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Archive: November, 2012

POSTED: Monday, November 26, 2012, 11:08 AM

Philadelphia-based First Round Capital, which manages hundreds of six- and seven-figure investments in small tech-oriented firms nationwide, is promoting them through its own Cyber Monday discount page here. 

"We’ve been big believers in the future of online commerce," writes partner Josh Kopelman here.
"I'm really excited to announce our eCommerce companies have come together to make gift giving this holiday season just a bit easier and cheaper... Whether it’s Birchbox with discovery through subscription, Fab with curation, or Modcloth building a brand, these companies have set out to redefine traditional eCommerce models... Our companies are offering special Cyber Monday offers exclusively for us that we hope you’ll take advantage of today – before it’s too late."

"Here’s a new one I hadn’t seen before: VCs promoting their portfolio companies to friends, families and associates as a place to do their holiday shopping," writes Tricia Duryee at AllThingsD here.

POSTED: Monday, November 26, 2012, 10:25 AM

Versa Capital Management LLC, the Ira Lubert-backed, Philadelphia-based, $1.2 billion troubled-companies turnaround firm whose investors include Pennsylvania state pension funds, won't say how much it paid to buy Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), a mall-store chain that sells outdoor equipment in 12 states.

EMS, based in Peterborough, N.H., where its founders started a rock-climbing school 42 years ago, now operates 69 stores, down from at least 85 in the mid-2000s. The company reported revenues above $200 million in 2007, but a planned expansion was put on hold in the recession. Versa principal Mark Walsh will serve as EMS's Chairman. He also chairs the Bob's Stores clothing chain, another Versa property.

In a statement, Versa boss Gregory L. Segall called EMS "a natural fit" for Bob's and other Versa properties: "With a new capital structure and the other resources that Versa can offer, EMS will have many new opportunities to develop its branded products and better serve its customers.”

POSTED: Monday, November 26, 2012, 9:20 AM

UPDATE: Yes, Tastykake is replacing Hostess brands hurt by the snackmaker's bankruptcy liquidation.

For example, in New England: "We had already been working on getting Tastykake into our stores prior to the recent Hostess news," Steve Sylven, spokesman for Shaw's supermarket chain owner Supervalu Inc., told me. 
"When Flowers Foods acquired Country Kitchen earlier this year, it made Tastykake available" in New England.

"However, with the Hostess situation there was a need in the marketplace and we accelerated the roll-out. Stores began receiving their first deliveries this past Saturday and we expect all of our stores will be carrying Tastykake by this Thursday.

POSTED: Monday, November 26, 2012, 3:02 PM

Philadelphia-based Berwind Corp. says it has sold San Diego-based National Pen Co. LLC, "the leading global provider of direct mail promotional pens," to Lincolnshire Management Co. 

Berwind, run by the fifth generation of its mining-fortune founding family, declined to disclose the sale price, but notes that it targets manufacturing companies "with transaction values of $75-700 million."

Seller Berwind was advised by Patrick Hanraty, Nathan Bouknight and Justin Shuman, from the Philadelphia office of PNC's Harris Williams & Co. Last month the same group raised cash for a second direct-marketing firm, Asset Marketing Services, which sells collectible coins and brand-name jewelry and watches.

POSTED: Friday, November 23, 2012, 2:04 PM

A Silicon Valley investment group has picked Horsham as headquarters for a new healthcare software and data company, Symphony Health Solutions, which it has cobbled together from a series of deals rolling up software firms that track doctors' drug-prescribing habits.

"We have the ambition of buliding a great company. We are growing, and we are hiring," J.T. Treadwell, managing director at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Symphony Technology Group, the new company's owner, told me in a recent interview.

The group employs more than 500, nearly half in the Philadelphia area, most of the rest in Phoenix, Ariz.; San Mateo, Calif.; and at client sites across the country. Symphony Health will add "dozens or scores" as it expands enginerring, sales and services over the next couple of years, Treadwell told me.

POSTED: Friday, November 23, 2012, 1:10 PM

JPMorgan's Chase Commercial Banking division has hired Christian Barrow away from Bank of America as the fourth lender for Chase's Center City-based office, which targets companies, towns and nonprofits with $20M-$500M in yearly sales, plus real estate buyers. The group reports to Chase veteran Mark Schrieber who's run the team since 2010.

Chase employs more than 6,000 in the Philadelphia area, mostly in its Delaware credit card and tax shelter businesses. 

POSTED: Friday, November 23, 2012, 12:57 PM

Reputation Changer, the downtown West Chester scrub-your-Internet-search firm run by past Philly restaurant supplier Cliff Stein (ex of Julius Silvert Inc., Society Hill Inc.), says it has hired Michael Zammuto, previously of Cha Cha, Econmetry/Red Prairie, and Ontario Systems, as its first chief operating officer and president.

The firm also says it's launching a new online-media division.

POSTED: Friday, November 23, 2012, 12:24 PM
Exton Corporate Center

Willner Properties says it's seeking tenants at $18.75/sq ft -- includes cleaning, but not electric -- for its newly acquired "Class A" 80,000 sq ft Exton Corporate Center five-story lakeside office building at 102 Pickering Way off state Route 100 at Gordon Drive, West Whiteland Township, between U.S. 30 and the Downingtown exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-76.

"We are able to offer an equal if not superior product well below" the $21-to-$26/sq ft (plus electric) asking price for competing space nearby, says Craig R. Bradley, Willner vice president. Past tenants have included Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, American Executive Centers and service-company offices. The property was 80% vacant earlier this year, according to Bradley.

Willner isn't yet saying what it paid for the complex, bought from lenders via managing agent CSS after prevoius owners defaulted. But office real estate prices in the western suburbs have fallen as much as half since the mid-2000s, allowing local owners to buy properties from disappionted REITs and other institutional investors, and to cut rents for tenants, Conshohocken-based investor J. Anthony Hayden says here. 

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at and his Inquirer columns at Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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