Welcome to Cellacon Valley?

Illustration by Muti.

In the conference room of a spacious loft office near 30th Street Station, Usman “Oz” Azam and Michael Christiano huddle for a meeting. They’re CEO and chief business officer, respectively, of Tmunity Therapeutics, a start-up launched to commercialize some breakthrough research out of the University of Pennsylvania — a method of reengineering a patient’s own immune system cells so they can destroy cancer tumors.

The two execs are the company’s sole employees so far. Their new headquarters still contains chalkboard-style signs and leather couches from the prior tenant, some sort of hipster

telemarketing operation. It looks like an abandoned Cosi restaurant.

“Literally the only thing we’ve done is bring in a coffee machine,” Azam says.

It’s a microscopically small start to what some people around Philadelphia hope will become very, very big. Read more »

Philadelphia Among the Country’s Top 10 Emerging Startup Hubs

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

A new report from the nonprofit Progressive Policy Institute and D.C.-based technology network Technet, says it time for policymakers to recognize and support emerging startup hubs across the country, including Philadelphia, that are “Next in Tech.” The report named Philadelphia as one of the nation’s top 10 emerging vibrant startup ecosystems.

To determine the areas that are “next in tech,” researchers developed the “Metro Startup Economy Index,” which measures the “intensity” of each metro area’s startup ecosystem. The index is calculated by determining the percentage of job postings in a given area that use the word “startup.” That percentage is then normalized by dividing by the median percentage for all metro areas analyzed, according to the report. Indeed.com reports that the percentage of job postings using the word “startup” increased by 60 percent from November 2014 to November 2016, the study says, an indicator that the country’s startup landscape is producing more jobs and spreading beyond the traditional tech metro areas.  Read more »

Philly Is the Nation’s 10th-Best City for Women in Tech

Philly is the country’s 10th best city for women in tech, according to SmartAsset’s 2017 ranking.

The fintech company combed through data on men and women in tech jobs in 59 of the largest U.S. cities and ranked them according to the gender pay gap in tech, income after housing costs, women as a percentage of the tech workforce and the city’s four-year tech employment growth.

According to the study, women fill just 32.3 percent of tech jobs in Philadelphia, but it beats the national figure of women filling only 26.2 percent of tech jobs. After Philly housing costs, women bring home an average of $47,622 in income, compared to $53,158 nationally. The city’s gender pay gap in tech is 92 percent compared to 84.8 percent nationwide, which represents the ratio of median earnings for women in mathematical occupations to median earnings for men in computer and mathematical occupations. Philly’s four-year tech employment growth, measured from 2012 to 2015 (the most recent year for which data is available), is 14 percent, four percentage points higher than the national average.  Read more »

I Love My Job: Ellen Weber

Photo courtesy of Ellen Weber.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Weber.

The title of this week’s feature should be amended to “I Love My Jobs,” as Ellen Weber spends her days juggling the demands of multiple major roles. The entrepreneurship expert is the executive director of Temple University’s Fox School of Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, where she’s an assistant professor of entrepreneurship. She’s also the executive director of the angel group Robin Hood Ventures, that’s fueling Philly’s startup growth. When Weber’s not in the classroom or working with portfolio companies, you can always find her in the startup community—promoting young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and pushing Philadelphia’s success stories out onto the national stage. Here she tells us about Philly tech’s most urgent agenda item and what men can do to support women in tech. She also gets into her reading list and what you’ll find her drinking at the bar.  Read more »

This Tech Company’s Donating $100 to the ACLU for Every Applicant It Interviews

red spark 4

We’re witnessing a big trend here in Philly tech.

First Seer Interactive CEO Wil Reynolds spoke out against Trump’s immigration ban, then Blackfynn and O3 World employees launched a petition, Comcast employees marched for migrants and refugees, and First Round Capital pledged to make a recurring monthly donation to the ACLU.

Now another local tech company has jumped into the fray with an interesting twist.

From now until April 28th—the date when Trump’s immigration ban is expected to lift—digital advertising company Red Spark will donate $100 to the American Civil Liberties Union for every job candidate they interview.

Red Spark is calling it the #YouBelongHere initiative. “It is our way of giving to a crucial organization and furthering our commitment to diversity at Red Spark,” the company’s CEO Stephen Gill told Philadelphia magazine.

Read more »

Is Monetate’s Move to NYC a Blow to Philly Tech?

Image via Twitter.

Image via Twitter.

Say it ain’t so: Monetate will no longer be headquartered in the Philadelphia region. By the end of the first quarter this year, the leading e-commerce marketing platform expects to relocate its corporate headquarters to New York City.

The move is strategic, the company says, and is only the first in a series of upcoming changes that will bring the company into its next stage of growth. As Monetate invests in its 1-to-1 personalization platform, the company says it only makes sense to move closer to its customer base.

“[New York City] is where our clients and partners are. It’s where the marketing ecosystem is. That’s where retail and fashion are. That’s where the agencies are. It’s where’s it’s at,” Monetate CEO Lucinda Duncalfe told Philadelphia magazine.

Monetate is just shy of nine years old, and in the last few years it’s gobbled up more clients than anyone else in the Internet Retailer 500. Moving forward, the company sees a key opportunity to help its big-time brands like The North Face, Best Buy, and QVC give customers a shopping experience that’s even more personal. If you’re 6’1″ like Duncalfe is, for example, the brands you’re loyal to should show you the products that will fit. Read more »

10 Philly Startups to Watch in 2017, According to the Biggest Tech Leaders


As we said farewell to 2016, BizPhilly put a call out to the tech community: Which local startups are you most excited about for 2017? That call was answered with overwhelming excitement for what’s ahead in Philly’s innovation space. Here are 10 startups to watch in 2017, according to the Philly tech community.


When Philly’s wildly successful data analytics startup RJMetrics was acquired by Magento Commerce in August 2016, Stitch spun out of the deal. The company evolved out of RJMetrics’ “Pipeline” product, which provided data infrastructure and consolidation services to clients. The product was beta-tested under RJMetrics for more than nine months and these services are now offered to clients like Booktopedia, Instapage and Philly’s Guru. We’ll be watching Stitch for several reasons: Jake Stein, who cofounded RJ Metrics, is leading Stitch as CEO. He’s definitely learned a thing or two about data SaaS after jumpstarting RJMetrics (once one of Philly’s fastest growing startups) back in 2008 and raising more than $20 million from investors in San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia. Stitch is backed by the same investors as RJMetrics—August Capital, Trinity Ventures and SoftTech VC. And less than six months after their August launch, the company passed 100 paying customers. That’s more than five times faster than RJMetrics grew. Read more »

11 Tech Leaders on How to Bolster Diversity in Philly Tech

Photo by Fabiola Cineas

Photo by Fabiola Cineas

It’s no secret that the tech industry has a diversity problem. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that several Silicon Valley tech companies — Twitter, Pinterest, Salesforce, and EBay — have delayed releasing their annual diversity reports because they’re not interested in showcasing their racial and gender breakdown. Rather than put the data out there, they say, they want to focus on how to move the data in the right direction because there’s more work to be done. The companies that have reported their numbers show marginal improvement. Read more »

University City Keystone Innovation Zone to Expand Into Old City

The University City KIZ will now include parts of Old City. | UC KIZ

The University City KIZ will now include parts of Old City. | UC KIZ

Mayor Jim Kenney, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the University City Keystone Innovation Zone announced today that the UC KIZ will expand to include parts of Old City, home of a growing tech community.

The announcement took place at Arcweb, a digital product and design firm that is located in the heart of this budding area on N. 3rd St. — or as some call it, “N3rd Street” (say it: Nerd Street).

The University City Keystone Innovation Zone now stretches from 42nd St. in University City, through Center City and all the way down to Front St. in Old City. Read more »