GIS Monitor Aug 30, 2001
- LizardTech Gets a New CEO
- Stealing Screen Geography
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LIZARDTECH GETS A NEW CEO
LizardTech appointed marketing veteran Bill Patterson as the new president
and CEO. Founder and previous CEO, John Grizz Deal, will step down but
will still be heavily involved in the company’s partner program.
LizardTech was formed in 1992 to leverage technologies created at research
organizations. Generation I of its MrSID technology was licensed from Los
Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and its DjVu technology began life at
AT&T; Labs. The company focuses on storage and delivery of digital
information, most notably in GIS circles, imagery. MrSID format is now
supporting in most major GIS products. The company’s model is to provide,
or have partners provide, a plug-in viewer for the format – typically for
free. Those who want to put their huge image files in MrSID format pay for
compression software. The model works a lot like Adobe’s model for Acrobat
and its Portable Document Format (PDF).
LizardTech has had some difficult times. In 1999, the company began a
lawsuit against competitor Earth Resources Mapping (ERM) alleging patent
infringement, illegal use of MrSID trademarks, illegal copying of a
LizardTech SDK and making false statements when comparing ERM’s ECW to
MrSID. In April 2000, the United States District Court, Western District
of Washington, found that ERM’s Internet banner ads were potentially
confusing to consumers and ordered ERM to modify them. Despite this, the
court ruled in December 2000 that ERM did not infringe on the LizardTech
patent. The litigation no doubt put additional financial burden on the
There is no mention of the lawsuit on the LizardTech website.
In July of this year, LizardTech offered many of its 150 employees the
choice of a salary cut, a move to part-time employment or voluntary
departure. LizardTech reported that 20 employees chose to depart, with a
total of 40% participating in the cost-cutting measures.
LizardTech’s second round of funding came in May 1999 in the form of a $4
million commitment led by Bellevue, Washington-based Encompass Ventures
Partners. Its third round of financing in February 2000 was led by Oak
Investment Partners and totaled $15 million. November 2000 saw an
additional $25 million investment led by Mitsubishi, which included a
partnering relationship with the Japanese company for product development
and distribution in Asia. Since then, it’s been rather quiet. Further
investment in the form of an IPO is doubtful in this economy
STEALING SCREEN GEOGRAPHY
A new online service from Gator.com is trespassing on paid-for ad space on
the Web. The program basically covers existing Web ads with those from its
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) threatened to block the practice,
prompting Gator to sue IAB instead. IAB has the backing of AOL and many
print publishers. The latter equate the practice with ripping off the back
page of a print magazine and replacing it before delivery to the
Gator CEO Jeff McFadden argues that the practice is more akin to Silicon
Valley “hacks” such as IBM putting ads on billboards near Oracle
headquarters. Wrong. It’s like IBM putting their ads over the top of
billboards Oracle has paid for.
The IAB and friends plan to file a complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission arguing that Gator interferes with business relationships and
is being deceptive.
In last week’s discussion of the Open Data Consortium I provided incorrect
contact information. The correct email address is:
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Thrifty Canada, Ltd., based in Toronto, is signing on with AirIQ to
track its high value vehicles. They don’t say exactly how they’ll use the
tracking system, however. Acme Car Rental of New Haven, Connecticut used
AirIQ’s services to track speeding which led to fines and lawsuits.
- In an article discussing Web surfers’ tendencies to visit only a handful
of sites regularly – and not venture into the unknown – the New York Times
notes that the top sites get substantial attention. 82 percent of map site
users visited Mapquest.com in July 2001, compared with the 3.3 percent who
went to randmcnally.com.
- On the heels of my discussion of proprietary vs. open software last
week, comes news that AV Linux will be moving to selling a mix of open and
proprietary software. AV Linux reported a $290 million loss for the most
recent quarter. The company, which once hoped to sell Linux-based
computers, joins ArsDigita and Covalent Technologies in selling
proprietary add-ons to open source programs. Says the chief executive of
the mixed model: “[we needed a] business model that was proven.”
- I will deliver the keynote address at the Illinois Geographic
Information Systems Association’s fall conference to be held in Lisle,
Illinois, November 5 and 6.
- Meredith Williams has posted instructions for importing the “new” SDTS
DEMs into ArcView 3.2 and ArcGIS 8.1.
- Manifold has posted a few samples of its new Manifold Internet Map
Server that ships with the product. The server delivers .PNG raster files.
These are beta sites and work only with Internet Explorer, though the
final version will support other browsers. This may be an inexpensive way
to get that map server you always wanted…
-On ”Mapping Cell Phone Dead Spots”
“Great commentary on ’dead-spots!’ I wanted to let you know that companies
like Telephia collect this type of data and sell it commercially.... I
doubt that you will see anyone offering this type of data (based on
detailed field RF signal strength measurement) for free. There are
numerous newsgroups with daily Q&A; posts about coverage, i.e.
alt.cellular.sprintpcs. This is consumer usage and not detailed
engineering type data. The next logical step for the carriers in filling
in dead cells is to find co-location sites to add new antenna. That's
where Tower Maps comes in. (Sorry for the selfish plug.)”
David Ward, Tower Maps
-On “Proprietary vs. Open”
“Go get 'em!!! Your articles on "Proprietary" and Sharing data are right
on the money! Keep on standing up for what you think is right.”
Robert Spiva, California CAD
“Nice little clarification. In the OGC circles it has been helpful for us
as a community to understand, from the interface perspective, that there
are ‘public’ and ‘private’ interfaces to software. This does not connote
or infer better or worse, only that we focus on public interface
development and don't even worry or discuss functions/interfaces that are
deemed to be private or not suitable for standardization.... There is
minimal vendor interest or advantage perceived these days in exposing too
much of the mortar between all your blocks of code, but instead, in
supporting a small number of external interfaces that speak a ‘public’
request and response format, following the model of simple ‘Web Services.’
Business on ‘private’ channels continues, but one’s software ends up being
Douglas D. Nebert, Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Coordinator
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