Comcast’s Universal cancels “The Hunt” (for now)

Statement by Comcast’s Universal Pictures (August 10)

“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film.  We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

Meaning, I assume, that there will be a “right time” in the future.

Also, the trailer has been removed.


Tom Paine

Comcast’s Universal Pictures is temporarily halting marketing & promotion for its upcoming film “The Hunt,” following three mass shootings in Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy, California.

“Out of sensitivity to the attention on the country’s recent shooting tragedies, Universal Pictures and the filmmakers of ‘The Hunt’ have temporarily paused its marketing campaign and are reviewing materials as we move forward,” a spokesperson for Universal said in a statement.

“The Hunt” features a group of wealthy American elites literally hunting down and shooting people called deplorables, legally it appears. It may be brilliant satire of a kind, but its also just kind of weird.

At this time, “The Hunt” plans to maintain its Sept. 27 release date.


Ex-Safeguard Scientifics exec caught in middle of AWS /Google Cloud wars (Update: Resolution)

The case of Phillip Moyer moving from AWS to Google Cloud, which I covered earlier https://theregister.co.uk/2019/10/25/amazon_fails_to_stop_exstaffer_working_for_google/… via @theregister

Tom Paine

Phillip Moyer, former SR VP and Managing Director of Safeguard Scientifics, departed Safeguard in 2016 to get more directly into the Cloud industry, joining leader AWS as Managing Director, Americas Financial Services Sales.

Moyer, also a Microsoft veteran and former CEO of two companies, was not hired to just sell slices of server time. Rather, he was developing overarching , value added vertical sales strategies. By the time he resigned in 2019, he had 13 direct reports and managed 100 employees.

In a 2018 interview with the website PYMNTS, Moyer described what his financial services group was trying to accomplish for AWS: “’Today, if you want to launch a financial services product, very, very few (of them) are regional anymore,” he said. Web and mobile channels enable businesses to reach across all kinds of borders, basically amounting to leaving money on the table if firms do not try to win revenue from as many markets as possible.” AWS could give smaller banks the tools needed to compete with larger banks, for instance, in the area of compliance.

But Google Cloud had finally determined that it needed real sales pros out there to compete, and began recruiting heavily. Senior SAP executive Rob Enslin joined as head of customer operations in April. It hired Moyer to head up a similar effort (as at AWS) for healthcare. His last day at AWS was on May 22.

But Moyer had signed one of those tricky non-competes when he joined AWS, designed to keep him away from competitors for 18 months. And AWS sued.

The extent and enforceability of non-competes is generally shrinking. Even though Moyer, who resides in Berwyn according to court filings, lives in Pennsylvania where non-competes are less strenuous, the laws in Washington State which govern Moyer’s contract are tougher.


“Moyer’s role in Google cloud will necessarily involve strategy regarding sales of and improvements for Google’s current or future cloud offerings, and will therefore threaten the disclosure of Amazon’s highly confidential information and breach the Noncompetition Agreement,” AWS asserted in its complaint

These cases, generally, reach some kind of settlement within months, and Mr. Moyer will likely be allowed to go on with his work. Sometimes there are itemized restrictions (ie, can’t talk to certain companies, can’t say certain things) attached.

ThingWorx veterans’ new startup exits stealth, closes round

Tom Paine

ThingWorx co-founder and ex-CEO Russ Fradel has a new startup, along with some other ThingWorx alumni.

In mid-July, Augmentir, Inc., a provider of augmented worker software for industrial companies, announced it had exited stealth and closed an oversubscribed funding round. The round was led by Pritzker Group Venture Capital, with participation from Lerer Hippeau, current investors, and HOLT Ventures, the strategic venture capital arm of HOLT CAT. All heavy duty investors. The amount hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

Although the PR was datelined Horsham, the company appears to be based in Irvine, California, though a few of its early associates are in the Philly area.

Ty Findley, Vice President at Pritzker Group Venture Capital, said, “With our thematic focus on Industry4.0, we are excited to be working with a company that is accelerating the industrial sector evolution using AI and AR to support frontline workers. From founding efforts at Wonderware, Lighthammer, and ThingWorx, the Augmentir team has a proven track record and domain experience delivering software innovation to the manufacturing and industrial market, and we are eager to participate as Augmentir continues to shape the frontline workforce of the future.”

ThingWorx, an industrial IOT startup based in Exton, was funded by Safeguard Scientifics, and later bought by PTC for over $100 million in 2013. PTC proceeded to build its strategy around ThingWorx and other acquisitions in the space.

The same team has worked together on previous successful startups, including Lighthammer that was acquired by SAP.

Rick Bulotta, another ThingWorx co–founder, now works on Microsoft’s IoT strategy.


NJ ANGELS, OTHERS, REACT TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES PROVIDED BY ANGEL TAX CREDIT EXPANSION

Angel investors meet with founders at 2016 NJEDA Founders & Funders event. [file photo] | Esther Surden

ANGELS, OTHERS, REACT TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES PROVIDED BY ANGEL TAX CREDIT EXPANSION

 August 1, 2019  Esther Surden

In June, the state legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, an expanded Angel Investor Tax Credit Program.

The program, which provides a tax credit for a percentage of an angel investor’s investment in a qualifying emerging New Jersey tech or life science business, will help attract early-stage and growth capital for innovative New Jersey companies.

Under the expanded program, the available tax credit has now increased from 10 percent to 20 percent of a qualified investment, with an additional 5 percent bonus available for investments in a business located in a qualified opportunity zone or in a low-income community, or investments in a business that’s certified by the state as minority- or women-owned.

According to an alert from the law firm McCarter & English, the expanded program will only go into effect for investments made after January 1, 2020. However, the New Jersey Economic Development Agency (NJEDA) has clarified that the investment date is defined as one of the following milestones, whichever is the latest:

  1. The signing date;
  2. cash transfer date; or
  3. SAFE or stock issuance date, as long as the issuance is within a reasonable time period following (1) or (2) above.

NJTechWeekly.com asked local angels and other significant members of the New Jersey tech ecosystem to tell us what they thought of this new law, and whether they thought it would bring new investment to minority-led and women-led startups here in New Jersey.

David Sorin at an Asbury Agile workshop in 2018 [file photo] | Esther Surden

David Sorin, chair of the Venture Capital & Emerging Growth Companies practice at McCarter & English(East Brunswick), is a well-known attorney specializing in startups. He was very positive about the change.

He said, “We at McCarter are seeing firsthand the positive effects of the incentive put in place by the Angel Tax Credit Incentive and the significantly heightened interest on the part of both investors and entrepreneurs resulting from the enhanced credit.  We currently are working on several financing transactions for technology companies driven, in part, by the bold action taken by the NJEDA, the state legislature, and the governor.”

Mario Caasabona meets with founders at an NJEN event. [file photo] | Esther Surden

Mario Casabona, founder and CEO of TechLaunch and Casabona Ventures (both in Kinnelon), noted, “As an angel investor, the expansion of the New Jersey Angel Tax Credit from 10 percent to 20–25 percent is a game changer for me. I have already invested in a New Jersey-based women-owned business with the tax credit in mind. When my convertible note investment converts to equity next year, I’m definitely applying. This expansion also incentivizes outside-the-state investors to invest in New Jersey-based companies. The New Jersey Angel Tax Credit helps investors like myself mitigate the risk of investing in early-stage ventures.”

Benjamin David Novak, of Morgan Lewis (Princeton), a startup attorney who’s also an angel investor, said that the angel tax credit expansion is a step in the right direction, but he thought that it possibly doesn’t go far enough to help New Jersey compete.

Benjamin Novak speaks to Morris Tech Meetup [file photo] | Esther Surden

 “Several states have adopted angel investor tax credit programs to incentivize investors to invest in startups within their state,” he said. “However, the incentive value of these programs ranges significantly from state to state. For example, Maryland has a program that provides a 50 percent refundable tax credit to qualified investors that invest in qualified Maryland biotechnology companies.  New Jersey, to its credit, has had an angel investor tax credit program for some time.  But the 10 percent refundable tax credit, when balanced against the application fee, success fee, and administrative burden, resulted in a limited incentive, especially for those investors writing checks for less than a few hundred thousand dollars. Assembly Bill 5604, which was recently signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy, took this program and gave it some teeth.  Pursuant to this bill, the 10 percent credit was increased to 20 percent, with an additional 5 percent for certain qualified investments, resulting in a refundable angel investor tax credit of up to 25 percent.  Time will tell how much this program incentivizes investment in the state, but there is no doubt that this is a big step in the right direction.”

Gina Tedesco of Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network | Courtesy Gina Tedesco

Speaking for the Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network (New Brunswick), Gina Tedesco, who is on the board of trustees, said, “Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network sees the angel incentive program as a win-win for both New Jersey-based investors and entrepreneurs. This tax credit gives local investors more purchasing power, as it mitigates risk and expands available capital to growing entrepreneurs throughout the state. We expect we will see an increase in demand from new investors looking to join our network, resulting in increased dollars available for investment. As angels investing real dollars in startup companies, Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network welcomes this bold move to increase incentives to spur growth in the New Jersey startup innovation ecosystem.

Michael (President) Anderson, cofounder and CEO of MPAC Solutions | Via LinkedIn

For Michael (President ) Anderson, cofounder and CEO of MPAC Solutions (Newark), the incentives do not go far enough in creating opportunities for people of color.

Any tax credits for investments in opportunity zones should reflect the demographics of the Opportunity Zone. For instance, in an opportunity zone in Newark that is 90 percent Black and Afro-Indigenous, tax credits or exemptions should only be allowed for investment in companies or projects with significant Black and Afro-Indigenous leadership. Governor Murphy must create rules and best practices around systematic economic enfranchisement in New Jersey,” he said.

“With regard to the 170+ Opportunity Zones, only investors that have capital gains benefit from opportunity zone investment policies. Who has significant capital gains? The people who benefitted from the status quo … a status quo that institutionally paralyzed people of color. For instance, Blacks have become nearly two-thirds of the prison population, while only constituting one-eighth of the general population.

“I’ve listened to EDA head Tim Sullivan and Governor Murphy promise diversity in venture investing, while supporting firms and an ecosystem that deliberately marginalizes whole communities and punishes champions of inclusion that speak out against financial injustice. Without concrete stipulations and uncomfortable yet progressive conversations around social equity, we will continue to see minorities and women only earn 7 percent of the state’s contracts, as was the case in 2018.

“This past quarter, women earned 3 percent of all venture capital, which continues to experience its largest funding periods as an asset class. Everyone suffers when we block economic progress for all or create policies that dance around the changes necessary.

“I am in favor of innovation. I do not trust the effectiveness of any proposed investment initiative that is not followed up with programmatic equity partnerships on the part of corporations and government, which currently power the state’s VC pipeline and supply the investment firms that fail the people with dry powder. Only programmatic equity partnerships with minority investors, and dedicated capital from corporations, governments, sports teams, universities, etc., will lead to sustainable economic development, and create diverse inclusive wealth.

“I challenge Governor Murphy to work with MPAC, and our allies in local and federal government working to stimulate minority businesses. Private investors without genuine interest in creating diverse wealth are misleading the public about making a difference, while avoiding their fair share of tax contributions. Unfortunately, we the people are financing investors that are excluding us from the largest era of wealth creation in American history. We need to have an honest, open conversation followed up with action that catalyzes innovation through programmatic investing with stakeholders that represent underserved communities.”

 Tags: Angel Investor Tax Creditangel investorsBenjamin David NovakCasabona VenturesDavid SorinGina TedescoJumpstart New Jersey Angel NetworkMario CasabonaMcCarter & EnglishMichael (President) AndersonMichael AndersonMorgan LewisMPAC SolutionsNew Jersey Economic Development AuthorityNJ EDAtax creditsTechLaunchPrevious:Marlabs Dedicates New Divergence Digital Innovation Labs in Piscataway to Take on Digital Disruption

Esther Surden

Esther is the Founder and Editor in Chief of NJ Tech Weekly, and a contributor to PhillyEnterpriseTech. This article from NJ Tech Weekly is reposted here with her permission.

COPYRIGHT © 2019 NJ TECH WEEKLY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Wayne-based supply chain software firm Elemica acquired by Eurazeo


Tom Paine

From Press Release:

Eurazeo, a leading global investment company listed in Paris with €17.7 billion in assets under management, has announced its acquisition of Elemica, a leading cloud-enabled digital supply network. Eurazeo will support Elemica’s expansion and global growth strategy into new industry verticals, geographies and product offerings.

Elemica was acquired by Thoma Bravo, a leading private equity investment firm, in 2016. Eurazeo Capital will acquire full ownership of Elemica alongside its management team and will invest approx. $250 million (equity invested by Eurazeo and its affiliates), subject to various adjustments between now and the completion of the planned transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Evercore served as strategic advisor to Eurazeo.

My article From December 2018:

Elemica is one of the Philly area’s best-kept tech secrets

Elemica is one of the Philly area’s best-kept tech secrets. From its Wayne headquarters, Elemica manages real-time supply chain and market data for some of the World’s leading companies.

Founded in 2000, Elemica refers to itself as “the leading Digital Supply Network for Chemical and other Process Manufacturers.” It originally was a consortium, and the partners were owners as well as customers. Original partners included Dow, DuPont, BASF, Shell Chemicals, Bayer, Atofina, BP and Rohm and Haas. The initial funding was $100 million, provided by the consortium members themselves.

Its location near SAP’s North American headquarters was likely no coincidence, as most of its members were large SAP ERP customers. Elemica customer applications exchange data at various points with SAP ERP, may be integrated with SAP Ariba, or generate output which can be analyzed more deeply with BI tools on SAP HANA. Elemica does not view SAP Ariba as a competitor, but as a complementary provider.

Elemica’s original location was in Center City before moving to Wayne. It has a satellite office in Atlanta where some of its tech leadership is located.

Elemica is what is called a “networked” supply chain system, meaning that each customer is not isolated within the system, but can interact with others on the network to share information and do transactions. This is important because Elemica customers frequently buy from each other at different levels of the supply chain.

The original business model was effective to the point that the format worked, but with limitations. Since the principal customers were also owners, Elemica was managed more like a shared cost center rather than a market-driven business. In addition, Elemica needed new capital to modernize and expand, find new customers and new ways to use the data it its customers generate.

So in 2016, Elemica was sold to the highly respected (by most) enterprise tech oriented PE firm Thoma Bravo . Terms were not disclosed.

“The goal remains to grow Elemica’s business network into a multi-trillion-dollar commerce engine annually,” said John Blyzinskyj, CEO of Elemica, at the time of the Thoma Bravo deal. “This acquisition will accelerate the time to market for solutions that automate and orchestrate mission critical supply chain processes across a global community of buyers, suppliers and logistics providers. Thoma Bravo’s exceptional track record and proven expertise in our industry will enable Elemica to further capitalize on its growth and leadership.”

With the original ownership structure removed, Elemica could now concentrate more on broadly on the market it serves and price and allocate resources in a way that better reflected market needs. It also presumably gained the funds needed to become more state-of-the-art technologically.

Under Thoma Bravo ownership, Elemica has worked on improving its external communication, improving the depth of supply chain visibility, and completing an overall digital.transformation, Elemica Director of Product Marketing David Cahn told me in an interview. (Dave, a Villanova grad, has been in every corner of the enterprise software world.) Another use case for Elemica to explore is the value of its customers aggregate data. For example, since it has such a strong position in the chemical industry, the aggregate of its customers’ supply chain data might paint a more complete picture of what’s happening in that market.

Also, Elemica is conducting a blockchain pilot with a major customer and a third-party software firm.

Elemica hosts its cloud on Amazon Web Services, with in-memory capabilities.

A recent challenge has been adjusting to changes resulting from the Dow / DuPont merger.

Cahn discussed the difficulties of moving a business from a service bureau mentality to a digital mode.

Elemica now has revenue in the $50 million range (though I don’t know what it sees as its addressable market) and is growing at 10% annually. It has around 200 employees.

Zulily at “critical inflection point”; reorganizes with layoffs

Tom Paine

Zulily, the Seattle-based online retailer acquired by Liberty Media for $2.4 billion in 2015 to be part of QVC, has laid off an undisclosed number of its Seattle and Columbus employees, the tech site GeekWire reported. Zulily has 1300 employees in Seattle alone as of January.

In a note to employees obtained by GeekWire, Zulily CEO Jeff Yurcisin said the company was at “a critical inflection point”, and changes were required.

Zulily had already been working on a rebrand focusing more on adults, while it earned its chops from a “kids & moms” customer base.

Qurate Retail, the recently established unit QVC now reports thru,  reported in May that quarterly revenues from Zulily were down 5 percent to $397 million. The decline, following several quarters of growth, appeared to be broad-based, not limited to particular segments.

Overall, Qurate Retail revenue decreased 4% in the 2019 1st quarter.

Yesterday, Qurate Retail announced that former Disney exec Leslie Ferraro would head up QVC and HSN in the US, reporting to Qurate Retail Inc. president and CEO Mike George.

Sprint guy on borrowed time?

I thought it was a neat gimmick when Sprint brought in  Paul Marcarelli, the former Verizon guy, for its ads. Just a gimmick.

But now, three or four years later, he’s still their spokesperson. And doesn’t add much, in my opinion.

Now, if and when the Sprint/ T-Mobile deal gets finalized, I imagine he will be retired again. Though probably not hurting.

But maybe the new Dish wireless competitor will pick him up.

Moore College of Art & Design Receives $5 Million

Largest-Ever Single Gift from Alumna Jane Walentas



(Ed note: While this story rightly focuses on Jane Walentas, her husband David went to the same business school as I later attended, Darden (UVa), so I had a general knowledge of his career.

Walentas essentially made a huge bet going long on Brooklyn real estate before it was trendy, and it paid off in a big way, eventually.

David and Jane have obviously also accomplished great things philanthropically..

This Darden profile on David Walentas tells his story.)

Moore College of Art & Design Receives $5 Million,

Largest-Ever Single Gift from Alumna Jane Walentas

(Press Release)

Philadelphia, PA – New York artist and philanthropist Jane Walentas, a 1966 graduate of Moore College of Art & Design, and her husband, David Walentas, have provided Moore with a gift of $5 million—the single largest donation in the 170-year history of the College. This generous gift will fund scholarships for deserving women artists who wish to receive their education at Moore, the nation’s first and only visual art and design school for undergraduate women.

Jane Walentas, who also received a Master of Fine Arts degree from NYU and worked for many years as an art director in cosmetic advertising for Elizabeth Arden, Avon and Estee Lauder, is a longtime member of Moore’s Board of Trustees, and played an integral role in the launch of Moore’s Visionary Woman Scholarship Program in 2005. She is well-known for restoring and operating Jane’s Carousel, a historic 1922 carousel that is located in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn—an area that was developed by her husband, David Walentas, who attended the University of Virginia on a full Navy ROTC scholarship. Jane worked in her DUMBO artist studio to restore the 48 carousel horses to their original glory, working first only with a carpenter and later, a team of artists to bring the carousel to life. She worked on and oversaw every single detail of the restored carousel. The carousel now stands as a treasured landmark in Brooklyn Bridge Park.


Pictured above: Jane and David Walentas in 2017. Photo by Academic Image.

The Walentas family has a long history of supporting the arts and education. Jane is the Executive Director of the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, which awards rent-free non-living studio space to 17 visual artists for year-long residencies in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Developed for artists, by artists in 1991, the Walentas’ took over the program with new sponsorship and commitment from the Walentas Family Foundation, continuing the legacy of founder Marie Walsh Sharpe. The Walentas Family Foundation also established the Neighborhood School Grants program with the belief that vibrant and successful schools are fundamental parts of communities. Since conception, the foundation has awarded dozens of school grants that aim to enrich students’ learning experiences through creative programming that may not supported by a school’s existing budget.

“We both believe in education, and David is a big believer in giving back because of his opportunities as a result of his scholarships at UVA, so it’s very exciting to be able to help students who can’t otherwise go to school. My hope is that with this gift it will encourage others to help expand the endowment,” says Jane Walentas. “Moore, being a small, all-women’s college of art and design, is still relatively unknown outside the Philadelphia area and I felt strongly about bringing talented students from other regions to this extraordinary college. Moore was important to my past. I am privileged to be making a contribution that will help Moore continue to attract and educate the country’s brightest and most gifted young women artists.”

The $5 million donation to Moore will be used to create the Walentas Visionary Woman Scholarships. These scholarships will be part of Moore’s Visionary Woman Honors Program, which provides financial support and sustained mentorship to talented, motivated and future-focused students, both inside and outside of the classroom. Since 2005, Visionary Woman Scholarships have increased the level of opportunity and access to Moore’s high-quality visual arts education for a broad and diverse array of women, many of whom may not have otherwise had the ability to pursue careers in art and design.

The Walentas’ record-breaking gift expands upon this legacy of opportunity. The endowment will provide scholarships each year to 10 non-Pennsylvania residents accepted to Moore who display exceptional artistic and academic promise. Each scholarship will be automatically renewed for up to four years of full-time enrollment with the upkeep of the student’s GPA.

“There is nothing nobler that anyone can do than to provide an opportunity for deserving and talented students to achieve their dreams of going to college,” said Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. “We are deeply grateful that Jane—a notable Moore alumna—and David believe so strongly in the mission of the College, and in the ability to transform lives through the study of art and design.”

The first Walentas Visionary Woman Scholars will be chosen among students attending Moore for the first time this fall, as part of the incoming class of 2023. The College will begin to award the scholarships from the endowed fund in fall 2020.

Jane and David Walentas have also established the Jane Walentas ’66 Endowed Scholarship and International Travel Fellowship at Moore, as well as the Jane and David Walentas Endowed Fellowship. With their new gift, they will play an even greater role in bringing emerging artists who display great talent to Philadelphia, a growing and evolving destination for artists and for art and culture.

Moore College of Art & Design educates students for careers in art and design. Founded in 1848, Moore is the nation’s first and only women’s visual arts college for undergraduates. The College’s career-focused environment and professionally active faculty form a dynamic community in the heart of Philadelphia’s cultural district, surrounded by world-class museums. The College offers ten bachelor of fine arts degrees for women and four coeducational graduate programs. In addition, Moore provides many valuable opportunities in the arts through The Galleries at Moore, Continuing Education Certificate programs for professional adults, the acclaimed Young Artists Workshop, The Art Shop and Sculpture Park. For more information about Moore, visit www.moore.edu.

CONTACT:

Kate Treen, kate.treen@berlinrosen.com

OR

Mellany Armstrong, marmstrong@moore.edu

Philly EnterpriseTech People News 7/26/19