Friday, July 31, 2009

Franklin firm launches Web+5

Franklin-based BusinessWays announced it has launched its Web+5 web-development services division. Image:

PsySolutions sells unit to Aetna

Psychiatric Solutions announced today it is selling its employee assistance program business to Aetna for about $70 million.

Emerging Leaders

This year's Nashville Emerging Leaders Awards (The NELAs) highlighted, among others, two players in Nashville-area startups and growth companies: (L-R) Jennifer LeMieux, SVP-Marketing at Passport Health Communications; and, Rachael Qualls, founder and CEO of Angel Capital Group, a for-profit angel network based in Hendersonville, with staff in Knoxville and a sister network in North Carolina.

Virtual Reality: food for thought

Out of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Laboratory (VHIL), thanks to the Mercury News, comes a report on applications of virtual reality technology that could sway the minds of the young, those with weakly held opinions and others, for good or ill. The story's here.

Tilting at Windmills

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, in recent years a staunch advocate for nuclear-powered energy plants, this week issued another broadside against the Obama Administration's push to further subsidize wind-to-energy, and a nation of windmills. The release is here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

BorderJump gets fulltime Prez

Bobby Frank, who'd been splitting his time between an ad agency and startup BorderJump, which helps U.S. online retailers serve Latin American customers, has now committed to the president-CEO role on a fulltime basis. Here's our earlier report on the company and its entrepreneurs.

IPO candidate Cumberland Pharma

Yesterday, Nashville-based Cumberland Pharmaceuticals filed the 20th Amendment to its shelved two-year-old IPO filing with the SEC. With rumblings of the IPO mart coming back to life (e.g., Dollar Gen), Cumberland may soon stop vamping off-stage and let loose 5 million shares or more, by which it hopes to net about $89 million-plus. The company's net income in 2008 was $4.8 million, on revenue of $35.1 million. The raise, if and when, would provide capital for beefing-up its sales ranks, acquisitions, product development, and commercial introduction of Caldolor, which is Cumberland's IV formulation of ibuprofen. It can market the product in the U.S. In Canada and Australia, third parties are pursuing regulatory and licensing approval. That's Cumberland CEO A. J. Kazimi, at left.

TyraTech loves WSJ

In this era of All Things Green, it's easy to understand why an item in today's Wall Street Journal is important to tech-transfer portfolio watchers at Vanderbilt, as well as to firms in Memphis and in Florida. In a report on use of natural ingredients as pesticides, the WSJ made happy campers of the folks at TyraTech, a Florida firm with R&D and tech-commercialization ties to Vanderbilt, at the same time gracing Terminix, the marketer of SafeShield, which contains ingredients engineered by TyraTech. Terminix is a unit of Memphis-based ServiceMaster. Meanwhile, Nashville industry recruiters and your loyal scribe are awaiting words from TyraTech regarding its once-rumored relocation here from Melbourne, Fla. VU is home to key TyraTech scientist Essam Enan (at left).

Venture activity

PlayCore: Chattanooga-based PlayCore Holdings, a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of playground, park and recreation, and youth-fitness products, and a portfolio company of Irving Place Capital, announced its acquisition of Plant City, Fla.-based GT Grandstands, Inc., a designer-manufacturer of grandstands and bleachers. Knoxville: TheBoard of Directors of Flight Safety Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:FLTS) unanimously voted to terminate the registration of shares of its common stock and the filing of annual, quarterly and other periodic reports with the SEC, citing "the significant savings of legal and accounting fees and costs associated with compliance with Sarbanes Oxley..."

Kisber, Farr gently lay down the law

ECD Commissioner Matt Kisber and Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr believe there'll be more innovation to come, if TNInvestco is a success. This week, they're yanking some knots out of the lines of communication, particularly as it relates to the role of a new VC consortium. The story's here.

Syncada in Memphis

U.S. Bank and Visa Inc. announced creation of a new online platform to enable companies to process invoices, pay and be paid and finance receivables through a single unified system. The new company, Syncada, will be based in Minneapolis, but Memphis will be home to a key operations center.


UnitedHealth Group, which offers AmericChoice coverage through TennCare, is traveling the state with a telehealth exhibit and has awarded more than $300,000 in grants to communities and health organizations to encourage telemedicine. The KNS reports. Related UnitedHealth-Cisco news release. Teh roadshow is at Meharry Medical College today.

VU progress in recruiting minorities to physics, materials sciences

Vanderbilt announced astronomer Assoc. Prof. Keivan Stassun (at left) won a $50,000 fellowship from the Fletcher Foundation to support increasing the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing scientific careers. He'll develop a model of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program, in collaboration with researchers at the Columbia Law School Center for Institutional and Social Change. The VU program has attracted 30 underrepresented minorities; has become the nation’s top producer of blacks earning masters in physics; and, is projected to become the top awarder of doctorates among underrepresented minorities in the targeted fields.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wheego e-Car to visit TN cities

Wheego announced today its electric lowspeed vehicles -- the Wheego Whip -- will debut in a roadshow that includes Nashville and other key cities, this summer.

$170MM State IT contract to EDS/HP

The State of Tennessee announced its award of a $170MM IT, software and business-intelligence contract to EDS/HP, in support of Medicaid operations.

TVA culture 'killer'?

The KNS reports on how TVA's culture contributed to the failure of diligence leading-up to the Ash Spill. Makes one wonder how many other enterprises are studiously avoiding reality. The story's here.

Key Biologics

A nonprofit blood bank in Memphis decided to earn cash by starting a for-profit venture, Key Biologics, which today is playing a role in advancing cell therapy research. The CA reports, with comments from InnovaMemphis.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lifeway's Songmap (update)

Lifeway's Songmap technology platform allows Christian music professionals and aficionados to mix, match and enhance eletronically portions of recordings, to create 'perfect moments' in worship services, or for other purposes. Lifeway's release is here. Our earlier post is here and City Paper's update this week is here. Songmap services also represent a new source of royalties for songwriters and publishers.

Emdeon IPO

If ever you doubt that perspectives differ between entrepreneurs in seed- and early-stage companies, on the one hand, and corporate executives looking to go public, just take a look at Emdeon's IPO, finalized today. It'll attract somewhere between $140MM-$380MM. The SEC filing says the IPO offering process, itself, will cost Emdeon about $9.5 Million, in addition to sales commissions and underwriting discounts.


EmergeMemphis, the business accelerator, announced four new members of its board of directors, tapping executives from VACO, Butler Snow, Leadership Academy and Howell Marketing. Release here. Meanwhile, closely aligned LaunchMemphis has both a business-plan bootcamp and a StartupWeekend scheduled for August.

RCM: RemitDATA coup

Memphis-based RemitDATA, a revenue-cycle management player, is crowing this morning about hiring its new chief technology officer, Wade Wright, away from MedAssets, a competitor. The release is here (pdf).

USEC's nuclear 'shock'

Bethesda-based USEC Inc., which has strong ties to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, announced a blow this morning, in the form of DOE denying its application for a $2 billion loan guarantee to support an Ohio centrifuge project that would help generate enriched uranium for nuclear power plants. The company's release is here. USEC earlier laid-out its case for the guarantee, here. The Chillicothe Gazette provides background.

Monday, July 27, 2009

CNN notes VU stimulus grant

CNN ran a bit this morning on Vanderbilt University's receiving a $3 million NIH Stimulus grant to support research by more than 30 fellows, all coordinated by VU's Institute for Global Health. Kudos! all. The VUMC Reporter's story this week is here. VU's broader story on its sizeable Stimulus wins, also published this week, is here.

CFO departs ConnectivHealth

[corrected 10:15 a.m.] ConnectivHealth CEO Scott McQuigg says CFO Bob Kinard (at left) has left for what McQuigg described as another very attractive opportunity, which McQuigg said he was not at liberty to divulge. McQuigg said last week he has not decided whether or not to replace Kinard with a CFO. In February, ConnectivHealth announced it would concentrate solely on its HealthTeacher business. Kinard, who had been with ConnectivHealth more than two years, previously held a series of high-profile posts, including chief corporate development officer for Passport Health Communications, where he spent seven years; director of development for Phycor for 20 months; director of KPMG Health Ventures for nearly six years; plus, three years as an analyst with AmSouth Bank. Kinard earned his MBA at the University of Alabama and his finance degree at Florida State. Kinard also confirmed his departure, but declined at this time to comment on plans for his future career, which has been almost entirely in healthcare.

Braggin' rights: Qualifacts, Digome

Back in October, we reported on Roe Frazer's new Digome LLC sports and entertainment startup. Roe wrote this weekend that since then they've done work for Titans defensive end Kyle Van Den Bosch, and Kentucky coach John Calipari... We also recently reported on Qualifacts' alliance with a North Carolina firm, to push for e-health consortia. Now comes a Qualifacts release noting that, among other feats, in 1HCY09 the company signed 14 new contracts in eight states. Qualifacts also says it's making strong progress signing providers in Georgia, a recently added territory.

TNInvestco Update

Between the aversion some have to working with government and the economic climate, generally, it's understandable Tennessee and out-of-state VCs would be cautious in approaching the new TNInvestco venture capital program, launching Aug. 1, as the result of the passage of the program by the General Assembly last spring and Gov. Phil Bredesen's recent signature of the act, earlier this month. A briefing on the new program drew perhaps 75 executives associated or allied with venture firms, which could be a good thing, unless most of them ultimately opt out. Here's this morning's story.

News Red-eye

We're catching-up: Here's the story on recapitalization and CEO changeup at The Documentary Channel... The update on Waddey & Patterson's hiring a trio of IP attorneys... The Entrepreneur Center gets an online project manager... Economist Pat Choate on the U.S. depression and an E&Y exec notes they're keeping an eye on N'ville...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TN patent share

Data published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicate Tennessee's share of all patents of domestic origin awarded since 1963, as a share of patents awarded to originators in the Fifty States, is about 0.9 percent. Here's the chart.

Web advocates meet at Chattanooga

[Updated Aug. 2] The Open Web Education Alliance, a new Web-education advocacy group that intends to be global in mission and makeup, will convene at Chattanooga, Aug. 5-8. Among other things, attendees will further refine a white paper on standardizing Web education. The OWEA intends to distribute the document during the March 2010 SouthxSouthwest event, at Austin. reports. UPDATE: The Times Free Press weighs-in with its report on the event, Aug. 2.

Gov. Bredesen underscores clean-energy target

In an op-ed published by the Times Free Press, Gov. Phil Bredesen reiterates his reasons for commitment to Tennessee's clean-energy sector, citing national and international recognition the state has received, in addition to investments here by Hemlock, Wacker, et al.

Alexander Heard (1917-2009)

Vanderbilt University Chancellor Emeritus Alexander Heard (at left), a beacon of courage, intelligence and civility, died Friday at age 92. Two excellent obituaries have been offered this weekend by Liz Latt of the Vanderbilt news service, and Naomi Snyder of The Tennessean. Few Americans have contributed as much to the nation, the South and to education as Alexander Heard, political scientist, advisor to U.S. Presidents, academic leader amid civil strife, chairman of the Ford Foundation, teacher, mentor, father and husband. He always welcomed fresh ideas and diversity of opinion, and raised the value of public discourse at Vanderbilt, and beyond.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

U. Memphis launches entrepreneurship MBA

The University of Memphis requires enrollees in its new Entrepreneurship MBA to development plans to launch new ventures while pursuing the degree. They'll have access to capital from Innova Memphis, and are expected to work at the crossroads where the Fogelman College of Business and Economics' biomedical and service-marketing MBA concentrations intersect. The CA reports.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MyOutdoorTV CEO is Del Favero

Albie Del Favero (at left), formerly an executive with Southcomm Communications, with primary responsibility for BusinessTN and The City Paper, has been named CEO of Corp., based in Franklin. Earlier, DelFavero was publisher of the Nashville Scene weekly newspaper. Related earlier story, here.

TVA appoints communications chief

In effort to bring what it refers to as 'greater clarity' to its communications, TVA in Knoxville has hired David Mould away from his job as NASA's assistant administrator for public affairs. Mould earlier served as a special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Previously, he was a principal in the Washington, D.C. office of Griswold-Lesser, an Atlanta-based public-affairs firm. Prior to that, he was VP-communications for PG&E National Energy Group, a wholesale electricity and natural gas supplier affiliated with PG&E Corp. of San Francisco. He also has served as director of public relations for Mirant Corp., an electricity and natural gas supplier based in Atlanta, and as media relations manager for Southern Company of Atlanta, one of the nation’s largest holding companies for electric utilities. Earlier in his career, he was a reporter and editor for United Press International (UPI), for which he covered the 1986 NASA Challenge Space Shuttle accident and 19 other shuttle missions, among other national and international duties. He has a business master's from Emory and a bachelor's in communications from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. KNS story, here. Emily, a former staffer for then-U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and former secretary of the Senate, continues to lead TVA government relations and regional outreach, according to a TVA release.

Carlisle financials out today

Carlisle Companies, which recently announced expansion of its tire and wheel operations in Jackson, Tenn., issued its quarterly results this morning: Sales of $618.5MM meant a decline of 26%. The release is here.

Morgan Keegan debacle could broaden

The Commercial Appeal reports Morgan Keegan is trying to avert SEC enforcement action in an atmosphere in which the SEC has been accused of being 'asleep at the wheel'. The story's here. Earlier, related story here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BP Solar adopts Hendersonville firm's techy

Hendersonville-based Energy Automation Systems Inc. (EASI) announced today it landed BP Solar International, a major solar-panel manufacturer in Maryland, as a customer for its energy-conservation technologies.

XMI joining VC gathering?

Later this week, the Tennessee Capital Formation Board will convene for the first time since the passage of Tennessee's pro-venture Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act, which will spawn up to six TN Investco's, as they're being called. Thus far, the TCFB meeting seems likely to attract dozens of VCs, all eager to know how the TN Investco program will be run by Tennessee Economic and Community Development, acting in collaboration with Tennessee Technology Development Corporation and the State Department of Revenue. In addition to widely recognized VC and private-equity firms, word is XMI Management (Xebec) is sending a representative from its XMI Capital division, which helps XMI companies do M&As, divestitures and capital financing. XMI Capital President Jim Phillips recently confirmed for VNC that XMI is interested in knowing more about the TN Investco program. XMI Management is a holding company controlled by entrepreneur Mike Shmerling (at left), who, among many other civic activities, co-chaired a local Chamber initiative to examine how to meet the need for an Entrepreneurship Center in metro Nashville. The need for such a resource was identified in 2005, and the Chamber has said it hopes to have an online presence for such a center, but not a bricks and mortar facility, up and running this fall.

HealthStream ranked

HealthStream (NASDAQ:HSTM) announced it's the only Tennessee-headquartered company to make it into the FORTUNE Small Business ranking of "America's 100 Fast-growing Small Public Companies," at position 33. HealthStream will release quarterly results July 27 and have a call with analysts, July 28. (The Memphis-based subsidiary of an Ohio company made the FORTUNE ranking, as earlier noted on this blog.)

Sharp Solar

There's a nice rundown on how SHARP's operations in the Memphis area fit into Gov. Bredesen's solar strategy, online with Memphis Daily News. At left, a worker inside the Sharp plant.

E&Y, Dow Jones reports out

Ernst & Young's national VC practice leader, Bryan Pearce, made himself available yesterday for a chat about recent reports on VC activity, and offered some practical advice for founders. The story's here.

Capital Confirmation

At Brentwood-based fintech player Capital Confirmation, the duo of CEO Chris Schellhorn and Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Brian Fox report strong gains, despite the economy. What's the Pantry in Hillsboro Village got to do with it? Our story's here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

[Updated] Atlanta Fed Chief speaks in Nashville

[Updated 1:39 p.m. CDST] Dennis Lockhart (left), president and CEO of the FRB of Atlanta, spoke today to Nashville Rotarians. In a transcript provided by the Fed, Lockhart summarized his message -- reflecting his sense that even as growth resumes there will be no "sharp rebound" from this economy --as follows: "The economy is stabilizing and recovery will begin in the second half. The recovery will be weak compared with historic recoveries from recession. The recovery will be weak because the economy must make structural adjustments before the healthiest possible rate of growth can be achieved. While this adjustment process is going on in the medium term, I believe inflation and deflation are roughly equal risks and require careful monitoring. Slack in the economy will suppress inflation. And inflation is unlikely to result—by direct causation—from the recent growth of the Fed's balance sheet. In any event, the Fed has a number of tools being readied to unwind the policies used to fight the recession, and it will be some time before their use is appropriate." In a speech a month ago to security-industry professionals, Lockhart touched on global imbalances, consumer sentiment, the troubling condition of the U.S. commercial-real estate sector, and more. The Nashville Branch of the Atlanta Fed has an advisory board led by Rich Ford, which provides Beige Book input for the Fed, as reported in this VNC story.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tazzle startup

Franklin, Tenn.-based Tazzle Inc. today introduced its technology for attaching photos and other documents to Blackberry transmissions.

SEC may sue Memphis firm

Memphis investment advisors at Consulting Services Group may be sued by the SEC, according to the CA, covering this long-running, complex story, in which culpability remains uncertain. CSG advises the Shelby County pension fund, among others.

TVA smart grid advances

EPB's smart meters have been a big success with consumers in Chattanooga, as part of a TVA-led push for the smart grid. The TFP reports.

EHR stymied by legacy advantages

Ineptness, inefficiency and over-reliance on legacy tech firms have put the advance of EHR in peril, says WIRED.


Tennessee Tech and folks in Knoxville are getting a nibble at a new set of Department of Energy wind-to-energy grants. The KNS reports here. The DOE release is here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Passport Health promotes RCM tech leader

Passport Health Communications today announced a slew of promotions and hires, perhaps most notably including the elevation of Marcus Padgett (left) to senior vice president for total revenue-cycle solutions. Padgett had been VP of that function. Other appointments and promotions were in the technology, software and customer-service areas. Padgett was earlier vice president for systems integration for Nebo Systems, which Passport acquired in 2008. He earned his MBA at the University of Chicago.

CVC Capital and Pilot Corp.

The KNS reports on Pilot Corp.'s acquisition of travel centers from Flying J (left), with headquarters for those operations being consolidated in Knoxville. The story notes the Haslam family continues to share ownership with Propeller Corp., which is tied to Luxembourg-based CVC Capital.

Regions' Morgan Keegan SEC warning

Regions revealed it's gotten an SEC Wells notice regarding threatened action in the wake of scores of investor lawsuits regarding Morgan Keegan's alleged role in the collapse of mutual funds. The CA reports.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tech Rally, Dell Slump

The Mercury News reports Wednesday's stock-market run-up was propelled by Tech, but the rally left some analysts skeptical, given continued restraint in corporate spending. In contrast to Intel's performance, the Dell Inc. slump continues to cast a cloud over the still-confident company, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

SEC rules comment from Bass Berry

Nothing less than exec compensation, proxy rules, reporting directorships and explaining just why you chose the corporate organizational structure you did, in light of your circumstances... Hmm, even if you're not a reporting company, you might want to peruse Bass Berry & Sims' attorneys quick-ins on the latest SEC rules, here.

Rash is back

Marty Rash, founder and later chief seller of Province Healthcare, has founded an exurban hospital buyup company, RegionalCare Hospital Partners, with strong backing from Warburg Pincus. Read about it.

TMA adopts DocSite

Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) has adopted the technology and services of DocSite LLC, based in Raleigh, N.C., for integrated clinical information, outcomes reporting and related information flows. The DocSite release is here.

Brentwood's ZOOM in partnership

Brentwood-based ZOOM International today announced a sales and marketing alliance with Atlanta-based GMT Corp., through which the companies will sell a unified WorkFORCE product offering for call centers. VNC's earlier story on Brian Shore (left) of ZOOM.

Export U. in Nashville, July 30

For 59 Bucks, entrepreneurs who want to enter or expand their international business can learn a lot in a few hours, by registering for the U.S. Commercial Service's Export University, in Nashville, July 30, 2009 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). The flyer's here and the registration page is here. Sponsors include the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, FedEx, Regions, Tennessee ECD, Belmont University, SBA and others.

TN Investco process begins

The Memphis Daily News provides an update on Memphis VCs Innova Memphis and MB Venture Partners' interest in participating in the soon-to-launch Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act program, that will charter TN Investcos to invest in early-stage Tennessee ventures, in the interest of jobs creation and economic development. Other VNC TNInvestco coverage of the new program.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Informatics ranking

Middle Tennessee healthcare tech and tech-enabled companies Spheris, Healthcare Management Systems, Passport Health Communications, Healthstream and Cumberland Consulting Group all made it into the 2009 Top 100 ranking by Healthcare Informatics.

Trade Wars

Pretty mild stuff, really, this competition to create one or more health-medical trade centers in Nashville, New York City and-or Cleveland... Still, Nashville's track record and the convergence of socioeconomic trends have spurred some here to pursue establishment of the Nashville Medical Trade Center. One question: Where will Clayton McWhorter come down, if he has to choose between two very different bandwagons. Read about it here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Passport forges another alliance

Passport Health Communications, based at Cool Springs, announced today an alliance with another revenue-cycle tech provider, Bluemark LLC, based in New Palz, N.Y. Bluemark helps ensure reimbursement for services rendered to medically indigent patients who may be covered by public-benefit programs, including Medicaid or charity assistance. Passport has previously announced a series of similar alliances.

Telecom: Local researchers examine Stimulus impact

Telecom Pragmatics, based in Nashville with an office in Maryland, provides just a teasing amount of intel from its recent report on projected impact of Stimulus spending on Telecom infrastructure. You have to pay big bucks to get the full report, but Telecom said in a release today, "Large construction firms contracted by the independent telcos will get the biggest amount of money because about 60 percent of Fiber-To-The-home (FTTH) costs are in this activity.... Corning is the dominant optical fiber provider in the U.S., as well as a large supplier of other outside plant equipment. Calix will likely continue to be the market share leader as an overall access provider to the IOCs because as a private company, it can afford to put market share ahead of margin. Others that will greatly benefit include FTTH electronics manufacturers like Enablence as well as vendors of passive gear for these applications. Also, given the relatively large amount of funds devoted to the 'middle mile', optical transport suppliers will substantially benefit. In addition, there should be noticeable sales of head-end gear as well as routers for the backend. Moreover, there could be a fair amount of money spent on HFC upgrades by the cable TV companies. Telecom Pragmatics believes [Stimulus spending for] FTTH will substantially dwarf DSL, wireless, and other solutions. " Telecom Pragmatics also keeps a running list of predictions validated. Among predictions: AT&T and its peers will focus increasingly on wireless Video transmission.

Zepherella enters Tennessee

Seed-stage Zepherella says it will bring its healthcare payment service-as-as-software to the aid of consumers and physicians in Tennessee, this fall. Read today's story here.

Owen GSM saves EMBA seat for nonprofits

For the fourth year, the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University has teamed with the Center for Nonprofit Management here to award an executive with a local nonprofit organization a free ride to an Executive MBA at Owen. Owen pays the freight. The story is here.