(Photo by Christopher Wink)
As January 2013 closes, what has come and what remains from past first-months in the technology community?
A year ago, Center City tech startup incubator Seed Philly launched and is still finding its footing. Two years ago, we learned of a 14-year low in venture funding in the region. Three years ago, tourism agency GPTMC finished its rebranding with the launch of VisitPhilly.com, and almost four years ago, the Philadelphia police launched their own new website.
Where do those efforts stand today? It’s a look back into our archives in an effort to check back on stories that made news in the past.
GPTMC rebrands, refocuses its online efforts as tourism engine
- On January 13, 2010, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. introduced its new online home, VisitPhilly.com, bringing in bigger photos and a more affective incorporation of its content. Along with the site’s clearer navigation system, GPTMC introduced 25 new advertisements in its With Love, Philadelphia XOXO campaign and a new commercial. Presuming that Visit Philly would be more memorable than go Phila, the move sought to create simpler search engine optimization.
- Making Visit Philly even more interactive, GPTMC partnered with Foursquare in 2012 to create a “Check In to a Masterpiece” list of 12 pieces of Philadelphia art extending across mediums, genres and time periods. By hitting the Visit Philly Foursquare page, tourists and residents of the city competed to become the mayor of one or more of these masterpieces by checking in when they visited one of the works on the list.
National tech publications make lists that don’t put Philadelphia as a leader
- Business magazine Fast Company holds a five-part series on cities where entrepreneurs should mull over starting new companies, and the battle began to get Philly recognition on that list. While some expressed doubt that Philadelphia wouldn’t be featured, Innovation Philadelphia reached out to email subscribers urging them to contact Fast Company about getting the city coverage in order to invite more business to the region. It became a community effort, resulting in no direct inclusion, which has been followed by a muddled career in magazine-selling tech scene lists.
- This January, Silicon Valley kept its title as the top location for technology startups according to a report conducted by research firm Startup Genome and funded by Spanish group Telefonica. Runner-ups included Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Boston. Philadelphia is not seen as a global hub for innovation, so the conversation here is increasingly turning to creating a distinction, like, say, social entrepreneurship.
Venture capital investment sags following the economic recession in the region
- Although national numbers were up, Philadelphia investment in 2010 reached a 14-year low according to a MoneyTree report. Total investment dollars were down $5 million from 2009 to 2010. DreamIt Ventures vet Parse.ly closed $800,000 in an angel investment from various sources.
- In 2012, Philly’s venture capital funding continued to weaken, raising only $400 million, the lowest in more than a decade according to a recent MoneyTree report. PACT (Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies) President and Novitas Capital partner Dean Miller cited the recession as the reason for the hard hit on the venture capital industry. Some in the early-stage space in Philadelphia take to bootstrapping as a focus.
Philadelphia Police have sought new web communications tools to get public help
- After launching its new phillypolice.com website in 2009, Philadelphia police had a lot to be proud of including their utilization of communications technology. With a better trafficked website, the launch utilized the web through a better navigable website, a tips-gathering focus in social media and a crime map making crime data more transparent.
- In 2013, due to the success of SafeCam, the Philadelphia Police Department’s internal database of private security cameras, Northern Liberties SEO firm SEER Interactive partnered with Portland, Ore. Firm VideoSurveillance.com to launch CommunityCam. The map, which plots private and public security cameras in the city, aims to make finding criminals easier. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that if the Police Department releases a video of a suspect absent of any other leads, there’s a one in three chance of making an arrest solely from the video.
The publishers of the Philadelphia daily papers fully launch a media tech startup incubator
- After sorting through applicants, the Philadelphia Media Network chose mobile backend provider Cloudmine, Political candidate-recommendation service ElectNext and digitial coupon app Snipsnap as the three companies to reside at the first Project Liberty Incubator. The incubator took no equity in the companies and required them to develop products using PMN entities.
- Dissatisfied with Project Liberty, Philadelphia Inquirer employees filed a complaint to CEO Greg Osberg, criticizing its attempt to become a “‘digital visionary'” and citing its failure in the creation of a tablet and other digital media efforts. The first class of startups struggled to find success and, it seems, spend their $250,000 Knight Foundation funding impactfully.
- In July, 2012 social news and media reader Rumble, social network and search engine Zaahah and mobile advertising platform tapCLIQ were named as the second class of Interstate General Media’s (previously known as Philadelphia Media Network) Project Liberty Digital Incubator.
- With the second class in new headquarters having a better experience by most accounts, the third and final class of startups were announced and news of a similar program at the New York Times was announced.
Center City incubator Seed Philly launches into a quickly-growing community of startup housing and tries to find its place
- Amid a flurry of startup colocation groups, Center City nonprofit accelerator Seed Philly announced its plan to house and connect startups with services to create smarter businesses. With a focus on mission rather than profit and a lot of talk about data, the nonprofit accelerator does not take equity and offers mentorship opportunities and networking events. Officially launching the effort, Seed Philly partnered with Microsoft on a Windows Phone Development course.
- In March, 2012, Seed Philly welcomed its first partner company, OneTwoSee, which builds TV companion programming for mobile devices. By November, 2012, the OneTwoSee team nearly doubled and gained some big-name partnerships with Comcast Sports Group and NBC.
- Also in March, Seed Philly partnered with Novotorium to create a six-week Entrepreneur Summer Camp, but due to low attendance, most events were canceled.
- During January 2013, Seed Philly founder Brad Denenberg and Philly Startup Leaders’ events director Gloria Bell created Philly Founded, a community effort to help enhance the Philly tech scene. The marketing campaign will tell the stories of Philly’s tech scene, featuring startups, success stories and community members in 50 days from March 11 to May 24.
- Seed Philly, like others, are searching for their distinction to keep the operation alive.
This report was done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism.
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