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Archive for May, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=hkGzqpGx1KU – On this Memorial Day – please take pride and watch – you will enjoy!

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By Tony Fish, Principal of AMF Ventures and a member of Gerbsman Partners Board of Intellectual Capital.

Internet players wrestling for control of your footprint
Whatever the personal reason for joining and participating in social networking, the debate has moved from being fashionable to how the key social networking players can unwittingly extend their influence and control of you.   Facebook wants to move from the confines of their own social networking cloud and be able to monitise property outside of their immediate control; hence the introduction by Facebook of opengraph and ‘Like’. The understanding of these new tools is, however, being over shadowed by the privacy setting debate which is also critical to the new Facebook model and its new utility.  The privacy setting allows Facebook to gain relationship data (digital footprint) and together with the tools change the internet from a Google ad centric world, into a relationship dependant Facebook ad centric world.

Issue 101. Control of Privacy settings
It has become evident that social networks will live or die by their privacy policy. Most users appear capable of providing their own interpretation of what privacy controls they would like.  Good tools will enable users to control the level of inclusion or exclusion of information about themselves and thereby control how much they reveal of themselves selectively, with tools that they understand and control.  However, whilst privacy is about the change of control, private is what you have elected or selected not to make public and a company should not be able to elect to change this default or set it open so you have to close it.

Private to Public is not a binary setting
However, when the private/ public issues is represented using a simplistic model such as a straight line, as above, it shows them as a binary choice, with an area of cross over, in the same way good/ evil can be represented and both of these models highlight the inadequacies of the straight line of choice, and specifically with private/public it does not provide enough context or insight to the real issues.  In philosophy, Aristotle presented the idea of a Golden Mean as the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice.

Applying the analogy from this philosophy to the private/ public debate removes the simple binary judgment and provides are two possible models.  Public is two extremes with private in the middle or vice-versa.  I “like” the public at either end approach as at one end public could mean broadcast TV, newspapers, open, contextual, edited and time bounded.  The other public could be internet public, closed, non-contextual, raw and timeless.  This removes the binary extremes and grey area of public vs private debate moving the debate away from privacy policy towards how we define and articulate public as two extremes.

To subtle to notice
When you consider what is private within these boundaries, it highlights some common assumptions.  Public tends to mean to the general population the broadcast TV model, where we instinctively know how little we should trust headlines but also how rapidly its value can be eroded.  However if this is the only understanding of public we hold, it is inevitable that users will miss the subtlety of the internet public model and the critical issues such as timeless (never deleted) and lack of context (provision of historical context when looking at past materials)

And the Problem is?
For social networking to remain free it needs a business model.  An attractive model is to take your digital footprint, analyse it and sell adverts based on your preferences and relationships.  However, to demand that users continually update their information is hard, therefore when they are out and about in the internet make it possible to “Like” things that automatically updates their profile (and attractiveness for advertising).  However to deliver this, users must change their privacy settings so that social networking site can exploit their data.  Therefore social networking site need to achieve several things.  First, make everything public, but users don’t understand what public means for Internet data.  Second, make it easy for users to deliver new information from outside their bounded network, but users don’t understand the implications.  Three, analyse and sell relationship data, but are users getting a fair trade?

Is there a trade fair?
Applying the understanding of the eight business model built in “My Digital Footprint” there should be a trade for opting for a more public use of your data.  In one direction towards broadcast the trade for your privacy may be for fame and fortune, in the other direction towards trading your privacy on the internet it should be for services.

An interesting question becomes, in the trade for your Internet privacy, is there sufficient utility offered by the free application providers?  With Google you provide only public data (search key words, nothing is private) and you receive relevant search results.  With Facebook and social networking you provide relationship and private data for a free utility, but what is the utility?  Is it a tribe, is it communication, is it sharing platform, it is a representation of the physical you in a digital world, is it organisation or a new state or a new country, is it connection or is it a channel?   With such an unclear utility, why will users continue to provide more personal data?

Will Facebook survive?
Overall I have no doubt it will survive but in what form is a more difficult judgement call as Facebook has highlighted that the value of our relationships is sufficiently high that they need them and are willing to risk their Brand to get  more of our digital footprint.  The utility question, trade for our information and implementation of its privacy setting, however, does open up the possibility for new entrants.  It is naïve to say that inertia; my grandma and friends will not change, is enough to keep the social networking market closed. It is possible to your export data, difficult but this will happen.  It is not impossible to see that a new social media company will offer 50% of its equity to users as a trade for moving and privacy.  It also possible to see that your generic login becomes the mechanism to find unique discounts for you, all these open up the market and trade they I hope will provide a more even value balance for users.

So What!
Internet business models are predicated on the user being the provider of the data and the consumer of the data, with the business focussed on sitting between the two and adding value.  There is a battle for your data and relationships and therefore one of the implications of “my digital footprint” thinking is about the alignment of Brand values and the how the company protects and uses digital footprint data.

If you would like to chat about the opportunities that digital footprint data brings, especially from the perspective of mobile and real time feedback, please contact me at tony.fish@amfventures.com.  The book is free on line at http://www.mydigitalfootprint.com/ or you can buy it direct from the publisher at the web site. There is also a summary and a eReader/ Kindle version.

We hope that our Viewpoint improves awareness, raises questions and promotes deliberation over coffee. We will respond to e-mail, text, twitter or blog comments. http://blog.mydigitalfootprint.com

Kind regards,

Tony Fish

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Here is a report from SF Gate.

“Apple, long the scrappy but innovative challenger to dominant Microsoft, has passed its rival in market capitalization, becoming the most valued technology company in the world.

The shift in fortunes became official at the close of the stock market Wednesday, when Apple’s market capitalization – the sum of its outstanding shares multiplied by its stock price – finished at $222.07 billion, ahead of Microsoft’s at $219.18 billion.

Though the distinction is merely a milestone, it culminates an amazing turnaround for Apple, which was given up for dead in 1997, when Apple founder Steve Jobs returned as CEO. Apple is now the second most valuable company in the United States after Exxon Mobil.

“This has got to be not only one of the greatest comeback stories, but success stories of the last 20 years,” said analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “You see companies coming back from the dead, but not to the point where they achieve this staggering financial position.”

Since September 16, 1997, when Jobs returned as CEO and Apple shares traded at $5.49 per share, the stock has surged 4,346 percent and now trades at $244.11 per share. Over the last five years, Apple’s stock has grown about 600 percent while Microsoft’s managed a modest 5 percent growth.

The shift validates Apple’s strategy of focusing on smart phone and tablet technology, which is on track to eventually outgrow the traditional PC business.

Michael Mace, who worked at Apple for 10 years prior to Jobs’ return, said Apple held the upper hand in the rivalry with Microsoft before being passed in the early 1990s. He said after that point, most employees gave up any hope of rivaling Microsoft financially.

“When a company runs away from you, you usually don’t get a chance to run them back down,” said Mace, a consultant with Rubicon Consulting. “But what Steve (Jobs) has managed to do is produce a series of seminal, meaningful, market-changing products.”

Apple found new life by remaking itself as a mobile company. While it continues to snag more PC market share from Microsoft’s Windows operating system, it is setting the pace of innovation in mobile devices.

Starting with its iPod media players in 2001 and more recently with the iPhone in 2007, Apple has become a leader in building the kind of portable devices that appeal to users. Apple’s iPods command more than 70 percent of the digital-player market, while the iPhone represents a quarter of the smart phones in the United States.

Now, with the iPad tablet selling a million units in its first month, Apple is leading that market as well.

“Apple is sitting on a gigantic business that’s just taking off,” said Leander Kahney, editor of the Cult of Mac blog, who’s written several books on Apple.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has struggled to grow beyond its roots in PC operating systems and applications. Its Zune media player and Windows Mobile operating system are not clicking with consumers. On Tuesday, the company announced a management shakeup in its gadgets and games division.”

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Update to the Bidding Process – Procedures for the sale of certain assets of CardioMind, Inc.

Further to Gerbsman Partners e-mail of April 28, 2010 and March 11 regarding the sale of certain assets of CardioMind, Inc., I attach the legal documents and wire transfer information that we will be requesting of bidders for certain assets of CardioMind, Inc. All parties bidding on the assets are encouraged, to the greatest extent possible, to conform the terms of their bids to the terms and form of the attached agreements. Any and all of the assets of CardioMind, Inc. will be sold on an “as is, where is” basis. I would also encourage all interested parties to have their counsel speak with Stephen O’Neill, Esq., counsel to CardioMind, Inc.

For additional information please contact Stephen O’Neill, Esq., of Murray & Murray counsel to CardioMind, Inc. He can be reached at 408 907 9200 and/or at soneill@murraylaw.com

Following an initial round of due diligence, interested parties will be invited to participate with a sealed bid, for the acquisition of the CardioMind Assets. Sealed bids must be submitted so that the bid is actually received by Gerbsman Partners no later than Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (the “Bid Deadline”) at CardioMinds’ office, located at 257 Humbolt Court, Sunnyvale, CA 94089. Please also email steve@gerbsmanpartners.com with any bid.

For your convenience, I have restated the description of the Updated Bidding Process.

The key dates and terms include:

The Bidding Process for Interested Buyers

Interested and qualified parties will be expected to sign a nondisclosure agreement (attached hereto as Exhibit A) to have access to key members of the management and intellectual capital teams and the due diligence “war room” documentation (the “Due Diligence Access”). Each interested party, as a consequence of the Due Diligence Access granted to it, shall be deemed to acknowledge and represent (i) that it is bound by the bidding procedures described herein; (ii) that it has an opportunity to inspect and examine the CardioMind Assets and to review all pertinent documents and information with respect thereto; (iii) that it is not relying upon any written or oral statements, representations, or warranties of CardioMind, Inc., Gerbsman Partners, or their respective staff, agents, or attorneys; and (iv) all such documents and reports have been provided solely for the convenience of the interested party, and neither CardioMind nor Gerbsman Partners (or their respective, staff, agents, or attorneys) makes any representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the same.

Following an initial round of due diligence, interested parties will be invited to participate with a sealed bid, for the acquisition of the CardioMind Assets. Sealed bids must be submitted so that the bid is actually received by Gerbsman Partners no later than Thursday, June 3 at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (the “Bid Deadline”) at CardioMind’s office, located at 257 Humbolt Court Sunnyvale, CA 94089. Please also email steve@gerbsmanpartners.com with any bid.

Bids should identify those assets being tendered for in a specific and identifiable way. The attached CardioMind fixed asset list may not be complete and Bidders interested in the CARDIOMIND Assets must submit a separate bid for such assets. Be specific as to the assets desired. CardioMind cash, accounts receivable and certain books and records are not being offered for bid as part of the CardioMind Assets.

Any person or other entity making a bid must be prepared to provide independent confirmation that they possess the financial resources to complete the purchase where applicable. All bids must be accompanied by a refundable deposit check in the amount of $200,000 (payable to CardioMind, Inc.). The deposit should be wired to CardioMind’s attorneys Murray & Murray, A Professional Corporation. Please see attached wire instructions. The winning bidder will be notified within 3 business days after the Bid Deadline. The deposit will be held in trust by Company’s counsel. Unsuccessful bidders will have their deposit returned to them within three business days of notification that they are an unsuccessful bidder . CardioMind reserves the right to, in its sole discretion, accept or reject any bid, or withdraw any or all assets from sale. Interested parties should understand that it is expected that the highest and best bid submitted will be chosen as the winning bidder and bidders may not have the opportunity to improve their bids after submission.

CardioMind will require the successful bidder to close within 7 business days of notification that such bidder is the winner. Any or all of the assets of CARDIOMIND will be sold on an “as is, where is” basis, with no representation or warranties whatsoever. Attached is the Asset Purchase Agreement that bidders should use in submitting their bid. To the greatest extent possible, parties should conform to the terms of this Asset Purchase Agreement. If parties have questions regarding the Asset Purchase Agreement, they should have their counsel contact Stephen T. O’Neill of Murray & Murray, counsel to Cardiomind. Mr. O’Neill can be reached at 408 907 9200 and soneill@murraylaw.com .

All sales, transfer, and recording taxes, stamp taxes, or similar taxes, if any, relating to the sale of the CardioMind Assets shall be the sole responsibility of the successful bidder and shall be paid to CardioMind at the closing of each transaction.

For additional information, please see below and/or contact:

Stephen O’Neill, Esq
(408) 907-9200
soneill@murraylaw.com

Steven R. Gerbsman
(415) 456-0628
steve@gerbsmanpartners.com

Dennis Sholl
(415) 457-9596
dennis@gerbsmanpartners.com

Kenneth Hardesty
(408) 591-7528
ken@gerbsmanpartners.com

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Sale of Teranode Corporation

Gerbsman Partners (www.gerbsmanpartners.com) has been retained by Teranode Corporation (www.teranode.com) to solicit interest for the acquisition of all, or substantially all, of Teranode’s assets, including its Intellectual Property (“IP”), in whole or in part (collectively, the “Teranode Assets”).

The sale is being conducted with cooperation of Teranode. Teranode and its employees will be available to assist the purchasers with due diligence and assist with a prompt and efficient transition.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE

The information in this memorandum does not constitute the whole or any part of an offer or a contract.

The information contained in this memorandum relating to Teranode’s Assets has been supplied by Teranode Corporation. It has not been independently investigated or verified by Gerbsman Partners or their respective agents.

Potential purchasers should not rely on any information contained in this memorandum or provided by Gerbsman Partners (or their respective staff, agents, and attorneys) in connection herewith, whether transmitted orally or in writing as a statement, opinion, or representation of fact. Interested parties should satisfy themselves through independent investigations as they or their legal and financial advisors see fit.

Gerbsman Partners, and their respective staff, agents, and attorneys, (i) disclaim any and all implied warranties concerning the truth, accuracy, and completeness of any information provided in connection herewith and (ii) do not accept liability for the information, including that contained in this memorandum, whether that liability arises by reasons of Teranode Corporation’s or Gerbsman Partners’ negligence or otherwise.

Any sale of the Teranode Corporation’s Assets will be made on an “as-is,” “where-is,” and “with all faults” basis, without any warranties, representations, or guarantees, either express or implied, of any kind, nature, or type whatsoever from, or on or behalf of Teranode Corporation and Gerbsman Partners. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Teranode Corporation and Gerbsman Partners and their respective staff, agents, and attorneys, hereby expressly disclaim any and all implied warranties concerning the condition of the Teranode Corporation Assets and any portions thereof, including, but not limited to, environmental conditions, compliance with any government regulations or requirements, the implied warranties of habitability, merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose.

This memorandum contains confidential information and is not to be supplied to any person without Gerbsman Partners’ prior consent. This memorandum and the information contained herein are subject to the non disclosure agreement attached hereto as Exhibit A.

Background

Teranode Corporation (“Teranode” or the “Company”) is an innovative provider of business intelligence and lab automation solutions for the Life Science markets. Founded in 2002, the Company evolved from a team of scientists and professors from the University of Washington. Teranode has produced two award winning software platforms, Fuel and XDA. The Teranode proprietary technology can also be applied to any R&D business intelligence market, including agribusiness, healthcare research, legal research, market research, etc.

Teranode is a privately held, venture capital backed company. Over $12 million has been invested to date from Ignition Partners, Trident Capital, Black-River Asset Management and WRF Capital.

Teranode presently employs 10 full-time employees and its product development is based in Seattle, WA with field consultants in the Boston, MA area.

Teranode’s Fuel platform supports next-generation, distributed business intelligence optimized for life sciences R&D pipeline management.

Teranode’s XDA platform has automated chemistry and biology labs at some of the world’s largest research companies and institutes.

Teranode Corporation’s assets are attractive for a number of reasons:

• Teranode has over $12M invested in product and business development, from major venture investors Ignition Partners, Trident Capital, Black-River Asset Management, and WRF Capital.

• Teranode revenue

Year Revenue
2007 $1.7M
2008 $1.8M
2009 $1.9M
2010 (est) $2.3M

• 20-year, transferrable technology copyright agreement with University of Washington, from 2003-2023

• US patent 7,010,760 awarded in 2006: Batch-based method and tool for graphical manipulation of workflows; Trademarks for XDA, Fuel, Teranode.

• Teranode XDA includes a blue-chip customer base of leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, research, and academic organizations, including Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, MIT, St. Jude, Fred Hutchinson CRC, Calibrant, Tethys, Nastech, Novartis, CSBI

• Teranode’s new Fuel platform has a growing customer base as opportunities are mined within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry in partnership with Oracle, Spotfire and Microsoft, along with a pipeline of additional opportunities :

Business Area Engagement
Target Validation – Monsanto, Genstruct
Biologics Development – Boehringer Ingelhiem, Biogen-Idec
Small Molecule Development – Boehringer Ingelhiem, Novartis
Pipeline Decision Support – Monsanto, Pfizer
Clinical Trials Management – BMS
Adverse Event Reporting & Surveillance- Pfizer

• Together Fuel and XDA provide a complete R&D automation and business intelligence platform, optimized for easy customer installation onsite, or hosted as a SaaS offering by a major vendor seeking to expand and accelerate its solutions and solutions-building capabilities in the life sciences and related R&D markets

• The Company is a leading innovator in the emerging semantic technology field: – “Teranode is at the forefront of bringing semantics-based business intelligence solutions to R&D organizations.” – VP, Biotherapeutics Division, Large Multinational Pharmaceutical

Teranode Software and Intellectual Property Assets

Teranode has developed a portfolio of assets critical to Product and Process Development, including:

· Patents
· Platform and Application Software Products
· Product and solution designs and prototypes
· Software and control algorithms
· Automated software configuration & testing process & framework
· A closed loop development, documentation, QA process management system for global software development
· Intellectual capital and expertise
· Trademarks
· Domain names

A summary of the Fuel and XDA product technology development to date is as follows

· >1500 business requirements and automated test cases
· >1 Million lines of Java, C#, Javascript, and PL/SQL code, SOA Architecture
· >75 person-years of development (currently 5 person team)
· 3 full releases of XDA, 3 full releases of Fuel Platform and Applications Modules
· 5 Complete XDA Application Modules (XDA Protocol Modeler, Protocol Player, Biological Modeler, TMS Server, SDK)
· 7 Complete Fuel Application Modules (Ontology Browser, Document Autotagger, Dataset Definition tool, View Definition tool, Fuel Application Server, Fuel Sharepoint Template Library, Fuel SDK)
· 4 XDA and 2 Fuel Application Suites Configured – XDA Chemistry Synthesis, Chemistry Purification, High-Content Screening, RNAi Automation; Fuel Antibody Biologics Research, Genetics Trait Analysis
· > 50 Integrations (including MS Sharepoint, Oracle 10 and 11G, MS SQLServer, Spotfire tools and analytic wofklow server, various laboratory instrument and robotic platforms, chemistry structure visualization, chemistry and biologics registries, ontologies including NCI, GO, MeSH, SNOMED; pathway model formats including SBML, KEGG, MATLAB; etc.)
· Thousands of tasks completed in the development project plans
· Completely traceable documented development methodology

Patent

• United States Patent 7,010,760 – Arnstein , et al. March 7, 2006
Batch-based method and tool for graphical manipulation of workflows: An autofill algorithm provides tools for defining and automatically executing batch based procedures in an adaptive hierarchical workflow environment, and may be suitable for a large variety of applications including laboratory procedure planning, execution, documentation, as wells ad driving robotic apparatus.

Key Personnel

Joseph Duncan, Chairman and CEO
Mr. Duncan is a co-founder of Teranode. Prior to Teranode, he was CIO and VP Technology at Critical Path, a SaaS email provider to corporations and internet services companies. In 1999, Critical Path was voted the fastest growing, best managed technology company in the world by Forbes.com, a year in which Critical Path grew from 700,000 to over 33,000,000 active hosted email accounts. From 1993-1997, Joseph Duncan was Sr. Vice President at Oracle Corporation, where he was instrumental in engineering a turnaround of Oracle’s enterprise developer tools, and introduced the JDeveloper Suite to Oracle, which has become its primary database tools offering. Before Oracle, he ran the Paradox product development organization at Borland International. In 1993, Paradox for Windows achieved 40% share of the global PC database market, and won 20 product-of-the-year awards from industry publications. Prior to that, Mr. Duncan was a Director in the Advanced Products Division of Lotus Corporation, when Lotus was the world’s largest software company.

Neil Fanger, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer
As a Teranode co-founder, Dr. Fanger brings valuable leadership, management and partnering experience. Dr. Fanger has over 15 years experience in the life science industry, both in R&D and business development. He was most recently Professional Staff at the University of Washington, where he bridged biological research with computer science and mathematics. His previous industry experience includes developing new technologies, identifying drug targets, and designing therapeutics for clinical trial evaluation at Corixa and Immunex.

Chris McClure, Vice President – Professional Services
Mr. McClure works directly with customers to ensure Teranode products are aligned with the needs of the life sciences industry. He is responsible for managing a team of engineers and project managers to expand business and drive successful projects to completion. His previous experience includes Consulting Services Manager for IDBS leading the New England Region, and Drug Discovery as a Biochemist at AstraZeneca, Enanta and Mitotix. Mr. McClure has been a member of the Teranode team for more than 5 years.
Michael Kellen, Ph.D., Director of Product Development
Mr. Kellen is responsible for directing Teranode’s enterprise software development team. He has over 10 years experience developing software for both corporate and academic organizations in the life sciences. Mr. Kellen has been with Teranode since its inception in 2002 and played a vital role in building Teranode’s award winning Protocol and Biological Modeler applications. He holds a doctorate in computational biology from the University of Washington.

The Bidding Process for Interested Buyers

The Bidding Process for interested buyers Interested and qualified parties will be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement (attached hereto as Exhibit A) to have access to key members of the management and intellectual capital teams and the due diligence “war room” documentation (the “Due Diligence Access”). Each interested party, as a consequence of the Due Diligence Access granted to it, shall be deemed to acknowledge and represent (i) that it is bound by the bidding procedures described herein; (ii) that it has an opportunity to inspect and examine the Teranode Corporation’s Assets and to review all pertinent documents and information with respect thereto; (iii) that it is not relying upon any written or oral statements, representations, or warranties of Gerbsman Partners, or their respective staff, agents, or attorneys; and (iv) all such documents and reports have been provided solely for the convenience of the interested party, and Gerbsman Partners (and their respective, staff, agents, or attorneys) do not make any representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the same.

Following an initial round of due diligence, interested parties will be invited to participate with a sealed bid, for the acquisition of the Teranode Corporation’s Assets. A sealed bid must be submitted so that it is actually received by Gerbsman Partners no later than Wednesday June 23, 2010 at 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (the “Bid Deadline”) at Teranode Corporation’s office, located at 411 First Avenue S, Suite 700, Seattle WA 98104 . Please also send an email to steve@gerbsmanpartner.com with your bid.

Bids should identify those assets being tendered for in a specific and identifiable way. The attached fixed asset list may not be complete and Bidders interested in any fixed assets must submit a separate bid for such assets, be specific as to the assets and any sale of the fixed assets or Intellectual Property of Teranode Corporation.

Any person or other entity making a bid must be prepared to provide independent confirmation that they possess the financial resources to complete the purchase where applicable. All bids must be accompanied by a refundable deposit check in the amount of $200,000 (payable to Teranode Corporation). The deposit should be wired to Teranode’s attorneys Murray & Murray, A Professional Corporation. The winning bidder will be notified within 3 business days of the Bid Deadline. The deposit will be held in trust by Company’s counsel. Unsuccessful bidders will have their deposit returned to them within three business days of notification that they are an unsuccessful bidder . Teranode Corporation reserves the right to, in its sole discretion, accept or reject any bid, or withdraw any or all assets from sale. Interested parties should understand that it is expected that the highest and best bid submitted will be chosen as the winning bidder and bidders may not have the opportunity to improve their bids after submission.

Teranode Corporation will require the successful bidder to close within a 7 day period. Any or all of the assets of Teranode Corporation will be sold on an “as is, where is” basis, with no representation or warranties whatsoever. All sales, transfer, and recording taxes, stamp taxes, or similar taxes, if any, relating to the sale of the Teranode Corporation’s Assets shall be the sole responsibility of the successful bidder and shall be paid to Teranode Corporation at the closing of each transaction.

For additional information, please do not contact the company directly, please contact:

Steven R. Gerbsman
415 456-0628
steve@gerbsmanpartners.com

Kenneth Hardesty
408 591-7528
ken@gerbsmanpartners.com

Merle McCreery
303 929-7628
mmgolf100@msn.com

Dennis Sholl
415 457-9596
dennis@gerbsmanpartners.com

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Interesting read from Bloomberg.

“Romano Prodi recalls how he persuaded Germany to allow debt-swamped Italy into the euro: support our membership and we’ll buy your milk, he said.

When Prodi toured Germany’s agricultural heartland after becoming Italian leader in 1996, he pitched “a big milk pipeline from Bavaria,” pointing to a three-year, 40 percent plunge in the Italian lira that was hurting dairy sales. “To have Italy outside the euro, a huge quantity of exports from Germany would have been endangered,” Prodi, now 70, said.

Germany got the message, allowing entry rules to be bent to create a 16-nation market for its exporters. Now, German taxpayers are footing the bill for that permissiveness as Europe bails out divergent economies lashed to a single currency with little control over national taxes and spending.

The consequences are an 860 billion-euro ($1 trillion) bill for a debt binge led by Greece, sagging confidence in the European Central Bank’s independence and mounting speculation that a currency designed to last forever might break apart.

“You have the great problem of a potential disintegration of the euro,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 82, said yesterday in London. “The essential element of discipline in economic policy and in fiscal policy that was hoped for” has “so far not been rewarded in some countries.”

German-led northern Europe, with its zeal for budget discipline, is attempting to fix the mistakes made by the euro’s founding fathers in the 1990s. It is squaring off against the governments of the south over who will control the euro and the ECB; whether the currency will be used to promote growth or squelch inflation, and ultimately, whether some countries should be disbarred from the monetary union.

European Club

What was conceived as a club for Europe’s strongest economies was expanded for political reasons, leaving the currency union with minimal powers to police deficit spending and no safety net for dealing with countries, like Greece, that veer toward default.

“There was no discussion of that at all, of a crisis mechanism,” said Niels Thygesen, a retired Copenhagen University economics professor who served on the 1989 group led by European Commission President Jacques Delors that mapped out the path to the euro. “It was believed that if countries adhered more or less to prudent budgetary policies, that would not or could not happen.”

Kohl’s Role

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, seeing the euro as the capstone of Europe’s economic integration and Germany’s return to the European family after two world wars, opened the door to the deficit-prone southern European countries that the Bundesbank, haunted by the memory of hyper-inflation, wanted to keep out.

Returning from the December 1991 summit in Maastricht, the Netherlands, that kicked off the euro project, Kohl told the German parliament that he wanted “the greatest possible number of countries” in the euro. That gave Italy, Spain and Portugal the encouragement to meet the economic targets to join in 1999 and Greece to follow two years later.

Defenders of the German economic model knew the threat posed by countries such as Italy, whose budget deficit was 10.2 percent of gross domestic product in 1991, when they forced European leaders to set 3 percent as the limit for euro members.

“A well-known German financial leader told me: Fortunately for Germany, Austria is between Italy and Germany,” said Alfons Verplaetse, who oversaw the Belgian central bank from 1989 to 1999. The reckoning was that only Germany and its immediate neighbors would pass the economic tests, limiting the euro to a handful of countries, Verplaetse, 80, said.

Nobel Laureate

Today’s euro is far from what economists like Nobel laureate Robert Mundell call an “optimum currency area.” Gross domestic product per person ranges from 69,300 euros in Luxembourg to 18,100 euros in Slovakia, debt from 14.5 percent of GDP in Luxembourg to 115.8 percent in Italy, and unemployment from 4.1 percent in the Netherlands to 19.1 percent in Spain.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is an article from SF gate worth looking at.

“Josh Levy, a longtime advocate of the power of social media, is having a crisis of faith.

Last week, Levy created a site — www.pledgebank.com/leavefacebook — seeking 10,000 people to pledge to quit Facebook with him to protest the social network’s most recent privacy changes.

Only 100 people have pledged so far. For individuals like Levy – who has worked with several social media startups and commented extensively on Web topics – it’s not easy letting go. But someone, he said, has to send a message.

Levy represents a small but growing undercurrent of dissatisfaction over Facebook’s march toward turning the Internet into one giant social network, a plan that relies on its members publicly sharing what they read, think, eat, watch, listen to, like and dislike.

“What Facebook is doing is not acceptable, and its attitude is too cavalier,” Levy said. “I don’t want to go back to the horse and buggy days. But I want modernity to be fair.”

Analysts say the undercurrent is not yet strong enough to impact the Palo Alto social-networking king, which has more than 400 million active members.

In fact, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the site has added 10 million members since April 21, when the company touched off the latest round of privacy concerns at its developer conference in San Francisco.

But anti-Facebook sentiment is surfacing in highly visible places, from the halls of Congress to the blogs and podcasts of influential technology experts like Leo Laporte of Petaluma.

“It seems to me that ultimately their goal is to funnel all Internet traffic through Facebook.com,” said Laporte, who deleted his Facebook profile during a recent podcast and donated money to Diaspora, a project to create a more open and private alternative to Facebook.

Ended his account

Laporte was inspired to put an end to his Facebook account by a recent blog post by Jason Calacanis, chief executive officer of Mahalo, a question-and-answer Web site. He accused Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg of trading users’ privacy for profit.

“Facebook is officially ‘out,’ as in uncool, amongst partners, parents and pundits all coming to the realization that Zuckerberg and his company are – simply put – not trustworthy,” Calacanis wrote on his personal Web site.

Facebook convened a staff meeting Thursday to discuss the backlash, although some staff members described it as a routine gathering.

“We have an open culture, and it should come as no surprise that we’re providing a forum for employees to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest,” Noyes said.

Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has evolved from a collection of private networks of college friends to an Internet juggernaut with more than 400 million users.

But privacy advocates criticize the company for exposing its customers – via public information posted on their Facebook profiles – to unwanted risks, from identity theft to workplace embarrassment.

Earlier this month, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and 14 other privacy and consumer organizations filed a complaint against Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission, accusing the popular social network of “unfair and deceptive trade practices” and violating users’ expectations of privacy and consumer protection laws.

And last month, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the FTC to develop guidelines instructing social networks on how private information can be used.

All of this comes in the wake of the company’s launch of a new “open” social platform designed to bring Facebook features, such as its Like button, to other Web sites, and an experimental Instant Personalization feature that gives certain Web sites the ability to access a member’s name, profile picture, sex and network of friends. The company also launched community pages that made topics in a member’s profile more public.

Facebook defends changes

In interviews, Facebook officials have repeatedly said the majority of their members are benefiting from the innovations, which are meant to cater to the evolving sharing habits of the community. Indeed, Web sites that have partnered with Facebook, like CNN, have reported increases in traffic.

But critics say the process of hiding personal information is overly cumbersome. And minor security breaches in Facebook’s chat program have only added to the criticism.

Still, social media analysts say Facebook remains far from reaching the tipping point where it would start to lose members, especially with no comparable alternative for consumers. But the company does have a brewing public relations problem that could get worse if doesn’t act.

“Are people really going to leave Facebook and go back to e-mail as a primary source of sharing online? I don’t think so,” said Augie Ray, a senior analyst for Forrester Research Inc., a technology research firm. “Facebook will not suffer irreparable harm from continuing to offer Instant Personalization, but they will make their job of earning consumer trust more difficult.”

Explain the social benefits

Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with San Mateo consulting firm Altimeter Group, said Facebook needs to take steps to better explain the benefits of an open social Web. And that’s compounded by Facebook constantly revising its privacy policy.

“It seems like they didn’t think things through,” Owyang said. “They keep on doing it and pushing customers along whether they like it or not. They’re going too fast, and consumers aren’t educated about what’s private and what’s public.””

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