Monday, July 6, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 12:53 PM

Clutch, an Ambler-based firm that sells its "consumer intelligence" software platform to retailers, says it has raised an additional $5 million, boosting its total venture capital funding to date to $14.4 million, $12.3 million of the total (and much of the new money) from Safeguard Scientifics, Wayne.  

The firm will use this money to speed sales and marketing into "specialty retail, apparel, media, hospitality and pharmaceutical/healthcare," the company said in a statement. "The plan is to hire 5-7 employees in the next 12 months," marketing chief Tyler Watson told me. Clutch employs 40 in Ambler, plus 5 programmers in the Netherlands (corrected).

Clutch collects "fragemented consumer data acorss disparate sources" to help clients better target their customers, according to a statement by Clutch co-founder Ned Moore (late of Portico Systems). The company says it serves 750 retailers which together list 46 million customers; it recently signed up Crabtree & Evelyn (skin lotions), Meineke (car exhaust systems) and Brooks Running, while boosting sales to previous clients including Theory, Pandora, and Marbles. Safeguard managing director Erik Rasmussen is a Clutch director. 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, May 22, 2015, 2:19 PM

Note: Nicholas Panarella's last name was misspelled in a previous version.

UPDATE: Does the city need to do a lot more than the Nutter administration is already doing to collect taxes? Read more in my column in Monday's Inquirer here.

EARLIER: Voters in Tuesday’s primaries backed a couple of citywide Council candidates who want to squeeze harder for unpaid taxes and fees.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 2:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 3:10 PM
William Penn atop City Hall, from a drone video shot for Visit Philadelphia.

One of Pennsylvania's largest insurers says it has received the Federal Aviation Administration's blessing to launch its first DJI Phantom 2 quadrocopter drones, which will putter across the skies to spy out your damaged home or car.

Erie Indemnity Co. hopes airborne digital cameras will help it avoid sending so many human adjusters to accident scenes. They'll also "help with underwriting," or pricing risk, Erie spokeswoman Leah Knapp told me.

Erie, the 12th largest U.S. auto insurer and 14th largest home insurer, joins AIG, State Farm and USAA in winning FAA backing for drone testing, claims adjustment and underwriting. The company last month won "conditional approval" from FAA "to use unmanned aircraft systems -- commonly referred to as drones — in our inspections, risk assessment and management, loss prevention and underwriting evaluations," according to Gary Sullivan, vice president of property and subrogation claims, in this column 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:57 AM

Osage University Partners, Bala Cynwyd, says today it has raised $215 million to invest "startups that are commercializing university research." The group has signed deals with 68 U.S. and two Israel universities and research institutions, locally including Penn, Drexel, CHOP, Rutgers, Princeton and Penn State, managing partner William "Bill" Harrington tells me.

The deal more than doubles OUP's investment outlay to date. The new money will form OUP's Fund II. Harrington says Fund I has lately cashed in on "significant exits" from a string of firms, including these newly-public companies:
- Receptos (RCPT)
- Aerie (AERI)
- Otonomy (OTIC)
- Immune Design (IMDZ)
AGTC (the name is also the stock symbol)
The business model is for OUP to share profits with the colleges and research groups who come up with bright ideas in bio and info tech.

In addition to Harrington, OUP II partners include Marc Singer and Robert Adelson. Founding Partner is Louis Berneman, one of the daddies of what colleges call "technology transfer." 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:47 AM

UPDATE: PACT's Philly-area "Deal of the Year" for 2014 was the $335 million sale to France-based military manufacturer Dassault last September of Quintiq, the Radnor-based logistics software firm.

CEO Victor Allis and 60 employees were and remain based in Radnor, though most of the rest of the company's 800 employees are in Quintiq's native Netherlands and other far places. Quintic joined SAP (Germany) and QlikTech (Sweden) among the European tech companies that have expatriated bosses to Philly's western suburbs. (Quint is Dutch for 'five,' since the company was founded by five Dutch guys.) 

Allis "moved to the States in 2010 to open the U.S. offices, which became the headquarters," recounts Marc Lederman, partner in the NewSpring venture funds group, Radnor. Tech hunter that he is, Lederman called on his new neighbor, and found the firm intense, fast-growing, and profitable enough that Allis wasn't looking for capital.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:47 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 9:56 AM
Brian L. Roberts, chairman of Philadelphia-based Comcast

Cable TV and tech executives were among the highest-paid public-company CEOs in 2014, including salary, bonus and stock gifts reported to the SEC and shareholders in proxy statements so far this year and ranked by executive consultant Equilar and the NY Times here. Highlights:

1) Discovery TV boss David Zaslav, $156 million
2) Michael T. Fries, boss at John Malone's Liberty Global multinational cable TV empire, $111 million
3) Mutual fund mogul Mario Gabelli (Gamco), $88.5 million 
4) Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, $84 million 
5) GoPro mini-camera-maker boss Nicholas Woodman, $77 million
6) Gregory B. Maffei, boss at Liberty Media and West Chester-based shopping channel QVC, $74 million

Other Philly-area CEOs near the top:
19) Herve Hoppenot, of Wilmington-based one-drug-maker Incyte, $33 million
22) Eric J. Foss, boss at Aramark, the cafeteria giant
35) Comcast boss Brian L. Roberts, $26 million  

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 9:56 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 7:30 PM

UPDATE: More on the promise of/questions raised by the success and expansion of Wilmington University, whose student body has more than doubled, to 20,000+, since Jack Varsalona took over as President ten years ago, in my column in Sunday's Philadelpia Inquirer here. Wilmington is a college for these corporate-driven times: market-driven, self-paced, with a high-paid boss, privatized services, and a tenure-free and largely parttime faculty.

Separately, here's my interview with Varsalona last winter: Jack Varsalona heads New Castle-based Wilmington University, whose billboards boast that the Chronicle of Higher Education calling it one of the fastest-growing colleges in America, at a time many schools are having a tough time keeping enrollments up. The Chronicle has also reported Varsalona collects an Ivy League million-dollar-plus compensation package: $800,000 salary plus $700,000 in deferred income, for a total of $1.5 million.

WU employs hundreds of low-paid adjuncts, plus a core of fulltime teachers. Varsalona fills the place with cops, social workers and other adult learners, often schooling at night, working their way through. He's planning another campus, near Chadds Ford. I talked to him earlier this year.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 7:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 4:37 PM

UPDATE Wednesday: from Matt DeJulio, administrator, Society Hill Civic Association: While the Association does plan a General Membership Meeting at Zubrow Auditorium tonight, a report on the SuperFresh site at 309 S. 5th St. from the Zoning and Historic Committee will take place privately, before the membership meeting, and "there are no plans at this time to have discussion of this important issue open to the general membership or general public." 

An earlier version of this item said plans will be discussed, but that won't happen at the general meeting tonight. -- Listed owner of the SuperFresh property is Richard I. Rubin & Co., a predecessor of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT). PREIT owns the Gallery, Cherry Hill Mall and other suburban and small-town shopping centers, and a collection of Center City properties.

Two spokespeople for PREIT who returned my calls could not immediately clarify a company role, if any, in the development plans.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 4:37 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

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