GIS Monitor Aug 30, 2001


- LizardTech Gets a New CEO
- Stealing Screen Geography
- Correction

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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 company.

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


A new online service from is trespassing on paid-for ad space on the Web. The program basically covers existing Web ads with those from its clients.

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 subscriber.

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: [email protected].

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 in July 2001, compared with the 3.3 percent who went to

- 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 effectively multilingual.”

Douglas D. Nebert, Geospatial Data Clearinghouse Coordinator


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