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Tech and Biotech: Murfie partners with Samsung; Barbouche tosses barbs at JPMorgan conference

Tech and Biotech: Murfie partners with Samsung; Barbouche tosses barbs at JPMorgan conference


Madison online music marketplace Murfie has raised $876,000 from investors, but that’s only part of the story.

CEO Matt Younkle says the funding round is in progress — he’s hoping to close on as much as $1.25 million by the end of March — and that means federal rules limit how much he can say about the financing, for now.

In the meantime, Younkle is heavily focused on creating partnerships with equipment manufacturers — the ones making home theater systems and devices for home audio systems that stream music over the Internet.

The idea is to transform a stereo system by hooking speakers up to a home Wi-Fi connection. Then you can choose the music you want to hear, from the Internet, using a smart phone or pad as a remote control.

Murfie has had an agreement with Sonos for some time. Now, Samsung is on the list, too, with about 2,000 Samsung dealers being encouraged, as of this month, to sell Murfie’s services along with their equipment.

“They’re educating their dealer network about Murfie,” Younkle said.

There may be about a dozen music services available but Younkle said Murfie is the only one that takes a customer’s own CDs and sends them to the cloud, available for access — or to trade or sell — at any time.

“We’re the company that, for folks upgrading to these new types of audio — makes sure that their CDs and vinyl come along for the ride,” Younkle said.

Younkle was at the huge, international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month making contacts with equipment manufacturers and said more agreements may be in the works.

“We have a lot of good momentum,” said Younkle, about the company he co-founded in 2010. “I’m really excited about prospects for 2015.”

Slings and arrows for J.P. Morgan health confab

Just as the CES is a major annual January event for the techie crowd, so is the annual J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference in San Francisco.

It has long been considered an essential opportunity for biotechs — and more recently, health IT companies — to meet with the powerful, coastal venture capital firms.

But Michael Barbouche, CEO and founder of Forward Health Group, Madison, had an entertaining take on the event in the HIStalk blog this week titled “Why I’m Happy That I Did Not Go to the J.P. Morgan Conference (or, You Can Go Back to College).”

Barbouche likened the event to “that blowout fraternity party you didn’t attend during your first week on campus. If you don’t have an invite, well, sorry, you’re not going to the actual party.”

Last year, Barbouche did go and told the State Journal on Friday it’s “a big kind of speed dating event. ... And you are the one in every one of the sessions with the least amount of information.”

That’s not to discourage entrepreneurs from converging on San Francisco. But he said they should be careful what they disclose to venture firms.

“Investors who are really savvy are just trying to get information from you, usually to leverage in future conversations or to help investments in the things they’re (already) working on,” Barbouche said. “You shouldn’t anticipate that one of the big, major firms is going to write you a check for $30 million simply because you’ve talked to them for 30 minutes.”

PerBlue addsformer Glu exec

PerBlue has snagged a veteran of one of the nation’s major mobile game development companies.

Matt Ricchetti was president of studios for Glu Mobile, a publicly traded company based in San Francisco with teams around the world. Now, he is chief product officer at PerBlue, Madison.

A Cleveland native, Ricchetti said he decided he wanted to return to creating games instead of overseeing them. “I really like making stuff,” he said.

The best place to do that, he said, is in small studios, in less expensive, less competitive places ... like Madison.

PerBlue is profitable “so there is less pressure to deliver a massive return (to investors) tomorrow,” he said.

Even in Madison, it can cost more than $1 million to create a mobile game, PerBlue chief operating officer Forrest Woolworth said.

PerBlue, so far, has raised $5 million in venture funds and has more than 10 million users of its games such as “Parallel Kingdom” and “Titan Empires.”

Contact Judy Newman at with tips and story suggestions.


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