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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Intergraph announced after the markets closed today that it was being acquired by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman LLC and Texas Pacific Group in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion. This is not an unexpected move. I believed that CEO Halsey Wise was brought into the company, almost exactly three years ago now, to increase shareholder value, settle the intellectual property law suits, and put the company in a position to be acquired. He has now accomplished those goals and I suspect the incoming financial partners have different plans. Generally, equity investors are looking for two things: acquire a company with lots of free cash flow to return to investors and/or sell off the parts of the whole for a better return on investment than if they simply held the company for its ability to generate revenue. Either way, I suspect that Intergraph will look a lot different in the future than it does today, if it exists at all. I could envision that the financial group that will acquire the company could sell the SG&I division, the group that developed its GIS solutions, to a company like Lockheed or even SAP; companies with strong government businesses that have a keen interest in geospatial technology. More thoughts on this to come after the investor call on Friday morning. 

by Joe Francica on 08/31 at 05:24 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

There’s a widely published story today (McClatchy Newspapers) on Venezuala’s informal economy. What caught my eye was this paragraph.

However, [Caracas Municipal Mayor Freddy] Bernal acknowledged that it will take a more comprehensive solution to relocate all the street vendors, particularly those in the boulevard of Sabana Grande, where there’s a large concentration of buhoneros [street vendors] (their red and orange tarantines are visible from Google Earth).

Technically, of course, yes you can start up GE and view them, but it concerns me that Google Earth is now standing in for/acting as a written short cut for satellite and other imagery. It’s just something to keep an eye on as we work to explain this industry and how it works.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/31 at 08:07 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

It’s been thought a few iterations, but the helmet includes cell phone, ability to play music from an iPod, GPS and other goodies. With all that you can do data collection (from C|net):

The newest Smart Helmet, finished this summer, lets the biker shake his head to turn on a microphone, which then records a voice command. For example, if Selker runs into a blind spot at an intersection or a pothole in the road, he can activate the microphone by shaking his head and then say “bad intersection” or “dangerous hole.” With GPS technology installed, the helmet will then detect when Selker is traveling near those same spots another day and turn on the recorded audio.

“I live in Boston where there are typically no street signs,” he said. “With the helmet, I can shake my head, and say, ‘Massachusetts Avenue,’ and create a virtual city.”

Selker said the helmet would sell for about $200 in a store, without the costs of a connected iPod or cell phone. Still, he has yet to commercialize the helmet. “I’m the only one who uses it. Making a prototype is hard,” he said.

It’s ironic that just this week teams of local byclists are heading out to map local hazards in Cambridge, MA - no GPS required.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/31 at 06:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CanalPDA wants just that! In a short article about the company’s new Map Insight tool, the site notes:

Right now, there’s no word about the map feedback function being added to the mobile navigation devices themselves. Nor there’s a mention of any reward for users contributing to improve the maps’ accuracy, beyond their personal satisfaction (a discount in the next version would be nice, wouldn’t it?). TeleAtlas may have lots of mapping vans roaming the roads of the world, but there’s nothing like having an army of paying customers working for you, free of charge.

I’m wondering how this is different from all those folks offering up free reviews of resturants or content on MySpace that puts money into the pockets of Yahoo, Google and Mr. Murdoch? I’d think a “hall of fame” for those who find the most mistakes would stoke the egos of map fanatics just fine…

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“As long as I can see the stadium, I’m good.”

-Pre-nursing freshman at Michigan State, Katie Hughes. An article in the school paper notes how difficult it is for first timers to navigate campus. One challenge: several online and print maps contain different information.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/30 at 06:14 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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