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Capital Buzz: Smartphone war is the talk of Terk Tech

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By Thomas Heath
Monday, July 19, 2010

Call it Washington's version of Allen & Co.'s media titan conference held at Sun Valley in Idaho every summer.

A few dozen media and technology entrepreneurs -- and a high-ranking government official or two -- gathered at Ralph Terkowitz's rambling McLean estate last week for the seasonal meet-up known as Terk Tech. (Terkowitz was the chief information/technology officer at The Washington Post Co. and is now a general partner at ABS Capital Partners, a Baltimore-based venture capital firm.)

"Terk Tech is always about what's new, cool, controversial, fun and relevant to today's media industry," said Dan Simpkins, chairman of Hillcrest Laboratories in Rockville.

Simpkins, who owned a third of Salix Technologies (think Skype) when it was sold for $300 million in February of 2000, talked up his new technology -- known as Kylo -- aimed at bringing an Internet browser to television. He said marrying computers to television is a growing trend. Why? "Because people want to surf the Web on television."

Beyond the convergence of media, Dwight Gibbs, chief information officer of New York-based Invision, which supplies advertising technology to the media and cable television industries, said the real buzz at Terk Tech centered on the smartphone war between Google's Android and Apple's iPhone. The iPhone has more apps and it has the Apple halo, but Android's open-source, Java-based development platform, its accelerating growth and the variety of devices it powers make it quite compelling.

Asked where the deals will happen over the next couple of years, Terkowitz said "judging from the conversation, there are a lot of entrepreneurs focused on the integration of the Web with the monitoring and management of health care. A lot of people in the [Terk Tech] group see this as the next great area for innovation."

That wasn't the only takeaway.

"My kids want a soft-serve ice cream machine like Ralph's," said Gibbs.

MONUMENTAL CHANGES

Lots of changes are taking place at the new Monumental Sports and Entertainment empire that mogul Ted Leonsis bought from the estate of the late Abe Pollin this spring.

In a memo going to 450 employees Monday (July 19), Leonsis was to formally announce he is taking over as Monumental chairman and chief executive, with offices at the Verizon Center and at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.

Dick Patrick will serve as chief operating officer of Monumental, reporting to Leonsis, as well as keeping his job as president of the Capitals. Patrick will also run most of the revenue-generating groups at Monumental, overseeing the combined ticket, sponsorship and premium seating sales organizations.


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