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President Clinton Announces Impact of Commitments Made at the Second Annual Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

President Bill Clinton announced the impact of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), a meeting dedicated to forging collaborative solutions to the United States’ most pressing economic challenges. This year, CGI America attendees, who include leaders from government, business, and nonprofit sectors, made more than 50 new commitments valued at more than $1 billion that will create 32,000 jobs and fill more than 500,000 vacant jobs in the United States.

“This year’s CGI America participants have formed creative partnerships and come up with inventive strategies to accelerate employment, start new businesses, and prepare Americans to take the jobs that are open in the new U.S. economy,” said President Clinton. “From nearly $176 million of new capital that will go to small or medium enterprises, to the nearly 150,000 students who will gain access to STEM education opportunities, this year’s meeting has demonstrated the important advances we can make when working together towards a shared prosperity.”

Throughout the meeting, attendees generated Commitments to Action: new, specific plans to address an economic challenge facing the United States, such as job creation, small business development, clean energy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, housing recovery, and workforce development. Some of the commitments announced today will provide underserved young people with skills in digital media and construction, give women and minorities opportunities for entrepreneurship, and transform foreclosed properties into affordable housing.

When fully funded and implemented, the 58 new CGI America commitments aim to positively impact the lives of nearly 3.9 million Americans in the following ways:

  •              More than 32,000 jobs will be created, including 6,600 green jobs.
  •              More than 500,000 jobs will be filled by veterans and their family members.
  •              Nearly 68,000 people will receive improved access to capital or financial services.
  •              More than 117,000 people will benefit from access to job training and certification.
  •              Nearly 760 million kilowatt hours of energy will be saved.
  •              More than $84 million of new capital will be invested in green initiatives.
  •              More than 12,000 people will gain increased access to health services.
  •              More than $640 million of the total value of the new commitments will address housing recovery, including returning distressed single-family housing to productive use, retrofitting homes in 25 new cities, and developing affordable housing units for low-income individuals.

President Clinton concluded the two-day meeting by encouraging leaders to find ways to create an innovative and sustainable tomorrow. In the final session, “What’s Next? Towards a More Perfect Union,” Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Regina E. Dugan, senior vice president of Advanced Technology and Projects at Motorola Mobility; Duncan Niederauer, director and CEO of NYSE Euronext, Inc.; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History; and Mark Vachon, vice president of Ecomagination at General Electric, spoke about the importance of STEM education, supporting American innovation, and the future of the American economy.

The second day of the CGI America meeting opened with the “Sustainable Finance” plenary session, where Donna Gambrell, director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund; Lisa Hall, president and CEO of Calvert Foundation; Ted Howard, executive director of the Democracy Collaborative; and Jim Koch, chair and founder of the Boston Beer Company, Inc., discussed sustainable access to capital to both grow existing businesses and finance new ventures.

Equal opportunity in employment and entrepreneurship was the topic of the second plenary session, “Pathways to Opportunity,” which featured Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Peter G. Peterson, chairman and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Chelsea Clinton, board member of the Clinton Global Initiative and William J. Clinton Foundation;  John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, Inc.; Kyle McCollom, founder of Triple Thread Apparel; Ai-jen Poo, director of National Domestic Workers Alliance; Jerry Sue Thornton, president of Cuyahoga Community College; and Joan Walker, executive vice president of corporate relations at Allstate Insurance Company.

CGI America is sponsored by J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, Allstate Insurance Company, The Dow Chemical Company, ExxonMobil, The Joyce Foundation, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and APCO Worldwide.

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United Way Brings Together Greater Philadelphia Business Leaders for Celebration of Women and Leadership

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative hosted its annual gala last evening to celebrate women leaders in philanthropy and volunteerism. Presented by Independence Blue Cross, proceeds from the gala support the work of United Way’s Women’s Initiative, which focuses on programs for at-risk women and girls, including Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow (GTLT), a program that helps at-risk adolescent girls develop self-esteem and leadership skills.

The gala, attended by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter and members of the business community, was co-hosted by Sherryann Plesse, principal and chief learning officer at Vanguard and Renee Rhem, vice president, customer service at Independence Blue Cross.  Sixth and seventh grade girls, who are part of the 2012 Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow class, were featured in the program which also recognized Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown as the 2012 Women’s Initiative award winner.

“The mission of United Way’s Women’s Initiative and that of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is the same,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “We’re both committed to ensuring the success of women and girls in our region- I know we all left the event feeling inspired by her leadership and passion.”

“The Councilwoman leads by example and her life commitment to women’s issues is evident,” added Amy Frazier, Marketing & Sales Leader at Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Chair of United Way’s Women’s Initiative. “As women, she challenged us to continue to do more for our girls, and our community.”

The Women’s Initiative is comprised of many of the region’s top professional women who give, advocate and volunteer in support of at-risk women and girls. Through United Way’s Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow program, girls participate in community- and school-based activities that help them build self-esteem, honor their bodies and maintain healthy relationships with their peers.

The United Way Women’s Initiative is a leadership network committed to philanthropy and volunteerism in the Greater Philadelphia area. The Women’s Initiative is bringing positive change to our community by increasing the impact of women donors, increasing the number of women volunteers, and strengthening programs serving at-risk women and girls.  The Women’s Initiative’s signature program – Girls Today, Leaders Tomorrow – is changing the lives of at-risk adolescent girls and supporting area agencies with proven success in serving this vulnerable population.

United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measure the results. United Way is advancing the common good in southeastern Pennsylvania by focusing on education for children, income for families and health for seniors.

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New Electronic Waste Recycler Opens in West Philadelphia

AscentiveTech News from the Ascentive team

On Monday, Covanta Energy Corporation, a world leader in the development and operation of Energy-from-Waste (also known as EfW) facilities and other renewable energy projects, announced the launch of a new business to responsibly recycle and dispose of electronic waste (also known as e-waste). ECOvanta, located on 58th Street in West Philadelphia, is a state-of-the-art recycling facility that properly recycles electronic waste such as computers, monitors, mobile phones, printers and televisions. The facility safely manages end-of-life electronics using a combination of manual disassembly and an automated shredding system to separate materials into commodities for recycling.

Numerous studies show that E-waste is the fastest growing segment of the municipal waste stream in the U.S. with over three million tons of electronics generated each year of which only 14% is recovered for recycling. The rest typically ends up in landfills. Electronics should not be disposed of in the trash because most contain heavy metals such as lead (avg. monitor contains 4-7 lbs. of lead), mercury and cadmium.

“It’s important to properly recycle electronic waste to ensure we protect our environment from potential harm. I’m happy to see that new businesses like ECOvanta are coming to Philadelphia. They are not only providing a solution to this issue, but they are also creating new investment in our community,” said Carlton Williams, deputy commissioner of sanitation, City of Philadelphia, Streets Department.

ECOvanta has successfully passed audits and has been recommended to receive the R2 and ISO 14001:2004 certifications.  These rigorous third-party certifications ensure that e-waste is being recycled responsibly and sustainably. Everything that comes through the ECOvanta facility is sold or recycled as a processed commodity according to R2 standards. ECOvanta also audits all downstream vendors to ensure that they too are recycling correctly.

“We are excited to be launching this new venture into e-waste recycling. It is a growing market and we see a great opportunity to a provide proper, responsible way to recycle and dispose of these materials as more and more people become aware of its importance. In addition, we are proud to be providing new green jobs in the City of Philadelphia,” said Seth Myones, Covanta Americas president.

ECOvanta also offers secure destruction services for customers who require assured and certified destruction of their electronic equipment. Customers can follow the secure chain of custody process to track and identify material as it moves through the system. The process eliminates risks to information integrity by completely sanitizing hard drives or other storage media using a leading software program that meets all regulated destruction standards prior to manual disassembly and shredding.

The facility serves customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic, New York/New Jersey and New England regions.

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Science Startup gets Major Funding to Battle Cell Phone Radiation

AscentiveBusiness news from the Ascentive team

On Wednesday Pong Research Corporation, a science-based solutions startup that protects cell phone users from the potentially harmful effects of radiation exposure, announced a major capital investment by Catterton Partners, a leading consumer-focused private equity firm in North America. The investment will be used to accelerate Pong’s global marketing and distribution growth, particularly in North America, Europe and China. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Pong’s patented cell phone cases are the only solution that has been proven in laboratories certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to redirect cell phone radiation away from the user while also protecting the cell phone’s signal strength. The user’s exposure to radiation is reduced by up to 95% below the FCC limit, as measured on the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) scale. Pong’s proprietary technologies are backed by more than 15 years of research and development, resulting in discoveries in how to “direct” radiation through electromagnetic interactions. Pong’s target market is large and growing – the number of Smartphone users worldwide could top the 1 billion mark by 2014(1). The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent classification of cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen, Pong expects to benefit from a continued increase in consumer demand.

“Pong’s laboratory-proven devices allow consumers to substantially reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation without compromising cell phone performance,” said Dr. Shannon Kennedy, Pong Research Corporation President and CEO. “Our unique, patented offering, which is the result of years of scientific research and product development, has made Pong the global leader in products that protect consumers from the potentially harmful effects of cell phone radiation. We are very proud of the global appeal for Pong’s products, having now gained loyal customers in over 25 countries worldwide.”

The Pong team, led by Dr. Kennedy, will continue to manage the Company, taking advantage of the financial and strategic resources created by the partnership with Catterton. “Now that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, as part of the World Health Organization, has classified cell phone radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans, we expect much greater consumer awareness and adoption, particularly in the U.S.,” Dr. Kennedy continued. “Our new partnership with Catterton will help us capitalize on that significant opportunity. We look forward to benefiting from Catterton’s financial and operational expertise, which we believe will allow Pong to reach the millions of consumers around the world who are looking for a proven solution to prevent unnecessary exposure to cell phone radiation.”

“Pong is on a trajectory of explosive growth, and we are delighted to partner with them to help bring Pong’s breakthrough products to more mobile users worldwide,” said Michael Farello, a Partner at Catterton Partners. “As the only manufacturer of protective cases that offer a simple, proven and cost-effective solution to reduce exposure to the potentially harmful effects of radiation transmitted by mobile devices, Pong is truly a game-changer in the industry. We look forward to working with the talented team at Pong and leveraging our financial and operational expertise to help Pong realize its significant growth potential.”

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Daily Deals for Moms secures Funding

Business news from the Ascentive team

On Monday Daily Deals for Moms, a social couponing website for moms and families looking for and sharing deals with a commitment to support small business and keep retail dollars in the community announced it has secured a round of angel funding. The group of investors includes Victor Lazzaro, Jr. of Denver based Volante Capital, LLC. The company will keep the financing open to strategic investors, but intends to close the round within the next few weeks. The infusion of capital will fuel growth, further build infrastructure, and continue to drive awareness of the site as it expands into more cities.

“The experience and insight our investors bring will contribute to the next phase of our development,” said Ashley E. Kingsley, co-founder and CEO of Daily Deals for Moms. “This funding validates our vision of supporting small businesses and specifically serving the needs of families in the communities we support. It also allows us the means to build the necessary infrastructure to grow and expand.”

“The growing popularity of social couponing combined with more than three trillion in spending by Moms, makes Daily Deals for Moms an obvious value proposition,” said Vic Lazzaro, managing director of Volante Capital, LLC. “I am pleased to support Daily Deals for Moms and am confident the company’s management team is properly focused and well positioned for continued expansion and leadership in the social couponing arena.”

Launched in 2010 by “Mompreneurs” Ashley E. Kingsley and Whitney Trujillo, Daily Deals for Moms say they stand apart from other daily deal sites by supporting smaller local businesses and mom and pop shops, with a commitment to keeping capital local. Daily Deals for Moms primarily serves secondary markets such as Denver, Toledo, and Des Moines. The site has successfully gained traction among the price conscious Mom community. Daily Deals for Moms is specifically focused on products and services Moms and families want, without the added hassle. In addition, it has a very loyal following from the merchant community, much owed to the fact that it was the first to put a cap on deals. This infusion of capital will support the next phase of growth and innovation as the site rolls out to 15 new cities this year.

In conjunction with the financing, Daily Deals for Moms has added Vic Lazzaro to its Board of Directors. Lazzaro is a managing director with Volante Capital, LLC, a private equity firm with headquarters in Denver, Colo. Within the private equity portfolios, Lazzaro currently serves as CEO of BridgeHealth Medical, Inc., and is a senior advisor of Signum US Healthcare. In addition he is an advisor to and a guest lecturer at the University of Colorado at Denver’s MBA in Health Administration program.


Hackers prank Tupac hoax on PBS website

Business news from the Ascentive team

PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network’s website and posted a fake story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand. LulzSec, the hacker group that claimed responsibility for the prank, are said to have acted in response to a recent “Frontline” investigative news program focusing on the whistleblower site WikiLeaks. PBS confirmed Monday that the website had been hacked. The phony story had been taken down as of Monday morning. It had been posted on the site of the “PBS NewsHour” program, which is produced by WETA-TV in Arlington, Va.

Anne Bentley, PBS’ vice president of corporate communications, said in an email that erroneous information posted on the website has been corrected. The hackers also posted login information for two internal PBS sites: one that media use to access the PBS pressroom and an internal communications website for stations, she said. She said all affected parties were being notified.

David Fanning, executive producer of “Frontline,” said he was learning of the hacking early Monday, nearly a week after the program aired its “WikiSecrets” documentary about the leak of U.S. diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks website. The documentary, produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, generated criticism and debate on the program’s website in recent days from those sympathetic to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and from those who thought the program was fair, Fanning said. “Frontline” producers hear impassioned responses all the time, Fanning said. Having a group attack the PBS website over a news program was unusual but “probably not unexpected,” he said. “From our point of view, we just see it as a disappointing and irresponsible act, especially since we have been very open to publishing criticism of the film … and the film included other points of view. This kind of action is irresponsible and chilling.”

A group calling itself LulzSec (aka The Lulz Boat on Twitter) claimed responsibility and posted links to other hacks, including a video apparently taunting the network. Taunting messages were also posted on the group’s Twitter page targeting the PBS program “Frontline.” One message said the group recently saw the “WikiSecrets” show and was “less than impressed.”

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote about the “WikiSecrets” documentary in his weekly column Thursday, saying it had generated only a handful of complaints, though he had expected more mail from viewers. “This may be a good thing for Frontline if it suggests that most viewers found the program to be in keeping with Frontline’s reputation for fair yet tough reporting,” Getler wrote. Getler raised some questions about the reporting in the program but said he found the questioning by interviewer Martin Smith to be “tough but proper.”


Peter Stern joins Bit.ly as CEO

Business news from the Ascentive team

Three years after founding bit.ly as a home-grown startup inside betaworks, John Borthwick is passing the reigns to a Bit.ly’s first actual CEO, Peter Stern. Borthwick will remain CEO of betaworks and concentrate on new products and investments. Borthwick helped hatch Bitly as one of his incubator’s projects and has overseen it since, while juggling lots of other balls at the same

Stern comes most recently from Zenbe, a webmail platform and mobile that went through a Facebook talent acquisition last November. Stern, who was a co-founder, didn’t go to Facebook. He’s more a New York kind of guy. Back in the 1990s, Stern founded Datek, one of the original online brokerages. Stern led its growth to one of the four largest online brokerage firms before merging with Ameritrade in 2002. Prior to Datek, Stern helped build “cool electro-optic sensors and devices, most of which are classified.”

bit.ly allows users to shorten, share, and track links (URLs). Reducing the URL length makes sharing easier. bit.ly can be accessed through our website, bookmarklets and a robust and open API. bit.ly is also integrated into several popular third-party tools such as Tweetdeck. A more full list of third party tools can be found on the bit.ly blog. Unique user-level and aggregate links are created, allowing users to view complete, real-time traffic and referrer data, as well as location and metadata. Tracking stats are available after users shorten their long links with bit.ly by clicking on the “Info+” link on bit.ly, or just adding a “+” sign to the end of any bit.ly link

Although bit.ly started out as a link-shortener – and that is still primarily what it is used for- all of that realtime data about the links people are sharing is very valuable and can give rise to other products. For instance, bitly data is at the core of its News.me reader for the iPad. “You can expect bit.ly to build on its strengths,” says Stern, “enabling people to explore and share content in other ways beyond url shortening.”

Bit.ly has raised $14 million in a few years, and shrinks more than 8 billion Web addresses a month. Late last year, bitly raised $10 million, which it is putting towards new product development and hires (including Flickr’s former product chief).

Stern says a version for Apple’s iPhone is also in the works.