SimpleTuition Wins Two Awards in Web Marketing Assocation's WebAward Competition
Wins 'Standard of Excellence' Awards in Both Education and Financial Services Categories
Newton, MA, September 25, 2007 -- SimpleTuition, Inc., a company dedicated to helping students and parents make sense of education financing choices, today announced it has been honored with two Standard of Excellence WebAwards for its Web site development. The SimpleTuition Web site was recognized in both the education and financial services categories of the Web Marketing Association's annual WebAwards competition.
Now in its tenth year, the annual WebAward competition received nominations from 2,400 sites from 40 countries in 96 industry categories. Entries were evaluated on design, copy writing, innovation, content, interactivity, navigation, and use of technology. The competition was judged by a team of independent Internet professionals representing a variety of relevant disciplines of Web site development. Judges included members of the media, advertising executives, site designers, creative directors, corporate marketing executives, content providers and webmasters.
"Winning the Standard of Excellence award in both the education and financial services categories is a stellar accomplishment for our web development team," said Kevin Walker, CEO of SimpleTuition, Inc. "We have all worked hard to bring students and parents an intuitive and rich platform to search and compare student loan information. SimpleTuition will continue to work hard and set the standard for the industry."
SimpleTuition currently offers research and comparison information for over 100 student loan products, including Private, PLUS, GradPLUS, Stafford and Federal Consolidation loans from 45 lenders. With direct links to featured financial institution's online applications, the entire process can be completed online or via a toll free call. Users can sort results by monthly payment, total cost of the loan, number of payments, first payment due date and APR, as well as compare by lender, loan type, fund disbursement, credit sensitivity, minimum and maximum loan amounts, repayment options and borrower benefits. To ensure objectivity, SimpleTuition is not a lender.
About SimpleTuition, Inc.
Founded in 2005, SimpleTuition is dedicated to helping students and parents make sense of education financing options. Recently featured as one of Fast Company's Top 12 Web 2.0 sites and received Outstanding Achievement Award for website development from the Interactive Media Council, SimpleTuition offers the leading independent and interactive solution for researching and comparing over 100 private, PLUS, Stafford, GradPLUS and Federal Consolidation loans from more than 45 lenders. SimpleTuition is headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts and is funded by Atlas Venture, IDG Ventures Boston and North Hill Ventures. For more information, visit www.SimpleTuition.com.
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Semantic Technologies Meet SOA
Software Development Times
September 24, 2007 - Do semantic technologies have a place in service-oriented architecture (SOA), and more important, can they break organizations' reliance on expensive data warehouses? Metatomix believes they can.
This month saw the release of version 5.0 of Metatomix's semantic middleware platform. The platform applies business process rules, and semantic reasoning from industry domain ontologies to information that it collects, enabling customers to integrate data and to uncover and define relationships.
"[Semantic technology] eases the way to describe and work with information," said chief technology officer Colin Britton. The use of a metadata-based approach permits users a network-centric view of information stored in various silos of data, he explained.
Metatomix 5.0 uses the SPARQL RDF query language to perform federated queries across multiple databases and data formats, and now offers support for a number of data types, including relational, file-based and memory-resident, said Britton. Support has also been added for Oracle 11g's semantic layer.
The new release also includes reasoning and validation enhancements to validate semantic data against an ontology, and has an improved business policy engine, licensed from an unnamed third-party vendor. The policy engine permits organizations to semantically describe business actions without writing business rules.
Another new feature is service links, which are data access services that create links between data, creating reusable modules out of service profiles. Britton cited the example of a state official who queries an individual's driver’s license number, where the semantic engine evaluates how it should respond using business rules and ontologies. It directs the query to the
Department of Motor Vehicles, and the registry at the DMV answers, with additional information that the query can use to call other data sources, forming a processing chain.
Enabling Existing Stack
Metatomix also updated its application development tool, MetaStudio. MetaStudio is an Eclipse-based IDE that bundles tools and libraries to help developers semantically enable applications. The IDE enables semantic use from within Adobe’s Flex, through Java EE containers to the application platform, said Britton.
"We don't see our role as to be the full stack. People are already investing in that stack. We are semantically enabling the stack that they have, with an intelligent processing engine," said Britton.
"Metatomix is laser-focused on providing customers with real-world applications of semantic technology," said Metatomix president and CEO Jeff Dickerson. "Our customers tell us that the actionable business intelligence our platform provides goes right to their businesses' bottom line."
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Compete Search Analytics Now Live on Compete.com
Pay-per-use pricing enables any business to build competitive online search strategy
Boston, MA., September 24, 2007- Compete, Inc., a leading web analytics company, today announced that Compete Search Analytics is live at Compete.com. Marketers at large and small companies alike can immediately benefit from the new Web-based resource that delivers the industry's richest search analytics on a revolutionary pay-as-you-go basis.
Using just a credit card to activate the service, a marketer at any size company, with any level of search marketing experience, can gain valuable insights through Compete Search Analytics. With the service, it's easy to identify new relevant keywords for possible bids, learn competitor's search strategies and track performance of specific keywords against competitors. The Compete data is drawn from billions of monthly searches on the top six search engines.
Reaction from Beta Customers
From Tony Spencer, tonyspencer.com
"When I first used the tool, I blogged that it was so good I kinda felt dirty. After finding myself using it nearly daily, and falling in love with its powerful data, we have gone so far as to integrate its reports into our internal suite of SEO analysis tools. Nothing out there has even come close to providing this kind of competitor insight. I'd rename it to ‘Log in to Your Competitor's Web Stats' because the tool is exactly that."
From Sheila Marcelo, founder, CEO of Care.com
"Being a Web-based business, Compete's Search Analytics tools have been instrumental in helping us to better understand how customers reach us. Working with Compete has enabled us to effectively develop our search campaigns."
From David Carrel, VP/Director, Strategy & Analysis, Digitas
"Digitas constantly seeks innovative solutions that drive competitive advantage for our clients. Compete's new Search Analytics tool supports our view to define the competitive landscape at the granular keyword level, and enables us to better bid, plan and optimize at this level. This drives more targeted, responsive, and ultimately successful campaigns for our clients." About Compete, Inc.
Compete helps the world's top brands improve their marketing with the online behavior of millions of consumers. Leading marketers such as Carlson Hotels Worldwide, Hyundai Motor America, Upromise, DaimlerChrysler, and Verizon Wireless rely on Compete's services to create effective online experiences and highly profitable advertising campaigns.
Compete's online behavior database - the largest in the industry - makes the web as engrained in marketing as it is in people's lives. Compete was founded in 2000 and is located in Boston, MA, with offices throughout the U.S. For more information about us, please visit www.competeinc.com
, or to join the conversation visit www.compete.com
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Tervela Releases Hardware Accelerated Messaging Platform for Extreme Financial Data Volumes
Gives customers a 10X- 100X improvement in capacity and performance over legacy messaging system
NEW YORK, NY-September 18, 2007 - Tervela today emerged from stealth mode with the announcement of a hardware accelerated messaging platform that gives the global banking industry the capacity to outpace the explosion of volume and volatility spurred by increasing levels of automation, regulation, and the emergence of new liquidity sources.
The Tervela platform is a hybrid of networking and middleware technologies designed to meet the scalability, stability and speed requirements financial institutions need to increase trade profitability and operational performance. By placing hardware at the core of the platform, Tervela provides the bulletproof stability of big iron with the speed, adaptability and scalability of software.
"Current solutions are inadequate for today's volumes and unprepared for tomorrow's," said J. Barry Thompson, CEO, Tervela. "Tervela operates as a routing layer on top of existing networks, pushing application and middleware logic into the network layer and solving the performance, latency and capacity problems that software-based systems simply can't address."
The platform is built on the company's TVA-1000 messaging appliance. The appliance brings an unprecedented level of stability to trading environments by eliminating multicast storms, dynamically adapting to message traffic changes brought on by market volatility, and ensuring predictable performance - even in peak volume periods. Tervela provides both departmental solutions and enterprise-wide footprints with hardware appliance and network cloud configurability to deliver up to 20 million messages per second at 99.999 percent reliability. The company has seen a 10x – 100x performance increase over legacy platforms in customer production environments.
"Some enterprises are experiencing messaging volumes that are reaching or have exceeded the abilities of traditional, server-based message-oriented middleware (MOM) -- or they just plain need faster processing speeds. As a result, they are hungry for innovation," according to Maureen Fleming, program director of IDC's Business Process Integration & Deployment Software service. "With the inherent speed and dedicated design toward solving problems around translation of messages, efficient routing and reliability, MOM appliances may well be exactly what the market needs to solve these problems," she added.Features of the platform include:
- Ultra-low latency – even during peak volatility periods when software-only solutions experience huge spikes in latency
- High capacity – intelligently filter and route data in a cloud configuration that can scale to tens of millions of events per second
- High fan-out – to hundreds of subscribers without the complexity or manageability issues of legacy approaches
- Seamless support for LAN/WAN/Infiniband – getting clients closer to wire speed than any other solution provider by operating at a native level within the network fabric
- High availability – built-in fault tolerance to prevent system failures which are becoming increasingly common during high volume trading
- Centralized management – visibility into the entire connected application and messaging ecosystem allowing firms to automatically detect networking and application instabilities, allowing for rapid issue correction or avoidance – enabling service levels not possible before Tervela
- Simple, self-contained environment – allowing Tervela to be deployed alongside traditional solutions, leveraging a firm's investment in current technologies while building a platform for the future
The company has been working in stealth mode since 2004 with engagements at nearly a dozen of the world's largest investment banks, hedge funds and liquidity pools. In June 2007, it received a $20 million Series C round of funding from Acartha, Sigma Partners, Goldman Sachs and North Hill Venture Partners.
Market data volumes are growing at rates which outpace today's software and commodity hardware solutions. Options data, the most extreme example of exploding trade volume in the financial services markets, is expected to exceed 900,000 messages per second in 2008 – more than double what it is today. Many of today's trading systems are built on antiquated architectures that won't scale to meet these demands.
Future-proof platform design – allows clients to utilize existing application architectures while realizing major reductions in total cost of ownership and data center footprints
Tervela provides hardware acceleration for trading infrastructures. Built from a hybrid of networking and middleware technology, Tervela's intelligent, hardware-centric data messaging platform is a simple, yet powerful solution architected to deliver speed, scalability and stability to meet the demands of today's high volume trading environments. By integrating and accelerating the entire messaging ecosystem, Tervela gives customers a 10x - 100x improvement in capacity and performance over legacy systems. The platform brings an unprecedented level of stability to trading environments by eliminating multicast storms, dynamically adapting to message traffic changes brought on by market volatility, and ensuring predictable performance - even in peak volume periods. Founded in 2004, Tervela is funded by Goldman Sachs, Sigma Partners, North Hill Ventures and Acartha Group.
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Loans Are as Tricky as Ever
Colleges break links with lenders but now give less guidance
By Kimberly Palmer September 7, 2007
After months of scandals, investigations, and legislation that could revolutionize the student loan industry, students and parents are sorting through the wreckage—and finding the loan process more confusing than ever.
In the wake of revelations that some schools had revenue-sharing agreements with lenders and a handful of financial aid officers held stock in the companies they were recommending, some schools have dropped their "preferred lender" lists altogether, at least temporarily. Johns Hopkins now advises students to type "student loans" into a Web search to find lenders. The University of Texas-Austin is temporarily listing the lenders with the most local volume on its website; it expects to provide students with a vetted list of lenders in the spring. Texas is also considering randomly rotating the order of the list to ensure fairness.
Other schools, including the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have long done without preferred-lender lists and are emphasizing their neutrality. "If there was ever any tendency to advise people [on specific lenders], we're making sure that's not happening," says Susan Fischer, director of financial aid at Wisconsin.Less information.
That means students and parents are left to navigate the murky loan world largely on their own. "Parents and students may find they aren't getting as much information as they would like because colleges are in the process of figuring out what is ok to say and what is not," says Robert Shireman, executive director of the Project on Student Debt.
Michelle Black, a corporate real-estate analyst in Sugar Land, Texas, received little guidance after her daughter, Korrina Sanchez, was accepted by Sam Houston State University earlier this year. Because the school didn't provide any specific suggestions, she turned to the loan advertisements she received in the mail. She ended up choosing her lender based on the knowledge and helpfulness of the loan company customer service representative who answered her call.
Mario Fields, a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta, was also left to feel his way through the process. "I didn't know how to shop for it," he says. "All [the financial aid office] told me was I was on my own picking the lenders and I had to run the figures myself." Fields tried to manually compute the various rebates the lenders offered and selected one that offered 3 percent off the loan's principal upfront.
Parents and students are increasingly turning to online comparison websites, which allow users to search through lender benefits and rates. Kevin Walker, president and cofounder of for-profit SimpleTuition
, a comparison site, says that according to internal research, the phrase "compare student loans" was searched for on the Internet a few dozen times a day in the summer of 2006, while this year it has been typed into search engines several hundred times a day. "Students and parents," he says, "have definitely heard the message that they should shop around."
In response to the popularity of sites like his, many lenders are upping their benefits, such as interest rate reductions for on-time payments and reductions in fees, to stay competitive. Two years ago, Walker says, lenders often offered an interest rate reduction after 36 or 48 months of on-time payments. Today, they usually make borrowers wait only 12 or 24 months before receiving the reduction. Signing up for automatic monthly payments used to garner a quarter-percentage-point interest rate reduction; now the going discount is closer to half a point.
Lenders warn that those increased benefits may be short-lived. They say the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which is expected to soon reach President Bush's desk, would cut lender subsidies to such a degree that they would be forced to cut back on benefits to borrowers. An August statement signed by about 50 lenders, including Sallie Mae and JPMorgan Chase, said the legislation would make college less affordable because it would force lenders to reduce discounts on interest rates and upfront fees. A related bill, the Student Loan Sunshine Act, which is also pending, would ban gifts and other potential conflicts of interest.
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