Category: Technology

Weiser, Feld among tech leaders signing letter blasting Donald Trump

BOULDER — The outgoing dean of the law school at the University of Colorado Boulder and the co-founder of a Boulder-based technology accelerator are among 145 tech-industry chief executives and others who have signed an open letter describing the damage they say a Donald Trump presidency would do to the U.S. economy.

Phil Weiser, who had served five years as CU law school dean and heads the school’s Silicon Flatirons Center, and Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld, who co-founded the Techstars accelerator that works to nurture technology startups across the area, nation and world, signed the letter detailing their opposition to Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Also signing the letter were Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, along with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, CEOs of companies including Tumblr, Yelp, Slack and Qualcomm Inc., a pair of former Google executives and scores of other “inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector.”

Originally published Thursday on Medium.com, the letter quickly was reposted across other tech-related websites including Wired.com, MarketWatch and others. Fifty-two of the signers were listed as CEOs and 83 as founders or co-founders.

“We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership,” the letter opened. “We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline.

“We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.”

Reflecting an industry that taps India and Asia for much of its talent, the signers wrote that “America’s diversity is our strength. Great ideas come from all parts of society, and we should champion that broad-based creative potential. We also believe that progressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth  —  scientists, entrepreneurs, and creators. In fact, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Donald Trump, meanwhile, traffics in ethnic and racial stereotypes, repeatedly insults women, and is openly hostile to immigration. He has promised a wall, mass deportations, and profiling.”

Trump has called for policies that offer more incentives for companies to hire Americans instead of luring labor from other countries.

“We also believe in the free and open exchange of ideas, including over the Internet, as a seed from which innovation springs,” the letter continued. “Donald Trump proposes ‘shutting down’ parts of the Internet as a security strategy  —  demonstrating both poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works. His penchant to censor extends to revoking press credentials and threatening to punish media platforms that criticize him.

“Finally, we believe that government plays an important role in the technology economy by investing in infrastructure, education and scientific research. Donald Trump articulates few policies beyond erratic and contradictory pronouncements. His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America. He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation.”

Although not endorsing Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton or any other presidential candidate by name, the letter concluded that “we stand against Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and want a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America’s technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity, public investments in research and infrastructure, and respect for the rule of law. We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership.”

A disclaimer added to the letter stressed that its signers were acting in a personal capacity and were not speaking on behalf of any organization, corporation or entity to which they are affiliated.

The letter also does not purport to represent the entire technology industry. In fact, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is on a list announced Thursday of people who are scheduled to address next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, at which Trump will be officially nominated.

“Many people are uncertain in this election year, but most Americans agree that our country is on the wrong track,” said Thiel in a statement quoted in the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly. That is why I am going to speak in Cleveland, and that is why I will support the Republican nominee.”

Door to Door Organics leads charge among area venture-capital deals in 2Q

Nine of the 19 venture-capital deals in Colorado during the second quarter were struck by companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, led by Louisville-based online grocer Door to Door Organics Inc., according to the quarterly MoneyTree Report released Friday.

Door to Door Organics and its new partner, Charlottesville, Va.-based Relay Foods, garnered $10 million in equity financing provided by the Arlon Group and existing Relay stockholders.

The two online sellers of organic groceries announced in June a merger in which they plan to operate under a new brand to be disclosed later this year.

The 19 deals in the state during the second quarter amounted to $78.5 million, compared with $44.6 million in 15 deals during the first quarter of the year.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $15.3 billion in 961 deals in the second quarter. Compared with Q2 2015, dollars and deals are down 12 and 22 percent, respectively.

Other companies in the region that received venture capital during the quarter included:

Minute Key Inc., Boulder, $2.5 million from Matrix Partners and Serent Capital. Minute Key makes automated key duplication kiosks.

Rapt Media Inc., Boulder, $2.5 million from Boulder Ventures Ltd., Golden Seeds LLC and an undisclosed firm. Rapt Media provides a cloud-based interactive video creation and editing platform.

Woot Math LLC, Boulder, $1.3 million from and undisclosed firm. Woot Math offers mathematics instruction tools.

Kapteyn-Murnane Laboratories Inc., Boulder, $1.2 million from an undisclosed firm. K-M Labs is a manufacturer of laser systems.

Prieto Battery Inc., Fort Collins, $1,040,000 from Stanley Ventures. Prieto Battery is developing 3-D lithium battery technology.

Soundwall Inc., Broomfield, $1 million from an undisclosed firm. Soundwall makes a canvas that is a speaker and is connected to the Internet, enabling it to play music from a mobile device or play back the artist’s voice describing the painting.

Shinesty Inc., Boulder, $915,000 from Azure Capital Partners LP and an undisclosed firm. Shinesty is an online clothing retailer.

BiOptix Diagnostics Inc., Boulder, $800,000 from an undisclosed firm. BiOptix develops tools for the life-sciences industry.

The MoneyTree Report is compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association based on data provided by Thomson Reuters.

Editor’s note: This story was revised shortly after being published changing the number of venture-capital deals in Colorado during the second quarter from 20 to 19. Thomson Reuters had listed an investment for Cherwell Software in Colorado Springs worth $8.2 million, but that deal was removed because it was a filing for employee stock options and does not count as VC funding.

Ag-tech firm GeoVisual Analytics lands seed funding

BOULDER — Agriculture-technology company GeoVisual Analytics announced Wednesday that it has raised a new seed round of funding led by AI Capital of Denver.

The specific amount of the funding was not disclosed, though chief marketing officer Carl Kalin indicated that it’s between $500,000 and $1 million, typical of many seed rounds. Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif., and SVG Partners of Los Gatos, Calif., also participated in the round.

Boulder-based GeoVisual, founded in 2010, specializes in analytics of imagery and other big data sources to aid in monitoring and managing activities on Earth’s surface. On the precision ag side, that means using planes, drones and on-ground cameras to help farmers better understand what is going on in their fields and manage resources related to crop production. On the forestry side, the company analyzes satellite imagery to provide information about what is happening on the ground.

NASA funded the company’s development of its OnSight mobile sensing platform and its Computer Learning Image Processor platform.

Kalin said the new funding will help the three-person company soon add three more employees — two in Boulder and one at its Salinas, Calif., office. But he added that the company could at least double again next year as it targets a $5 million to $10 million Series A round of funding.

GeoVisual last year participated in the Thrive Accelerator in Salinas that is run by SVG and Forbes magazine and aims to connect startups with food-industry giants to deploy and hone their technologies.

RGS Energy gets extension for regaining compliance with Nasdaq rules

LOUISVILLE — RGS Energy has dug itself out of one hole with the Nasdaq stock exchange, and now has until Oct. 11 to get out of another.

The Louisville-based solar installer disclosed this week that it has been granted an extension until that date by Nasdaq to regain compliance with a rule that requires a minimum of $2.5 million in stockholders equity for its stock to be listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

In addition, RGS Energy disclosed in its recent regulatory filing that it has officially regained compliance with the Nasdaq rule requiring a minimum per-share price of $1. RGS in June carried out its second 1-for-20 reverse stock split in little more than a year to boost the price of its shares, which on Thursday closed down 5.2 percent at $3.49 apiece.

RGS had until May 31 to submit a plan to Nasdaq for regaining compliance with the minimum stockholders equity rule. RGS’ stockholders equity stood at a deficit of about $1 million at the end of 2015 and a deficit of $4.4 million at the end of the fiscal quarter ending March 31. The company said in Tuesday’s filing that it submitted its plan on May 31, and was notified on Thursday by Nasdaq that the Oct. 11 extension had been granted.

RGS did not disclose in the filing its strategy for regaining compliance, with officials saying that they’re still evaluating options.

If RGS fails to regain compliance by Oct. 11, the company could be delisted by Nasdaq from the exchange.

Local impact of Seagate’s 14% workforce cut unclear

LONGMONT — How employees at Seagate Technology’s Longmont facility will be affected by the data-storage maker’s plan to cut about 6,500 employees, or 14 percent of its global workforce, by June 2017 remained unclear Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Seagate (Nasdaq: STX) said its restructuring activities and global consolidation would help it operate within a gross margin range of 27 percent to 32 percent by the quarter ending in December.

Officials at the Longmont plant at 389 Disc Drive were unavailable for comment. At the company’s Cupertino, Calif. headquarters, spokesman Eric DeRitis said late Tuesday that the next step in the process will be to evaluate the workforce needs of each facility.

In the Form 8-K filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Seagate also said it was taking a pretax charge of $164 million during the 2017 fiscal year, including about $82 million in cash for employee termination costs.

Seagate had laid off about 70 workers in Longmont in September, a month after the company acquired Dot Hill Systems Corp. At that time, Seagate had 1,400 workers at its Longmont facility, and DeRitis estimated that about 1,600 people work there now. When Seagate acquired disk-drive maker Maxtor in 2006, about 650 Maxtor employees in Longmont lost their jobs.

At the close of trading on Tuesday, shares of Seagate were up $5.26 or 21.83 percent at $29.35.

Nominations sought for expanded IQ Awards

LONGMONT — Nominations are being sought for BizWest’s expanded 2016 IQ Awards, which honor the “innovation quotient” among companies along the northern Front Range.

Formerly an event limited to Boulder Valley companies, this year’s event has been enlarged to include Northern Colorado. The event will be held Oct. 5 at the Plaza Convention Center, 1850 Industrial Circle in Longmont.

Categories won’t be finalized until nominations are submitted and vetted, but the event typically draws nominations in the aerospace, bioscience, business products, clean-tech, computer hardware, computer software, consumer products, Internet, mobile apps, nonprofits, and sports and outdoors categories.

Besides the larger area covered, the IQ event itself has grown. A pitch-slam session will occur in the early afternoon at the same time panels of experts are discussing the latest trends at a mini Innovation Summit. A reception at the end of the day will be followed by the awards presentation, including audience selection of the overall Innovation of the Year.

The award categories and criteria:

Innovator(s) of the Year honors an individual entrepreneur or researcher. An entrepreneur will be considered for fostering a culture of innovation within his or her company, while a researcher or team will be considered for a major discovery or innovation.

Innovative Company of the Year recognizes a company for promoting a culture of innovation in the region. Last year’s winner was InDevR, which creates analytical technologies for the life-sciences industry that enable the accelerated development and manufacturing of life-saving products that enhance diagnostics, vaccines and other biotherapeutics.

Incubator/Accelerator of the Year honors an incubator or accelerator that has had a major impact promoting innovation in the Boulder Valley or Northern Colorado.

IQ Awards for Innovative Products or Services honors products and services that have demonstrated a high degree of innovation, with strong market potential. Up to seven honorees will be named for innovative products or services, broken down into categories.

Judges will be looking for products or services that are truly “innovative” — entries that stand out from the crowd, ideas that are very creative and perhaps even unique. Innovations from both new companies and those already successfully doing business will be judged. The idea should be one that can lead to a “sustainable” successful business — not just a design on a napkin but a product or service that has the best potential to help build or grow a successful company.

The product or service should have been introduced during the past 18 months in the marketplace, or at least in a testing or beta situation where actual or potential customers already are using it. It doesn’t have to have made money, but it must show a potential for profitability and survival of the business.

Priority will be given to ideas that are clever, unique and creative; not on “slickness” of marketing materials. A company that has won a previous IQ Award can win again for an entirely new product or service.

Submit nominations at www.iqawards.com.

 

e-Chromic CEO Loren Burnett takes post at 10-4; wife replaces him

BOULDER — Along with its independence from its Arizona-based founding parent, 10-4 Systems Inc. has gained an experienced executive.

Loren Burnett, co-founder and chairman of Niwot-based e-Chromic Technologies Inc., has become chief operating officer and chief financial officer at 10-4, a Boulder-based provider of supply-chain technology for freight carriers, brokers and shippers.

Burnett’s wife, Richelle Burnett, meanwhile, has taken over her husband’s former position of chief executive at e-Chromic. Richelle Burnett, who cofounded e-Chromic, also is CEO of Boulder-based Madison Assessment LLC, a provider of computer-based assessment tests.

Founded as US e-Chromic in 2011, e-Chromic Technologies is a clean-tech developer of electrochromic thin film for retrofitting windows, using a technology created and patented by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.

Loren Burnett will act as chairman of e-Chromic, which he said in a phone interview Wednesday currently has three employees and is in the process of raising funding for expansion.

A mentor for Boulder-based technology accelerator TechStars, Loren Burnett also founded RLB Technologies, which commercialized technology from universities and research labs. In February 2010, RLB launched Madison Assessment.

Burnett assumed his new position June 21, the same day 10-4 completed its spinoff from Phoenix-based GlobalTranz. That move allows 10-4 to focus on product development and customer acquisition.

“I got introduced to 10-4 by an investor, and the opportunity here is one that comes along once in a lifetime,” Burnett said. “We have a huge opportunity to become the next billion-dollar company in the region.”

Burnett described 10-4’s mission as the “Uber-ization of the transportation industry, primarily focused on trucking. Uber  provided visualization. You know how, in your Uber app, you can look at your phone and see where the little cars are? Their software matches cars and supplies with people needing rides. It’s an Uber-like visualization to the trucking industry because we match supply — the carriers — with demand — the shippers.”

The software has limitless potential, Burnett said, because “there’s virtually nothing you can look at that hasn’t been delivered by a truck at some point or other.”

Founded in 2012 as a division of GlobalTranz, 10-4 has 55 employees based at 4888 Pearl East Circle in Boulder and is actively hiring, Burnett said. The open positions are “predominantly software engineers and integration specialists,” he said, noting that it’s a challenging process because “demand for software engineers in this area is outstripping the supply.”

Last month, 10-4 Systems — under the direction of president and chief executive Travis Rhyan — raised $13.9 million of series A financing led by GlobalTranz’s co-founder, Andrew Leto.

Nivalis Therapeutics files for $142.5M shelf registration

BOULDER – Nivalis Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: NVLS), which is developing a drug to combat cystic fibrosis, on Wednesday filed a shelf registration for up to $142.5 million-worth of securities.

The filing gives the Boulder-based company the flexibility to conduct an offer more quickly at some point in the future if Nivalis were to need cash or market conditions became favorable for an offering.

Wednesday’s filing notes that the company could offer some combination of common stock, preferred stock or debt securities not to exceed $125 million. The company also registered 3.7 million shares that could be sold by selling stockholders worth up to $17.5 million, though the company itself would not receive proceeds from the sale of those shares.

Nivalis raised $88.55 million through an initial public offering early last year. In the company’s first-quarter earnings report this year reported cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $80.2 million. The company said it should have enough cash to fund a current Phase 2 clinical trial for N91115 and operations of the company through the middle of next year when it starts enrolling patients for a Phase 3 trial.

Nivalis earlier this year was granted Fast Track designation for N91115 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which provides for accelerated review of drugs intended to treat serious or non-life-threatening conditions and unmet medical conditions.

Nivalis shares were down 6.5 percent in afternoon trading Wednesday to $4.37 apiece.

Troubled Louisville biopharma GlobeImmune to delist its stock from Nasdaq exchange

LOUISVILLE — Having failed in a yearlong quest to find a buyer or other “strategic transaction” for the company, officials for GlobeImmune Inc. disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that they plan to delist the firm’s common stock from the Nasdaq Capital Market exchange.

The move continues the downward spiral for the Louisville biopharmaceutical company, which suffered a crippling blow last year when clinical trial results for its hepatitis B drug candidate revealed that the drug did not show a reduction of the disease at the end of a 24-week study.

Down to 2.5 full-time employees, GlobeImmune (Nasdaq: GBIM) in May of this year received a delisting warning from Nasdaq for falling out of compliance with a rule requiring minimum stockholders equity of $2.5 million, as well as alternative benchmarks for market cap and net income from continuing operations. At that time, GlobeImmune had a 45-day grace period to submit a plan for regaining compliance but has instead opted to voluntarily delist.

GlobeImmune’s share price plunged 36 percent Wednesday on the news of the delisting plans. Shares were trading at $1.15 apiece by late afternoon.

The company will making a formal filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on July 15 officially notifying the regulatory body of its plans to delist and deregister its common stock. GlobeImmune expects the filing to become effective July 25, at which time the company will request the suspension of its financial reporting obligations as well.

Following the effectiveness of the delisting, GlobeImmune officials expect the company’s stock to begin trading on the OTC Market’s Pink market tier under the company’s current ticker symbol of GBIM.

“The Board made the decision to allow the Common Stock to be delisted from NASDAQ and to seek deregistration under the Exchange Act following the Company’s review and careful consideration of several factors including the inability to find a suitable strategic transaction despite a comprehensive year-long process, the ongoing listing, legal, administrative and additional accounting costs associated with being a publicly listed company, the non-compliance letter received from NASDAQ for the continued listing requirements, the inordinate amount of executive time and Company resources consumed in regulatory compliance obligations and the lack of investor interest as shown in the low daily trading volumes of the Common Stock on NASDAQ,” company officials wrote in the Form 8-K filed Tuesday. “The Board determined that delisting and deregistration are in the overall best interests of the Company and its stockholders.”

In the company’s first-quarter earnings report in May, GlobeImmune officials disclosed that they could be forced to shut down the company if a strategic alternative, such as a buyer, is not found “in the near future.” They added that the company has enough cash to operate as a going concern through the middle of next year, but that a decision to wind down the company would burn through its cash more quickly.

GlobeImmune laid off all but six of its 22 employees last summer following the negative trial results. As of the company’s most recent quarterly report, only vice president Jeffrey Dekker and a scientist remained onboard full-time, while chief executive Timothy Rodell is a half-time employee at this point.

GlobeImmune is focused on developing products for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. The company has three ongoing clinical trials being conducted by Gilead Sciences Inc. and Celgene Corp.

GlobeImmune was founded in 1995 as a spinoff of University of Colorado technology. The company raised a Series A funding round in 2003 and pulled in a total of $119 million in private equity before going public in 2014 with a $17.25 million initial public offering.

Report cites $50M-worth of unfilled software jobs in Boulder

BOULDER — Software companies in the Boulder area are struggling to find qualified applicants to fill open jobs even though they’re offering some of the highest wages in the country and operating in an area with the U.S.’ fifth-highest concentration of software developers, according to a new report.

According to the report released Friday from ACT, The App Association, about 460 software-development jobs are unfilled in Boulder, with an average salary of $110,000 — about twice the average overall salary in the area.

The report, titled “Six-Figure Tech Salaries: Creating the Next Developer Workforce,” is online.

Software developers contribute more than $600 million in annual income to the Boulder-area economy, the report found.

“Boulder has one of the highest concentrations of software developers in the country, but there aren’t enough to meet demand,” said Jonathan Godfrey, vice president for public affairs at ACT, The App Association. “This means that about $50 million in annual income is left on the table by companies unable to hire developers.

“The problem is that we aren’t teaching students the necessary skills from an early age,” he said. “Barely one in eight high schools teach AP (advanced placement) computer science across the country, which leaves many students unable to pursue it at the college level and qualify for these lucrative jobs.”

Prospects for Boulder students are slightly better than the national average, the report said, with 20 percent of high schools offering AP computer science. That still leaves the vast majority of local students without access to the course.

“To meet the needs of the global, high-tech economy, we must provide all students with access to a top-quality education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, no matter their zip code,” said U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. “In Colorado, high-tech businesses are constantly scouting out skilled workers for good-paying jobs with room for promotion.”

Interactive maps in the online report show where software developer jobs are, how much they pay, and where to find openings. It also reveals which locations teach AP computer science and where computer science education needs are the greatest. Users can zoom in and out to see data by region, state, city, or congressional district.

According to the report, nearly a quarter-million job openings for software developers remain unfilled across the country. It contended that location doesn’t matter because 89 percent of software engineers work outside California’s Silicon Valley and four out of five top-grossing U.S. app companies are from outside that area as well.

Meanwhile, it said, barely one in eight high schools offer AP computer science courses.

The Washington, D.C.-based ACT, The App Association represents more than 5,000 app makers and connected device companies in the mobile economy.