How I lost my Twitter

Tom Paine

I’ve been booted off Twitter due to no fault of my own.

They cancelled my account because it was hacked by some unknown character in the Baltic states. I was told that they couldn’t tell if it was me or some hacker on the account. No possible fixes were identified or discussed. i’ve tried to contact a few people, to no avail.

Obviously Twitter’s been having some bigger issues to deal with lately. But for me its a big deal. I built my web presence around Twitter. Though I have a website and also post on LinkedIn and now Substack, the overwhelming majority of my followers know me from Twitter. I know many of you, if only virtually in most cases, and you’re very important to me.

There is no way I can reconstitute my follower list. And it really screws up my future plans for the site. Twitter said I was welcome to open a new account, but starting off with no followers is overwhelming.

So I’m not willing to let this go. Twitter has larger accounts that get hacked, and it seems they get back on track. I imagine that there is a solution to this, but I’ve been thrown under the bus.

If anyone has ideas as to what I might do, let me know. And in the meantime, you can follow me at PhillyEnterpriseTech.com, on LinkedIn, or breaking news on Substack, which is still free for now.

Thanks!

Accolade to acquire telehealth startup for $460 million

Tom Paine

Accolade (Nasdaq: ACCD), jointly based in Plymouth Meeting and Seattle, announced late today that it would acquire Houston-based telehealth startup 2nd.MD for $460 million, in a combination of cash & stock..

2nd.MD will enable Accolade users to obtain 2nd opinions when necessary.

Accolade CEO Raj Singh said in a statement. “With the addition of 2nd.MD, we’ll nearly double our total addressable market while providing the most comprehensive, integrated healthcare navigation experience available.”

Covid-19 has likely been a net plus for Accolade in recruiting more corporate clients, who contract for the service so its employees may access it as part of their benefits packages.

Accolade’s market value is now $2.6 billion, and it looks like its stock has climbed more than 10% in the wake of its announcement.

KEIRETSU FORUM ANGEL GROUP OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES IT HAS EXPANDED TO NEW JERSEY

 January 4, 2021  Esther Surden

NJ Serial Entrepreneur and angel investor Harvey Homan leads the effort here

Howard Lubert and Harvey Homan of Keiretsu | Courtesy Lubert and Homan

On Monday, Keiretsu Forum announced the launch of a new chapter in Princeton.  The chapter will be part of Keiretsu’s Mid-Atlantic Region.

Keiretsu Forum is the world’s largest and most active investment community of early-stage accredited angel investors, with 53 chapters across three continents, including the newly minted North Jersey Chapter, according to Keiretsu Mid-Atlantic Region cofounder Howard Lubert.  The angel group will focus on series A rounds.

The investors are willing to consider companies in any industry, but they expect their deals in New Jersey to be primarily with tech and life-science companies since these are dominant in the state.

The new chapter is being led by Harvey Homan, a serial entrepreneur and experienced angel investor, and there are currently six accredited angel investor members. The chapter has been running virtually for the last nine months, Homan stated. He added that he will be seriously trying to grow the chapter and add angel investors to their ranks.

Princeton The Perfect Location

We asked Lubert and Homan why now is the time to enter New Jersey.

Lubert explained that the Keiretsu Forum had attempted to come into New Jersey three years ago, and had planned to set up at a facility associated with Princeton University. The logistics didn’t work out, but the interest remained, and when Homan expressed his desire to begin a chapter in Princeton, the organization jumped at the chance.

 “Having a location in the Princeton area is just perfect logistically, to be able to make a stop all the way down to Philadelphia, to attract more members and more investment opportunities,” Lubert said.

Homan noted that one of his longtime connections, Steve Cohen, the managing partner of Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius’s Princeton office, enthusiastically agreed to become Keiretsu’s host sponsor. “So, when we go live again, we’ll be working out of Morgan Lewis’s Princeton offices.”

Homan became associated with Keiretsu in February of 2020.  “I’ve been involved in the New Jersey’s startup ecosystem for the last 20 years, and started several companies in New Jersey,” he said, adding that over the years, he has worked with the former New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology (now the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology) and has received funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). He “built up companies that way, but always saw a huge need for additional funding sources in New Jersey.”

After Homan sold his last company in 2017, he began angel investing, and spent a year and a half investing with Jumpstart New Jersey Angel Network. “One of the members there introduced me to Keiretsu. I started attending meetings and was enthused about the quality of the deal flow that I was seeing. The companies were great. The amount of exchange between investors in the meetings was tremendous. And it was run really, really well.”

He added that Keiretsu is focused on later-stage, series A startup funding rounds, which personally attracted him in terms of his investments. Series A rounds are typically undertaken after a startup has outgrown seed financing and now needs significant capital.

Advantages For Startups

An advantage for startups seeking funding from Keiretsu is that, while the Mid-Atlantic Region consists of five chapters, they all function as a single regional unit, Lubert noted. “So, when we invite four companies to come to present to us, they present to all of our members at all of our chapters.”

Also, companies applying to Keiretsu are impressed with the amount of due diligence the fund performs. Even if Keiretsu chooses to pass on an investment, the startup takes home a comprehensive document that can become a blueprint for improving its performance and becoming attractive to other investors.

Lubert noted that the diligence team works very closely with companies, helping them to present their best case. “We get to know the company, the CEO and the CTO very well through that due diligence process, and they get to know us. Over a 10-year period, we’ve probably executed somewhere north of 250 due diligence projects. And in that 10-year period … we’ve never once had to go outside of Keiretsu members here in North America to find the necessary subject matter experts who are also active angel investors to participate in those due diligence teams,” he told us.

“The beauty of having 33 chapters and 2,000 members is that we’ve got SMEs [subject matter experts] everywhere in every space. And that helps our members create fantastic due diligence reports that help each other come together when it comes time to write the checks.”

Keiretsu’s large number of accredited angel investor members also provides “a great opportunity for a company to come into Keiretsu through the chapter in New Jersey, but then have access to a global network. They’ll be able to achieve funding in the multimillion-dollar range.”

The Series A Sweet Spot

The most recent angel group to come into New Jersey was Golden Seeds (New York), which launched its New Jersey chapter in February of 2020, with the help of the NJEDA and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy. Golden Seeds is a nationwide angel network dedicated to investing in female-led startup companies. The organization has more than 300 members, including accredited investors from a diverse range of locations, sectors and backgrounds.

Analyzing the angel funding ecosystem in New Jersey, Homan pointed out that angels like Mario Casabona, of TechLaunch (Kinnelon), write checks at a very early stage in a company’s growth, and Jumpstart comes in at the stage right after that.

“I was talking to Rod Priestley at Princeton University. They fund startups through the Princeton alumni network, but they’ve lost those startups to other states when the companies go for the next level of funding, a late-seed stage or Series A round. That’s the sweet spot for Keiretsu. So, I think this solves a real need.”

Keiretsu attracts a “tremendous” amount of diversification in the startups it attracts, he added. “We attract companies from numerous industry silos, from tech and life science, which are our biggest sectors, but on to real estate, and virtually every other industry. We draw from all geographies. And we focus on diversity of leadership teams, with great interest in female-lead and black-lead companies.”

The angels are now meeting virtually, with all of the Mid-Atlantic chapters working with the South-East Region chapters to screen companies. About a dozen companies present at each meeting. The angels then choose four companies to present in depth at a forum meeting in which investment decisions are made.

Homan added that he sees the North Jersey Chapter becoming an essential part of the tech community in New Jersey. It will work closely with Princeton and other universities in the state, and with the NJEDA, TechUnited:NJ (New Brunswick) and BioNJ (Trenton). “We want to become a really, really vibrant part of this ecosystem — and a place where companies can come and learn, ask questions and be at a central point [where] they can get mentoring and get support. And I know that, from my experience with Keiretsu’s members, they are enthusiastic to do that.”

About The Author

Esther Surden

Esther Surden

Esther is the Founder and Editor in Chief of NJ Tech Weekly. This article is republished on PhillyEnterpriseTech with her permission.

Wayne-based Unilog acquired by Investcorp

Tom Paine

Unilog, which provides B2B ecommerce websites, was acquired by global private equity investor Investcorp, it was announced today by the Indian press..

Although its US headquarters are in Wayne and its customer base is in the US, most of Unilog’s 700+ employees are in India.

Specifically, Unilog serves hardware wholesalers, distributers and manufacturers who sell to smaller retailers. Finding an underserved niche, Unilog has generated considerable momentum. Annual revenue is said to be at $15 million, growing at a compound annual rate of 40% in last three fiscal years. (though something there doesn’t match – its not clear why it would take 700 employees to produce $15 million revenue). Investcorp sees a potential multi-billion dollar market.

Unilog is led by chief executive officer Suchit Bachalli.

First Round Capital sees successful SPAC merger, IPO

More than five years ago, First Round Capital announced it was leading a Series A investment round into a startup named Clover Health.

In announcing the investment, Partner Josh Kopelman said: “First Round is a seed stage firm, and our average initial investment has remained $500K–600K for the last 8+ years. Our $4M investment in Clover is the largest initial investment we’ve ever made in our decade-long history (In fact, it’s more than double our previous largest investment).”

“The unique nature of our investment here underscores exactly how unique we think Clover is. It deserves to break the mold in more ways than one. Its mission to improve health care and drive down medical costs is big, ambitious, and vital.”

Clover’s goal was to deliver a lower cost, improved Medicare Advantage experience for its members., relying on the use of data and analytics.

After testing its business model in some New Jersey counties, Clover now serves selected counties in Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas..

Last week, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. III , a SPAC, merged with Clover Health, forming a new public company under the Clover Health Investments Corp (NASDAQ:CVLOV) name.

Clover, which had raised $925 million from investors prior to its SPAC merger, is expected to gain $1.2 billion in cash through the merger. It ended Friday with a market cap near $7 billion.

Also, in late December another First Round portfolio company, Silicon Valley fintech lender Upstart (direct loans to consumers) went public. It jumped 47% on its first day of trading. As of Friday, Upstart had a market cap of $3.8 billion; First Round had owned 5.2% prior to the offering. Upstart also uses predictive data, in this case to assess the likelihood of loan repayment.

Next up is a big one for First Round: gaming platform Roblox. It delayed its IPO into 2021, and just did another pre-IPO investment at a valuation of $29.5 billion.

Opinion: New Jersey To Create Venture Capital Fund To Supercharge Investment Into Early-Stage And Emerging Growth Companies In The State

David Sorin and Adam Sternbach
David Sorin and Adam Sternbach of McCarter & English | Courtesy McCarter & English

OPINION: NEW JERSEY TO CREATE VENTURE CAPITAL FUND TO SUPERCHARGE INVESTMENT INTO EARLY-STAGE AND EMERGING GROWTH COMPANIES IN THE STATE

The New Jersey Legislature has passed the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Act, and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign it into law in the coming days/weeks. Pursuant to the Act, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (the NJEDA) will create a fund, called the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund (the Fund), to invest in early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey. The Fund is expected to be capitalized with approximately $250 million over the next five years through competitive auctions of state tax credits. All Fund investments into New Jersey companies must be matched by qualified venture firms, yielding a total of at least $500 million in venture capital investment in early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey over the next several years.

How It Works

The NJEDA will invest in qualified venture firms for the purposes of investing in qualified businesses in New Jersey. A qualified venture firm generally includes any entity that invests cash in an early-stage or emerging growth company in exchange for an equity stake in the business. The NJEDA will establish criteria by which to evaluate and qualify venture firms based on management structure; investment strategy; location of the venture firm and its proposed investment portfolio companies; and assets under management.

NJEDA will invest alongside a qualified venture firm in an amount no greater than the amount of capital the qualified venture firm is investing into the qualified business. The Fund may invest no more than $5 million, with certain exceptions, in initial investment (not including reserves for follow-on) in a qualified venture firm for purposes of investing in a qualified company. The Fund may not make more than two investments in the same qualified venture firm within a calendar year.

To be a qualified business, a company must be registered to do business in New Jersey; have its principal business operations located in New Jersey and intend to maintain its principal business operations in New Jersey after receiving the investment; be in a targeted industry (broadly defined to include a variety of industries and innovative business models); and  employ fewer than 250 people at the time of the investment. Notably, principal business operations means at least 50 percent of the business’s employees reside in the State or at least 50 percent of the business’s payroll is paid to individuals living in the State.

What It Means

The Fund represents a game-changing opportunity for early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey (as well as their investors) by significantly expanding access to venture capital, ecosystem building activities, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Because the Fund is intended to be an “evergreen” vehicle, the returns generated from the initial investments by the Fund will be used to support early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey for years to come.

By driving a total of at least $500 million of venture capital investment into early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey over the next several years, the Fund has the potential to reestablish New Jersey as an epicenter of innovation. Companies will have expanded access to capital to grow and scale. In addition to a capital infusion of at least $500 million into the State, the enhanced innovation ecosystem, which will be supported by the required participation of the tax credit recipients seeding the Fund (which are expected to include some of the largest corporations and entities in New Jersey), will provide early-stage and emerging growth companies in New Jersey with unparalleled mentoring, networking and collaborative engagement opportunities.

In addition, the Fund will have a goal of investing 25 percent of its proceeds in qualified venture firms that will invest in companies located in Opportunity Zone census tracts in New Jersey. Moreover, within one year, the NJEDA must undertake a disparity study of investment by venture capital firms in women-owned and minority-owned businesses in New Jersey. Based on the findings of this study, the NJEDA is empowered to set aside certain Fund money for investment in women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Such an initiative presents an opportunity for New Jersey to ensure historically overlooked founders receive the opportunity to grow and scale their businesses and to build a truly diverse innovation ecosystem in New Jersey.

We are excited to see New Jersey’s bold initiative become law. As a law firm with roots in New Jersey dating back 175 years and a commitment to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship from our representation of Thomas Edison to our current position as a regional, national and global leading law firm for venture capital and emerging growth companies, we are optimistic that the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Act will produce extraordinary results.

David J. Sorin is chair of the McCarter’s Venture Capital & Emerging Growth Companies practice, a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, and office managing partner of the East Brunswick office. He can be reached at dsorin@mccarter.com.

Adam Sternbach, an associate in the East Brunswick, New Jersey and New York offices of McCarter, works with startup, early-stage, emerging-growth, and middle-market companies in high-growth sectors, advising clients on corporate transactional matters. He can be reached at asternbach@mccarter.com.

*This article was originally published on the McCarter & English website here. It was reposted on NJ Tech Weekly with permission. Philly EnterpriseTech reposted it with permission.

WSJ on KoP-based Radial

.Tom Paine

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece today on King of Prussia-based Radial (the former GSI Commerce), and an interview with its new CEO,  Ilias Simpson .

Radial had a very good, though challenging, year. As of September 2020, Radial North America had more than $1 billion in new business year-to-date measured by total contract value, compared with $385 million in 2019, the Journal reports. Covid-19 likely caused much of the volume growth, but Simpson also credits Radial’s customer responsiveness (meaning its customers, the vendors).

“Covid moved e-commerce forward, you know, five, eight years, from where people expected it to be”, Simpson told the Journal.

Also, Simpon said Radial used its technology to greatly expand the number of pop-up locations for its clients. “We went from past years when we would do two, three pop-ups a year, to this year, we had over 12 pop-ups planned for our customers”.

A rare condition: Hyper-Growth – catch it while you can

Tom Paine

I’ve seen evidence of what I refer to as “hypergrowth” in a few tech-related industries in the Philly area. These are sectors that are in transformational states, in which high demand is constant, and new approaches are developing. However, hypergrowth can fade as quickly as it began.

Pharma DTC (Direct to Consumer) advertising is booming. In November, the top 10 brands spent $204 million, well above typical November spending. Last year, the top 10 spent $157 million, versus $158 million in 2018.

Pharma media planning & buying agency CMI / Compas (King of Prussia) added 51 people to the firm in September alone. It now has more than 700 employees, according to FiercePharma.

Clinical Trials are a quintessentially Philly industry, and the companies or institutions that manage and conduct them, as well as their technology providers, have been fully occupied by demand in 2020.

This has been true not only for Covid-19 related vaccines and therapies, but for a range of other products coming out of the labs. The recent merger of BioClinica and ERT was another step in a gradual trend towards industry consolidation.

Online Sportsbooks are starting up and for now Pennsylvania, as one of the first states where it is legal, along with New Jersey and Delaware, are major beneficiaries. Companies participating in the business are gearing up, spending alot upfront to establish long-term market positions. See legal status by state. Some investments are media oriented, others are for building technology.

Big players are Berks County-based Penn National ( and its Penn Interactive unit based in Conshy as well as its Barstool Sports Book) , FOXBet in Cherry Hill, BetMGM in Trenton, FanDuel and DraftKings.

Early FanDuel Investor Paul Martino (Bullpen Capital) is banking on Philadelphia being the Sports Betting Capital of the US. A venture named Bankroll is his latest bet on sports betting.

The business of preparing large volumes of data for ingestion into Business Intelligence, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence models is growing rapidly. Fishtown Analytics is the best Philly-based example of this: Talend subsidiary Stitch is another example.

Companies like Qlik and SAP are major users, as well as the medical and financial research sectors.

Prime Technology Group merges with Dallas firm

Tom Paine

Prime Technology Group, based in Wayne, has merged with Dallas-based Synerzip, the two companies announced this week.

Frontenac, a Chicago-based private equity firm, acquired Prime Technology Group from Wayne-based Renovus Capital Partners at the end of 2019.

Under Frontenac, Prime has become very acquisitive. In August of this year, Prime acquired Lighthouse Software Solutions, based in ST Paul, Minn.

Prime has 273 employees, 209 in India, according to LinkedIn. Synerzip has 621 employees, 594 of which are in India.

Prime works with Salesforce, IBM and Microsoft technologies in Insurance, Financial Services and Healthcare.

Synerzip emphasizes its agile product development expertise. It is also an advanced AWS consulting partner.

Terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Prime appears to be roughly following the model that LiquidHub built upon before it was acquired by Capgemini in early 2018.

Sudhakar Goverdhanam, founder & CEO, is on the advisory board of Villanova’s Engineering School, where he received a Masters in Engineering.. He has also been an advisor at the Laurence A. Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship in Technology at Drexel University. He started Prime in 1999.