Archive for August, 2006

Calling all technology start-ups!

On September 13, we’ll be taking a look at some of the key trends in technology marketing and offer some information you might want to consider before finalizing your 2007 budget.

We’re inviting all technology start-ups and venture backed companies to participate in this free online event. Submit your questions/anecdotes now by posting a comment below (don’t worry, you can remain anonymous if you want!), and we’ll review them live on September 13 during the Webinar.

Interested in registering for the Webinar? Click here!

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Our Very Own Tri-Athlete!

We are proud to support our very own aspiring Olympian – BluePoint Managing Partner Alison Moore!

On Sunday, August 27, Alison (#42) will brave the chilly Maine waters and rough roads to embark on her first triathlon, supporting the West Kennebunk Fire Company, Kennebunk Fire Rescue, and the Kennebunk Police Department.

Check back next week on the sure-to-be-impressive results, and maybe even a picture or two (if we can convince her to let us post them!).

Goooooooooooooooooooooo….Alison!

AOL’S Oh-No!

By virtue of the fact that I have never been an AOL customer, I realize that might put me in the minority, but I’m happy to be in this camp based on the embarrassing events of the past few weeks at AOL headquarters in Dulles.

Earlier this month, AOL disclosed it has mistakenly put on a public web page, the results of search queries by nearly a quarter million AOL users. Granted those were anonymous customers but these results were supposed to only be made available to academic researchers who were going to use the data to develop some new search tools. Well, today the Red Herring is reporting that New York Times’ reporters were able to use the search information to track down one user. So maybe not so anonymous.

Other media outlets have predictably gotten involved, most likely fueled by motivations to further embarrass the Web giant. For example, Web site Valleywag published a regular feature, titled “AOL Creepy User Watch.”

Yesterday, AOL’s CTO Maureen Govern fell on her sword and resigned – she was only on the job for eleven months. Joining Govern were two other members of her team. Now, trying to clean up this mess, AOL has created – are you ready for this? a “task force” – ooh boy led by top execs Ted Leonis and Randy Boe to implement some new aka real privacy measures.

It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective.

How does a world-class organization like AOL respond via its PR department?

How’s this for a professional response? — “This was a screw-up, and we’re angry and upset about it,” AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said shortly after the data was released (see “AOL Leaks Search Data”).

AOL can and must do better from their C-Suite to the privacy gurus in their labs all the way down to their communications department. If not, they can expect users to continue to look for safer, better alternatives for online content and communications tools. I for one, won’t be signing up for an AOL account anytime soon.

Making Sense of These AdVENTURous Times

At the mid-way point of the year, a number of interesting developments have occurred in venture capital investing. Several promising signs are appearing across the landscape – more cash is being raised and invested; fewer, but larger “mega funds” from the bigger players are being launched and some eye-popping valuations on Internet companies have become hip again.

All of this activity has caused some market watchers to wonder if we are headed “Back to the Future” – circa 1999, the time period marked by the all-too-familiar “irrational exuberance.” Others argue that this scenario is highly improbable. What’s more likely is that this IS the future – we are living in a new investment era designated by significant spikes, followed by slight declines and/or periods of reduced funding activity. And the by-product of this development would be a corresponding slowdown in innovation.

This recent investment uptick has not been lost on the national media. Red Herring, once the size of a major metropolitan phone book and arguably the poster child for all that was wrong about the excesses in 1999, recently ran a headline “The New Bubble?” suggesting that we are headed into a major danger zone. Even the usually staid New York Times and BusinessWeek have joined the fray with recent headlines that included “A Few Signs of Froth Do Not a Bubble Make” and “It Feels Like 1998 All Over Again” – concurring that there are parallels between today and the late 1990’s.

So while this debate rages, one thing is certain: the amount of capital being raised by investment firms is currently at its highest point in four years. Barring a major slowdown in investment activity later this year, VCs in 2006 will exceed the $26 million raised last year. This should be good news for entrepreneurs in the technology, consumer tech and biotechnology sectors.

A look at the recent top two quarterly venture capital reports is certainly encouraging.

  • VC funding in Q1 was fairly frothy VC funding in the first quarter of 2006 can be described as fairly frothy. According to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data provided by Thomson Financial, more than $5.6 billion was invested in 761 deals. To put this figure into some perspective, total dollars invested in Q1 2006 match the investment level from Q4 2005. Perhaps an even more encouraging data point is the 12 percent investment increase over the same period a year ago.The latest numbers from the Quarterly Venture Capital Report released by Dow Jones VentureOne and Ernst & Young show similarly positive signs.
  • Their Q1 2006 report noted that VC investing in the United States spiked 18 percent over a year ago, surpassing $6.2 billion across 564 deals, and the highest level since the first quarter of 2001.
  • The Dow Jones VentureOne and Ernst & Young data reveal that Information Technology is making a strong comeback. Their Q1 report reveals 327 deals for a total of $3.36 billion—a 13 percent increase in capital and nine more deals than in the year-earlier period. This is the most funding activity in the IT sector since Q2 of 2004.
  • Also noteworthy for the IT segment was the fact that $727.7 million was directed toward seed- and first-round deals in the quarter. That is the most capital investment in early-stage IT companies since the fourth quarter of 2001. About 32% of all the IT deals in the first quarter were early-stage rounds, about the same percentage as a year ago.

    In sports parlance, this solid start would be the equivalent of scoring three runs in the top of the first inning against last year’s Cy Young award winner. Or perhaps a closer analogy would be the marathoner who has registered a five-minute mile pace for the first five miles of what is always a grueling undertaking.

    The question is: can this pace continue or was this merely a flash in the plan?

    That question might not be answered for the next several months and years. Regardless, entrepreneurs must continue to exhibit patience and prudence and continue to invest in growing their businesses. Consider recent comments made by Tracy Lefteroff, global managing partner of the venture capital practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Lefteroff observed, “It takes a more mature company to reach a successful exit, especially if that exit is through the narrow IPO window. And, it takes considerable time and money to reach that level of maturity. The opportunity still exists…. but they’re having to find new ways to ensure their company stands out among the sea of start-ups.”

    Summer Update

    As we find ourselves towards the end of August (where does the time go?), we thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the great campaigns that we’ve been working on lately.

  • We’ve expanded our relationship with American Biophysics, maker of North America’s most popular mosquito trap, the Mosquito Magnet. During their high seasons of spring and summer, we’re managing multiple programs, including: an analysis of their retail channel strategy and a successful direct marketing and rebate program aimed at consumers and retail partners; a research project on a new commercial market expansion; a Web perception audit and a cool word-of-mouth marketing program. All of these activities have been wrapped around an aggressive PR campaign that includes high profile print coverage in Esquire, The Boston Globe, Good Housekeeping, and The Miami Herald as well as broadcast outlets like HGTV, CNN and NECN.
  • We’re working with international content management solutions provider Sitecore with several visibility, PR and Web initiatives. We supported their formal launch into North America at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston last month, pumped up their press and analyst relations program and are helping to revamp their Web site.
  • For American Capital Technology Group, we built a brand new Web site, worked on positioning and key message development, drove their event sponsorship and speaker’s bureau programs and supported their portfolio investment activity. We also embarked on an aggressive media relations strategy with national and VC press with high profile results including Forbes and theStreet.com.
  • In addition, we continue to work in stealth mode for a number of other client companies, including some very early-stage start-ups and established VCs.

    We are thankful for the CEOs, CMOs and our VC community contacts that have entrusted us with a variety of challenging assignments. Come by and see us in our new space in Lexington Center, and if you’d like to learn more about what BluePoint can do for you, your company or your portfolio companies, or just want to have a no b.s., no commitment conversation about your marketing or communications challenges, give us a ring.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!
    – The BluePoint Team

    Welcome!

    Welcome to BluePoint Venture Marketing’s blog – found at http://bluepointmktg.blogspot.com.

    BluePoint Venture Marketing provides a comprehensive range of strategic, tactical and operational services to private equity and technology companies worldwide.

    Be sure to check back frequently for new posts, and always feel free to leave a comment or questions. Also check out our website for more information about our company, clients, and services.

    Mind Your Marketing Dollars: Making Sense of Planning and Budgeting

    In our next webinar on September 13, we’ll take a look at the some key trends in technology marketing and offer some information you might want to consider before finalizing your 2007 budget.

    We’ll answer the following key questions:

    • How should you prioritize marketing goals and budget for your company?
    • What are the hot marketing tools and technologies for 2007?
    • How can you apply different uses of rich media to your marketing efforts?
    • What does the growing popularity of blogging and podcasting mean for your organization?
    • Should you be spending money on search engine optimization?
    • How can you make sure your 2007 marketing plan builds on what was accomplished this year?

    Join Alison Moore and the BluePoint Venture Marketing team as we tackle these questions and offer recommendations that will get you ready for next year.

    REGISTER NOW!


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