A change in New Jersey’s cable map

Tom Paine

Cable television provider Altice said Wednesday it will purchase Service Electric’s operations in New Jersey. Service Electric’s franchise areas in New Jersey are in Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties. The price will be $250 million.

Service Electric, based in Bethlehem, has a rather unique history. John Walson had a TV store in Mahanoy, PA, but over-the-air reception was poor in the mountainous region. In 1948, Walson ran a cable from his store to an antenna he placed on top of a nearby mountain. The idea was to be able to demo broadcast content in his store. But as the story goes, he found he could hook residences near the cable route onto his system. Many in the industry believe this was first commercial cable TV system.

Service Electric still has its Pennsylvania systems, in the Lehigh Vallley, the Wilkes-Barre area, and pieces of Chester, Berks and Lancaster Counties. It’s still controlled by the Walson family.

The New Jersey systems that New York-based Altice (formerly Cablesystem) is acquiring are contiguous to its preexisting territories. But they are also contiguous to Comcast territories.

The cable industry was once all about buying and selling systems, But now there are only a few major systems left, and not many sizable independents to buy. Since withdrawing from the Time Warner Cable sales process, Comcast has not been a buyer in the US, with the exception of some tiny fill-in spots mostly in New England (Comcast “not welcome” here: Customers protest sale of tiny cable company)

. Its not known whether it showed interest in the New Jersey Service Electric systems.

Today in Philly Tech History 2/14/2012: Capital One’s $9 billion acquisition of Wilmington-based ING Direct USA gets Fed approval

Eight years ago, on February 14, 2012, Capital One’s $9 billion acquisition of Wilmington-based Internet bank ING Direct USA won approval from the Federal Reserve, clearing the way for the deal to close within a few days.

The deal, announced in June 2011, featured a Wilmington-bred success story although its parent, Netherlands-based ING Groep NV, had to auction it off to satisfy European banking regulators. ING Direct USA added $80 billion in deposits and 7 million customers to Capital One.

ING Diect’s loyal customer base was concerned about how Capital One would change its newly acquired bank. Indeed, some of those changes were just implemented, as ING Direct has been renamed Capital One 360, and ING Direct’s famous orange logo was taken down early this month and driven away and replaced with a spiffy new Capital One sign on the headquarters building in downtown Wilmington.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 2/12 & 2/13

Former Inquirer owner

Exton-based Bentley Systems confidentially files S-1 for Public Listing

Tom Paine

Infrastructure management software firm BenItley Systems announced late this afternoon that it has confidentially filed an S-1 with the SEC to have its existing Class B common publicly traded.

As I understand it, this would be what is known as a direct listing. Slack is one recent example of a direct listing. It would not be an IPO.

Bentley has kicked the tires of an IPO before, filing in 2002 and 2015, but didn’t proceed to an offering.

2018 revenue was $700 million.

One issue that comes to mind is the China market, which is where much of Bentley’s recent growth has come from.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 2/10 to 2/11/20: Will Bill McDermott and ServiceNow Be CRM King-Makers?; Judge Approves T-Mobile Merger With Sprint

Today in Philly Tech History 2/10/1998: CDNow completes IPO

On February 10, 1998, CDNow, started in 1994 by twin brothers Jason and Matthew Olim out of their parent’s basement in Ambler, completed its initial public offering. The online music retailer, which sparked a revolution in music distribution, closed the day up 37.5% at $22, from its opening price of $16. CDNow raised $65.6 million, and had a market capitalization of $342 million at day’s end. Based in Jenkintown at the time it went public, it later moved to Fort Washington.

When it went public, its prior year revenue was $17.4 million, with a net loss of $10.7 million. Shortly afterwards, CDNow acquired its largest competitor, another Philadelphia area company named N2K. Revenue grew rapidly to a $150 million run rate, and CDNow was an early innovator in ecommerce and web marketing techniques.

However, as the crisis in the Internet economy materialized in 2000, investors lacked confidence in CDNow’s financial performance and future outlook. The company slashed its workforce and soon sold itself (after a prospective merger with Columbia House fell through) to German media giant Bertelsmann in the summer of 2000 for $117 million. The brand later ended up with Amazon, and gradually faded away.

Mike Krupit was serving in a CIO/CTO role for CDNow at the time of the IPO. He soon afterwards became COO and later CEO after Bertelsmann took over. He had already seen a couple of companies he had been with go public, including Infonautics. I asked him by email what things were like for CDNow at the time of its IPO. His response:

“CDNow was one of the first dotcom and ecommerce companies to go public. Obviously, we were thrilled to be able to put the money in the bank and have [it] to invest in our growth. But we also knew it didn’t guarantee our success. It was tremendously exciting for the team, [though] as you’d imagine, the honeymoon doesn’t last too long.”

“Culturally, it’s a double-edged sword. The expectations of the IPO isn’t always met by the reality. The dream of the value of our equity is now something easily calculated. When the stock is up – great; when not, demotivating. We also had to stop sharing lots of information with the team. A lot of healthy chatter had to stop by being a publicly-traded company, which was a big change to CDNOW’s startup culture.”

Krupit told Technically Philly last summer that what ultimately killed the company was the planned merger with Columbia House; CDNow focused much of its resources on that and when it fell through there wasn’t much of a backup plan.

Cherry Hill-based Fox Bet adds to area’s sports wagering scene

Tom Paine

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in May 2018 overturned a federal ban on sports wagering outside of Nevada, and 13 states now offer it.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corp launched the FOX Bet sports betting platform last September. Its actually a partnership with The Stars Group (TSG), which is listed on the Toronto exchange and the NASDAQ.

Fox in May 2019 invested $236 million for a 4.99% stake in TSG, valuing TSG at $4.7 billion.

Additionally, Fox Sports within the next 10 years will have the right to acquire up to 50% of Stars Group’s U.S. business.

Sky Bet, a UK partnership between Sky (formerly owned by Fox and now owned by Comcast) and The Stars Group, was previously bought out by Stars; Comcast has no interest in it. Fox Bet relocated its New Jersey office last year from Linwood, where it had approximately 40 staff, to Cherry Hill. LinkedIn now shows 72 employees for Fox Bet, including a few in Austin, TX..

Fox Bet is now only authorized to offer gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvanuia. There is a desktop app, and mobile apps for Android and iOS users.

This past week, Fox Bet announced a partnership with the new XFL Spring football league, which began play on Saturday.

Fox is the first US broadcaster to become directly involved in sports gaming.

Update: William Hill strikes sports-betting media deal with CBS Sports to allow it to tap the media giant’s audience for potential customers https://www.wsj.com/articles/william-hill-cbs-strike-sports-betting-media-deal-11581368459 via @WSJ

Philly EnterpriseTech Weekend Highlights 2/8 -2/9/20

Philly EnterpriseTech PeopleNews 2/9/20: Passage Bio’s CEO; Penn National Gaming hires Apple vet as CFO

Today in Philly Tech History 2/5/1998: Comcast exits UK cable business

Tom Paine

On February 5, 1998, Comcast moved to exit the cable business in the UK by agreeing to sell its operations there to NTL Inc. for around $600 million in NTL stock plus the assumption of Comcast’s UK debt. Comcast had 1.6 million subscribers there.

Comcast President Brian Roberts said:””While Comcast U.K. has been a leading performer in the U.K. cable and telephone industries, we have determined that long-term success in this market will require greater size and market presence than Comcast U.K. has in its asset base.”

Comcast wouldn’t have a significant European presence again until its 2018 acquisition of the UK-baseed satellite & cable provider SKY.