News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reston's Vibrant Economy Part 7: Party like it's 1999!

Time to grab the keys to the Boxter and go for a spin down Sunrise Valley Drive -- startup fever is back, baby!

A Reston wireless services company that specializes in location-based services announced today a $1 million investment from several notable names in the Washington business community.

SquareLoop's service sends information to a mobile phone based on one's location. If users sign up for the service through their wireless provider, they can receive emergency, weather and traffic alerts or advertiser-supported content. The service is not available yet, but the company expects it to be released in some locations early next year.
Sounds exciting, but these newspaper business writers have forgotten the lingo of the late 90s. What they meant to say was that the company will "monetize the geocoded wireless space by providing best-of-breed content mirrored with targeted revenue-enhancing products." And what it means is that the next time you're stuck in traffic on the Toll Road, you'll get texted with a $2 off coupon from Domino's. I'd buy that for $1 million!

Meanwhile, QuadraMed, a Reston-based provider of "provider of software and service solutions for healthcare organizations," announced a $5 million stock buyback. Since the stock closed at $1.84 last week, that's a lot of paper to scoop up. Now cough!

At least you're not Sallie Mae chairman Albert Lord, who's seen his personal stake in the awesome, much-courted student loan company fall from nearly $163 million to a mere $2 million as would-be suitors have fled, and then sued. You can't even buy an awesome Town Center loft for that pittance!

And while it's not a dot-com, the National Wildlife Federation -- the pro-animal group that didn't sue Hulk Hogan and a bunch of professional 'wrasslers, is losing 300,000 members a year.
Late last year, though, the nonprofit had to make a tough decision: spend more money to make money, or risk falling behind. The Wildlife Federation ended up spending some $2 million more on fundraising than the previous year, according to its tax return, sending out 20 million donor letters and nearly as many e-mails.

It worked — but just barely, bringing in 50,000 more members, says Senft, and bumping up donations and membership fees by 6 percent. “We were able to get ahead of the curve because our acquisition was so aggressive,” she adds. “But we didn’t gain ground until this year.”
To be fair, it's a common problem for nonprofits, as the awesome economy is taking discretionary funds out of the mix. Instead of sending a bunch of ineffective mass mailings, maybe they should invest in cell-phone startups and student loan companies.

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