Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 11/25: What year is it? Comcast price increases, Amazon outage, Salesforce on verge of a big acquisition

Philly EnterpriseTech Weekend Highlights: Malone on Cable Vertical Integration; The spectacular financial failures of Fisker Automobiles

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Philly EnterpriseTech Weekend Highlights 11/13 – 11/15

Comcast after Trump

Tom Paine

You’d think Comcast would be happy to see Donald Trump (eventually) depart the White House. Back in February of this year, Trump said in a speech:

“NBC, I think, is worse than CNN,” Trump said. “And Comcast, a company that spends millions and millions of dollars on their image — I’ll do everything possible to destroy their image because they are terrible.”

Whether that attitude stemmed from something dating back to his time with his NBC show “The Apprentice”, the apparent leaking of his raunchy conversation with Billy Bush, or NBC News’ and MSNBC’s typically harsh coverage of his candidacy and presidency, Trump is certainly known for carrying a grudge, repeatedly threatening to break up Comcast on antitrust grounds though there was no legal basis for that. He repeatedly referred to Comcast as “Concast ” on the campaign trail this year.

But for Comcast’s NBC, the bitter relationship may have been a positive, especially in a city like Philadelphia where many held Trump in low esteem.

Trump appeared in an NBC Town Hall in late October, going against a Biden Town Hall appearing at the same time on another network. And NBC took a great deal of criticism for hosting that show.

Trump never shared a round of golf with Brian Roberts, to the best of my knowledge, as President Obama did. In March, Trump spoke with Roberts along with several other telecom executives on a conference call. I’m not aware of any other direct contact between the two men during Trump’s presidency.

There is talk now that Trump might become a competitor in the cable news business.

But on one point Comcast may miss Trump. FCC chairman Ajit Pai booted Net Neutrality regulations, and removed many barriers to media consolidation, among other things. Under Biden, he would lose his chairmanship as the majority reverts back to the Democrats, and is widely expected to depart the commission. The Biden administration may attempt to revive net neutrality, though Congress and the Courts could push back.

Comcast Senior Vice President David Cohen, who stepped down this year from a broad portfolio of responsibilities including Washington affairs, is still on staff as an advisor. Cohen, 65, may have less political influence in Philly now due to the rise of progressives, who are less likely to listen to a centrist like him. But. he is close to Biden, for whom he held a fundraiser at his home right after Biden declared his candidacy, and can work across the aisle with Republicans. Certainly he can be a valuable asset for Comcast given the new administration, though he seems determined to slow down a little.

Philly EnterpriseTech Peoplenews June 12: Ex Dell exec (spent time at Boomi) to head refurbished Vonage; Comcast has new Treasurer & head of DC office

Elemica has found its muse
Interesting background
Putting a frenchman in charge of an Indian company?
Some question why this Wharton grad received such a boost
Former CEO of Philly startup ListenLogic, which was sold to Anaxinet
Don’t know why he left a very successful startup

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 3/7 & 3/8: Is goPuff a good neighbor? Trump goes after Comcast again

MSNBC’s Circus Act

Tom Paine

It was another wild week at Comcast NBCU’s MSNBC. It started on Monday night with Chris Matthews announcing he was retiring and then walking off the set during the first break. Matthews, who is 74, was near the end of his run anyway, but NBCU management all but pushed him off the cliff. I’m not so sure the reason was his behavioral idiosyncrasies, but rather that he lacked the ideological purity MSNBC viewers demanded. Remember, he once was a regular guest host on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

The funniest thing that happened was Brian William’s journey into the world of advanced mathematics. He figured that Bloomberg’s campaign spending was equal to giving every American citizen $1 million.

Tech Events Status Changes due to #CoronaVirus: SAP Cancels Sapphire Now And Partner Summit, Plans Digital Events

Updates added as received. (Tweet to @phillytechnews)

Updates added as received. (Tweet to @phillytechnews)

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), Philadelphia, 3/13/20 – 3/16/20: Monitoring developments but no plans to cancel or postpone at this time.

Questions from Accolade S-1

Tom Paine

See my previous post on Accolade’s IPO filing here.

Accolade, based in Plymouth Meeting and Seattle, submitted an S-1 to the SEC Friday (February 28) outlining plans for an IPO.

Conclusion: Some analysts probably have better information, but from info available to the general public it’s difficult to come up with an intelligent set of metrics for assessing its valuation. Not that it’s a unique case.

Accolade has raised at least $230 million in venture financing according to CrunchBase, and its last known valuation was $620 million according to Pitchbook.

It’s difficult to build a meaningful projected financial model for Accolade. Not enough history, and the economics are skewed by very large customers and high upfront development costs.

Its largest customers, Comcast Cable, Lowe’s and United Airlines, together accounted for 60% of its revenue for its 2019 fiscal year. Comcast alone represented 35% of its revenue for the year.

Customer concentration is a risk factor.

Accolade is not truly a tech company, but a technology-enabled health services company. No matter how much engineering it does, the variable people cost will still be there.

Some other health information companies that originally were full fledge tech firms are now adding more of the human factor in.

Hard to project future gross margins.

Adjusted gross margins were 30.9% in FY 2018 versus 36.4% in FY 2019; These will have to continue to improve..

Financial results for FY 2020 were left empty for now; looks like they might be filled in later (fiscal year ended 2/29)

Comparison: Perhaps the closest “twin” to Accolade is its Plymouth Meeting neighbor Health Advocate. It was snapped up by Omaha-based West Corporation for $265 million in 2014. Then buyout firm Apollo Global Management bought West Corporation (now Intrado Corporation) in 2017. Health Advocate has almost the same number of employees as Accolade, but I haven’t found any breakout of its financials.

Accolade relies on using AWS and Google Cloud for IT processing.