Layoffs at Townsend Analytics and Hyperfeed; Bill Lederer resurfaces as head of Socrates.com; the Ceres Fund close to closing; the Kieretsu Forum; Anthony Gerardi reappears in Chicago; Clear, Open Road, Open Channel, EMNS, Go2Call, and others to present a
April 29, 2004
The May Report: 4/29/2004: Layoffs at Townsend Analytics and Hyperfeed; Bill
Lederer resurfaces as head of Socrates.com; the Ceres Fund close to closing;
the Kieretsu Forum; Anthony Gerardi reappears in Chicago; Clear, Open Road,
Open Channel, EMNS, Go2Call, and others to present at VC conference, and much
Editor and publisher: Ron May, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Scoop section:
— Layoffs at Townsend Analytics and Hyperfeed
— An Efoora investor chimes in
— Briefly noted: Thirty eight things to tell your mother, or what I learned at
the Midwest Venture Capital conference reception on 4/28/04, by Ron May
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The Scoop section:
Layoffs at Townsend Analytics and Hyperfeed
Subject: Things not looking so rosy for Chicago’s quote vendors
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 16:46:13 -0500
From: “Kathy Dervin”
Not sure if you heard this, but Townsend Analytics (www.taltrade.com) laid off
22 people this week, and HyperFeed Technologies (www.hyperfeed.com) let go at
least 9 people today, including the senior developer of their ticker plant. (I
worked for HyperFeed, and while there worked with Townsend.)
I have no idea how many people work for Townsend, but there were less than 60
at HyperFeed, so these seem to be pretty deep cuts.
Have you heard anything on this?
Thanks – love the May Report. Keep up the great work!
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An Efoora investor chimes in
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 22:12:39 -0600
From: Name withheld upon request.
1. Please do not use my name.
2. Keep up the great work. I do not think that you would have believed this
story yourself if anyone told you about it.
3. The fantasy website from Craig should be very interesting and maybe provide
enough evidence so that both he and Grosky can share a prison cell. I sure
hope so, because these guys are both crooked as the day is long.
4. I know of Fran White from the industry and she is a quality person. She has
spent numerous unpaid hours working her tail off for Efoora and gets no respect
or help. From what I hear it is fascinating that Mort could claim she needed a
kick, since he was incapable of doing what needed to be done. Regardless, I
also hear she is owed a lot of money from Efoora, so maybe there is a good
reason for the delay.
5. I understand that the letter from Mort is also pure fantasy as Craig never
did any of the selling. I understand that they had two sales people, David
Seitelman & Susan Milo, who did all of the selling and got no support from
Craig. In fact my sources tell me Craig would agree to see customers or
potential customers and then disappear to go to his flying lesson or cash his
6. Thanks for allowing me to vent. I remain a frustrated investor.
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Briefly noted: Thirty eight things to tell your mother, or what I learned at
the Midwest Venture Capital conference reception on 4/28/04, by Ron May
Let’s get right to it.
1. There were a good 250 people in the room. A few out of town VCs from Ohio, a
few people from California, one from Boston that I counted, and a lot of
lawyers and PR people from Chicago. Not many heavy hitter VCs from Chicago, but
more people from smaller or less high visibility funds. Did not see anyone from
Blair New World, or anyone from William Blair, or KB Partners. Did see people
from Illinois Ventures, Hopewell, OCA, and a few others. The VCs who were there
tended to be more junior people, but some seniors like Dan McPhun and Dave
Tolmie were there. Tolmie mentioned something about Larry Roches, but I don’t
think his firm, DBS, is presenting. There were also a few people from the SIU
and Peoria ITECs, and a person from Michigan’s Smart Zone program. There were
also a lot of PR people, mostly juniors from Porter Novelli, and after the
reception, they ate dinner at the restaurant, which was Bob Chinn’s on LaSalle
Street. There were some senior VCs who were conspicuously missing: Bret Maxwell
and his partner Mark Keologeorge; Ellen Carnahan, Keith Bank and Byron
Denenberg, all the people from Blair New World, and others who are generally on
the scene. Bob Geras and Barry Moltz were not there.
2. Attendees included: Craig McCrohon, Jim Bray, Kapil Chaudhary, Chris Tynan,
Brent Donnell, Bart Carlson, Scott Glickson, Lynne Baker, Steve Lundin, Gary
Slack, Erica Swerdlow, Barbie Adler, Mark Glennon, Mark Tebbe, Dick Reck —
holding court as usual —, Dean Stieber, Bill Lederer, Bob Lepkowski, Dave
Tolmie, Dan McPhun, Neil Kane, and some guy who was glued to Neil — tall dark
hair named Reitler, I believe; Linda Darragh, Michael Gruber, Gary Keller,
Anthony Gerardi, formerly of the Partner Development Group at divine, John
Kennedy, Gary Keller, Terry Osborn and his guys, Jack Philbin, Bill Benda of
EMNS and a presenter, Jeff Punzel of AssureBuy, Barbara Rose, Ed Condon, Dan
Miller, Dave Lundy, Darcy, Katie Kaufmann, Natalie Rucker, Brad Spirrison, John
Goebel of GCD, Alex Campbell from Vibes, Brandi Ruffalo, Steve Beitler of the
IVCA and Dunrath Capital, Don Barshinger, Christine Mason of Open Road
Technologies, Michael Rosenthal, Dave Farber, Pete Altieri from Clear (a
presenter), Charles Kuehmann of Questek in Evanston, William Sutter, a partner
at Hopewell Ventures, Lauren Flanagan, CEO of Scio Corp in Reno, Nevada,
Michael Villalabos from the Office of Tech Commercialization at Purdue, Sean
Murdock of atomworks, Matt Vranicar of Piocon Technologies in Naperville,
Clement Erbmann, managing director of First Analysis, James Cunningham, the
president of Cincinnati’s angel capital hub called C-Cap
(email@example.com); Carol Wilkerson of the U.S. Small Business
Admin., Robert Morgan, director of private equity at Northern Trust, Daniel
Fleming of River Cities Capital Funds in Cincinnati, Dianne McCord Maughon,
Corporate Venture Capital, Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Michigan; Stewart
Roberts III, CEO of Madison Capital Managers in Evanston, Peter Farmer from
Kalamazoo (T-Gap), Susan Alnaqib of the Chicago West Side Entrepreneurship
Center; Eric Hender of Aavin Venture Capital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Emily
Carter and Jon Greenstreet of the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center;
Tim Wright of Longworth Venture Partners in Boston; Ted Cornell of Seyfarth,
Jay De Long of ACE-Net 3.0, the angel capital electronic network out of Irvine,
California; and Jonathan York of Reservoir Venture Partners in Columbus. There
were many more, including consultants — many — but for this list I tried to
pick VCs, entrepreneurs, and government people. If I knew the lawyer, I tried
to put him in; and there are people mentioned who are not on this list further
down in the report.
3. Bill Lederer was there. He talked to me, but did not say much, and told me
about his kids and baseball. But he did talk quite a bit to people like Dick
Reck, Dean Stieber, and I pulled him over to talk to a former employee of his,
Neil Kane, and he also talked to Dave Farber of Vencore, who I believe is a
friend of his. To my knowledge, he never sold his home in Lake Forest and Bill
was looking pretty relaxed and somewhat slimmed down. Guess what? Quite by
coincidence, I just got a note about Bill and here it is. It says that he is
now with a company, Socrates.com.
Here is the note that I got tonight. Makes one wonder whether it is a
From: “Frank Wild”
Subject: Bill Lederer/ Socrates.com
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 18:00:23 -0500
Organization: Wild Inc.
For a few years you were like a dog with a bone when it came to Bill Lederer
based on a search of TMR archives. He seems to have quietly– not covered by
TMR– resurfaced as the CEO of Socrates.com, a legal forms business he
purchased last year. Given your previous dogged pursuit with contributions
from your following, an update on Bill Lederer would be interesting– good
Your report continues to entertain and inform. Stay healthy and keep up the
3. The mystery guy from the MIT-EF meeting whose wife was hired as the CMO for
an internet marketing firm turns out to be Sean Sexton. He was there and told
me that what I had written had already gotten him in trouble, even though I did
not know his name. Anyway, his wife uses her maiden name, he said and so we are
still left with the question: what firm hired her? If we can find that out, we
will know what firm locally thinks the talent does not exist here. Sean, I
think it is a public service of sorts to have that information.
4. Jeff Punzel is back to running AssureBuy. Rick Johnson is “retired” now and
supposedly left on amicable terms. My sources tell me that Rick left because
their largest customer, Boise Office Solutions, took payments in-house. The
company did not close, but Jeff Punzel returned to running the firm because
once they lost their main customer in August of last year, it was an uphill
battle from there, and Rick left in September, 2003. The company is introducing
a new product, View’N Pay which is an online bill presentment and payment
service. My sources indicate that the only person capable of transitioning the
firm was the founder, Jeff Punzel.
5. Bart Carlson tells me that Northern Illinois Angels has changed its business
model at the beginning of the year somewhat. They no longer are charging the
funded firm a “success fee” when they fund a firm. They did charge both Adeptia
and Supplemental Education, although Carlson hedged on the issue of
Supplemental Ed and told me that the fee is no longer in effect for future
deals. I told Bart that I never understood why he was nominated by the CSA for
an angel award with only two deals done through NIA, but Brent Donnell has told
me that Bart has helped a lot of firms, and he funded a number on his own, not
through NIA. I challenged Bart to tell me how Wally Cornett will ever see his
money back on Napersoft, other than winning it back on the golf course.
6. Barbie Adler was there to cheer on her old friend and boss, Erica Swerdlow,
who handled the PR for the event with Porter Novelli. Barbie, who runs
Selective Search, told me that she was on the first page of the Wall Street
Journal and says that Dever was responsible for it. At one point she referred
to Dever as her employee, then backed off of that, but I got the impression
that he spends a lot of time in her offices. If this is true, not the WSJ — I
believe that — but the Dever part — congrats, Dever and Barbie, of course.
She sent me the article tonight and I will try to print it in the next report.
7. Some guy with a foreign accent, possibly British, was wearing a tag that
said CMS for his company affiliation, but he refused throughout the evening to
tell me what they do. Does anyone know this firm?
8. Mark Sellers is from Lateral Think Tank and he was reluctant to say much of
anything, preferring to stay below the radar.
9. A woman named Alvarado from KPMG went to Gordon & Glickson to take Lynne
Baker’s old job as the marketing person. I could not hear her first name.
9. I challenged Neil Kane on the question he asked at the Sam Zell talk when he
got up and in front of 200 people asked Zell how “a serial entrepreneur could
get him to review a business plan.” First, is Neil really a serial
entrepreneur? But second, and more importantly, I asked Neil why he did not
just approach Zell after the talk on his own without the grandstanding. Neil
said that he does care what people think of him, but that he could not get to
Zell who was protected by his body guards who brusked him away after the talk.
As we were talking, Michael Rosenthal walked by and I asked him why Misty
Gruber left, and he said that he had no comment.
Neil said that if he had known I was going, he probably would not have gone to
the Zell talk, but he did say that he never identified himself by name.
10. John Goebel from Gardner Carton & Douglas told me that the June TiE event
is a panel on innovation being moderated by Tom Churchwell, so watch for an
11. Thomas Stelter is not presenting, but is checking out the action and he’s
with Frame Trader (www.frametrader.com) which is in the retail optical
12. Anthony Gerardi was there, and at first would not say what he was doing,
but Darcy told me. He went to Manhattan, apparently, after leaving Divine’s
partner development group, and worked for MetLife, and is now looking for
something back in Chicago. He refused to give me his e-mail address or phone.
13. I talked to a woman from the IVCA and asked where Jim Downing went. I think
this might have been Penny Cate who is their Government Affairs Liaison.
Anyway, it appears that mums the word about Downing’s departure. They say he
went off to do something on his own, to start his own business. My problem with
that is that if this is true, they would probably stay in touch and know more
about what he is up to.
14. Chari Aweidah is involved in Ceres, the women’s venture fund, and she told
me they are close to closing. The fund is $2.5MM and they have raised $2.0MM.
They have Class A, Class B, and Class I investors. Class B is passive and is
for $100K investors, Class A is $50K, and Class I is institutional for $750K.
“We have a commitment from one institution in Chicago for $750K,” she said.
Chari is a CPA with a Kellogg MBA and she does turnaround management. The
founding members are Linda Darragh, Donna Williams and a few others. I talked
to Linda Darragh who was also there, and she said that there is a key piece to
the fund missing, but she would not say what it was, and would not disclose any
15. Clear Communications will be presenting at 9:20am, and the CEO, Pete
Altieri, told me that they have survived. He was talking to Barbara Rose of the
Chicago Tribune. Barbara was talking to Ed Condon, and I promptly interrupted
that conversation to warn my new buddy Ed that he should not play favorites or
games when they announce the fund that will manage the Topinka money. He agreed
that no games will be played and that the information will be released in a
fair and equitable manner. By the way, there are three people who “move on” and
even end conversations abruptly when I approach. They are Dan Miller of the
Chicago Sun-Times, Gary Slack, and Barbara Rose. Gary Slack I understand, but
Barbara Rose. She created this monster. Actually, it was her excellent cover
story on “Tech’s Town Tattler” in Crain’s in August of 1999 that put The May
Report on the map. Darcy and Barbara talked, even though they have had their
differences. Dan Miller is one of those people who would probably be a friend
in another lifetime. He is just too petty to see how sympatico we are. I
actually am quite close to Dan politically, and enjoy his comments on Chicago
Tonight and Chicago Week in Review. And if he would simply acknowledge what his
own guy, Howard Wolinsky, knows very well, which is that this report is the
only competition in town on the tech scene for the Sun-Times, we might get
along better. I respect a worthy competitor and view Wolinsky as just that.
People who do not rush off, but who avoid conversation are Erica Swerdlow whose
memory never seems to forget how her firm got some heat in TMR when they had
layoffs, but she forgets that she and I were friends before all of that. Don’t
you think it’s time to bury that hatchet, Erica? I still have the book on
Yiddish sayings that she gave me.
And then there is another attendee from yesterday who brushed me off, but did
not run off: Dave Lundy. I have no issue with Mr. Lundy, but I don’t want to
see this cr** go to his head. And if he is going to start moltzing it, he can
count on me for a counter. By the way, where was King Barry? I did not see him.
As far as who hangs out with whom, at least Dan Miller and Gary Slack are
consistent. They talked to each other a lot and I walked in their direction a
time or two to see how two bodies disperse based on repellant forces. Did
Einstein think of anti-gravity? Walking toward these guys is like the same pole
on a magnet, repellent. Another person who was talking to both of them was
Darcy, but interestingly, our buddy Steve Lundin talks to Mr. Miller, but
obviously not to Slack, so that created an awkward moment or two.
16. Mark Menarick was there, and he says he’s making custom wireless cell
phones: 847-668-8765, or firstname.lastname@example.org
17. Christine Mason is presenting tomorrow for Open Road Technologies. I must
say that for a mother of three or four (I have met her kids), Christine is
looking mighty fine. Now, one thing may be confusing. There are actually two
presentation tracks, one for the main presenters and one for the tech transfer
presenters. John Kennedy of Open Channel was there last night and he is
presenting through NASA/Battelle. I am not sure what track Christine is
18. Dan McPhun was there and he said that the last deal Mitsubishi did in
Chicago was Commerx, remember them, but they have done a number of biotech
deals elsewhere, he said. He was talking to Dick Reck and Dan said that they
both ski, Reck in Alta, and Dan in Park City.
19. Jason from OCA Ventures was there.
20. Jason Shafer from William Blair was there.
21. Kapil Chaudhary told me that there was a good turnout for the Hastert talk,
but I would not expect him to say anything else.
22. Steve Beitler of the IVCA told me that Jim Downing was not fired and that
he went off to start his own thing.
23. Harris Larney of Illinois Ventures tells me that they have raised a $20MM
fund which is now closed. He could not name deals in the last year, even though
they are all public information.
24. Lynne Baker told me that Mary Dicig was not there because she is very busy.
So, does that mean that Lynne was not busy?
25. Gary Keller would not tell me why Misty Gruber left Sonnenschein. He was
26. Tebbe and I talked about Leslie Hindman, and Blair Hull, and other things.
My information from others at the event is that he is doing not much and is
enjoying himself in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Tebbe always seems to be talking at
these events to Barbie Adler and Steve Lundin.
27. Bill Benda and his people were there and Bill is presenting tomorrow for
EMNS. His firm presented a year or two ago at the Early Stage Investment
Conference and he reminded me that I voted for his firm as a possible winner.
27. Jack Philbin told me that he did get some useful information trolling
around at the back of the room at the MIT-EF. He did not find people for his
firm, but he did hear of an organization called MENG, Marketing Executives
Networking Group, and the site may be www.mengonline.com. Don’t hold me to that
URL. Jack was talking to a lot of people and he appears to be a man with a
28. Lederer told me that his grade school kids are busy with baseball and he
attends their games. Bill Lederer, a wealth of information.
29. Go2Call was there, and the CEO told me that they have 24 employees. They
are profitable, cash flow positive, lots of deals in VoIP, and they are
presenting at 10:15am in the main room.
30. Michael Gruber is with Kieretsu Forum, a group that brings angels and VCs
together with entrepreneurs. He was talking to Gary Keller. Gary told Michael
that I am a kauflauchel, a Yiddish that literally means “cooking spoon” but in
my case it means a person who stirs the pot.
31. On a somewhat friendlier note, I reminded Neil Kane that I will start
calling him Wally, since a former girlfriend called him that and the reason is
that he reminded her of the actor Wallace Shawn from the movie Princess Bride
in which the Shawn character had a hard time making decisions. Neil wondered
out loud if the actor Wallace Shawn was the son of the former New Yorker
Magazine editor of the same name. Only in The May Report folks. You will never
find information like that anywhere else — and for good reason. I found that
out one night at the bar at a BIGFrontier event several years ago. Anyone who
thinks I don’t have enough material for a book better think again. Most of the
evening, Neil was glued to talking to that mystery guy who removed his name tag
and would not tell me his name, but before he did I believe I saw it was
Reitler. They ended up sitting by each other at dinner after the event, and
along with them were some people I did not recognize, and one guy, whose name I
would really like to find out, threatened to throw me out physically. I barked
back, but left and when I was leaving Reck, Stieber and a very attractive woman
from KPMG left in a cab to go somewhere for dinner. I don’t know her name, but
I must have asked for her card ten times last night.
32. Katie Kaufmann and Brad Spirrison were talking to Dick Reck for close to an
hour and apparently they all went to the same school in Hinsdale, Oak School.
Katie and Brad will be married on August 28th. Actually, I heard that at the
CSA outsourcing event a few weeks ago.
33. Lynne Baker told me that she is engaged to be married, to an Irish Catholic
gent, no less. Her fiance is the CFO of a company that does remanufactured
printer circuits. She would not say how she met him. Lynne got engaged a couple
34. Dick Reck and I talked about how the people running the show these days,
the Glicksons, the Glennons, the Stiebers, are different from the pioneers of
Chicago high tech like Reck and Weaver. The Recks and Weavers were bigger
figures, I argued, but Reck said that it is just different and the analogy is
to Lewis and Clark.
Reck did mention Mitch Goldsmith to me as a lawyer who has made many
introductions and has been involved in many deals, but not as many angel deals
as Bill Weaver. Goldsmith is a good friend of Bob Geras’ and has recently sent
me a note we published. I wondered why the “second generation” is different. I
pointed to Brad who was standing a few feet away and Reck said he would not
have a role were it not for me (I was a pioneer in the newsletter field), and
Reck added that the guy who makes the original path has harder road to hoe.
35. Maura O’Hara was the person from the IVCA who would not answer my questions
36. I spoke to another guy from the Kieretsu Forum as I was standing outside on
my way home, and he told me that they had their inaugural event on February
12th at Seyfarth Shaw’s offices at 55 E. Monroe. It is similar to Prairie
Angels, but “Prairie Angels has not done many deals,” he said. No kidding. The
Kieretsu Forum has done forty deals nationally and there are 50 to 100 people
locally, he told me. They did have a local firm present, Bermen & Bermen which
treats with women’s sexual dysfunction. They presented and got funding, he
said, as he ran across the street to grab a cab.
37. Back at home in my neighborhood, I ran into a guy who had seen me at the
AMC presentation, from Eco Multi-media. His e-mail is email@example.com
and they do healthcare sites, CD/ROM and DVDs for healthcare.
38. At dinner, which I ate at Casbah, Joel Margolis told me that he is a
sociologist who advises people from foreign countries on the nature of the
urban lay of the land, everything from the changing nature of the real estate
market which he said a lot of people are not familiar with how the city has
changed, even those who live here. He said that a lot of people from foreign
countries have lost money here by investing in the wrong areas of the city. He
advises foreign journalists as well who write about Chicago and other cities.
He sees Chicago as a prototype for other cities. Joel can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He is Chicago based, but handles other cities.
Footnote: I started working on this report about 10pm. First I added all the
cards to the email list, then I went over my tape as I wrote the items. I took
an hour off at 3am to watch Hardball with Chris Matthews, and now it is 5am,
just time to go to bed. I hope to get up in time to make the conference before
they get too far into it. Seven hours minus one, so six hours of work plus of
course the three hours at the event.
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