Wednesday, November 25, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 11:57 AM

eBay Enterprise, the King of Prussia-based company that helped retailers combat with its contracted online sales, logistics and delivery services, has been split by its new private-equity owners (who agreed last summer to pay $925 million for the group, four years after eBay spent $2.5 billion for its predecessor, Michael Rubin's GSI Commerce), into these four businesses:

- eBay Enterprise/Innotrac, a "standalone omni-channel commerce operations company" owned by investors Sterling Partners and Longview Asset Management. The eBay Enterprise group will be combined with Georgia-based Innotrac Corp. to form a single company with 7,500 employees at 27 warehouses and 6 customer-service sites in North America and Europe, offering store shipments and order-management, payments, tax and fraud software solutions. The group will be "rebranded" after the Christmas shopping rush.

King of Prussia-based eBay Enterprise boss Tobias Hartmann, who joined in 2011 from Germany's G+S, will run the combined company. Innotrac founder Scott Dorfman will be a shareholder and a board member. Sterling principal Todd Miller promised "focused and superior solutions" for retailers.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 10:32 AM

JB Poindexter & Co., a privately-owned Houston manufacturing company that owns the Morgan Corp. truck-body firm in Morgantown, Berks County, says it has also acquired Reading Truck Body in nearby Shillington, from Philadelphia-based LLR Partners, whose owners include investor Ira Lubert. The companies won't say what Poindexter paid LLR. Reading employs around 700 at plants in Pennsylvania and sites in other states.

Reading will benefit from being part of a "larger organization," said Reading CEO Brian Nadel in a statement. The companies will continue to operate independently, according to Poindexter, and Reading will execute current plans to expand into new markets and products.  

"It is a natural fit," the buyer's founder, John Poindexter, said in a statement. "Reading's work is the benchmark by which truck bodies and equipment services are measured today." He promised to suport Reading's future growth and the development of systems to help make drivers and users more efficient. 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 10:32 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 10:21 AM

iPipeline, the Exton insurance cloud-software firm bought by San Francisco-based investment firm Thoma Bravo last summer for hundreds of millions of dollars (they won't say how many), is still expanding, says spokesman Mike Persiano. "We are hiring developers, program managers, quality-assurance individuals, business analysts, and for sales," he told me. The company says it has 30 open positions and plans to hire 80 or more next year. 

iPpieline employs 450, including 220 at its Exton headquarters, 15 in Philadelphia, dozens at its U.K., Utah, Florida and Huntersville N.C. offices, plus rep sites in Denmark, Vancouver and Tokyo.

The firm, founded in 1995, has grown as clients like Iowa-based Fidelity & Guaranty Life use iPipeline systems to speed policy and annuity sales. For example, Fidelity credits iPipeline's Affirm with Annuities order-entry system with reducing application glitches so it could blow past a recent $300 million annuity sales target in less than three weeks 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 10:21 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, November 3, 2015, 3:50 PM

Is there money and skill for new tech companies to thrive in Philadelphia? "The last time we had this level of energy was in the mid to late 1990s, in that tech bubble build-up," said Steve Zarrilli, boss at Wayne-based Safeguard Scientifics, which for 60 years has tried to read tech trends and back winners, at an investors' panel at this year's Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies' IMPACT conference in Center City.

"We lost our mojo" for awhile after that, he added, speaking for Philly tech as an ecosystem (the way these guys do). "We felt we didn't have the chops to compete iwth resources or talent elsewhere in the country. We are starting to believe in ourselves again."

He credited the improved quality of life in Center City and other neighborhoods (where "the next generation of entrepreneurs is wanting to work and live,") alongside a greater flow of early-stage capital from:
start-up incubator David Bookspan and his partners at DreamIt Ventures; state-backed Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (under Roseann Rosenthal); Drexel U; the chamber of commerce; investors like marketing mogul turned start-up backer/research philanthropist Richard Vague and his Gabriel Partners; and Michael DiPiano's NewSpring Ventures, which with its partners lately sold iPipeline, the Exton insurance software firm (currently looking for 30+ developers and other tech pros) to private equity backers, for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:50 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, November 3, 2015, 3:10 PM

Comcast says it has hired investment banker Robert L. Eatroff, Managing Director and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Morgan Stanley in the Americas, as Comcast's new Executive Vice President, Global Development and Strategy, effective in January, reporting to CFO Michael J. Cavanagh, another Wall Street veteran.

Eatroff advised Comcast in its purchase of NBCUniversal in 2011, and is well-versed in tech, telecom, media and wireles, Cavanagh noted in a statement.

Eatroff replaces Alexander D. Evans in the EVP-strategy role. Evans is joining Cavanagh's predecessor, Michael Angelakis, at Angelakis' new Comcast-backed investment partnership; and also Bob Pick, SVP for corporate development and part of Comcast's fabled legal and mergers team of Block and Pick.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 2, 2015, 12:03 PM
A view of the Dupont logo on a train car at the Dupont Edge Moor facility near Wilmington, Delaware, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

"We are creating businesses of more significant scale," DuPont interim CEO-Chairman Edward D. Breen said today in this statement, explaining why DuPont is folding four of its businesses into two. He said DuPont will combine Packaging & Industrial Polymers and Performance Polymers into a single unified "DuPont Performance Materials" group, and add Protection Technologies to Building Innovations to form "DuPont Protection Solutions," effective Jan. 1.

Breen, the former Tyco and General Instruments CEO who joined the board earlier this year and stepped in to run DuPont after CEO-Chair Ellen Kullman resigned on the eve of a disappointing profit report last month, has pledged to accelerate administrative and finance cost cuts -- while continuing to support an effective sales force and productive research and development -- at the DuPont Co., which is based in suburban Wilmington, Del.

Patrick E. Linder, a chemist and 19-year DuPont veteran who headed performance polymers, will lead DuPont Performance Materials as one of the six DuPont business segments. Rose Lee, an engineer and former Saint-Gobain executive who joined DuPont in January and was put in charge of protection technologies last month, will head DuPont Protection Solutions as a part of DuPont's Safety and Protection segment (which also includes one other business group, Sustainable Solutions). 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2015, 3:41 PM

(Update: See also my column in Monday's Inquirer; plus a "sample list" of Phila healthcare startups at the end of this post) As Big Pharma downsized in the last recession, drug advertising tailed off, too. The industry fragmented: long-dominant firms cut back on research, generic drugmakers threatened price cuts, new firms began pushing smartphone apps and sensors to promote innovative therapies and alter the traditional doctor-patient consultation.

In 2011, French public-relations and marketing giant Publicis Groupe cut headcount at its Digitas Health and Razorfish agencies in their high-ceilinged Wanamaker Building headquarters in Philadelphia. The heads of both practices left. Publicis charged managers with winning new business by going after new customers using the new technologies 

How's that working? The group has added a net 70 people at its Philadelphia headquarters -- the total is now 450, "the most we've ever been," says Brendan Gallagher, executive vice president for Digitas Health LifeBrands' Connected Health unit.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 3:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2015, 8:23 AM

Keycorp, a Cleveland-based banking company, says this morning it has agreed to pay $4.1 billion, or $11.40 in cash and stock, for Buffalo-based First Niagara Corp. and its nearly 400 branches in Eastern states, including 58 in eastern Pennsylvania.  Statement here.

It's bad news for Buffalo, where First Niagara is based: Not only are headquarters jobs typically stripped when one bank buys another; Key boss Beth Mooney told investors that 120 First Niagara branches are within 2 miles of a Key branch; many will close, a few might be "divested" to another bank. She hopes to chop $400 million in yearly spending, about 40% of First Niagara's budget.

The Philadelphia area will likely see less impact. Key doesn't have branches here -- Mooney called First Niagara's eastern Pennsylvania and Connecticut territories "attractive new markets" -- plus First Niagara has already stripped its operations here:
- First Niagara has 43 branches with $2.1 billion in deposits in the Phila metro area as of June 30
- Predecessor Harleysville National Bank had 62 branches with $3.2 billion in deposits in the Phila metro area in 2009, before it was acquired by First Niagara. First Niagara also took over (and has consolidated) Harleysville branches in the Reading, Lehigh Valley and Pocono areas.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 8:23 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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 at or 215 854 5194.

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