IBM’s Watson, GE’s Predix; Compare & Contrast

Tom Paine

Yesterday, I read two pieces in the Wall Street Journal: One on the decline of GE under Jeffrey Immelt, and the other on IBM’s less than successful foray into AI for Healthcare, Watson,.under Ginni Rometty.

IBM is reportedly considering seling Watson now. There are also signs that its cutting back on its aggresssive blockchain strategy. The article on GE’s decline discusses its bad bet on Predix, an attempt to develop an IoT-enabled digital operating system for industry.

Both Watson and Predix. were attempts to prop up or rejuvenate the two leading American giants of industry in the 20th century. Both strategies were accompanied by PR campaigns which oversimplified and oversold their capabilities and prospects. Both companies have returned to more realistic strategies under new management: GE under Larry Culp Jr and IBM under Arvind Krishna.

Despite showing future hope of a turnaround under Krishna, IBM’s market value is now barely over $100 billion, compared to Apple’s $2.2 trillion.. Once mighty Big Blue is a minnow compared to Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook. Even relative newcomers are passing it by.

Shrunken GE has almost exactly the same market cap now as IBM. It was over $500 billion in the early 2000s.

IBM reinvested substantially in the business (at least according to the numbers) but it didn’t pay off. Shrinking margins reduced the value of some of its businesses, and some R&D efforts produced neat technology, but with little commercial succeess.

GE may have underinvested, and it also badly overpaid for some acquisitions, while its finance business unraveled during the great recession. Its markets were mostly mature. Moving to Boston and hiring a bunch of techies didn’t work. The idea that one operating system could be a universal solutions for its different businesses didn’t pan out. IBM made a similar error with Watson.

goPuff has a new CFO

Tom Paine

Being CFO at a company like goPuff must be challenging and somewhat daunting. Its a rather unique company at this point, so there’s no reliable model to build upon. You must create your own.

Each local supply depot (there are over 200 of them) is a different cost center. Its critical to understand how inventory is turning over. That’s a big difference between goPuff and most of the other delivery concepts, who feed off of other’s inventory.

Add to that the fact that things are moving so quickly that its got to be difficult to keep up with. And handling over $1 billion in a year and a half on top of that. While looking at cross-continent acquisitions.

Now goPuff has a new CFO who came on board in November according to LinkedIn. His name is Josh Burke, who began his management career at PwC, and then had stints at UnderAmour and BackCountry.com, where he was CFO. He received his MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia.

The previous CFO, Mark Gaudiosi, is a veteran of the Philly scene dating back to ZainyBrainy. He is still listed as CFO on LinkedIn. I’ve tried to reach goPuff for a comment on the CFO transition and haven’t yet received any response.

One thing Burke seems to lack is any high-level responsibility for an IPO process. Frequently companies headed for an IPO will hire CFOs who’ve already headed up such an effort.

Another interesting tidbit on goPuff’s financial management: Its an Oracle ERP and financials user. That choice may originate at the very top of Oracle’s and (goPuff investor) Softbank’s relationship. There are numerous connections between the two companies and their top leaders, Larry Ellison and Masayosh Son.

goPuff in talks to acquire UK delivery startup Fancy

Tom Paine

Several news outlets are reporting that goPuff may be close to acquiring UK delivery startup Fancy Delivery.

Fancy launched in late 2020 after graduating from Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator and currently operates in 4 cities in the UK. It has a model very similar to goPuff, including having its own local fulfillment centers.

An announcement could come in the next few weeks. The deal would be all in stock, sources tell TechCrunch.

Philly-based goPuff has raised over $1.3 billion in financing, with Softbank being the largest investor.

Despite pandemic, EPAM Systems registers another solid year

Tom Paine

EPAM Systems, based in Newtown, Bucks County, reported its 4th quarter and Full Year 2020 results today. Revenue for 2020 reached $2.66 billion, a 16& gain over 2019. GAAP income from operations was $379.3 million, an increase of $76.5 million, or 25.3%, compared to $302.9 million in 2019. EPAM CEO
Arkadiy Dobkin
, while attributing lower growth than EPAM’s usual 20%+ rate to thee pandemic, went on to say:

“Our strong year-end financial performance is underscored by our diverse set of offerings and was made possible by the thousands of EPAMers who persevered through unprecedented challenges. As 2020 drove significantly higher levels of digital change across the industries and geographies we serve, we helped our clients solve their most complex, and often unexpected, business problems, This year’s results are also a reflection of EPAM’s adaptiveness and the increasing relevance of our constantly expanding capabilities.”

EPAM, which sources most of its work from Eastern Europe and sells mostly to North American and Western European customers, expects revenue growth for 2021 to be at least 23% on a GAAP basis, indicating that its long-term growth trajectory has not slowed much. 

EPAM has a market capitalization of $21.9 billion, a remarkable 8x trailing revenue for an outsourcing developer. Its shares have increased 65% in the past 12 months. Headcount is approaching 40,000.

I like EPAM’s concise investor presentation, which can be viewed here.

Amazon healthcare-related ad for position in King of Prussia suggests new healthcare product

This job posting by Amazon for a business development manager in King of Prussia raised my curiosity. In describing the job, Amazon says:
“We are a passionate team working to build a best-in-class healthcare product designed to make high-quality healthcare easy to access.

I don’t have a trace of what the product might be, but its something to keep an eye on. Most of the articles found related to Amazon and King of Prussia concern talks to convert retail space into fulfillment space for Amazon’s operations.

Business Development Manager

Company NameAmazon Company Location King of Prussia, PA

Posted DatePosted 1 week ago  Number of views534 viewsShareShow more optionsApplySaveSave Business Development Manager at Amazon

See how you compare to 70 applicantsTry Premium Free for 1 Month

Description

We are a passionate team working to build a best-in-class healthcare product designed to make high-quality healthcare easy to access.

Amazon is looking for a Business Development Manager to join an exciting new project team working to build a completely new best-in-class service offering. We are a smart team of doers that work passionately to apply cutting-edge advances in technology and to solve real-world problems that will transform our customers’ experiences in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Our mission is to invent and simplify large-scale solutions and help bring the future to Amazon customers. Our organization rewards curiosity while maintaining the direct-to-market product focus.

The Business Development Manager would be responsible for building and growing relationships. You would work closely with our business development team to deliver for our customers. You should be a self-starter with demonstrated ability to think strategically about business, product, and technical challenges with the ability to build and convey compelling value propositions and work across the organization to build consensus. Above all, you will care deeply about the customer and delight in creating simple and elegant solutions that solve our customers’ biggest challenges.

About Us

Inclusive Team Culture
Here at Amazon, we embrace our differences. We are committed to furthering our culture of inclusion. We have ten employee-led affinity groups, reaching 40,000 employees in over 190 chapters globally. We have innovative benefit offerings, and host annual and ongoing learning experiences, including our Conversations on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) and AmazeCon (gender diversity) conferences. Amazon’s culture of inclusion is reinforced within our 14 Leadership Principles, which remind team members to seek diverse perspectives, learn and be curious, and earn trust.
Work/Life Balance
Our team puts a high value on work-life balance. It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the flow you establish that brings energy to both parts of your life. We believe striking the right balance between your personal and professional life is critical to life-long happiness and fulfillment. We offer flexibility in working hours and encourage you to find your own balance between your work and personal lives.

Mentorship & Career Growth
Our team is dedicated to supporting new members. We have a broad mix of experience levels and tenures, and we’re building an environment that celebrates knowledge sharing and mentorship. We care about your career growth and strive to assign opportunities based on what will help each team member develop into a better-rounded contributor.

Responsibilities include

  • Develop and manage relationships by engaging with partners and key customers
  • Accelerate customer adoption and customer satisfaction
  • Develop and execute against a set of goals.
  • Provide feedback from key stakeholders about customer needs
  • Collaborate with leadership to develop strategic plans to maximize partnership opportunities

We’re looking for an eager Business Development Manager who is a passionate learner and has built relationships with enterprise customers and channel partners.

Basic Qualifications

  • 7+ years of professional experience in either account management, business development, health plans, strategic partnerships or similar roles
  • BA/BS in business, marketing or a related field

Preferred Qualifications

MBA a plus

  • Deep experience working in healthcare
  • Demonstrated success in building strong relationships using a consultative, solutions-focused approach
  • Extensive experience in prospecting and qualifying companies
  • Strong problem-solving skills including Microsoft Excel
  • Strong experience using Salesforce
  • Professional traits that are not unique to this position, but necessary for Amazon leaders:
  • Exhibits excellent business judgment
  • Has relentless high standards
  • Thinks strategically, but stays on top of execution
  • Expects and requires innovation of their team
  • Thinks big and has convictions
  • Is action and results-oriented
  • Is highly analytical and structured
  • Has the innate ability to inspire passion in others.

Amazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, visit US Disability Accommodations.

Company – Amazon.com Services LLC
Job ID: A1418641

Seniority Level

Mid-Senior level

Industry

  • Computer Software 
  • Information Technology & Services 
  • Internet

Employment Type

Full-time

Job Functions

  • Business Development 
  • Information Technology

Estimated pay range

This range is estimated for Business Development Manager jobs in Greater Philadelphia at similar companies. Actual pay may be different. Provide feedback

Base pay range

$62,000/yr – $128,000/yrClick here to unlock more salary insightsUnlock more sala

NJ INNOVATION EVERGREEN FUND COULD BEGIN MAKING INVESTMENTS BY LATE FALL, SULLIVAN TELLS TECHUNITED:NJ

 February 12, 2021  Esther Surden

In a conversation with Aaron Price, president and CEO of TechUnited:NJ (New Brunswick), Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), outlined the timing for the full implementation of the Innovation Evergreen Fund, which was signed into law recently.

The approved Innovation Evergreen Fund was the centerpiece of the “New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020,” which overhauled the New Jersey’s system for encouraging companies to stay in New Jersey and grow jobs here.

“There are 15 programs in the new bill and we have to stand them all up,” Sullivan noted. “We can’t just stand them up at the same time; it won’t work.” That being said, “this is a super high priority program, but it is also a very complex program,” as it is brand new.

Auctions in Late Summer or Early Fall

 “We are optimistic that the tax credit auctions will start in the late summer or early fall if we get it all right, and then investments will flow from there,” said Sullivan. One of the keys to this working is that the auctions have to go well. If they don’t generate sufficient capital, that will be a problem, he added.

Price asked Sullivan if the NJEDA was concerned that the auctions might not go well. He replied that this was something new, and that the NJEDA would be marketing the opportunity to companies during the next several months and spelling out what obligations come with those tax credits.

The Fund is expected to create wealth as well as sustainable job and economic growth over the next 25 years. “We are rekindling our innovation and growing new companies into big companies,” Sullivan said. “This is a really important public–private partnership that uses tax credits in a really different way to support and fuel innovation.”

Over the past 10 years or so, New Jersey has fallen from 10th to 15th place in the rankings of venture capital deployed to its companies, he stated. Other states have grown quite a bit, “but we’ve actually shrunk in the amount of dollars that we’ve taken into venture capital.” Venture capital is not the only ingredient needed to grow an economy, but the lack of it causes a cyclical effect in which there are not enough companies being formed and sustained.

Breaking the Cycle

“We think one way to break that cycle, change the trajectory of that cycle, is with a significant investment vehicle to support more venture capital,” Sullivan said. He added that the secret sauce to startup success in New Jersey will be the commitment of corporations. The state’s proceeds from the tax credit auctions will provide half the cash for the Innovation Evergreen Fund.

The corporations won’t be getting those credits unconditionally. They will have to commit to supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in a real way. “We’re still working on how this will work. But if you’re a big pharma company, it could mean partnering with small biotech firms. If you are a big corporation, it could mean committing some of your IT spend to return to startups.  It could mean working with secondary education talent in New Jersey.”

The auctions should generate $250 million over five years, and the state will pair that money with funds from private venture capital companies run by experienced investors. “The state will be a coinvestor with these companies in the startups the VCs have brought to the state.” However, these startups must be based in New Jersey, stay in New Jersey and commit to growing most of their new jobs in New Jersey.

The Startup’s Perspective

From the startup’s perspective, “if you are a young technology company and you have the chance to work with either a big financial services company or a fintech player,” or if you are a biotech startup and you have a chance to work with a big pharma or biotech company, “what better place than New Jersey to do it?” Sullivan asked.

Price clarified the startup perspective, saying “If I’m an early-stage company, looking to raise capital, if I decide to make my headquarters and or job growth — and I know you are still figuring some of these things out— focused in New Jersey, [I could] raise capital from an approved venture capitalist” on the NJEDA’s list. That VC will be able to write a bigger check because it’s getting matched funding from the state.

He gave the example of a startup getting a $1 million commitment from a VC who has been approved by the state. Then the state will add $1 million to the round, so the startup has “more firepower to build instantly. And as an entrepreneur, my fundraising process, which many of us know is a very time-consuming process, becomes much more efficient.” Price added that it’s better to go after the approved VCs, because you’ll have more firepower with fewer partners.

Sullivan noted that when companies exit or monetize, “whether through the public markets or the sale … the proceeds of the state’s equity ownership flow back to the Fund and support more investments over time.” He said that if the portfolio over-performs, some of that money will go back into the state government’s “general fund to pay for roads and cops and teachers and other programs” or whatever is decided on at the time.

Price explained that the VCs, who make money through carried interest on their fund’s return and a fee for managing a fund’s capital, will earn money on the state’s contribution, as well. That will incentivize them to leverage this pool of capital. Sullivan added that the state needs the expertise of the professional venture capital firms because his colleagues at the NJEDA are not investors, and don’t know how to evaluate the potential of “the next dating app” or “the next cure for cancer.”

The NJEDA will be opening up a commenting period to help it decide what the program will look like exactly. One open question raised by the audience was the role of strategic investors. It’s likely that investment funds run by corporations will qualify, but direct strategic investments will not, according to Tim Rollender, a technology sector lead at the NJEDA, who was also participating in the phone conversation.

full-length video of the event can be found here.

This article first appeared in NjTechWeekly.com. It is reposted here with permission of its founder and publisher, Esther Surden.

PACT nominee TrialScope acquired by UK firm

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Tom Paine

TrialScope, a provider of clinical trial software & operations, has been acquired by the UK firm Informa. Based in Jersey City, TrialScope has been nominated for “the best investment deal” as part of PACT’s 2021 Enterprise awards.

Its a bit odd to have a North Jersey firm that only has a few of its 47 employees in Pennsylvania (per LinkedIn) be up for a Philadelphia-based award, though Princeton-based Edison Partners, a PACT member, was the principle investor (Edison says it got 3x its investment back from the sale). NewSpring and Conshohocken-based Dublin Capital Partners were the other investors.

In addition to providing the software and operational expertise for managing clinical trials, TrialScope had also expanded into areas such as patient recruitment for trials.  TrialScope Connect (acquired in 2019) recently supported the patient recruiting efforts for Moderna’s recent COVID vaccine.

Good clinical trial operations are very attractive assets right now. Although Edison’s 3x return is not remarkable on an investment dating back to 2014.

TrialScope was originally created from a spinoff out of Deloitte.

First Round Capital portfolio company Lob coming to Philly (and several other cities)

Tom Paine

San Francisco-based Lob, a cloud printing and mailing service, with backing from First Round Capital among others, is coming to Philly, and eight other cities as well.

As a CFO, I once oversaw a lead managemeet service provided to b2b markers. The business was a mess. It involved coordinating mail campaigns with clients, but you didn’t know when they were starting campaigns so it was hard to staff for fulfillment on the back end. Then there were accounts that needed one-off responses at any time. How to scale that business without better technology was a mystery to me. But that involved investments that we couldn’t do at the time, or technology that wasn’t yet available.

So what Lob does makes sense to me. Through a series of APIs,the fulfillment process is automated You can print different collaterals on demand. It preps your mailings, adding address verification. And it manages the data in the cloud to help ensure that you don’t lose track of customers or prospects in the process.

Prior to this year, Lob had three financing rounds: a $2.4 million seed in 2013, a $7 million Series A in 2014 (when First Round first participated), and a $20 million Series B in 2017. Co-Founder Leore Avidar told one interviewer last year that he was planning on raising a $100 million round sometime in early 2021.

I think thy’ve already raised that round, though I don’t know the amount. (I couldn’t find a Form D for its 2017 round, and probably this one hasn’t been announced yet.)

Lob has evidentially decided to go local, as indicated by its Careers page.

I see some 17 positions posted in Pennsylvania and eight other states: IL,MI,NY,TX, CO,WA, UT,OR.

I don’t know if Lob is planning to fill all of these position, but if it where it would add up to more than 150 people, as compared to 257 employees currently appearing on its LinkedIn page.

I asked Lob why it had chosen to build these local staffs. The response: “We’re hiring all across the US and have open remote locations across the US to help serve our customers in those locations and to accommodate resources in different timezones.”

The idea that print and snail mail usage is shrinking ignores the fact that its still an enormous market, and in fact a service such as Lob may increase demand since it makes those things easier to do.