Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Electronic Recycling Jan 2009

Starting January 2009 consumers will be able to recycle most electronics for free at select locations. Some electronic examples are*:

- TV
- Computers
- Computer Monitors
- Portable or Laptop computers

*Note: Printers, mice, and keyboards are NOT included in this program.

This is such great news! This is one more step in the right direction to keep harmful chemicals from leaching into our soil and water, such as lead, cadmium and mercury. The electronics will be taken apart and separated (ex: glass, plastic, metal, and toxic chemicals). All of the recycling will follow the standards setup by the Department of Ecology.

To find a location that is accepting electronics to recycle or donate, go to or call 1-800-RECYCLE.

Check out for more information on e-cycling.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Facing Up to the Challenge

Military Affairs Committee Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber

Meeting Notice
Wednesday, Jan. 7
7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
La Quinta Inn
1425 E. 27th St.
Tacoma 98421


Preview of the 2009 State Legislative Session
Sen. Derek Kilmer will give us an overview of the upcoming legislative session, with particular attention to military and veterans’ issues.

MorphoFace Investigate, Facial Recognition for Criminal Justice and Intelligence Communities
Eric Hess
, Sr. Biometric's Product Manager’s presentation is covering the MorphoFace Investigate application, its recent successes at PCSD, and a little about Sagem's history in Tacoma.

Sagem Morpho is an integral part of Sagem Securite's global success in the development, manufacture and integration of biometric technologies including fingerprint, iris and facial recognition. Based in Tacoma WA, Sagem Morpho provides R&D support, engineering, technology and customer support services for systems throughout North America, including law enforcement, Federal Government, Homeland Security, civil identification, and applicant background check systems, and is the biometric algorithm provider for the FBI AFIS.

Sagem Morpho actively engages its customers in development of emerging technologies. Its recent work with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department lead to the arrest and conviction in a local identity theft case involving numerous local victims, showcasing the potential of facial recognition for investigative tasks within law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Breakfast Buffet: $12.00 with RSVP. Non-reserved attendance: $15.00
RSVP: Rose Crist, 253-627-2175; DUE 12 noon, 01/05

(Non-RSVPs welcome, but PLEASE call to help with plans for meals and seating arrangements.) Those persons reserving and not attending or canceling before the RSVP deadline will be billed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bluest Skies You've Ever Seen Are in Tacoma

Carlile today welcomed to its Tacoma fleet the first Kenworth Medium-Duty Diesel-Electric Hybrid Tractor to serve any West Coast Port.

Photo courtesy KathyTomandl, Port of Tacoma

The "tractor" is equipped with a fifth wheel to haul trailers for drayage business at the Port of Tacoma. I had the privilege of a short excursion aboard the new Kenworth T370 with Carlile Transportation Systems CEO Harry McDonald as chauffeur. McDonald said they expect a 20+% increase in fuel mileage from the hybrid for local haul applications.

This hybrid is a welcome addition to the commercial center of the port-industrial area. It will demonstrate the viability of hybrid commercial vehicles for this purpose - and we wish both Carlile and Kenworth the best of luck. In addition to having far more immediate applications than the $100,000 Tesla, the port-industrial area has been recommended for non-attainment status for PM-2.5 even though continuing monitoring shows results below federal thresholds. That final designation is expected from EPA Thursday, Dec. 18.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Acting with Speed Matters

Today Speed Matters, reports that President-elect Barack Obama will include broadband in the economic stimulus package.

They note that last weekend in his weekly radio address, President-elect Obama announced that he would be including money for broadband deployment and adoption in his economic recovery plan. His proposals for universal high speed Internet access and his recognition of broadband's importance to the economic recovery reflect the work CWA members did during the campaign to focus attention on the issue. Read the Whole Story

Congratulations for the work CWA has done on this issue for an extended time.

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Administration Sets Up Tech Expectations

The colors on the "paint by the numbers" gradually begin to fill the picture.

This blog first addressed the interest in how the incoming Administration would address technology shortly after the election.

Well, here are two more links that continue in that same vein. First is a perspective on how Secretary of Commerce nominee Gov. (NM) Bill Richardson might treat Intellectual Property: The Richardson Record on IP.

A very brief overview of what might be at stake is address by the U.S. Chamber's blog in the Intellectual Property & Clean Technology.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Washington’s Innovation Summit 2009

Washington's Innovation Summit 2009 will bring together more than 400 innovators and thought leaders in sustainability and technology who are driving industry development in sustainable energy, innovative materials & manufacturing, urban sustainability, and healthy ecosystems.

The Summit will focus on how we are developing innovative and sustainable approaches to realize our opportunities and overcome challenges.

You'll discover the companies, researchers and opportunities at the forefront of Washington's emerging economic sectors. Through plenary sessions and targeted industry tracks, you'll connect with the people, trends and ideas that are critical to strategically sustaining the future of your business or organization.

Keynote speakers will include Gifford Pinchot III, co-founder and president emeritus of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and Thomas E. Plimpton, vice chairman of PACCAR.

Thursday, April 9, 2009
7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Full Registration (7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.)
This registration includes all summit breakout and general sessions, breakfast, lunch and reception.

$150 Special rate until December 31, 2008
$190 Early-bird rate until March 6, 2009
$230 Regular rate after March 6, 2009
$45 Reception Only (4-6 p.m.)

For more information and to register.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Broad Band of Brothers

Consistent rumblings from labor and business show a mounting support for expanding broadband.

Blogged earlier on this page, Speed Matters (aka CWA/organized labor), were successful this summer in getting a bill (Broadband Data Improvement Act, (S. 1492)) through Congress and a Presidential signature for a broadband bill. Still needed, funding for implementation.

Recent activities have included their coalition with the Telecommunications Industry Association to get the National Governors' Association to send letters to both Democratic and Republican leaders to encourage development of high speed Internet infrastructure.

Similarly, the U.S. Chamber and Connected Nation are working to add infrastructure development as part of a "rebuilding America" stimulus package.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deal Done Due

Program courtesy of the The TacomaAngel Network (TAN), and price discount courtesy of the Chamber: “Doing the Deal—Due Diligence”

Use this special code when registering yourself or others to get the special price: [promo code 6614], and pay only $115.

To register.

The first Doing the Deal Course this past November 19th at UWT’s new William W. Philips Hall, facilitated by noted Intellectual Property expert Bob Okabe, was raved about by the attendees—
  • made it clear why investors need certain provisions,

  • and why companies need theirs;

  • and how to make the two come together

--a critical marriage that needs to be understood by all who are interested in Economic Development in the region.

And, that session, importantly, was attended by 40% angel investors, 30% companies wanting to learn how to best present their case for funding, and 30% from the planning and service community learning how to serve their communities and clients better. A similar mix is expected at this new Seminar.

This is your invitation to come, and bring your associates, to take the Doing the Deal course’s most critical Sequel: Doing the Deal—Due Diligence. This Course has been touted as “the one course to take IF you are taking only one! “ It will be led by Bill Payne, the nationally acclaimed facilitator, and a serial entrepreneur with over 40 angel deals under his belt, as well.

(And, for this new seminar—Due Diligence-- we will be combining the seminar with a Special Invitation for you to personally join us for TAN’s regular deal sharing meeting during the lunch break—see first hand, how three new high potential companies present to obtain funding).

In this Seminar, learn the steps to know if your or any other proposition makes sense or doesn’t: Know how to tell if a business plan is solid, the management can perform, and that the marketing, manufacturing, technology, patents, and capital plan don’t have fatal flaws.

And get it from the best. The Power of Angel Investing ™ By the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, presented by the Angel Capital Education Foundation, hosted as a public service by the TacomaAngel Network (TAN) and supported by the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber.

AND, If you or one of your colleagues have already taken the first portion--Term sheet, Valuation and Building Portfolios, then Doing the Deal—Due Diligence is the “bookend” course required to complete that education.

PLUS you will, as a courtesy of the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber, you may receive the courtesy of the low TAN discount price. Pay about half what the first course costs, due to Due Diligence’s somewhat shorter length.

Remember: Due Diligence is critical to your making any proposition successful—perhaps the most important part of an investor committing investment funds; or someone committing their life’s work or betting their career on an endeavor, is to learn the way to tell if the proposition or deal is REAL or not.

All the right terms and proper valuation don’t mean a thing if the proposition doesn’t hold water, if the business plan, really doesn’t make sense or can’t be done, if the people cant do the job, or the marketing, technology, patents, manufacturing, or capital structure have a fatal flaw. You need to know whether each of these components measure up, so you aren’t blindsided with a failure after putting in so much effort.

In short, you, or someone from your organization, should take this course and find out how to know!

  • What must be confirmed;

  • the cost of confirming; and

  • the risk of not knowing.

  • What it takes to validate the plan,

  • and contain the risks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

SST 2008 Fosters Innovation

SST 2008 was another home run, featuring as it did so many hometown tech firms. Our congratulations to UWT Assistant Director of Industry Partnerships Andrew Fry.

This blog could resemble a short story if I were to report on all aspects of the SST 2008. But, you should have been there! The price was right - free, thanks to the UWT Institute of Technology. However, the final panel of the day focused on Tacoma area tech firms, and after an individual overview by the representatives, responded to a Q&A session. The answers to just one question - the first question, will be covered here.

That first question came from Andrew Fry, as a warm-up for the audience that mostly filled W. W. Philip Hall: Since our area gets no credit for a nexus of tech firms, most of which here are in cybersecurity and information assurance, why did you each locate here?

The answers:
  • Gary Frank, Avue Technology: We lived here.
  • Rod Rasmussen, Internet Identity: We lived here. He said he had to convince the co-founder, but that the existence of Click! Network and the UWT did that.
  • Mike Brown, Prepared Response: The infrastructure here is the best. He specifically praised the power consistency and certainty as well as conductivity.
  • Jennifer Leaf, NewTech: That's where our work is (Ft. Lewis). But, she noted this office has won accolades from the corporation as a recruitment base for the entire company.
  • Mark Briggs, Serra Media: We lived here. We've established a joint presence in Tacoma and Seattle because of the regional nature of media. And, they intend to maintain a dual base. Besides, they are familiar with the local talent market and have a determined hiring base from the local community.
  • Eric Hess, Sagem Morpho: Our first client in the U.S. (City of Tacoma) had the foresight to contract with us to locate our headquarters here.

Another quality event in Tacoma focusing on technology and entrepreneurship.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deal Done True

The TacomaAngel Network pulled off a class presentation about Deal Making yesterday at the new William W. Philip Hall on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

Working with the Kauffman Foundation, the ~50 attendees, mostly angels, but some from economic development departments, were treated to a straight forward presentation by Bob Okabe. If you've never seen a $25,000 chair, he can show you his. Liberty Chair designed by Niels Diffrient

The follow-up to all this will be a Due Diligence course February 11, again at UWT. This follow-up has an even more advantageous price, plus it will be meshed with the TAN regular monthly meeting.

If you're a qualified investor, or just taking the follow-up, I'll add my personal endorsement for a quality offering.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

South Sound Technology Conference 2008

Please come to the 9th Annual South Sound Technology Conference this Friday November 21st at William W. Philip Hall on the University of Washington, Tacoma campus.

Registration begins at 8:30am and the conference kicks off at 9:00am with a welcome from Congressman Adam Smith. The conference is free, but an RSVP to is highly recommended.

South Sound Technology Conference 2008

8:30am to 9:00am Registration

9:00am Opening Address
Welcome by Andrew Fry, University of Washington, Tacoma.
Remarks by Chancellor Pat Spakes, University of Washington, Tacoma.
Remarks by Congressman Adam Smith.
Remarks on behalf of Congressman Norm Dicks.
Remarks by Dr. Orlando Baiocchi, Director of the Institute of Technology, University of Washington, Tacoma.

9:15 to 10:15 Panel -- “Fostering Innovation"
Moderated by Senator Jim Kastama

Panel Members:
John Dimmer - Tacoma Angel Network
Lee Cheatham - Washington Technology Center
Egils Milbergs – Exec. Dir. Economic Development Commission of Washington State

10:15 to 10:45 Focus Topic -- "Cloud Computing: The Next Technology Revolution"
Aaron Kimbell – Spinnaker

10:45 to 11:15 Dual Perspectives Panel -- "Cloud Computing in the South Sound"
Moderated by Aaron Kimbell

Panel Members:
Mike Marzano, Topia Technologies – Cloud Computing in Software
Dr. Ankur Teredesai –Institute of Technology, UWT – Cloud Computing in Education

11:15 to 11:25 Break

11:25 to 12:00 Focus Topic – “Facial Recognition Solutions”
Eric Hess – Biometric Product Manager, Sagem Morpho

12:00 to 1:00 Panel - "Technology Industry Sampler: Sound Sound Companies"
Moderated by Andrew Fry, Institute of Technology, UWT

Panel Members:
Mike Brown - Prepared Response
Mark Briggs – Serra Media
Dan Creamer - Avue Technology
Jennifer Leaf - NewTech
Chris Richardson – Internet Identity

Friday, November 14, 2008

Location, Location, Location

The TacomaAngel Network announced a relocation of their November 19th Seminar to the newly opened UWT William W. Phillip Hall.

The William W. Philip Hall is located at 1914 Pacific. The Hall is also just across Pacific Avenue from the Washington State History Museum (WSHS) and its ample parking. You will find parking both in the WSHS parking lot on Pacific and on Campus as described below. For specific directions from your location, click the following “Google Maps Link”: Map: Google Maps Link

Registration starts at 8:00 am and the program promptly at 9:00 am.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our President-Elect on Tech

Some interesting information about Mr. Obama's take on tech-related policies:

Until next time!

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Friday, October 31, 2008

HI Tech

Just recently announced is a new report for the science and technology industries in Hawaii.

The contractor, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) prepared an economic and workforce profile of Hawaii's science and technology industries. Overall, the report found that in 2007 the private technology sector contributed over $3 billion to the state's $61 billion economy (5% of the total).

Combining the public with the private sector, the technology sector accounted for more than 31,000 jobs, 3.6% of the state's total employment. Of particular relevance for our own potential growth, over 7,000 of these public sector jobs were attributed to the state's large military presence.

The report notes that many defense workers are involved in the commercial market segments as aerospace and ICT industries overlap significantly.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

U.S. Innovation Down?

Pulled from a recent Computerworld Article:

By most measures, the U.S. is in a decade-long decline in global technological competitiveness. The reasons are many and complex, but central among them is the country's retreat from long-term basic research in science and technology, coupled with a surge in R&D by countries such as China.

It's interesting that this article takes such a negative view on this topic.  First of all, the US is still innovating at a rapid clip, it's just that the emergence of thriving market economies make America less relatively dominant.  I'd argue that's not a bad thing; world production is up dramatically as a direct result.  Secondly, while it's true that large monolithic R&D projects are in decline, exciting venture-funded startups are more than picking up the slack.  From Online Services to Alternative Energy, US entrepeneurs are consistently delivering on new frontiers.  Let's keep at it!

Until next time!

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tech Chases Fantasy

Only if you're a fan of old science fiction, or a more current fan of bad film, would you remember Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

USA Today's article about the Pentagon's interest in spaceship delivery of 13 (what a number!) soldiers to hot spots around the world immediately brought to mind that old book and its derivative film.

Of more intriguing interest is the idea that our ideas for the future are presaged in science fiction, the notion that is only sometimes explored in other media.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Congressman Smith Offers Bill Protecting Travelers from Suspicion-less Laptop Searches

Congressman Adam Smith introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to ensure that American citizens and legal residents returning to the U.S. from overseas are not subject to invasive searches of their laptop computers or other electronic devices without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin introduced a similar bill in the Senate. The Washington Technology Industry Association had previously expressed concern about suspicion-less searches and their impact on business travelers.

“The chief responsibility of the United States Government is to protect its citizens, and while doing so it is critical that we do not overshadow the obligation to protect the privacy and rights of Americans,” said Adam. “This legislation will provide clear and commonsense legal avenues for the Department of Homeland Security to pursue those who commit crime and wish to do our country harm without infringing on the rights of American citizens. Importantly, it will provide travelers a level of privacy for their computers, digital cameras, cellular telephones and other electronic devices consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s values of liberty.”

The Travelers Privacy Protection Act was introduced in response to a Department of Homeland Security policy, released on July 16th that allows customs agents to “review and analyze” the contents and files of laptops and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time “absent individualized suspicion.” This policy was issued following report of U.S. customs agents requiring citizens and legal residents to relinquish their laptops or cell phones to DHS authorities for lengthy periods of time while the devices were searched, and in some cases, contents of the devices copied. Reports have also surfaced that some devices had been confiscated and returned weeks or months later with no explanation.

The legislation requires reasonable suspicion of illegal activity for Department of Homeland Security agents to search the contents of laptop computers or other electronic devices carried by U.S. citizens or lawful residents, and it prohibits profiling travelers based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Additionally, the bill requires probable cause and a warrant or court order to seize information uncovered during a search, and specifies that searches carried on for more than 24 hours become a seizure. This bill also ensures that information acquired during an electronic search is protected by strict disclosure limitations, with exceptions for sharing information about possible criminal violations or foreign intelligence information. The Travelers Privacy Protection Act also ensures that DHS provides information on its border search policies and practices to Congress and the public.
Congressman Smith Secures Important Funding for Science & Technology Projects

Congressman Adam Smith recently secured $24.6 million for military projects in the Puget Sound region. The funding was included in a spending package that included funds for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and military construction projects for fiscal year 2009. “The package helps restore our military’s readiness and provides our troops and families with the support they need. I’m also pleased that we included funds for important science and technology projects at Ft. Lewis, McChord Air Force Base and around the region,” Adam said.

The spending package was signed into law by the President on September, 30th.

Funding for important regional projects, many involving local companies, include:

· $8.6 million for Washington State Air National Guard’s 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron to build a new cyber-warfare facility for use by the (IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base.

· $200,000 for the Madigan Army Medical Center Digital Pen project to acquire digital pens that capture and upload writing electronically while also recording care in ink on paper to improve the process of recording and transmitting patient care information; ADAPX of Seattle.

· $4.4 million for the University of Washington’s Institute of Surgical and Interventional Simulation (ISIS) to upgrade existing facilities, expand their existing partnerships with Madigan Army Medical Center and VA Puget Sound, and explore ways in which surgical simulation can enhance the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers; University of Washington, Seattle.

· $3 million for the Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute, for research on limb and tissue regeneration for battlefield injuries using bone marrow and stem cells; Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute of Portland.

· $1.6 million for million for Optical Neural Techniques for Combat/Post-Trauma Health Care with the potential to provide full restoration of hearing for injured soldiers; Aculight Corporation of Bothell.

· $3.2 for Mobile Object Infrastructure Technology enabling the U.S. Army Intelligence Command (INSCOM) to continue research and development of solutions to network computing challenges, including bandwidth and information-sharing constraints; Topia Technology of Tacoma.

The bill also contained several initiatives to revitalize defense laboratories and enable them to better support critical research and development missions. Other important programs that received funding include:

·$40 million for Impact Aid, which compensates school districts with a significant population of students from military families. School districts surrounding Ft. Lewis and McChord rely heavily on the program.

·$1.5 million for the Technology and National Security Program (TNSP) at the National Defense University.

·$1.7 billion for Department of Defense basic research (President’s request) which represents a 16% increase in real terms over the FY2008 budget.

·Several initiatives to revitalize defense laboratories and enable them to better support critical research and development missions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

UW Technology gives away software LoJack for laptops

I was just catching up on some technology stuff from the past week when I came across a small blurb in the UW "Ontech" email list that made me stand up and take notice. It turns out that UW Technology (the Seattle unit in charge of all technology which is horribly misnamed "UWT") has created what could be called a "Software LoJack" for your laptops. Basically the software sits on your computer and occasionally sends out a signal giving away the location of the device. Then you (and only you) can retrieve that data and use it however you want.

Obviously, you shouldn't get all Death Wish on someone if you track your stolen computer down, probably best to call the cops. There are other questions I have as well; such as how easily the client is fooled and how you get the actual information and how granular it is. But as far as a tool that is lightweight and secure (the data is only accessible to one user -- you) it looks pretty neat and I'll be installing it on some staff laptops here in the library to test it.

The software is free to all community members and private businesses. Install it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No Fools for Entrepreneur Summit Lookout

Recently, the Kauffman Foundation and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) co-published an executive summary on their April 1, 2008 summit about entrepreneurship support programs.

They sought to address four questions:
  1. What are the core components of an effective entrepreneurship support program?
  2. What is the essential infrastructure of an entrepreneurship eco-system?
  3. What are new avenues for research?
  4. What steps should be taken next to facilitate high-growth entrepreneurs?

The results:

  1. They determined the programs should structure their services to address entrepreneurs core needs
  2. These needs are: a) relevant market knowledge; b) access to talent and capital; c) networks
  3. Research on the programs value would be useful
  4. Policymakers and stakeholders need greater awareness

Key components of an effective entrepreneurial support program should include:

  • a recognition that limited resources forces concentration on particular segments
  • structure to what the customer base needs
  • function as brokers in the community, building bridges

The value of the entrepreneurial support program depends on three features:

  • Ability to efficiently facilitate networks
  • Management of peer-to-peer and mentoring programs
  • Strength of program leadership

On the question of the entrepreneurial eco-system, the summit says that programs work best if they are part of a wider regional vision. The steps necessary to promote innovative entrepreneurship?

  • Engage in partnerships with key community stakeholders
  • Provide support in regulatory and business assistance
  • Cultivate human capital for workforce development
  • Facilitate access to capital
  • Promote the commercialization of invention
  • Create organizations as part of a wider regional vision

Location Confirmed for SST 2008

Things are moving forward with the South Sound Technology Conference to be held on November 21st, though many elements of the program still need to be solidified.

As of yesterday I received confirmation that we will be holding the conference for the first time in the new William W. Philip Hall, which will accommodate in the configuration requested up to 300 attendees. Now of course we have to fill it.

Current program notes.

Various community and educational leaders.

Right now this may cover "cloud computing" but may in fact be a local tech company presentation as well.

Panel: "Funding Innovation"
The intent is to have someone from the Tacoma Angel Network, the Washington Technology Center, A local financial institution and the small business association on the panel to talk about funding for projects.


Sagem Morpho is lined up to showcase their new facial recognition solution.

Panel: "Fostering Innovation"
The afternoon panel will be on Fostering Technological Innovation and will be moderated by Senator Jim Kastama of Puyallup.

There is at least one birds of a feather discussion following to cover reestablishing connections between our South Puget Sound technology companies as part of the South Sound Chapter of the WTIA.

As this is a work in progress, everything is subject to tweaking from week to week. However, when word comes in on the location, the program will be firmed up and the communication to potential attendees will heat up.

If you are interested in driving your own particular birds of a feather discussion let me know and I will post.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Danish Delegation visits Tacoma Business Incubator

Click for the full story at the Tacoma Weekly

Last week, a delegation from the Danish city of Vejle stopped in at the William M. Factory Small Business Incubator (WFSBI).  The WFSBI is a non-profit built around helping small businesses in the area thrive, and has an impressive record in helping local SMB clients toward long-term success.

Take a look at the story.  Of particular interest to readers of this blog would be the Danish organization's focus on information technology companies.

Until next time...

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another non-Google online ad firm dies out

The latest Silicon Valley gossip has Jellycloud, an online ad placement company, shutting its doors this last week.  The firm started as Gator, the pesky psuedo-malware outfit we all knew and loved a couple years back.  

While given that information, few will likely mourn its passing, the more important facet of this is that Jellycloud's failure is yet another in a string of VC-funded online ad companies going out of business.  In this case, they chewed through over $50 million in funding before the collapse.  Can anyone but Google make money in this market?  Even among the big players, Yahoo relies on a partnership with Google for a great deal of ad business, and it's quite well-known how Microsoft's online division's bottom line looks.

Until next time!

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Virtualization for the Small Business, Part III

My last two posts in this series presented an introduction to server virtualization and the bottom-line benefits it can provide for small businesses.  This short post will wrap up the series by focusing on a few popular low-cost server virtualization systems for the small business.

VMWare Virtual Server - $Free
While VMWare just made their step-up system, ESXi, available free of charge, Virtual Server is more appropriate for the small business with its ability to run on just about any hardware.  This system is my top pick for creating virtual environments for customers, as the newest release candidate provides a fantastic web interface for managing virtual machines from any location.  It's also quite fast and can be built on a very low-overhead linux system.  All in all, it's a very mature, fairly speedy system with fantastic value and flexibility.

XenExpress - $Free
This is an extremely popular program from the Xen division at Citrix.  Based off the open source Xen system, XenExpress provides a robust bare-metal infrastructure, meaning it does not require a host operating system to work.  This reduces overhead, but means that the hardware compatibility is not quite as strong as VMWare Server, resulting in higher server hardware costs.  Overall, XenExpress is a solid product with fantastic speed and features, but not quite as easy to use or flexible as VMWare Server.  Also, while VMWare server doesn't have a limit on how many virtual machines can reside on a physical machine, the free version of XenExpress limits you to four.  That's been a major roadblock in my deploying this with any customers.

Microsoft HyperV - $Free with Server 2008 or standalone
The jury's out on this one, as it has been very recently released.  Suffice to say it's got a small army of developers behind it, but it remains to be seen if it can avoid the bloat and interoperability problems we've seen with many of Microsoft's IT products.

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tacoma Technology Companies

For my first post I want present a list of Tacoma Tech. companies. I'm always on the lookout for a local tech. job and I stumbled upon a great list of Tacoma Tech. companies. This list comes from, and I want to share it with everyone (yes, I got their ok to do this). Who says all the tech. jobs are in Seattle or the Eastside? With the gas prices so high and such a commuting nightmare, Tacoma is definitely a great place to work! Let me know of other local companies that should be added to this list.

Software Houses: Companies with dedicated programming units
Ambient ID, Inc.: RFID solutions for healthcare and food safety industries.
AppTech, Inc.: IT consulting and design.
Artifex: Custom software for a variety of business applications, as well as web and graphic design.
Ascentry Technologies: Wireless communications for Homeland Security applications. (Purchased by TechAlt Inc. of Seattle in Jan. 06. I have been unable to determine whether or not they still have operations in Tacoma.)
Avue Technologies: Software solutions for human resources department.
Cascadia Software: Training and integration of Sybase database systems, and development of DBA tools.
IDmicro: RFID tracking devices and associated software.
IdentityMine: Prototyping, proof of concept, and marketing demonstration services for emerging technologies.
Insynq: Develops and offers applications for remote management, business applications, and consulting.
Intel (Dupont): The world’s #1 chip maker, where I used to work—not a software company, but enough programmers for “critical mass”.
InVivo Health Partners: Hardware and software for information management in healthcare.
Konnects: Online social networking for the business and professional worlds.
Limelight Healthcare: Develops IT software for the healthcare industry.
LION Mortgage Technology Solutions (Gig Harbor): Software solutions for mortgage lenders.
NewTec (Fort Lewis): Defense contracting firm.
Nu Element: Fuel cell and associated technology.
Prepared Response: Software for emergency first-responders. Headquarters are in Seattle, but Tacoma has a large portion of the employees.
Sagem Morpho: U.S. headquarters of a European-owned biometric software systems vendor.
Topia Technology: Mobile object technology for a variety of applications, including integration of disparate systems, distributed computing, and in situ application evolution. Creator of Skoot large file transfer service.
Vadium Technology: Develops secure encryption solutions for enterprise, government, and military applications.
Web Development: Web dev firms get a category of their own, to distinguish them from software companies
Business Internet Services: Development of custom web sites and associated back-end applications.
Data-Imagery: Content management, CRM and e-commerce web development.
Gridwork Design: Web design for publications and non-profits.
HighPoint Solutions: Integrated strategy, branding, marketing company, including some web development.
SiteCrafting: Web design and web application development.
Information Technology: IT service providers
Internet Identity: Services to combat phishing and other forms of online fraud.
IS Techs (Puyallup): IT and help desk consulting services.
ITC (Midland): Computer and network design, procurement and support, web hosting and design, online databases, Flash/Actionscript, ASP, php development, kiosks, Drupal and Plone, and general problem solving.
Optic Fusion: Colocation and hosting.
Graphic Design: Tech-related design firms
Ainsworth Studio: Graphic and website design.
Rusty George Creative: Branding, graphic design, digital/interactive design and development.

Other Companies with Software Jobs: A few larger local companies that occasionally hire software engineers
City of Tacoma: Not a company, but didn’t want to make a new category…
Columbia Bank: No comment necessary.
DaVita: Kidney dialysis equipment.
Russell Investment Company: Tacoma’s most prominent local company (and Fortune’s 63rd top place to work for 2006).
Weyerhaeuser (Federal Way): Raper of the ecosystem, er, I mean responsible forest
management company…

Customer Service and other Support: Technology companies with support (non-techie) operations in Tacoma Customer service call center near the UWT.
Netflix: Distribution center near the mall.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Learn the Game

So all you need is money?

Here's another opportunity for entrepreneurs to get that cash that will allow them to realize their dream.

An Angel Financing Conference is aimed helping early stage companies understand the angel financing marketplace. And, they are also interested in individuals contemplating investing in these companies.

Expert panels are online to give entrepreneurs tips on how to successfully raise angel investment and others are committed for panels on guiding angel investors through the process of vetting start-up companies seeking capital are offered (see enclosed agenda).

If you are interested in registering, go here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tacoma: Best Performer in WA

Tacoma has received an exceptional ranking, along with similar high scores by Olympia and Seattle, in the recent Best-Performing Cities 2008.

Conducted by the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners, Tacoma ranked 8th nationally (Olympia 9th, Seattle 17th). So why?

The Puget Sound Business Journal cited Tacoma's highest score in the category of growth in its high-tech sector. The report specifically states:

Data processing, hosting, and related services enjoyed average annual job growth of 17.2 percent over the past five years.

Olympia's growth has placed it up into the larger metros whereas in previous years it had been a stellar performer among smaller cities. The report cites Olympia for its Information Services as the fastest growing job sector, at 38% over five years (probably related to growth in state government) and Seattle was noted for adding 6,200 jobs in R&D services. For those who want to know, Spokane came in at a most respectable 35.

The study brags that its rankings are based on outcomes (i.e., jobs) rather than cost-based criteria (i.e., cost-of-living).

Best of the Best Coming to Tacoma

Larry Kopp, co-founder of the TacomaAngel Network reports on his recent sighting about Bill Payne, one of the principal presenters in TAN's upcoming Deal Doing Seminar.

Larry says, "Bill Payne, the moderator for TAN’s Business Development and Deal Doing Seminar was quoted this week in an article in the New York Times…Giving Businesses their Wings.

'….Many states offer tax incentives for investing in small businesses in their own state ..[of up to 100% over 5 years] For a list, go to, click on Resources and look for state policy issues. [Washington State is NOT one of those states].

Indeed, supporting local economic development is one reason that angels often cite for their interest in this type of investing. “When you are a venture capitalist, and you are investing other people’s money, return on investment had better be your only motivation,” said Bill Payne, a founding member of angel investor groups in Montana and Nevada. “But angel investors are often motivated by other considerations, such as mentoring young entrepreneurs and giving back to the community.'

Payne has been an angel investor since the early 1980s, when he sold his company, Solid State Dielectrics, to DuPont. His interest in fostering local economic development led him to start the Frontier Angel Fund three years ago in Kalispell, Mont. The fund’s 33 members each put in $50,000, and they vote on each proposed investment.

Many of the 300 or so angel investor groups in the United States function almost like social clubs. If enough members decide to invest in a particular company, they often form a limited liability corporation and appoint one member to become the principal contact with the entrepreneur. If only a few members are interested in a deal, they are free to invest on their own."

Thanks Larry, for catching this info.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Google Chrome, second impressions

I've now had my hot little hands on the Google Chrome browser for almost a week and have further data to report back on the browser. 

The EULA Boondoggle

As reported in various places, and re-reported here, when the browser was released, Section 11 of Google Chrome's EULA had some very strange language which seemed to give Google
a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
After talking to some of my more knowledgeable Copyright colleagues about the topic, they assured me that there was no way Google could enforce this clause. "Copyright just doesn't change hands this way" was the way one friend put it. 

Still, this strange EULA (and the fact that it's a Beta) also gave many corporations pause leading to more than a few corporate bans of downloading and installing the product. After all, who wants their employees downloading a Beta browser that already has proof-of-concept security flaws, AND that has an odious EULA?  Uhh, none?

At this point Google started to feel the heat and they responded by, well, by changing the EULA. It now simply states
11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
Google responded, end of story. Now, if we wait long enough they might solve the security problems and take it out of Beta, of course, considering that Gmail is still in beta, I am doubtful.

Accessibility Problems

A new, serious, flaw has been discovered: the beta release of Chrome is not an accessible browser and from a UW Tacoma Library point of view this is a deal breaker. Our technologies must, at the very least, be able to function with screen reading software like JAWS and preliminary reports show that it isn't. This is yet another thing that Google will need to work on if they are going to garner wide-spread adoption of this software.

What's even more worrying is that they knew about the problems and their response was to simply release a statement about how the APIs were designed to be compatible with WAI-ARIA and that we should expect more compatibility in future releases.

This is not to say that I was going to rush out and install the browser here, it is still in beta test. More just that it's another thing for Gooogle to impress me with their response time, much like they did with the EULA.

Cool Features

It seems like I'm discovering a new cool feature every day. Yesterday, I discovered that when you do a "Find" (Ctrl + F) there are several improvements over Firefox and IE. First, there's no popup window and the find function doesn't take up a strip at the bottom of the browser. It's appears as a small drop-down in the upper right corner of the screen -- yet another way that Chrome user interface is inobtrusive. Second, the search feature automatically highlights search terms in the browser window. And finally, in a function with limited application, it marks the scroll bar with a strip of yellow to show where on the page the hits are showing up.  i use this last feature to scroll through large pages that are ordered chronologically and gather data on when a term was popular. I'm sure someone can come up with a better use of this!

There's also the incognito mode, which I know is being ridiculed as "porn mode" but honestly, I think it's a great idea. First, my partner and I share a computer at home. Whenever she logs on to read her gmail, I'll inevitably come along later and use the computer and her gmail will still be logged on. Or her Yahoo account, or any of a thousand things she's done on the computer that day will leave traces behind. Normally, this isn't a problem but there have been times when she was looking at a gift for me on Ebay and I ruined it simply by opening the browser. Incognito mode solves that problem.

Also, as an adult with small kids, I might look at content that isn't appropriate for my daughters (, for example, far from a pr0n site, but not exactly something I want a 10 year old looking at) and incognito mode is great to keep those tracks clean.

And from a public workstation standpoint, as a user and as an administrator, I'm always in favor of browsers that automatically clean their tracks (Firefox, etc), but I'd be even more in favor of one that doesn't leave any in the first place (Chrome Incognito). Here in the library, students sometimes have to use a credit card to put money on their Husky account (for printing and food and stuff) which they have to do through a browser window. Regardless of how secure the site is, I'm just more comfortable doing something like that in a browser that doesn't leave any tracks and I would want to make incognito mode the default mode for all student browsers in the library, just as a precaution.

I'd just like to see a couple of features added to this mode: parental locks to keep kids from browsing Incognito if desired, and the ability to make Incognito the default mode.


It's way to early to jump to any conclusions about Chrome. At the very least, there's a lot of work that Google need to do if they want to bring it up to the industry standard and see widespread adoption. If that's not their goal, and instead they just wanted to show the world something neat -- mission accomplished. Let's follow it up with something more business friendly, please?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome, first impressions


Not the new browser (I'm using it right now, it's good enough) I mean "wow" in regards to the response to the browser.  Deafening and devastatingly quick, that's how I'd categorize the response so far.  Everyone from the giants at the New York Times (my co worker in the Library pointed this article out to me) to the smallest blogger have gotten their hands on the new browser and put it though some kind of paces.  I mean, there's so much out there that it's hard to really hard to say something that you might not have already seen somewhere else, but I'll try anyway.

Of course, being the impulsive geek that I am, I installed the browser before I read the comic as I'm sure many of you did as well.  But if you have 1/2 an hour, take a look at the link above, it's well worth the time.  What the comic does is brilliantly and succinctly explain that the egg-heads at Google are not just doing another browser re-write, but more like a browser revolution. That comic should be mandatory reading for all aspiring techies and old heads like me too.

One example of this "revolution" is the fact that each tab you open will be its own process on your computer.  Why should you care?  Well, this has several benefits; first, in Firefox (and IE) when old tabs die, they can sometimes hold on to bits of memory.  This leads to bloated processes that are holding on to memory and ultimately a slower browsing experience.  Second, since each tab is its own process, cleanup of that old memory is much faster, leading to more efficiency over all.  And then there's the big benefit; sandboxing.  Since each tab is it's own process Chrome can leverage the sandboxing technology they bought from Green Border Technologies to, basically, prevent applications running in one instance to use (or infect) other resources.  Thus, sandboxing makes your browser experience safer. Which is huge.

Currently to get a similar level of security I run Firefox with NoScript and Ad Blocker Plus but it's important to note that No Script is not sandboxing the scripts but just blocking all scripts from running and allowing me to choose which scripts I want to run and when.  Typically, I have to allow sites to run some scripts -- for an example try to go to with Javascript turned off. Since I have to allow a site to run at least the root scripts that means that I'm vulnerable to those scripts if they get tainted somehow.  In the sandboxed environment I should never be vulnerable, since the script is (theoretically) only allowed to act within the confines of the sandbox.  Thus, Google Chrome should be the safest browser yet.

This is all to say that ultimately, Google Chrome should be faster and safer.  We'll have to see, it's an open source, extensible, complex program, there are bound to be faults that can be exploited. And as for increased speed, regardless of benchmark tests which prove the Java script engine is faster than most I haven't seen any improvement in my browsing experience yet.  Of course... we're talking milliseconds here so I doubt that anyone will really notice the difference between say Firefox and Chrome.

There were also enterprise problems with Chrome that I discovered.  The first, and biggest, is that for right now each user on every machine has to load the browser personally.  This has to do with the fact that Chrome is stored in the user's profile in Windows and there's no option for a global install.  I'm sure they will fix this problem, because a browser that's not available for multiple users on a single machine is simply useless to me.

The second problem is just now coming to light and writers like Art Wittman (thanks Gary for the link) and others are pointing it out; the EULA gives Google a perpetual license to use your data how they see fit.  Sort of like what they do with search and gmail, they keep everything you have ever done on the Internet (though their services) and can use it for whatever they want. Which generally means "targeted advertising."  But this license gives them explicit permissions to, say, take a photograph of Grandma Mel that you upload to Flickr (which you have explicitly retained the rights to) and use it in any way that they see fit.  They could plaster your photo of Grandma all over town with some less than flattering caption if they want and according to the EULA there's nothing you can do.  It's a patently laughable idea and if the products weren't so darn cool I think fewer people would be excited to use them based solely on that license. 

So, I guess that my first impression is that it's a Google product.  It's really cool, very innovative, and darn near the perfect tool and to use it, you just have to give them rights to all data you ever transmit or receive through it.

Ready to make that Faustian bargain?  Then try it out for yourself.

Virtualization for the Small Business, Part II: Benefits

In my last post, I provided a basic introduction to server virtualization, and suggested that it could have an impressive impact on the bottom line for small businesses. As was also alluded to in that piece, this post will cover the benefits which drive that bottom-line impact.

Let's have a quick review. Server virtualization allows multiple logical servers to exist on one powerful physical server. This allows much more efficient use of resources, as while multiple servers are often used to avoid compatibility issues or to host services on different operating systems, they rarely fully use physical server resources. Virtualization allows each server to act as if it were on a separate physical server, while being contained in a powerful virtualization server that can provide resources to each logical server as needed.

The benefits of this are:

  • Cost savings
  • Flexibility
  • Fast, simple disaster recovery

Let’s go over these in a bit more detail...

Cost Savings

Typically, "server class" hardware is quite expensive to acquire. As I said before, that hardware is rarely fully used by the services running on top of it. Server virtualization allows multiple servers, with their own operating system and services, to share powerful "server class" hardware. Aside from simple hardware costs, virtualization saves a great deal of power and maintenance time costs. Server power supplies can easily range into the 500-1000 watt territory, so reducing that load can provide substantial energy savings. Additionally, while each logical server will still require software and OS administration, you only have to maintain hardware on your virtualization server.


As a consultant that advises small and medium size companies on new technologies that can improve their business, the flexibility that virtualization brings is a very exciting benefit personally. Want to trial that new collaboration system but don't want to modify a production server? While in a pre-virtualization world this would require purchasing or borrowing a test computer, a business with server virtualization can add a logical server to a virtualization host in seconds, and be testing soon after. This extends to modifications of existing logical servers, as they can be mirrored and test-upgraded before an upgrade is put into production. As I said before, this dynamic is a major boon for my customers, providing quick and inexpensive flexibility for trying new things.

Fast, Simple Disaster Recovery

For many business owners, this is the key benefit to server virtualization. Many of us have been through the nightmare of a server hardware crash. Often, especially in the small business environment, one of the major road blocks to restoring a production environment is the operating systems' dependence on specific hardware drivers. This leads to a complicated restore procedure: Bring the operating system back clean, then restoring data and applications, a lengthy process. In a virtualized environment, each logical server simply sees "standard" hardware that any virtualization server can provide. Thus, in the event of a virtualization server hardware malfunction, the logical servers can be moved to a new virtualization server without any special restore process. The result: A massive reduction in downtime.

I hope that's a useful breakdown of some of the primary benefits server virtualization can bring a small business. My next post, the final one of this series, will go over a few of the most popular server virtualization platforms which meet the budgetary and operational needs of the small business.

Until next time!

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Exporting Global Communications

The Department of Commerce's (U.S. Commercial Service) Global Information and Communications Technology Team will be meeting in the Seattle area the week of September 15th.

During their stay, the Team will be hosting a half day event, The Future of Global Communications - Opportunities and Challenges, on Wednesday, September 17th between 7:45am - 12:30pm.

Featured speakers will be from Qualcomm, the Department of Commerce's Office of Technology and E-Commerce, and seven sector specialists from Department of Commerce offices (Commercial Section, U.S. Embassy or Consulate) from Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea, Greece, Vietnam, and Singapore.

The attendees will be given a vision of the future along with information related to export sales opportunities. More information about the event, and to register, can be obtained using this link.

Chrome re-released

One of our readers sent in a note saying that Google Chrome has, in fact been released. So... I googled it (!) and sure enough, there it is in the link above. According to Jack Flack over at Wired, the bizarre launch was a genuine mistake on the part of Google Chrome's developers; they hit the send button too soon on the web comic that was meant to introduce the new browser.

Oh well, it's out now. Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to get on with the testing.

Google goes Chrome

You have, no doubt heard the news by now that Google has released/will release a new browser called "Chrome." Chrome represents the fourth (or more) frontal assault on the castle walls of Microsoft (Gmail, calendars, and Google docs are meant to replace Outlook and Office) and given the popularity and usability of their other software, I can say I took the news with great interest.

For one, I was very excited by this news because we here at the UW Tacoma Library are always looking for improvements to our user's browsing experience. Especially when it comes to the safety of people's personal information which Chrome was expected to deliver. For another, I just wanted to play around with some new tech and Google's particular way of tying information gathering technologies together makes the prospect extra exciting.

When I came in to work today, I was hoping to get a copy of the browser to start testing but it turns out that Google did not really want to release it into the wild just yet. So, they have now completely scrubbed their search cache and moved the browser download link. Alas, no Chrome for me to test but rest assured, when Chrome hits the streets I'll be there to put it through its paces. Which means that you too will get an early look at Chrome.

Until then, I guess we'll all have to wait.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Wi-Fi Laid to Rest

The announcement of the Washington State Department of Transportation that the wi-fi service at rest stops will be stopped marks the end of a two-year experiment.

More than that it marks either the end of a failed experiment or the recognition of a more outstanding killer app than the experimenters' business model. Depends on your perspective.

The tendency is to lament the end of another hi-tech service. But I look at the "glass-half-full" perspective and see a greater adoption of technology and an increased capability of technology offering the user a better option. This is not to blame any of the wi-fi partners: WSDOT, Parsons Transportation or Road Connection, Inc. In the technology field, just as in other industries if not so prevalently, failure often leads to the greater success.

Economic developers celebrate the region's status as a place of many business starts. And, they lament the region's status as a place of higher business failures. But the two are linked. The marketplace will decide the winner if we let it. This is not to excuse the market manipulation that seeks to maintain all businesses regardless of their economic worth. And, it is not an excuse for the market interference from either monopolistic practices or regulatory constraints that stifle economic progress.

The Challenge for a marketplace is that those able to influence it keep it open, with an ease of entry that enables serial entrepreneurs.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Plastics Tanks

Ok, the title is misleading is several respects.

This article is really about the USAF development of the demonstration project Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft at the Lockheed Martin "Skunkworks." So, calling it plastic is a very liberal interpretation of composite materials. And, it's also a liberal use of "tanks" referring to military cargo aircraft carrying tanks. But, that also applies to the savings in the fuel tanks of cargo aircraft from the anticipated efficiencies of lighter weight.

And, why should any of this strained use of terminology about plastics and tanks even concern us. Because our community is the site of Toray Composites (America), Inc., even though the plant is not the materials supplier for the Skunkworks' ACCA.

Toray is involved with Boeing in production of the Dreamliner, which manufacturers aircraft parts in its adjacent plant. This all goes together to demonstrate the development and expansion of new technology and applications in two industries central to the economy of the region. Just as our region saw the development of aluminum plants because of the juxtaposition of plentiful power with the demand for aviation materials, so too may we experience the economic development (jobs) from the coming together of composites and aircraft.

Friday, August 29, 2008

TAN Portal for Venture Capitalists

Larry Kopp, founding c-chair of the TacomaAngel Network announced the TAN Deal Sharing Website Portal is now operational.

Kopp thanked the brilliant legal work, respectively, by our Sponsor, Joe Whitford of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP; and the website genius of Brian Forth, Mark Neidlinger and their team at SiteCrafting, the new TAN Deal Sharing Website Portal is now operational and could soon be available to TAN's sister Angel Organizations around the Northwest who wish to share investments with TAN's members.
The attractiveness of TAN companies to TAN's sister organizations is gratifying and is a tribute to all that TAN's Membership and Screening Committee have been able to bring to Angel investing. Here are some of the comments recently received:

Investor: I spent a year with xxx venture group before I saw even ONE deal as good as these all are.

Companies: I really love the inclusive nature of your forum…it's the best I've seen…you are well organized for both companies and investors… and, You folks are really refreshing—concentrating on business, coaching, and funding. Very Professional.

Venture Capitalists (Seattle): We've been looking forward to meeting TAN; everyone has been talking about your great group, screening process, fabulous website, and professionalism.

This new portal on the TAN Website is a keystone in TAN's efforts to streamline the deal sharing process to both enable and help expand regional co-investment. This is intended to bring more capital to bear for locally emerging businesses. It also is intended to bring TAN’s members access to both more and bigger deals.
This portion of the sharing process is accomplished by making information on certain TAN companies electronically available in a password protected portion of TAN's website for joint sharing as investments with participating organizations from among the 20 or more sister Angel groups that are active in the NW between Oregon and British Columbia. TAN's database today includes around 160 companies to date that have opted to be in our program. This list is growing by about 80 companies per year.
All companies on TAN's sharing site have had their proposition and documents to some degree subjected to TAN's screening process. That process submits each company to evaluation by TAN's Screening Committee on at least 7 and as many as 15 specific elements ranging from: the Fundamental Business Proposition e.g. Is it a good idea, and various businesses components, including, among others, the PowerPoint Presentation, Business Plan, ProForma Financials, Management Team, Executional Plan and Investor Terms.

All company information in this sharing process is very carefully guarded behind a password protected portal with the intent to be shared ONLY with the accredited investors of "Sharing Angel Groups", so designated because in most cases the relationship will be reciprocal, and protected legally by an entry agreement that this information will be:
  • Kept confidential to the organization's internal purposes, and will not be shared with service providers or company competitors, but only their screening committees and accredited investor members.

  • Used for the organizations' investment purposes, and not be shared with other organizations, investors or investment groups.

  • Treated with the same or greater confidentiality as that applied in their own respective screening and member investment meetings.

  • Kept confidential from the companies, if it contains any proprietary notes developed by TAN for its internal uses, but shared with the sharing Angel group for these investment purposes.
Other efforts in this arena also include opening up regional investment blockages as they relate to:
  • Deal Process—simplify communications not only to improve the regionalization of overall investments, but to be able to fast track when investments are sponsored by another Angel organization whose screening process has been vetted so as to be able to deal with fast closing offerings.

  • Deal Sharing—finding faster and legal-light methods, which offer automated rather than overbearing paper intensive legal processes.

  • Cross Border Investment—A 4 way process for both companies and investors. US Companies going to Canada, Canadian companies here; US investors there; Canadian Investors here.
We hope that these efforts being made on TAN's member's behalf by your volunteers, interns and Chamber will bring you many pleasant years of profitable and productive investing.

A portion of the site for each company generally contains the following documents a Sharing Angel Organization will find on TAN companies:

  • A brief overall summary, including:

  • Contacts, business description, years in business, number of employees;

  • Source of prior financing and current bank balances, requested financing amount (including minimum investment);

  • Type of financing and amount to first close, intended uses for the money raised, current pre-money and post money valuation;

  • Cash flow break even status or time to break even, revenues today;

  • Number of years to exit and anticipated type;

  • Expected valuation at exit and how arrived at;

  • Additional capital needed after current raise to get to exit point, including when and how that money is to be raised.

  • PowerPoint Presentation

  • Executive Summary

  • Business Plan

  • 5 year Financial Plan

  • Capitalization Table (fully diluted)

  • Term sheet and/or Subscription documents

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

IT Salaries Swoon

The results of InformationWeek's 2008 U.S. IT Salary Survey are not pretty.

The new study of IT salaries is filled with bad news and IT salaries took a swoon for the first time in the 11 years the publication began studying salary trends. Editor Marianne Kolbasuk McGee took a positive outlook by noting that IT salaries have inched up recently. Maybe that's the reversal of the swoop's curve!

Salaries for business technology professionals have been falling. The good news is that the drop is a modest one for IT staff and managers.

From 2007 to 2008, median base pay for IT staff fell to $73,000 from $74,000, and for managers it dropped from $97,000 to $96,000. The stagnation in pay understandably seems to have caused a drop in levels of satisfaction with pay and jobs overall. But, many IT professionals are still feeling secure in their positions and optimistic about IT as a career path.

This InformationWeek Analytics report provides an unparalleled view into trends in IT salaries and compensation plans. With more than 9,000 respondents, the research explores IT compensation and benefits trends across 20 IT job functions and management positions. Findings are segmented according to the job functions of managers and staff for the most comprehensive analysis possible.

Use this report to understand what IT professionals are facing regarding salaries, compensation, benefits, and job satisfaction, as well as how emerging trends like outsourcing impact IT professionals. Buy Now: Just $299

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It never works out the way you want

Hi... I'm Tim. I am the blogger who works for the UW Tacoma Library, Gary introduced me a few weeks back. Anyway, I had hoped to get a story from Sound Transit on the expanded wi-fi service that they have introduced, but, unfortunately they have been very, very slow in getting back to me about the questions I have.

I guess I'll have to write about Amazon's announcement today that they are targeting the Kindle to the college crowd. I have previously written about the Kindle for my work blog and if you scroll through those articles you'll see that I'm not overly enamored with the device. Basically, my complaint is that it's a uni-tasker and in a world where people have hand held, touch based , multi tasking computing like the iPod Touch I can't see anything beyond a niche market for these devices. But I will admit that this new idea of selling e-textbooks on the Kindle seems like it holds a lot of promise.

Imagine, you're doing a group project and you show up to the meeting with a single device that has not only all the textbooks for this class, but all the textbooks you have used throughout your program. They are searchable, you can write notes in the margins, and they are the ultimate in a portable library. That's pretty heady stuff.

But stuff like that is probably 10 years away.

In the mean time, they will have to overcome an academic culture that is generally slow to adopt new technology. Already it's difficult to get many faculty to assign e-books to their students (though that's already happening at a faster and faster rate) in order for it to be a "mobile library" a majority of the faculty will need to assign e-books. Otherwise the Kindle is just another thing a student has to carry around in their already overloaded bookbag.

Students too might be wan to adopt the new technology. I can't see faculty assigning students to read e-books as the only option and so, unless the e-book is significantly cheaper, many people will opt for the handy old paper version. A paper book has some cache still; it can be resold, lent, borrowed, bent, marked, and is a generally sturdy storage device.

At $350, the Kindle unit is too is costly and since it's a uni-tasker students will again need to see a significant savings on their textbooks if there's any hope on Amazon's part that they will adopt them. In a day and age when a eeepc is a mere $500, why on earth would a poor college student want to buy a Kindle?

Which brings me to the last hurdle; technology is changing rapidly. Just look at the next generation OLPC; there's a folding screen, it's touch activated, and it already looks and acts just like a book. Not only that, but it's also a computer. A student can use that to read an e-book, write up their paper, chat with their group, email their professor, and play a video game.

As good an idea as selling e-textbooks to students might seem at first glance, it's devices like the next generation OLPC that are going to be in every college student's hands in 10 years.

If you ask me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Strikes from the Cloud

The internet cloud has produced the first strikes: the first cyberwar coordinated with a shooting war.

The New York Times has reported the war began as early as July 20, well before Russia invaded Georgia. And, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported hackers were waging war on Georgian websites, email and communications services.

It is difficult to determine whether an attack on a nation's cyber infrastructure is an act of war because "we have not yet defined what that is." Gen. Victor Renuart, Northern Command, Defense News, Aug. 20, 2008

In a discourse, Gen. Renuart identified "must do" new security policy to address the cyberspace threats (along with changes in sea conditions in the Arctic). This view comes virtually simultaneously with reports that the Pentagon is suspending manning and budget to establish the Cyberspace Command. Quickly condemned as an unwise action by recently fired SECAF Michael Wynne, other defense sources say the mission is better housed in the
U.S. Strategic Command, which has the military responsibility for cyberspace across all services and commands.

With current perils demonstrated for all to see, it is unfortunate that the recent firings of USAF leadership ostensibly over nuclear safety, but conventionally understood to be expanded to include KC-X tanker procurement, now seems to include cyber defense.