Category Archives: technology

How Crain’s Chicago Got Tech Worker Pay Wrong

In “Chicago trails other cities in tech salaries and jobs“, the reader is presented with a very misleading article about tech worker pay. Between John Pletz, the woman doing the video interview and the people at Dice, I am not sure how they got this so wrong. Tech workers may look like a bargain but shhh…let’s hope the boss isn’t good at math.

Pletz says:

“Tech talent is in high demand in Chicago these days, and pay is going up. Unfortunately it still lags what techies make in many other big cities…”

As the resident tech writer for Crain’s Chicago, Pletz should be aware that he may be chasing tech workers away to Silicon Valley. The table shown, ranks Chicago lowest across what looks like average salaries for tech jobs by city. It looks like Silicon Valley workers are actually better off…with what looks like 19% better pay!
Having lived in there for a few years, that didn’t pass the smell test… 

While it is true those tech workers do make more money, the fact is that when you adjust for cost-of-living, the Chicago tech worker is actually better paid by about 11%. Here is one source of such information: ; here is how tech worker pay really stacks up:

Using normalized real dollars, looks like Dallas and Atlanta are the best with Silicon Valley and New York at the bottom. Of course these salaries are averages as are the indexes for cost-of-living – your mileage may vary.

Perhaps they were factoring humidity and wind chill?

Stanford Accel Online Advertising Symposium – Sir martin: We’re Not Dogs to be Kicked

Last Wednesday (2/25/09), I spent part of the day at Stanford University to check out the 15th Annual session – The Delta Conference: The Impact of 2008’s Dramatic Events on the World of Digital Media and Technology.

Much of the event was unmemorable until Sir Martin came up to the front of the room. Sir Martin should have been the keynote. He spoke in plain English about how the economy was doing and about businesses making a profit, i.e. organic revenue growth versus finance schemes. Not that he is any slouch in using the capital markets to buy growth or access to new technologies…just an interesting choice of how to view it all. Still, Sir Martin Sorrell packed a refreshing wallop talking about the state of the global economy, the advertising industry and even WPP (disclosure: I am currently affiliated with a WPP-owned agency Grey Advertising).


  • Global Economy. While upbeat, he likened the recession to the Enlgand in the 1970s when there was just a 3-day work week.
  • State of the Ad Biz. Sir Martin expressed amazement that for clients in grave financial situations, long-standing relationships often don’t matter saying, “We’re Not Dogs to be Kicked.” Though he did mention surprise that better-capitalized media companies were feeling that familiar pinch that agencies know with the recent call for 120-day payment terms. He continued saying that business has changed and it’s “not about the creative but the application of technology.”
  • Analytics. He specifically talked about the rationale for the recent Omniture strategic alliance (including $25MM investment) and TNS (parent of Millward Brown, Dynamic Logic and others) as evidence of the kind of analytical capabilities and consumer insight that would be a bigger part of WPP in the future.
  • Technology. In reference to the acquisition of 247Real Media, Sir Martin curiously pointed out that they couldn’t afford Doubleclick so they bought “the poor man’s choice.”
  • VCs & PE Firms.A financial industry “winnowing out” is underway because in the past these firms have far fewer exit opportunities for their investments. In the past, they haven’t admitted their mistakes and just sold them off to the next buyer (greater fool theory). Sir Martin said “the music has stopped,” and the business climate has changed. Specifcally, he mentioned that ad revenue that was more concentrated will now be more fragmented and there will be a Darwinian culling out.
  • Google as “Frenemy”. A question from the Silicon Valley audience mentioned his oft-quoted comment from 2007. He noted that while Google was previously gesturing towards providing their own agency services, with revenue now down and capital tight the reach up the food chain has diminished (from small advertisers doing search to large advertisers doing branding). This seems to have led to changing attitudes. He left it as the relationship is now of, “a friendlier frenemy”.

Low Points

  • Gratuitous and obsequious name-dropping.
  • Annoying Stanford MBA students. NOTE: table-hopping interrogation is not a recommended networking technique.
  • Most of the other sessions.

The Twilight Zone

Is it advertising or PR? How do you measure it? I spent this Wednesday contemplating that while attending the event held in SF’s Presidio. Disappointed by the lack of on-stage decorum but oh well.

Still many questions linger about measurement…fewer answers. Of note:

  • ComScore’s Gian Fulgoni – Despite PA-system glitches, Gian brought up their research on cookiesnot being infallible; he also reframed the “hater” questions about ComScore’s panel-based approach as about Basic Sampling Methodologies, i.e. Market Research/Statistics 101; Chicago-based Gian also dispelled a few myths about the growth of the ComScore panel and suggested that next year Mac users will be included.
  • Meet-up’s Scott HeifermanThe Heif managed to insult agencies and advertising clients but let everyone know that Meetup is now accepting sponsorships! huh? Scott wants you to know he favors Obama, all while throwing f-bombs for some reason; glad to hear that Meetup is now at breakeven AND doesn’t need any VC money. BTW, did IScott hails from suburban Chicago.
  • Quantcast’s Adam Gerber– Fascinating product with lots of potential; they don’t exactly spell out what their business model is for some reason.
  • Dave Smith of Medismith – Dave brought a rapidly escalating rhetorical 50,000-foot conversation down to Earth with one line: “…but I have campaigns to run.”
  • FM’s, John Battelle – for a few fleeting minutes, the Conversational Measurement Toolbox was being dangled, it was live…so close yet so far away. When can the clients beta test it?
  • Starcom’s Susan Desmond – fielded an unusual question from host John Battelle (bordering on obsequious) about Mad Men -“Was it really like that in advertising?” Susan was bullish on analytics in the emerging digital media agency; Susan is also based in Chicago.


OMMA Behavioral

All told great sessions held at Hotel Nikko, SF.

Some random observations:

  • What short memories marketers have. Total obliviousness to the four other companies that preceded the Behavioral 1.0: Neural Applications, HNC Aptex, Nestor Interactive and Trivida.
  • Somebody threw out $775 MM in BT spend this year. Where does this number come from?
  • Good session by Brent from Omniture about “antici-pointment.” That is Omniture-speak for the messaging disconnect from ad to click to landing page.
  • Where else can you hear the word, “Inchoate” used 3 times? Not at @dtech.
  • Eric from 33Across mentioned the need to re-use a la lead gen, users that expressed interest but didn’t follow-through to conversion.
  • Frost from Collective/Predictify talking about agencies having their own database of behavioral profiles.
  • Budgeting 15% of spend for optimization of campaigns.
  • The “Social Media Advertising Pile-On”

Check out OMMA Behavioral Raw blog

MP3s Coming soon…

YouTube founder to address U. of I.

March 28, 2007. URBANA-CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus who graduated just three years ago will be the university’s commencement speaker in May.

Jawed Karim, a co-founder of YouTube Inc., the popular video-sharing Web site, attended U. of I. from 1997 to 2000. He left during his senior year to help develop PayPal, an online service that allows people to pay for items electronically.

He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from U. of I. in 2004 after completing his studies through correspondence courses.

In 2005, Karim co-founded YouTube with two friends, and the company was sold last year to Google for $1.65 billion. In that deal, Karim received 137,443 Google shares, worth about $63.5 million at today’s prices.

Karim, 27, will speak at U. of I.’s commencement ceremonies May 13. He is currently a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University and a founder of Youniversity Ventures, which invests in startup companies.

Copyright (c) 2007, Chicago Tribune

Karim also gave a presentation late in 2006 for the UIUC ACM chapter; they’ve posted many other videos from former students and others.

Chicago Start-up/Creative Scene Documenter Gets Tribune Ink

The Chicago Tribune published a fair enough story about BusinessPOV (a consulting client of mine), a locally-based online media start-up in the city. BusinessPOV has created over 100 bite-sized video segments on local Chicago business available via RSS. Founded by non-technologists, they combine a fresh journalistic style with high production values to document entrepreneurs, investors, thought-leaders and innovators alike.