Tuesday, February 19, 2008

iMiners, Inc. Launches Data Feeds for Portals That Will Increase Traffic, Stickiness, and Return Visitors

Today is an exciting day for us at iMiners! This morning we announced the launch of our iMiners Data Feeds service to enable any portal site or public company IR site to display news releases in our categorized format via an XML feed. This represents a major new enhancement to the way the typical portal site displays news (only chronologically) for visitors. Same holds true for public company IR sites; the typical IR site displays news releases chronologically, thus making it difficult and time consuming for visitors to find specific information. Now, with an iMiners feed any site can display their news releases in one of our 10 major categories (Awards & Recognition, Conference Call & Meetings, Corporate, Customer & Partnerships, Financial, Industry Events, Legal, M&A, Management Changes, Products & Services), thus making relevant information MUCH easier to find. We fully expect that numerous portal sites and public company IR sites will subscribe to this feed to enhance the end user experience. See the press release here: http://www.primenewswire.com/newsroom/news.html?d=136547

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Silicon Valley, Start-Ups Begin Hitting the Brakes

There is an interesting article in today's WSJ, page B1 titled "In Silicon Valley, Start-Ups Hitting the Brakes". As I just moved to the Bay Area in August, specifically to join a startup, this article caught my eye immediately. The article starts off by talking about several small companies that have recently raised additional funds to build a financial cushion in case business turns south. It talks about another company that is carefully watching its spending and "only making critical new hires". I worked at a startup before iMiners that was angel-funded, and we were always careful about how we spent money. Hiring always came after revenues were generated, and that discipline from our Founder enabled the company to survive and thrive through the dot-com bust and 9/11. It wasn't always easy, but it was what we needed to do to ensure our survival against much larger, much better funded competitors. iMiners is no different; all of us have been through the dot-com bust and understand how to be fiscally responsible. We are growing our business, but always careful about spending.

My question is: When DOES it make sense to not watch spending, and to make non-essential hires? My startup experience is only with angel funded companies, so perhaps one needs to be more fiscally responsible when you only have angel money to tap. VC-backed companies (from what I've heard) tend to burn through money at a faster clip because they feel the need to put the money to use or the VCs will ask why they are not using the funding for product development, marketing and sales. Which model is better? An angel funded company where the founders maintain complete autonomy, there is less dilution of the company, but you have less funding (usually), thus making it more difficult to grow quickly? Or a VC model where you dilute the company, risk losing control of decision making, but have the funding to spend on marketing outreach and to hire a large sales team? What do you think? I'd like to get comments and experiences from people who have worked for both angel-funded startups AND VC-backed startups.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Financial portal sites fighting for traffic

I read an interesting post over the weekend on the IR Web Report blog (http://www.irwebreport.com). The post is titled "Yahoo! Finance has lost its way" (can be found here: http://www.irwebreport.com/daily/2008/02/09/yahoo-finance-has-lost-its-way). I found it intriguing because it discusses a topic that iMiners is currently addressing through our Data Feeds application: useability and usefulness of financial portal sites. Yahoo! Finance, AOL Money and Finance, and MSN Money have been duking it out in recent months for top spot re: total unique visitors per month. Google Finance lags far behind. Each site has a plethora of information, catering to individual and institutional investors. But how easy is it to find information at each of these sites? How can they each be improved to make the user experience better? I'm sure the teams of people who work on these sites think about this 24/7, but our little team at iMiners thinks about it as well. We think what we are doing relative to company issued news releases is relevant to an investor's evaluation of a company. Categorizing a company's news releases makes it faster for investors to find what they are looking for, but if you go to any of these portal sites what you will find is simply a long chronological listing of a company's news. Google Finance is the only portal site of the four mentioned above that plots news on the stock chart to give context into what might be impacting a company's stock price, but they rarely plot company issued news releases (more often than not it is only articles from Forbes, Business Week, CNN Money, etc, etc). iMiners Data Feeds can enhance any financial portal site, and in coming weeks/months we intend to bring our applications to sites that are interested in making the end user experience a more productive, and ultimately, profitable one.

Monday, February 4, 2008

How to deal with adversity, in life and at a startup

I am a huge Boston sports fan, and since I moved to the Bay Area this past August I've continued to religiously follow the Boston teams. In fact, when I couldn't find a local Patriots fan club here in the East Bay I decided to organize one! The East Bay New England Patriots Meetup group was launched on September 9th, the eve of the first game vs. the NY Jets, and has now grown to about 45 members. See our group here: http://patriots.meetup.com/38/ It's been a great way to meet other people who are as passionate about the Patriots as I am. And it was real fun for 18 games and about 59 minutes of the 19th game. But alas, the NY Giants did to the Patriots what we've gotten used to the Patriots doing to everyone else in recent years: pulling out a last second win in the Super Bowl. I also coach my daughter's 5th/6th grade basketball team. We won our first 3 games (all by double digits), but on Saturday after taking a sizeable lead we were outscored 14-2 in the last few minutes and lost. So not a great weekend for the O'Brien family (and it rained all weekend, too!).

My children (ages 11 and 9) were extremely upset after the Super Bowl loss last night (and my daughter was majorly ticked off after her basketball game loss), but it was a good opportunity to teach them about how to deal with loss. The lesson is that whether it's sports, or school, or business, or whatever else you might try in life, sometimes things don't go exactly as planned. So you can sit and dwell on it, or you can pick yourself up and move forward. Winners bounce back by using the experience to improve. Winners face adversity head on. Losing makes you tougher, and after you've experienced a loss it makes winning feel that much sweeter! I moved to the Bay Area last August from Massachusetts because I wanted to join an early stage startup to experience the satisfaction of growing a company from almost no revenues to something extremely successful. We've made great progress, but every day I have to tell myself the same lessons I am teaching my children about how to pick yourself up after you've been knocked down. Life at a startup is not easy. But you have to approach every day as a new challenge, and believe that if you persevere you will eventually be a winner.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Joining a Bay Area startup

This is the inaugural post of my blog about moving my family to the Bay Area, joining a company called iMiners, and the lessons learned working at a startup. In August, 2007 I moved my family from Massachusetts to the East Bay, CA town of Danville. We moved 3,000 miles to get away from the snow, ice, and cold of New England winters, and for the challenge and opportunity for me to work at an early stage company in the most dynamic, exciting place in the world for entrepreneurship. I joined iMiners, Inc. (http://www.iminers.com) as VP of Sales and Marketing at the end of August, and when I joined we had two paying clients, Nvidia and Sigma Designs. Now we have four clients, but in the last week announced a new joint marketing agreement, launched a new product line (iMiners Data Feeds), and are planning to launch another major new product in March. This blog will focus on the ups and downs, and lessons learned of working for a Bay Area early stage startup. What does iMiners do, you might ask? Here's an introduction to the business problem(s) we have identified, and how we plan to make an impact:

How many times have you gone to a financial website like Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, or any brokerage site, to do research on a company and come away frustrated at the time it took to find relevant information? For example, go to any popular financial portal and type in a company ticker and attempt to review the company’s most recent news releases relating to management changes, M&A, legal issues, product announcements, and/or customer partnerships. What you will most often find is simply a chronological listing of the company’s news releases, interspaced with blogs, magazine articles, and other non-company issued information. The problem gets worse if the news you are looking for was released 6 months ago! iMiners, Inc. (http://www.iminers.com/) a technology startup based in Livermore, CA, is changing the rules in search for how investors access relevant information, quickly.

iMiners was founded in June 2005 by Jnyaneshwar Prabhu & Sandesh Prabhu, specifically to help investors find relevant information quickly when researching a company. iMiners has categorized every press release issued since April 1, 2006, by every US public company trading on the NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX, into one of ten major categories (Awards & Recognition, Conference Call & Meetings, Corporate, Customer & Partnerships, Financial, Legal, Management Changes, M&A, Industry Events, and Products & Services) and 69 subcategories. iMiners’ proprietary database currently contains over 325,000 fully categorized releases issued by over 6,500 public companies and is growing by about 1,000 releases each day. iMiners provides a set of easy to use, visual tools including news by type, interactive charting, and a targeted search engine, in an attempt to provide deeper context and insight into how news may impact stock price. Investors can find relevant information they are looking for quickly within seconds vs. scrolling through volumes of data.

In early 2007, iMiners launched a free portal at http://www.iminers.com/, and made available all its tools, and access to its proprietary database. Today, any visitor can type in a stock symbol and research a company either through news by category, its stock chart, custom search, and even set email alerts when that company announces news in a certain category of interest. Then in mid-2007, iMiners began providing hosted interactive press rooms, productized as "PR Interactive", on a subscription basis to public companies that want to improve the user friendliness and productivity of their stakeholders. Today, cutting-edge companies such as Nvidia and Silicon Image have deployed iMiners services on their IR sites. Most recently, on January 30, 2008 iMiners and Comtex, a leading provider of economically useful electronic real-time news, announced a joint marketing agreement to provide categorized news via XML data feeds to all of Comtex’s clients. The service, called iMiners Data Feeds, is available to Comtex clients, or any site that wants to drive more traffic, keep visitors longer, and keep them coming back because of a positive user experience. iMiners Data Feeds can be fully customized based on the specific needs of a portal including full market, industry specific, or company specific. Data Feeds are a natural step towards standardizing the categorization of releases for investors. For more information, or to subscribe to a data feed visit: http://iminers.com/datafeeds.

Later in 2008, iMiners will launch products that will continue to leverage its growing proprietary database of categorized releases. These plans include launching a comprehensive institutional investor portal that will provide access to unique tools, and proprietary algorithms for event impact, correlation, and prediction. Information is power, especially on Wall Street, and iMiners will continue to revolutionize the search process for relevant actionable information akin to finding the proverbial "needle in the haystack." We look forward to having you along with us for the ride!