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In the News

News from December, 2008

Help for stressed-out global supply chains

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008


The software-as-a-service business model is such a good idea that it amazes me that it’s taking so long for it to penetrate Corporate America beyond the initial foray in sales force automation. I attribute this to the don’t-change-a-thing ethic that took over the IT strategies of many companies in the wake of the dot-com boom and bust. Behind the scenes, though, additional SAAS applications are being rolled out and are being adopted by big companies.

One example I came on recently was Aravo Solutions, an 8-year-old San Francisco company that has only 60 employees but seems to have a very useful piece of software. Aravo’s application allows companies to manage their far-flung supplier networks. The company just raised $7 million from a group of patient investors who have been backing it since its beginnings in 2000. Its seems like their patience may be paying off. This software seems to be just what manufacturers need at a time when their supplier networks are under incredible stress. Figuring out which suppliers are weak links and responding quickly could be crucial for them over the coming months. (Full Article)


Monday, December 22nd, 2008

ZDNet – Blog by Paul Greenberg

Now Presenting:  The Up and Coming Companies of 2009 Social CRM/CRM 2.0 Space

These companies are the ones that you just might not know but must be on your 2009 CRM social calendar or 2009 Social CRM radar screen. I insist – which means “please?” Each of them is a genuine gem – in the case of Helpstream, I can’t even find a flaw.  Don’t worry though, that’s way too out of character since I’m a New Yorker.  I will. In the meantime. enjoy all of them – they are actually interesting in addition to being on the rise. Real studmuffins and for the most part, outright cool.

1.    InsideView – This is a company that just figured out how the world of CRM and business knowledge (not BI) intermingle when it comes to traditional competitive intelligence and the social information needed to know the customer. They have this kick-butt product called SalesView in three editions (the basic one is free, the other two are $99.00 per month per user) that draws competitive and profile information from some 20,000 sources ranging from Reuters to Facebook.  But it doesn’t just provide that information to you in some unstructured way. For example, it can do what the folks at InsideView call “Connection Analysis” so you can identify who the key influencers are at the companies that you are targeting. So what? Social Network Analysis does that?  Yeah, but not from 20,000 places including the oft used Reuters and Hoovers but also Jigsaw, Facebook, LinkedIn and a myriad of other social networks. It then actually does the analysis and provides you with an extensive view of who’s who.  Cool, salesguy, huh?  But it goes so much further – best target market sales prospects, repeatable alerts for events of interest or importance to you.  Oh, it just goes on.  Their very bright management team comprised of industry veterans like Rand Schulman, realized that CRM was a natural integration for these extended social services so they partnered not just with the usual –, but with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SugarCRM, Oracle (in their on demand incarnation, and Landslide (see below for Landslide). They are deeply rooted and involved. Their service is invaluable – and most of all is cool without being there to be cool. They are an incredibly capable provider of intelligence that sales and marketing folks can use – with a business and pricing model that works. What do they need to do better? I’ll let you know. Right now, they need to just keep on keepin’ on. (Full Article)

Startup Boasts World’s Largest Enterprise Software As A Service Web Site

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008


Aravo Solutions will announce this week $7 million of new funding that despite the sour economy will let it hire sales, service and engineering staff.

But the more inspiring news from the San Francisco startup might be this: it boasts the world’s largest enterprise software-as-a-service Web site, which it built for General Electric. Half a million suppliers use the site to feed information on products, themselves and compliance issue to GE, with thousands of new suppliers joining each day, says Tim Albinson, founder and CEO.

Aravo is a supply-chain company that claims its can take cost and complexity out of a customer’s relationships with its suppliers. For the eight-year-old startup of between 50 and 60 workers, taking on the GE project “was a big deal,” says Albinson.

It took 5 months to sell GE on the effort and seven months to implement the technology – a “tremendous amount of work and effort,” he says.

The $7 million in financing brings to $30 million the amount of money Aravo has raised. The series D round was led by Charles Schwab/Big Sky Partners and included Stephen Friedman, a retired chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Tony Mayer, a former CEO of JP Morgan Capital.

Aravo raises $7M more for supply chain management

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

VentureBeat – By Anthony Ha

Aravo Solutions, which dubs itself (of the supply chain world), has raised $7 million in a fourth round of venture funding.

The San Francisco company offers software delivered via online subscription in three categories — supply chain, risk management and sustainability (which involves making the supply chain more environmentally friendly). Aravo says its partnership with General Electric — through which GE manages 500,000 suppliers — is the largest single deployment using the software-as-a-service business model.

The new funding was led by Charles Schwab/Big Sky Partners, with participation from Stephen Friedman (retired chairman of Goldman Sachs), Tony Mayer (former chief executive of JP Morgan Capital), and a syndicate of partners and executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Aravo will hold a second close on this round in January. It has raised a total of $30 million. (Article)

Aravo Raises $7 Million Series D Following World’s Largest Single SAAS Deployment

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

TechCrunch IT – by Jeff Widman

Despite the economic downturn, companies that solve real problems are still successfully raising money. Aravo, a SAAS supplier information management tool, announced today that they closed $7 million in Series D funding.

Headaches with managing vendor information–think for suppliers, rather than prospects–is a very real problem. Last summer, I worked in supply chain at a small manufacturer, and I remember calling over a hundred suppliers to get e-mail addresses. (Those addresses were never transferred into our ERP system.)

Currently, Aravo claims their GE installation is the largest single SAAS deployment. “We are now managing over 500,000 suppliers and their data in Aravo, and have just gone live in six languages,” said Gary Reiner, CIO of GE.

Aravo’s software hooks directly into SAP & Oracle, and includes options to track ISO certifications, sustainability initiatives, and risk analysis.

Given the cost-cutting emphasis in supply chain, it’s no wonder Aravo continues to grow during a downturn. Surprisingly they do not expect to be profitable until 2010. CEO Tim Albinson told me this latest financing round provided the runway to emphasize growth over profits, and they plan to double in 2009.

Aravo has raised $30 million so far–almost exclusively from individual investors, with the majority of the firm’s Series A, B, and C investors participating in the Series D round. The round was lead by Charles Schwab/Big Sky Partners, who made their fourth investment in the company. Other investors in this round included Stephen Friedman (Retired Chairman, Goldman Sachs) Tony Mayer (Former CEO, JP Morgan Capital), and a syndicate of senior partners and C?level executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. A second close on the round is planned for mid January. (Full Article)

Aravo raises $7M in Series D funding

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

San Francisco Business Times

Aravo Solutions Inc. has closed $7 million in Series D venture funding and says it expects to announce a second close in January “to accommodate additional investor interest.”

The San Francisco-based company, a provider of on-demand software and services focusing on supply chain management, said it will use the money to expand sales, engineering, and delivery capacity, to open new offices in the United States and India, and to bolster its green business and risk management products.

Aravo has raised $30 million in total funding to date, almost exclusively from individual investors, with the majority of previous investors participating in the Series D round. The round was led by Charles Schwab/Big Sky Partners, a four-time investor in the company.

Other investors in the current round included Stephen Friedman, retired chairman of Goldman Sachs, Tony Mayer, former CEO of J.P. Morgan Capital, and a syndicate of senior partners and C-level executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Aravo was founded in 2000 by Tim Albinson, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

Aravo Closes $7 Million Series D Round to Fuel Explosive Company Growth

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Marketwire – Aravo Solutions Press Release

Funds Will Be Used to Expand Sales, Engineering, and Delivery Capacity, Open New Offices, and Enhance Aravo SIM Product Offerings

Aravo Solutions, Inc., the leading provider of on-demand Supplier Information Management (SIM) software and services, today announced that it has closed $7 million in Series D funding. The funds will be used to expand sales, engineering, and delivery capacity, to open new offices in the US and India, and to fuel further enhancement of Aravo’s sustainability and risk management products. The firm also plans to hold a second close on the Series D round in January to accommodate continued investor interest.

Aravo has raised $30 million in total funding to date, almost exclusively from individual investors, with the majority of the firm’s Series A, B, and C investors participating in the Series D round. The round was lead by Charles Schwab/Big Sky Partners, who made their fourth investment in the company. Other investors in the round included Stephen Friedman (Retired Chairman, Goldman Sachs), Tony Mayer (Former CEO, JP Morgan Capital), and a syndicate of senior partners and C-level executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. (Full Article)

7 Eco Lighting Startups to Watch

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Earth2Tech – by Josie Garthwaite

Big players in the lighting market have snapped up startups in recent years at a breakneck pace. Cree acquired LED Lighting Fixtures in March. Lighting Science Group bought Lamina Lighting’s assets in July. Philips spent $5.4 billion on startups between 2005 and 2007 and acquired four LED companies: Lumileds, TIR Systems, Color Kinetics and Genlyte. We’ve rounded up some of the brightest startups working on lowering the cost of LEDs, developing energy-management software, and devising ultra-efficient lighting technology — and raising millions from investors while they’re at it — to see where they’re headed.

HID Laboratories: American River Ventures, Big Sky Ventures, Greenhouse Capital Partners and the CalCEF Angel Fund have invested in HID Labs, which is working on a demand-response platform to control and dim high-intensity-discharge lighting, often used for large areas (think stadiums, warehouses, big-box retail stores). The company says its digital ballast can boost efficiency by 40 percent over existing magnetic-ballast options. (Full Article)

Mariah Power completes round of venture financing

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Northern Nevada Business Weekly – NNBW Staff

Mariah Power Inc., a Reno company that manufactures wind-power appliances, closed its second round of financing, drawing support from a group of venture capital and angel investment firms in California and Nevada.

Neither the privately held company nor the venture firms disclosed the amount or terms of the financing.

The investment is led by Noventi Ventures, a venture capital fund in Menlo Park, Calif., that specializes in early-stage companies in emerging technology.

Other participants are Big Sky Partners and Greenhouse Capital, venture capital funds headquartered in Sausalito, Calif., and the Sierra Angels, an angel-investment firm at Lake Tahoe.

Mike Hess, president and chief executive officer of Mariah Power, said the additional capital will allow the company to ramp up manufacturing of its Windspire product. (Full Article)

Sometrics Launches Industry’s First Virtual Currency Platform to Help Publishers Manage, Optimize Multiple Offer Networks from One Place

Monday, December 15th, 2008

BusinessWire – Sometrics Press Release

First Ad Server to Manage All Virtual Currency Monetization; Measures Results So Social App Publishers Can Optimize to Increase Revenue

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sometrics ( today launched its Virtual Currency Platform – the industry’s first ad server to manage all virtual currency monetization from multiple offer providers.

As the benefits of the incentivized virtual currency revenue model are becoming more apparent, the industry is seeing an influx of providers in the space. Sometrics’ new platform will manage offers from any ad network, including Super Rewards, Offerpal and SocialMedia Networks. Sometrics will measure and report revenue, completion rates and demographic details, to help application developers analyze the effectiveness of each offer network.

Developers are then able to optimize and create new unique offers for all of these networks directly from the Sometrics Virtual Currency Platform.

“Sometrics will optimize existing virtual currency revenue, providing lift with current offer vendors,” said Ian Swanson, Sometrics co-founder and CEO. “Our platform also provides a more transparent and updated dashboard – one place to see all virtual currency revenue, across all apps and offer providers. There’s a host of offer networks available to developers, but most don’t provide much in the way of detailed reporting or transparency of results. Our platform is game-changing as the first solution designed to tackle this problem and give developers a way to optimize revenue streams across the board.” (Full Article)

Funds blow in for Mariah’s residential wind turbine

Friday, December 12th, 2008

VentureBeat – by Camille Ricketts 

Mariah Power, manufacturer of the relatively compact Windspire energy system, has closed the first half of an undisclosed second round of financing (PDF) that it will use to purchase a $2 million share in a Michigan manufacturing plant. The plant prompted a five-year partnership with MasTech Manufacturing, which has already kicked in $1.4 million toward the facility.

MasTech will also manage mass distribution of the Windspire, a 30-foot-tall propellerless turbine capable of generating 25 percent of a single home’s electrical needs (about 2,000 kW-hours per year, given an average wind speed of 12 miles per hour). Mariah has publicly called it the only vertical-axis wind energy system appropriate for widespread residential use, claiming that it can be installed by an average homeowner in just two hours and pay for itself in saved energy costs over the course of a decade. (Full Article)

Q & A: Ray DeRenzo, MobiTV’s SVP of product, programming and marketing

Friday, December 12th, 2008

RCR Wireless News |Colin Gibbs

An update with the company that counts 5M customers, $100M in VC funds
Wireless video services and trials are spinning their wheels all over the world, but MobiTV Inc. somehow continues to gain traction. The Emeryville, Calif.-based firm has parlayed $100-plus million in venture capital into an impressive, 5-million-strong subscriber base. We chatted with Ray DeRenzo, MobiTV’s SVP of product, programming and marketing, about consumer demand for on-the-go video, the threat of bogged-down networks and the potential impact of a widening recession.

RCR Wireless: There’s been a lot of talk about the potential network hazards of increased uptake of data services, particularly multimedia offerings. How big a threat is network overload in the immediate future?

DeRenzo: This is the persistent question in the life of MobiTV: What is the impact on the network when large numbers of individuals tune in? I think we’re very sensitive to that; we’re very aware of that. But the reality is that we have yet to encounter any kind of load issues that have caused any type of service degradation. I think there’s a little bit more of a concern about what could occur, as opposed to acknowledgement about what is occurring. (Full Article)

MobiTV’s sales boom

Friday, December 12th, 2008

San Francisco Business Times

MobiTV, the pioneering television and radio service for mobile phones, is continuing its blistering growth pace.

The Emeryville startup said this month it had reached the 5 million subscriber mark, even as competition has increased and doubters have questioned the long-term prospects for mobile television. MobiTV has added more than 1 million new subscribers in less than five months.

“MobiTV is widening its lead in the mobile media delivery industry,” said Charlie Nooney, chairman and CEO of MobiTV.

A MobiTV official said annual revenue has more than tripled in three years, up from $20 million in 2005, and expects to become profitable in the first quarter of 2009. (Full Article)

Sometrics Continues Robust Growth – Now with 1,800 Publishers, 1 Billion Social Ads Served in October Alone

Monday, December 8th, 2008

BusinessWire – Sometrics Press Release

‘Demand for Social Advertising and Measurement is Strong, and Continues to Climb,’ Says Co-Founder and CEO Ian Swanson

Continuing its steady momentum since the company’s launch in October 2007, Sometrics ( today announced that 1,800 publishers of social applications and communities are now using the company’s social advertising and measurement solutions to increase traffic and boost revenue.
Sometrics also said that it served 1 billion ads across its publishers on social networking sites using Sometrics’ Social Ad Manager during October – the first full month after the Ad Manager’s official launch.

The company made the announcement from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Leadership Forum on Audience Measurement, held here today. Sometrics co-founder and CEO Ian Swanson is on the panel for the 11:30 a.m. session, “Measurement and Emerging Platforms – Spotlight on Social Media.” The session will provide an inside look at how leading companies are working to capture metrics on audiences across the sharable web.

“Publishers and advertisers alike are eager for solutions that will help them successfully connect with and build their audiences in the social web,” said Swanson. “We see the trend continuing full force throughout 2009. They’re getting a taste of what’s possible in terms of measurement, targeting and in-depth audience analysis. And those possibilities will only get bigger as we continue to expand our capabilities and the social web continues to grow.” (Full Article)

Three Green Tech Startups Offer Unique Business Plans For Electric Cars, Alternative Fuels And Energy For Industry

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

TechPulse 360 – Mark Boslet and Jean-Baptiste Su

The alternative-energy revolution was chugging ahead at the AlwaysOn Venture Summit on Wednesday, where three green-technology companies hoped to turn the auto, electric and new-fuels industries on their heads.

The companies sketched out unique plans to recharge electric cars, find more efficient energy from the sun and make diesel from vegetable oil using an unusul cost-effective process.

All claimed they would make for a cleaner world with fewer greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Here are the startups:

Renewable Fuel Products boasts of a new way to make diesel fuel from vegetable oil without the hydrogen and methane that other alternative-fuel processes require.

The process also is portable and therefore can be set up where the vegetable oil is made or the fuel is needed. “Our technology fits on the back of a trailer,” says Peter Bell, co-founder. “What this allows is distributed refining.”

Bell said the technology is being tested at the University of California at Davis and is presently producing 10 gallons of diesel fuel an hour. (Full Article)

MobiTV Surpasses Five Million Subscribers

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008


MobiTV Sees Rapid Increase in Subscriptions and More Use as a ‘Second Screen’ in the Home

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – December 3, 2008 – MobiTV, Inc., today announced its managed network for mobile television and radio has surpassed the five million subscriber mark. Available on more than 350 handsets across 20 carrier networks including AT&T, Sprint and Alltel in the U.S., MobiTV continues to shape the mobile TV market it introduced more than five years ago, including becoming the first to launch a vertically focused mobile media application, Mobi4Biz.

“With the addition of over a million new subscribers in less than five months, MobiTV is widening its lead in the mobile media delivery industry,” said Charlie Nooney, chairman and CEO, MobiTV. “We’ve seen our subscriber base accelerate rapidly by creating an exceptional experience for the consumer and continuing to develop innovative offerings.”

Along with an increase in subscription numbers, MobiTV experienced an unprecedented level of interest in this year’s presidential election.  Large numbers of subscribers utilized their wireless devices to tune into the ABC News NOW, CNBC, CSPAN, FOX News and MSNBC broadcasts of the presidential debates and election day news on MobiTV. (Full Article) 

groSolar Helps Fruit Packing Company Add the Sun to its Lineup of “Harvested” Products

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

VACAVILLE, CA – For more than a hundred years the Mariani Packing Company has relied on the sun to nurture the plums, apricots, blueberries, apples and other fruit that made its products popular on grocery shelves throughout the world. But with a newly constructed 1.1 megawatt solar power system operational at its Vacaville, Calif., headquarters, the company now uses the sun to produce a different type of product; electricity.

The solar power project, a partnership between Mariani, groSolar, and SunEdison celebrated its activation today with a “flipping the switch” ceremony. Guests and speakers included company officials, solar power advocates and Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine.

Besides the positive impact it will have on the environment, the project is particularly notable for what Mariani paid to construct the system; zero. The partnership efforts of groSolar and SunEdison constructed and financed the system at no cost to Mariani. Under a long-term solar power services agreement, SunEdison will maintain the system and sell the electricity produced by it to Mariani at costs less than retail rates for traditional energy sources.

“This is a great example of how being environmentally sensitive can also be financially beneficial,” said Frank Griffin, Vice President of Construction for groSolar, the company that designed and constructed the project. “This type of project is helping to verify the truth that doing something good for the environment is also good for the corporate bottom line.” (Full Article)

Synq Solutions Adopts InsideView to Optimize Sales Team Performance

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Marketwire- Press Release

SalesView Helps Atlanta-Based Marketing Communications Company Improve Customer Engagement, Leverage More Efficient CRM Strategy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire – December 2, 2008) – InsideView today announced that Synq Solutions, a leading provider of merchandising, training and marketing solutions, has implemented InsideView’s unique on-demand Sales 2.0 application, SalesView, to equip its sales force with relevant intelligence on target accounts and maximize sales team productivity. SalesView, a leading Sales 2.0 application, combines social Web technologies and intelligence living across the Web with strong CRM mash-ups to arm sales teams with the insights needed to unearth profitable leads and close opportunities.

Synq’s decision to integrate SalesView stemmed from their objective to improve the quality of their sales contact database, as well as to increase adoption of Microsoft Dynamics CRM by giving the sales team a good reason to interact with the tool on a regular basis. InsideView’s tight integration into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the CRM solution currently deployed at Synq, was a key factor in choosing SalesView, as their sales teams can now receive news alerts, relationship analysis and real-time, intelligently aggregated research results from across the social Web directly within the CRM application already being deployed. (Full Article)