Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Local web community establishes scholarship fund to honor fallen collaborator ]]>

Last September, 26-year-old Internet developer and designer Matt Puchlerz died suddenly of heart complications. Although the Buffalo, N.Y.-area native worked in Chicago for only a couple of years, his talent and personality made a lasting impression on everyone around him. “Usually people [are skilled] with one side of the brain or the other,” said Kat Nelson, a vice president for Chicago-based software development company Obtiva, where Puchlerz worked. “You don’t see his blend of design and development talent very often.” Only weeks before his death, Puchlerz worked directly with senior product executives at Groupon. While building new group commerce applications … ]]> Mon, 16 May 2011 11:46:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ Festival to showcase Chicago tech scene ]]>

From Motorola to Argonne to Groupon, Chicago arguably has as many world class technology institutions as any city on the planet. The key to building a globally respected technology community, however, is to get tech-minded innovators from different sectors in the same room at the same time. “These people don’t really talk to each other,” said Jon Pasky of midVentures, an organization that aims to remedy that situation by hosting the TechWeek Conference and Expo. From July 22-29, more than 150 speakers from 10 distinct sub-sectors of the Chicago technology community will participate in TechWeek conference sessions held at the … ]]> Mon, 09 May 2011 12:26:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Why Starbucks doesn’t need a double shot of technology to grind out dominance ]]>

Starbucks “has no technology,” its CEO, Howard Schultz, freely admitted last week at a dinner hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago. “What is our competitive advantage?” he asked. “Humanity.” This self-awareness and sensibility has served Schultz well. A multimillionaire several times over, Schultz returned to the helm of Starbucks in 2008 after the company he introduced to the world two decades earlier became as flat as a three-day-old Latte. The stock price for Starbucks halved as quality decreased, and Schultz decided quickly into his 2.0 stint running the company that all of its processes needed to be rebooted. He … ]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 14:01:13 -0600 <![CDATA[ Tech association packs in diversity with Hall of Fame honorees ]]>

In an age when massive amounts of complex data can be easily shared via a tweet, YouTube clip or miniaturized URL, it’s difficult to fathom a time when communication between computers was painfully slow and unwieldy. The ZIP file format, which was invented more than two decades ago by Milwaukee entrepreneur and inventor Phil Katz, forever changed digital communication by using a compression algorithm to simply and reliably transmit heavy loads of disparate information. This Thursday, the Downers Grove-based international information technology trade association CompTIA will induct Katz (who died of alcohol-related ailments in 2000) into its Hall of Fame … ]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 17:44:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Chicago startups will benefit from Willer’s entrepreneurial perspective ]]>

Only a couple years ago, the billion dollar sale of OptionsXpress and the $20 million venture capital round raised by would have been interpreted as landmark events for Chicago’s technology and entrepreneurial communities. Today, in the backdrop of Groupon’s multi-billion dollar valuation and the greater availability of early-stage financing opportunities, happenings once thought to be remarkable are now increasingly commonplace. Yet Chicago’s entrepreneurial renaissance did not occur overnight. “Groupon was a symptom of all of the great things going on already,” said Kevin Willer, who Monday became the CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center after working for more than … ]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2011 09:38:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Bizydeal offers daily small-business deals ]]>

BRAD SPIRRISON: As Chicago is arguably the epicenter of both daily deal websites and business-to-business marketing, it is only natural for a Groupon-like site targeted specifically to small business owners to surface. ]]> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 02:24:34 -0600 <![CDATA[ Schooled by Excelerate, student loan finder edulender raises $1 million ]]>

Hundreds of local startups this month are competing to be one of 10 companies that will participate in the 2011 Excelerate Labs program. While the price for those selected is not insignificant - six percent of equity in exchange for up to $20,000 and 13 weeks of entrepreneurial boot camp - the payoff is potentially immediate and immense. According to Excelerate CEO Troy Henikoff, eight of the 10 startups that graduated last year (the first year of the program) have raised a combined $6 million while creating approximately 60 new jobs in the process. One of the company’s at the … ]]> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 11:16:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ No “pivot” required for Sprout Social to take root, says Lightbank’s Lefkofsky ]]>

Sprout Social is the fifth Chicago startup backed by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell to raise a subsequent venture capital round (in this case $10 million) from elite firm New Enterprise Associates. The batting average - or even field goal percentage - of the previous four is off the charts. While Groupon alone changed the Chicago startup landscape, the other three - InnerWorkings, Echo Global Logistics and MediaBank - are among the most successful companies to emerge locally in the last decade. A year ago, Lefkofsky and Keywell established a venture capital fund to invest (mostly their own money) in … ]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2011 14:18:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Google taps Chicago engineering team for new government transparency project ]]>

As witnessed in Egypt, Libya and other nations throughout the Middle East undergoing revolutionary change, the Internet is a virtual front in the battle between citizens and oppressive governments. Only weeks before the former Mubarak-led government shut down Egyptian Internet access, Google elected to empower a team of engineers to monitor and expose governments seeking to compromise or disrupt Internet access. Based in Chicago, the Google Transparency Report provides details anytime governments request the search engine behemoth remove or censor information. The report also tracks instances when states attempt to stifle or block the free flow of information on the … ]]> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 12:30:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Mayor says daily deal site shows Chicago at its best ]]>

When Mayor Daley took one of his final bows in front of thousands of local business and civic leaders Feb. 15 t a dinner hosted by the Economic Club, no company or city institution received more praise than Groupon. Chicago’s startup sensation, which ironically found its footing in 2009 around the same time the city lost out on the 2016 Olympics, has had some help from City Hall while in pursuit of its gold medal valuation. “Nobody ever heard of Groupon five years ago,” the Mayor said, while discussing his philosophy of new business generation. “How can you imagine something … ]]> Mon, 28 Feb 2011 14:12:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Media Chaperone piggybacks on Facebook’s virtual goods ]]>

A generation ago, it was not uncommon for parents to reward their children for staying out of trouble with a few extra quarters at the video arcade. Today, of course, video games — many of which can cause trouble — are accessible everywhere. So how can parents steer their preteens to the right ones? The founders of Chicago-based startup Media Chaperone believe that a combination of Facebook and virtual goods-supported game-play will help them get to the next level. For starters, Facebook is one of the few places on the planet with broad appeal to both parents and their children. … ]]> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 10:30:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Investors dissect local biotech funding market ]]>

BRAD SPIRRISON: While Groupon is putting Chicago’s emerging Internet industry on the map, the local biotech community is still in a sort of embryonic stage. ]]> Thu, 10 Feb 2011 13:23:19 -0600 <![CDATA[ Despite unnecessary roughness, pro athletes belong on Twitter ]]>

As a Jay Cutler apologist, Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew and the other NFL players who ridiculed the injured Chicago Bears’ quarterback via Twitter during the NFC Championship Game are dead to me. Yet as a sports fan and citizen, I’ll defend to the death (well, maybe not that far) their right to spout remarks out 140-characters at a time. For more than a decade, the Internet and social media has promised (or threatened) to remove the layers that exist between fans and professional athletes. Five years ago, newspaper columns and call-in radio shows began to yield influence to … ]]> Tue, 01 Feb 2011 12:14:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ The Verizon iPhone is a win for the entire mobile sector ]]>

While AT&T, Google and smartphone manufacturers like Motorola may take a near-term hit when the iPhone becomes available to Verizon customers next month, Apple’s expansion to other wireless carriers will have a positive impact on the entire mobile sector. This is particularly true for local application developers. “The iPhone is going to explode, and this will increase the adoption rate of smartphones in general,” said Alex Bratton, CEO of Lisle-based Lextech and multiple related companies in the mobile application space. “So many people were waiting on this.” Bratton added that many of his government and municipal clients that are locked … ]]> Tue, 25 Jan 2011 12:34:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ New Motorola shines at CES ]]> Lead story image

BRAD SPIRRISON: While Wall Street is bullish on the prospects of the newly minted Motorola Mobility, the company’s ultimate success will depend on how consumers will respond to its stable of smartphones and tablet devices. So far, so good. ]]> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 17:44:44 -0600 <![CDATA[ Fieldglass founder describes the benefits of “transactional” employment ]]>

Although the U.S. economy grew 2.6 percent in the third quarter, the job market still stinks. National unemployment is inching back towards double-digit territory and there is little hope that we will return to pre-recession levels anytime soon. Optimists will point out that employment is a lagging indicator of economic recovery. Yet even if that’s the case, this cycle seems a lot different. Technological innovation - which continues to create new industries in the mobile, consumer Internet and green sectors - is also rendering many “full-time” jobs obsolete. “Most companies aren’t worrying about a double-dip recession,” explains Jai Shekhawat, CEO … ]]> Mon, 10 Jan 2011 16:56:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Groupon is not the only Chicago tech story of 2010 and beyond ]]>

While Groupon is the undisputed tech story of the year in Chicago (if not the world), the immensely profitable, Google-spurning, hundreds of millions of dollars raising deal-of-the-day site is not the only game in town. “There are very positive signs that point to a larger trend,” said Matt Moog, CEO of River North-based consumer advice site and founder of the social network. Moog cited the $11 million round Lincoln Park-based raised from top-tier venture capital firm Benchmark as well as the nine-digit sales of Glenview-based and Itasca-based Accertify as other examples of “vibrancy” in the local … ]]> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 00:42:23 -0600 <![CDATA[ Firm business for SurePayroll leads to $115M sale ]]>

You know there are tectonic shifts in the local tech scene when a nine-digit sale of a 10-year-old Internet company barely draws any attention. Earlier this month, Glenview-based SurePayroll announced that it would be acquired by its more entrenched rival Paychex for $115 million. The all cash deal is expected to close later this year. While the sale is a win for the company’s founders and venture capital investors - which include Mesirow Financial, BlueStar Ventures and Kettle Venture Partners (the later two stopped making new deals many moons ago) - the exit was a long time coming. SurePayroll, which … ]]> Mon, 27 Dec 2010 12:56:00 -0600