Bloomington-based Video Guidance plans sale to British firm

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By Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune

“Mike Werch, who started Video Guidance in 1999, is merging his Bloomington-based video conference company with London-based BCS Global Networks.  BCS, which operates mostly in Europe and Asia, started the courtship in 2013 and pursued Video Guidance to broaden its product and geographic portfolio. The unspecified cash-stock deal is expected to close within a few weeks between the private companies. Werch will get paid over the next four years, partly based on performance.”

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Selling the cold, Minnesota’s tech community welcomes data centers

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By Matt McKinney, Star Tribune

“The bracing chill of a Minnesota winter doesn’t make for alluring tourism slogans, but there is an industry beyond dogsledding in which it’s a selling point: data centers.  Selling all that cold air to tech companies that need to keep towers of computers from overheating has become the work of people like Tom Lambrecht, manager of economic development services for the utility cooperative Great River Energy.”

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Tech nonprofit TIES funded by state schools misspent millions

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By Jennifer Bjorhus, Star Tribune

“A technology organization funded by Minnesota school districts misspent millions of dollars on a headquarters renovation, mismanaged a State Fair parking lot and had such lax financial controls it paid for nonexistent services, according to a private audit obtained by the Star Tribune.

TIES, a St. Paul-based nonprofit founded in 1967, has an annual operating budget of about $30 million, nearly all of which comes from member school districts, who tap the organization for training and technology such as the popular FeePay online system for lunch and activity payments.”

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75F on a roll, sees big growth ahead

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By Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune

Deepinder Singh, a veteran engineer who has worked for the likes of AT&T and Verizon, is the understated entrepreneur behind 75F [75 Fahrenheit], the fledgling firm getting good public reviews for a system that cuts energy usage for small commercial buildings without decreasing comfort”

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BestBuy.com tanks twice on Black Friday

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By Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune

“It was not the Black Friday headline Best Buy was hoping for.  The Richfield-based electronics chain stumbled on one of the biggest shopping days of the year with its website going down twice in one day.  Best Buy attributed the issue to “record levels of website traffic” that overwhelmed its site.”

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Builders send home buyers online for inspiration

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By Jim Buchta, Star Tribune

“…[Justin] Spoelstra, a software expert who was teaching at Brown College, did far more than that. He took pictures of the property and created software that enabled him to wipe away the previous owner’s decorating and give the house a complete digital makeover. In a virtual way, he was able to paint the walls, install new flooring and replace the cabinets. The ploy worked. Spoelstra got the house — and a new business [Preferred Interactive].”

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OceanTech rides bigger jobs to faster sales growth

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By Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune

OceanTech, a two-man electronic-waste recycler at inception in 2005, is putting up electric numbers as it takes bigger jobs decommissioning and reselling equipment from large firms and data centers.

OceanTech was founded by entrepreneurs Alex Sumetsky, 35, and Mikhail Zabezhinsky, 33, who worked for small recyclers a decade ago while they were students at the University of Minnesota. They struck out on their own in the Plymouth garage of Zabezhinsky’s parents, just as Minnesota and other states passed laws that banned dumping or incinerating TVs, computers and other electronic waste.”

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State can’t afford to wait for feds on crowdfunding

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By Lee Schafer, Star Tribune

“It’s about time somebody in the state decided to quit waiting for workable rules for equity crowdfunding from federal securities regulators.

A Minnesota group, calling itself MNvest and started by Minneapolis attorneys Ryan Schildkraut and Zach Robins, is hoping to persuade the ­Legislature next year to go ahead and let equity crowdfunding take place here. Quite a number of ­Minnesotans have jumped on board to help, including Sen. Terri Bonoff, a DFLer from Minnetonka.”

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The key to growth at Thief River Falls’ Digi-Key

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By Adam Belz, Star Tribune

Digi-Key Corp., a wholesaler of electronic components that’s based in Thief River Falls, Minn., announced last week that its European sales are up 26 percent through the first nine months of the year.

The private company doesn’t release its profits, but overall sales are expected to be $1.7 billion in 2014, and all the parts for smartphones, electric cars, LED lights and medical devices ship out of Thief River Falls. Headcount at the company has grown from 2,600 to 3,200 in the past 18 months.”

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Imation investor demands ouster of CEO

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By David Phelps, Star Tribune

“A group of dissident shareholders of the data storage company Imation have demanded the ouster of CEO Mark Lucas and the sale of certain assets to bolster shareholder value.

New Orleans-based Spear Point Capital Partners, which owns more than 2 percent of Imation’s stock, is also contacting other shareholders for their support to “make serious changes to the company’s strategy” and “demand results rather than words.”

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