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This article was prepared for the January 23, 2002 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Finding Capital During The `Nuclear Winter’
The IPO window is all but closed, stock markets are
jittery at best, former tech heroes — from Lucent to Enron —
are reeling, and no one is sure whether the economy is down, but
up, or is at the beginning of a long slide. There is nothing investors
hate more than uncertainty, and 2002 is positively awash in
uncertainties of all kinds.
A result, says Maxine Ballen, president of the New Jersey
Council, is a "nuclear winter" for technology companies in
need of funding. "It’s a major crisis," she says. "So
many of our good companies have gone out of business." There is
money around, but, says Ballen, "people don’t want to part with
it." Not in this economy.
Every technology segment has been affected. "You name it,"
says Ballen, "it’s across the board. This has been our whole
topic for several months."
On Friday, January 25, at 7:30 a.m. NJTC’s sixth annual New Jersey
Capital Conference begins at the Princeton Marriott. Cost: $160. Call
856-787-9700. Ballen says the conference addresses concerns of middle
market companies, those with sales in the range of $2 million to $200
million. This year, the concern is access to money, and the conference
brings together more than three dozen experts on ways to get into
position to raise it and on strategies to shake it loose from nervous
Keynote speaker is Frederick J. Beste, president of Mid-Atlantic
Venture Fund. He speaks on "Raising Money? Forget Valuation: Think
Values!" Seminars, each lasting an hour, address alternative
sources of financing, leveraging intellectual property, strategic
investment, preparing for the next IPO window, merger and acquisition
strategies, and venture trends in New Jersey.
As 9 a.m. approached on the morning of September 11,
some Liberty Science Center staff members were in their windowed
just settling down to work, while a number of others were in the
waiting for groups of school children to start arriving. The Liberty
Science Center sits directly across the Hudson from the World Trade
"When the plane hit the first building," they thought it was
an accident, recalls Connie Claman, vice president of finance
and facilities. When the second plane hit, the staff was told to
to get out of the area. But many had not yet pulled away, Claman says,
when the towers collapsed. Soon the science center became a refuge
for workers who had fled across the river. "Most went to the ferry
terminal," Claman says, "but some came here."
Security is important at the science center as it never has been
"Our staff saw the whole World Trade Center happen before their
eyes," says Claman. "It’s been a very traumatic time."
It has also been a time to assess, and re-assess, security measures
for visitors, many of them school children, and for the staff. On
Wednesday, January 30, at 7:30 a.m. the Liberty Science Center hosts
the New Jersey Technology Council Security Symposium, a half-day
Cost: $80. Call 856-787-9700.
Claman moderates the "Protecting your employees" panel, which
addresses disaster recovery training, practice drills, crisis control,
and disaster communication planning. Speakers include Dennis
Musolino of SunGard; Stephen Foster, retired FBI agent; and Lee
Brodsky of the Carey Group. Other panels are "Securing your facility"
and "Guarding your data."
The science center was closed for two weeks following the attacks
as a family assistance center was set up in Liberty Park. Claman says
she and many other employees helped out in getting it up and running.
"We put in sod and planted flowers," she says. "We wanted
it to look as nice as possible." The opportunity to pitch in and
help was a positive for the staff, she says.
The morale booster was important. "When we come to work,"
Claman says, "many of us drive in. We always saw the World Trade
Center as we drove up. It was right behind our building. It was really
heartbreaking for us for several months. Emotionally very
It was at least a little frightening too. "We were right
Claman says. "We didn’t know what else would be a target."
Because of New Jersey’s proximity to the attacks and the subsequent
anthrax mailings, the staff at the science center has been nervous,
and they are not alone. The Security Symposium will help, Claman
by providing information on a range of security options and by giving
attendees an opportunity to network and to share their experiences
in dealing with safety issues.
Claman, a 1974 graduate of Mount Holyoke who holds an MBA from NYU
and worked in finance for General Electric for 10 years, has been
with the science center for 11 years. She started two years before
it opened after learning about non-profit management, in part by
part-time at the Jersey City Museum in the years during which she
was raising her children.
For her institution, the September 11 attacks have meant increased
security. Visitors’ bags are now searched and put through metal
More perimeter cameras provide surveillance of the grounds, and more
interior cameras, especially in the lobby, watch activity in the
There have been a number of evacuation drills, and state police have
been in to speak with the staff and to answer their questions.
The science center may well pick up tips on instituting more security
measures at the NJTC Security Symposium. "Networking sparks
Claman says. "All of us can learn from each other."
Security can be a secretive industry. Jerry Ruddle
says his firm, Graphco Technologies of Newtown, Pennsylvania, provided
face screening at last year’s "championship football game at
James Stadium in Tampa." That would be the Super Bowl, but
in the firm’s contract forbade use of that term.
But, of course, security is no laughing matter. Not anymore. Ruddle
is president and COO of Graphco, a 20-person company that specializes
in voice and face recognition technology. These are types of
an emerging technology devoted to identification of individuals based
on biological traits. Ruddle says a recent survey indicated that
was a $200 million industry in 2001, and will grow to $1.8 billion
Ruddle speaks on a panel addressing "Securing your facility"
on Wednesday, January 30, at 8:40 a.m. at the New Jersey Technology
Council’s Security Symposium. Other panelists are William
president of Iridian Technologies; and John Fabry, director
of technology, Galaxy Scientific. Cost: $80. Call 856-787-9700.
Ruddle, who received both his bachelor’s degree (Class of 1975) and
his MBA from Duke, came to Graphco after a 15-year stint at
The company was founded in 1995 to do work in the semi-conductor
switched to voice recognition, and then added face recognition. Its
customers are corporations, law enforcement agencies, and,
real estate entities, particularly retirement communities.
"Since September 11 we have been very busy," says Ruddle.
"September 11 caused a fundamental change in mindset." Privacy
concerns dampened enthusiasm for surveillance technology in the
11 world. "The biometrics market has been in the early growth
stage for a number of years," he says. But worries about Big
have shrunk. Ruddle says a recent survey shows 85 percent of Americans
approve of using face and voice recognition.
"There is interest across the board," says Ruddle. Large
want to protect facilities with voice and face access systems. Police
and other law enforcement agencies need to be able to quickly
whether an individual has a warrant outstanding in another
And retirement community residents want to make sure that intruders
don’t get past their security gates.
Face recognition can be used to check people at a public event —
like the Super Bowl — against images of criminals. When this is
done, Ruddle says, the fans’ faces are not stored. This means, for
instance, that a football fanatic who arrived late at his wedding
would not have to fear that his bride would ever find out his quick
trip to the game was the cause of his tardiness. Or, anyway, she would
not be able to nail him by accessing records of the faces of those
in attendance at the big game.
Face recognition also can be used to match faces at a factory or an
office door against a database of employees and other authorized
The science is not 100 percent accurate, says Ruddle. "There are
ways to make the system fail," he says, "but I won’t say
how." He does allow that lighting, and quality of camera equipment
and of computer processing all play a role.
Companies that want more foolproof security might want to use both
face and voice recognition. Graphco’s technology uses a mathematical
model to make a record of the voice of each person who is allowed
access to a facility. Then, each individual can say anything at all,
and his voice will be recognized. No passwords are required. Graphco
is working on combining face and voice recognition into one system.
Ruddle sees "great promise for dual biometrics in the future."
Voice and face recognition compete with any number of security and
surveillance products, including finger printing, the granddaddy of
all biometric systems. Newer technologies include increasingly
chips embedded in plastic cards, iris scans, and perimeter
systems. In the post-September 11 world, Ruddle says the market for
security is big enough for them al
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