volunteer: award-winning editorial cartoonist Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher.

Kal, who now works for The Economist magazine, was previously the sharp, smart and funny cartoonist for The Baltimore Sun. Kal designed the Baltimore-themed Google logo above, which also graces the official Website of Baltimore's Google Fiber effort.

In case you didn't know: a couple months ago, Google announced they would build an ultra-high-speed fiber-optic-based broadband network in a lucky community in the U.S. More than 1,100 cities and towns sent in applications to Google in hopes of getting the project. Baltimore was one of them. Communities across the country are literally begging for Google to take them into the next generation of broadband Internet.

If you're a fan of Kal's work (and an iPhone owner), you'll be happy to know he's got his own iPhone app that features his work. Check it out.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Geeks

March 15, 2010

Google Fiber: Pick me! Pick me!


If you're watching closely the city's efforts to bring Google Fiber to Baltimore, take a look at The Baltimore Sun's editorial today on the project.

It's titled "Five Reasons Google Should Pick Baltimore."

As an aside, I've been thinking about how clever Google has been with their fiber effort. The free publicity they've gotten for it has been amazing.

Also, the online search giant has probably saved a lot of time and money by basically asking for municipalities to provide them information.

In the old days when a big company wanted to do a project like this, they'd usually spend tons of money on researching an ideal location.They'd narrow it down to some top candidates and then work with those selected to make it happen, with behind-the-scenes lobbying and negotiations going on, of course.

But Google is getting municipalities like Baltimore, Topeka "Google" Kansas and others to trip over themselves to submit the relevant information on their communities, for free.

It's really a brilliant move on the part of Google to essentially "crowdsource" the interest in this fiber project.

For Google, why waste time pursuing it in communities that may not be excited about it, when there are scores who are willing to do whatever it takes to lure Google to their community?

Google: you'z so smart.


UPDATE: You should check out the write-up of the Baltimore Google Fiber effort by the huge tech blog, TechCrunch. It's here.  Read the comments, too, if you care. Baltimore represents!

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:39 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast

March 8, 2010

Startup story: Millennial Media

I interviewed Millennial Media's Paul Palmieri and Chris Brandenburg for a story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun's Sunday's Business & Jobs section.


Sipping a venti coffee at a Starbucks in Timonium, Chris Brandenburg, a computer engineer and caffeine junky, was ready for a new challenge – and Paul Palmieri was about to give him one.

On that day in April nearly four years ago, the men were at a crossroads in their lives: Brandenburg (pictured left) had just left and Palmieri (pictured right), a veteran wireless industry executive working for an investment fund, was hungry to make his mark with a startup.

Palmieri had several ideas, but the one he talked about most during their coffee shop meeting was an advertising network that would tap the nascent market of advertising on cellphones. Brandenburg was game. Within two weeks, he would go on to build a rudimentary computer server that could dish ads to cellphones – and showed it off to Palmieri.

“He walked me through the demo and it was just like, ‘Wow, we’ve gotta do this. We’ve gotta go hard after this,” Palmieri said.

Soon after, Millennial Media was born.

In less than four years, the Baltimore company has raced to the top of its industry. Millennial Media has raised $40 million from investors, including several million during a brutal economy, enabling it to expand and hire this year. Two of its biggest competitors were recently bought by Google and Apple for hundreds of millions of dollars each – which has driven Millennial’s own worth up, analysts say.

The company is positioned at the forefront of an industry that many say has excellent long-term growth potential. For Palmieri, launching Millennial was the culmination of a long obsession with the combination of wireless technology and marketing.

Millennial’s successful growth thus far is largely a Baltimore story. Several of the company’s top executives are refugees of, which is owned by AOL. The company’s offices are in the city’s incubator space in Canton. When technology observers talk about the next local startup company that could attract a generous buyer or unveil a lucrative public offering, Millennial is usually at the top of the list.

“They are a high-flying company and I think they have great upside potential; they have the talent, they’re building a great team,” said Steve Kozak, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, an association for local tech companies.

Kozak compared Millennial to Timonium-based Bill Me Later – “a quiet little company that nobody knew about”—that ended up getting bought by eBay in 2008 for $945 million. “I don’t know what their exit plan is, but I would not be surprised if some really good news came out of that company,” said Kozak.

What has fueled Palmieri’s vision for the company is his belief that mobile advertising is a new, largely unexplored world compared to traditional online advertising. People interact with their cellphones and smartphones when they’re on the move in unique ways, and the gadgets themselves can do things a desktop computer can’t, such as offer location-based services.

But the industry is still young and fragmented, with wide variations in technology, offerings and marketing adoption.

For years, industry prognosticators have talked about the money-making possibilities in mobile advertising. The platform itself offers various choices for marketers, such as text-message campaigns, or advertising within applications or on mobile Web sites.

But it’s only been in the last year or two – with the growing adoption of the iPhone and other high-powered smartphones – that industry analysts see mobile advertising beginning to fulfill expectations. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has projected that the mobile advertising industry will grow from $416 million in 2009 to $1.56 billion in 2013 – fractions of the many billions spent on online advertising in general.

Both men had worked at for a time, but didn't know each other well while there. Instead, they got hooked up by a mutual friend at the company after they had both left. Here's a little background on them.

(click through to read more)

Continue reading "Startup story: Millennial Media" »

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups, Wireless

January 20, 2010

UMBC tops in computer and information science degrees

Update: In this post, originally published Friday, Jan. 15, I initially omitted the University of Maryland, College Park in the table below. I updated the table to include UMCP figures. Also, on the jump, you'll find a letter from two deans from UMCP who were distressed with my omission. It was an honest oversight made in manually transferring the data into a new table; my apologies, folks. -Gus


The CyberMaryland report released this week by Gov. O'Malley is chock-full of interesting factoids and charts, one of which I republished (and modified a little) below.

You'll see a list of Maryland colleges and universities in alphabetical order, followed by the number of bachelor's and graduate degree students they have in computer and information sciences.

I added the "percent of total" column to give us all a sense of each school's computer/info science geeks relative to their entire student body.

As you can see, UMBC in Catonsville stands well above the rest, and churns out many, many undergraduates in the fields.

Hopkins, on the other hand, has a good number of graduate students. Now, who wants to see some statistics on how many of these students actually stick around and work in Maryland after they get their degrees? 


Continue reading "UMBC tops in computer and information science degrees " »

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:45 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: East Coast, University Tech

January 6, 2010

Baltimore's QLab rocking the sound design world

It's great to hear stories about how a piece of software can change the world -- or at least a small part of it. Chris Ashworth, 30, of Baltimore, has that story to tell with his QLab software, which is used to orchestrate big and small live event productions. It's used in theaters across the U.S. including Tony-award-winning Broadway plays, and in London.

You can find my full story on Chris and QLab, originally published today in the Sun's business section. (And back in October, guest blogger and founder Mike Subelsky did a great little Q&A with Chris.) Below, you'll find a short video of Chris demo'ing QLab in his Baltimore home for BaltTech.

One thing I want to highlight about Chris and QLab: Chris appears to have a very friendly, loyal and enthusiastic customer base who seem to be big fans of his software.

Yesterday, when I was looking for professionals to interview, Chris put out a request on his Website's discussion forum for customers to contact me. My inbox quickly began filling up with people from all over the world raving about Chris's customer support, attention to detail, and great software in QLab.

Here's one bit of an email (without the person's name, since I didn't get his permission):

As a designer, QLab has been a game changer for me, not so much because of its capabilities, but because of the price those capabilities are available at. Various types of sophisticated systems for both projections and audio playback has been available since the late 1990s in various forms. The problem is that the earlier systems were extremely expensive, prohibitively so for any production done on less than a commercial scale budget. Now don't get me wrong, these tools are great, but great was so expensive that it was rare that I was able to use them.

Here's a shot of Chris and his QLab logo:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Geeks

December 30, 2009

Renaming and rebranding your company: The story of

Have you ever been tasked with trying to come up with a new name for a company? (Or a website or a product?) It ain't easy. You have all sorts of issues to consider, i.e. Website domain availability, trademark issues, and what the name and brand might look like five years into the future. mp3car.jpg

I was intrigued about how a company handles such a task when speaking about it with Heather Sarkissian, CEO of The company started off as an online community and retail store geared toward selling mobile computers and parts to hobbyists.

But they quickly developed expertise in the field, and started to build systems for companies and governments looking to install them in their fleets of vehicles.

This new part of their business has been booming in recent years. Suddenly, a name like doesn't quite fit, as some seem to think all they're really about is helping people listen to MP3 music files in their cars. Not so.

Have you and/or your company gone through a renaming/rebranding initiative? Let me know how that worked out in the comments below. Hit the jump for the full story on's experience:

Continue reading "Renaming and rebranding your company: The story of" »

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:57 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Geeks

December 23, 2009

Why you can't ignore the email newsletter as an online publishing model

I spent several days recently researching a story about the business of email newsletters. Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Blue Sky Factory, an email marketing agency in Baltimore, gave me some great insight. gregcangialosi.jpgI asked Greg (pictured left) about the business model approaches of email newsletters vs. Websites, from an advertising and monetization perspective.

He said, in a nutshell: "The difference between Website and email advertising is the targeted nature of the [email] list of people. If that list demographic fits the target of the advertiser, they're going to get a good response rate."

Greg pointed to successes like Daily Candy and Thrillist as successful email newsletter companies, and talked about two of the local ones his company provides email newsletter services to: CityBizList in Baltimore and ExecutiveBiz in Washington D.C.

One of the big advances in recent years in email newsletter technology, Greg said, are the features involving sharing with a social network.

Companies disseminating email newsletters can embed them with options that allows the user to share the information on Twitter and Facebook, thus helping them grow their email subscriber base organically and through word of mouth. Pretty cool stuff.

Hit the jump to check out my full story on the topic.

Continue reading "Why you can't ignore the email newsletter as an online publishing model" »

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

December 4, 2009

Startup lessons from Bill Me Later's success

bill-me-later.pngToday I attended a talk given by Mark Lavelle, one of the four co-founders of Bill Me Later -- a Baltimore area online payments company that was snapped up by eBay/Paypal for $945 million last year. (Yes, that would be almost one billion dollars.)

He was speaking to a group of ambitious entrepreneurs at the Emerging Technology Center in Canton, sharing some nuggets of wisdom about his company's startup experience, growth and eventual big payoff-sale. He and the three cofounders were in the banking business but left it to start their own company in the 1990s. They each had different skill sets, but knew they wanted to do something that involved online transactions, because of a lucrative potential market. Launching in 2000, their first office space was in the Renaissance Harborplace hotel in downtown Baltimore.

Here are some of the "lessons learned" by Bill Me Later, according to Lavelle, who is VP of business development:

* For startup businesses, you have to double or triple the timeline to self-sustainability and quadruple the cash you think you'll need. "That's exactly what happened to us," he said.

* "Don't underestimate the time you'll have to spend pitching your product." Lavelle said he probably spent 80 percent of his time on pitching the company to potential customers and investors.

* Focus on the team. "If you have a partner, make sure it's the right partner." Also, know how and when to hire as your company grows. Many entrepreneurs can have a hard time letting go of control.

* Doing a startup is a commitmen, "so you have to be all in and you have to be in it for something other than an exit or money."

* Speed: You can move quickly and push your company hard, but sometimes progress and new business will happen at its own pace -- and you can't sometimes control that.

* Integrity -- you don't want to damage your reputation with partners and clients. So don't over-hype or over-promise what your product can do. Before the company was finally bought by eBay last year, it had raised $300 million in venture capital over an eight year period.

Lavelle said he probably pitched 300 venture capital firms in an effort to raise money. In the end, only three jumped in with Bill Me Later. That's a 1 percent success rate. "That one percent was tough," Lavelle said.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

November 4, 2009

Two Washington-based tech blogs to read

On Monday, I had the chance to meet two very smart tech reporters who are plugged into (bad pun...sorry) the Washington tech-and-policy scene: Kim Hart and Cecilia Kang.

Hart, until a few months ago, was a tech reporter at the Washington Post who wrote a column (which I followed) called The Download. She is now at a congressional daily paper called The Hill, covering technology and writing a tech blog called Hillicon Valley (great name.)

Kang is a Post reporter who is covering tech policy and recently start her blog, PostTech. In a previous job, she wrote about the dot-com boom and bust for The San Jose Mercury News.

Congrats to both reporters for carving out this niche of the tech beat in our nation's capital and launching blogs to keep us all updated. It's absolutely necessary. They are playing to the strengths they have in their backyard, which is access and proximity to the politicians, lobbyists and tech-geeks who are instrumental in shaping technology policies across the country.

Good luck, Kim and Cecilia!

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Media

TEDxMidAtlantic: behind the scenes


You may have heard about the big TED conferences that are organized around the world every year around the slogan: "Ideas Worth Spreading." At these events, hyper-smart people give talks on cutting edge -- or sometimes obscure but interesting -- topics, and the audience members are given lots of time to talk and network amongs themselves. The talks are video recorded and made available for free on TED's Website.

That basic format is coming to Baltimore's Maryland Institute College of Art, and it's called TEDxMidAtlantic. I wrote a story today that talks about how more than 100 enthusiastic volunteers came together to organize the free all-day event. The photo depicts several organizers, including Dave Troy in the middle, whose idea it was to bring the event to Baltimore.

It's gonna be a packed house. Stop and say hi if you see me!

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November 3, 2009

Black & Decker is a top patent-getter in Maryland

The news that Connecticut-based Stanley Works is buying (er... merging with) Black & Decker, based in Towson, dropped like a big bomb yesterday afternoon. We covered it and so did just about everybody else with half an interest in business news.

One angle that we've pursued is the potential local impact that the move of the corporate headquarters from Baltimore County to Connecticut may mean. Black & Decker has been a prolific innovator in the realm of power tools and hardware, and such innovation typically means smart people and well-paying jobs for a region.

The companies said Monday that Black & Decker's Power Tools division will remain based in Towson. But it remains to be seen whether its Maryland location will continue to innovate at the same level after next year's merger.

I pulled some patent data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and discovered that Black & Decker ranks third in the state in terms of patents granted from 2004 to 2008. See the full state figures below.

Maryland Patent Grants, 2004 to 2008

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:31 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Research

October 15, 2009

Baltimore ranked in top 10 for launching a startup

In a recent survey released by CNN Money, Baltimore ranked 10th in the nation for being one of the best large regions to launch a new business. The city's Emerging Technology Center, our own incubator, got a shout-out in the ranking.

So what city was number 1? Oklahoma City.

Interestingly, there were no West Coast cities that cracked the list. The editors, in their survey methodology, explained that they placed a premium in their rankings on the foreclosure rate -- and the West Coast has been hit hard with foreclosures.

What do you think about Baltimore's ranking? Fair? Deserved? Just right?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:19 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers

October 2, 2009

Five Questions with Christopher Ashworth

Here's the second of guest blogger Mike Subelsky's posts interviewing local technologists. 

christopher ashworth qlab

I interviewed a few of Maryland's most interesting technologists to find out more about their successes, failures, and lessons learned; the interviews are lightly edited and condensed by me for the blogging format. The second interview is with Christopher Ashworth (at right), creator of QLab show control software. Chris' mention of "lots of small risks" brings to mind a Tim Ferris post about Bill Gates and Dave Troy's Idea Garden.

Continue reading "Five Questions with Christopher Ashworth" »

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Posted by Liz Hacken at 12:37 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Startups

September 4, 2009

Innovation in Maryland -- through the eyes of Johns Hopkins business dean

If you haven't read it yet, then run -- don't walk -- to Jay Hancock's latest, most excellent column where he talks with Yash Gupta, dean of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. yashgupta.jpg In it, Gupta (left) talks about the difference in the innovation economies and cultures of Baltimore and Southern California's Silicon Valley.

He makes some interesting points. And, it seems there's a call to action somewhere in there for our business and political leaders to wake up and smell the Old Bay right under their noses.

I may be oversimplifying it, but Gupta seems to say that entrepreneurs are overly dependent around these parts on the federal government as a cash cow for contracts. Such dependence can be both financially and professionally rewarding, but stultifying -- partly because the government market is a different animal than the consumer and business market.

It was also refreshing for Gupta to point out that California has high taxes and a tough regulatory environment, and yet its Silicon Valley is still synonymous with business innovation -- so the excuse that Maryland isn't tax-friendly to businesses may be just that: an excuse.

Yet, the other side is hard to ignore, when billions of federal dollars are staring your local/regional economy in the face.

In an interview I did awhile back with Christian Johansson, the state's secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, he essentially noted that the federal government is the big gorilla in the room that businesses around here can't ignore.

If the Maryland companies don't take advantage of the steady spigot of contracts that are made available each year, than other companies in other states most certainly will.

What do you think?


(photo credit: JHU)

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August 25, 2009

Poll: Maryland's startup climate

Alright all you techies, entrepreneurs and risk-takers here in Maryland...Now is the time to vote your peace. Do you think Maryland has the right climate for nurturing startups?

Vote here, and tell us why you voted the way you did in the comments below.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:11 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups

August 18, 2009

We're #3! We're #3!

...according to, at least. The job-hunt Web site is going all Google Trends with its slicing and dicing of job listing, unemployment and per capita data.

In June, Baltimore was No. 3 in terms of the ratio of unemployed per job posting (1 job per 1 unemployed person), while Washington D.C. was No. 1. (6 jobs per unemployed person). The top 50 metro areas were tabulated (see the full list here.) Okay, so maybe it's not the most uber-scientific analysis, but doesn't seeing Baltimore ranking high on a positive survey make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Be honest now.


Source:, via TechCrunch

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Coast, Jobs & Recruiting

July 8, 2009

A quick round-up from the local blogs

I've been a little busy the last week putting together some print stories, but finally today got a chance to do some catching up on my blogroll. With a cup of coffee and a cup of instant oatmeal in hand (one at a time) I took a quick cruise through the Baltimore/Maryland/DC tech blogosphere. Here's a snapshot of what people are writing about:

* DCTechEvents. Scads of events and meet-ups all week, except for Friday, when apparently all the DC Techies just drink alone.

* UMBC's Ebiquity blog takes a look at the "high impact factor" of the Journal of Web Semantics.

* Entrepreneur Dave Troy takes a look at Baltimore from the train in his simply-titled post: "From the train, Baltimore looks like hell."

* Beltway Startups covers some local tech-company news, such as Merkle (of Columbia, Md.) buying Cognitive Data, and Cognitive Data buying CMS Direct. Is this a case of big fish eating smaller fish, which ate an even smaller fish?

* In one of the more pleasantly insightful Michael Jackson-inspired blog posts, local tech guru Mario Armstrong writes about the recently deceased pop singer's patent on special shoes that would help give you the illusion you're leaning forward at a 45-degree angle.

* One Fine Jay gave himself a new blog look, and he's got a post about how Twitter hashtag contests are hurting the free service. Amen, brother. Oh, and he thinks the phenomenon of bloggers generating mindless lists also stinks. Double amen to that. (I haven't done any lists for this blog, I think, though I'll concede you might see me generating an occasional list or two here; I will try, try, try to make them absolutely useful, One Fine Jay. I promise.)

* Want to learn more about Wolfram Alpha (that new computational search engine)? Somewhat Frank sat down with one of its co-founders for an interview, with video. See below.

* Technosailor, taking a cue from the Steve McNair death coverage, urges the mainstream media to report important breaking news even if it's a rumor, to hedge your bets.

* Things are looking up for Technotheory, who is off to Barcelona for the summer. Good luck! Have fun! Eat lots of tapas for me.

* EastCoastBlogging writes about Tweetdeck and Evernote as a match made in heaven. I haven't gotten into using either app yet. Should I?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Good Reads, Media, Social Media

June 30, 2009

Big online gaming co. Zynga opening 1st East Coast office in Baltimore area

brianreynolds.jpg Some of you have been seeing the job ads posted locally for a couple weeks now and wondered what Zynga Inc. was doing recruiting in the Baltimore area.

I'll tell you what they're doing: they're opening their first East Coast office, here in the Baltimore/Timonium area, hiring 12-15 people, and calling it Zynga East.

One of the biggest companies in the booming field of online social gaming, Zynga has come to the East Coast -- and chosen Baltimore (er, maybe Timonium) to plant their flag. If you've ever played Mafia Wars or Texas Hold'Em or Pirates or Scramble on Facebook or MySpace, you've played a Zynga game.

To lead Zynga East, Zynga hired Brian Reynolds, an 18-year veteran of the Baltimore-area gaming scene who co-founded Firaxis Games (Hunt Valley) and Big Huge Games (Timonium), which was bought last month by Curt Schilling's (yes, the retired Major League Baseball pitcher) 38 Studios.

(That's Brian Reynolds to the left, in a pic taken Feb. 17, 1999 by a Sun photographer, when he was VP of software development at Firaxis Games, and designed the game Alpha Centauri. Sorry Brian, couldn't find a more recent pic in our archives.)

A Zynga spokeswoman told me in an email last night that Reynolds will be bringing some of his "key associates" to work with him.

Zynga East will be working on a new online game, but the company wouldn't say what it was about.

Reynolds has a deep background in building strategy games, so maybe that's what we can expect to see more of?

The Baltimore area has become a bit of a game developer's haven.

Zynga's presence here will add a new competitive dimension to the game development scene, with online gaming being white-hot right now. And Zynga itself is a buzz machine.

They've attracted something like $40 million in investment capital and they're reportedly cash flow positive, with around 250 employees. It reportedly has sales of around $100 million and is profitable, but it's privately held, so we don't know how profitable.

BusinessWeek's Valley Girl has the good lowdown on the company and how -- you ask -- it's actually supposedly making all this money. Basically, it seems people are willing to pony up a few bucks here and there to play their games. They've got 12 million daily users and 50 million monthly users, the company reports.

For a quick rundown of Zynga in the news, check this out. And my online news story is here. Good news for Baltimore area game developers? Let me know what you think.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:50 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Coast, Gamers, Jobs & Recruiting, Social Media, West Coast

June 29, 2009

Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds

johansson.jpg Have you ever heard the phrase "Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds"?

I hadn't -- until I listened to Christian S. Johansson, head of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, drop it during his keynote address at the Maryland Incubator of the Year Awards on June 17.

In a room full of bright start-up companies, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and state biz development leaders, Johansson talked about the strength and resilience of the Maryland economy, in the face of a national recession.  A big reason for that strength, he said, is "Feds, Meds, Eds and Beds."  Here's what that catch-phrase means:

* Feds: The state benefits from tens of thousands of jobs tied directly and indirectly to federal government agencies that employ people at military and civilian facilities. (Think NSA at Fort Meade to the Social Security Administration headquarters at Woodlawn.) Contractors that do work for these federal agencies and military installations are also plentiful in Maryland. 

* Meds: The health care and social services industry is a huge employer in Maryland. Also, biotechnology is a growing, cutting-edge sector that's seen a lot of investment in recent years.

* Eds: Education. Higher education. And the research that comes out of institutions such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

* Beds: Tourism. From the Inner Harbor to the Eastern Shore to Deep Creek.

The notion of Feds, Meds, Eds & Beds sounds like a nifty marketing jingle for state leaders to use in their cheerleading and marketing of Maryland. What do you think?

Meantime, if you're interested in getting a snapshot of the Maryland economy, here are some links to peruse:

:: This state report has one of the latest overviews of Maryland's private-sector workforce.

:: The 2008 Maryland employment and payrolls data show a breakdown of public and private sector jobs, including average weekly wage per worker. (Hint: There are more workers in local and state government than federal, but federal workers have a higher average weekly salary. Gee, I wonder if that's why everybody seems to covet a job with the Feds. :-)

:: The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore has more specific stats that drill down on the economic activity in the Baltimore area, such as this chart on employment by industry.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:14 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech

June 2, 2009

East Coast representin'

I've been looking around the Baltimore/Washington area for people who are writing about the tech and innovation scene, or actually representing it by blogging thoughtfully and passionately on tech-related topics they care about.

I've found some and got them listed over in my blogroll on the right. These folks are all well worth a read and an add to your RSS reader. And I'm looking for more.

I also think it's important that we all look beyond our region to see what others are doing, at least on the East Coast.

Beyond this immediate area, I'm really enjoying following the New England scene through some of its tech/innov bloggers. There's a real push up in the Boston area for biotech and biosciences, which, of course, is an area that Maryland wants to be an international player in (and already is, in some regards.)

I'm digging Business Innovation Factory's blog, as well as the blog kept by its founder and chief catalyst, Saul Kaplan (@skap5), who recently called for a "national innovation agenda" in a BusinessWeek column.

Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner has an impressive library of print, blog and video coverage that helps get you under the hood of the scene up in Beantown. I learned from his blog yesterday that June is Innovation Month in New England. Check out his video site here. In the video below, Kirsner interviews a startup company head who's showing off a super-computer; unfortunately, the company went out of business.

Continue reading "East Coast representin'" »

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast
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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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