IPO woes. Om Malik weighs in on what he thinks is a crisis in startup finance: the dreadful IPO market. "The IPO landscape is going to resemble a dry river bed through much of 2009," Malik writes. That's a big problem, he says. "For starters, it really stymies some of the larger startups with sizable revenues and some profits, and limits their options for creating an exit event that brings in much-needed capital but also rewards the employees."
How to save money on Internet access? Negotiate, of course. The Wall Street Journal reports that phone and cable companies will often dole out big discounts for phone, Internet, and TV service to customers who ask. "Under intense pressure from Wall Street to keep subscribers as the economy sags and competition intensifies, many carriers are bent on retaining customers even if it means offering big price breaks," the article says. AT&T and Verizon are also allowing customers to get their cell phone plans bundled into discounted "triple play" packages.
Need money? If you've got a tech startup and you're looking for angel funding you might want to check out TechStars, a Boulder-based incubator and investment fund, which is now accepting applications for its next round of companies. And if TechStars isn't right for you, check out all the angel investors in Inc.'s newly updated guide to the nation's leading angel groups.
Delicate downsizing. Nobody likes layoffs. But those in the layoff business probably hate them a little less than the rest of us—and, right now, the industry is booming. The New York Times talked to a handful of outplacement consultants, the people who help companies do layoffs and who help laid off employees find new jobs, for an article on the industry in today's paper. In addition to figuring out the least traumatic way to fire people, outplacement consultants have developed a delicious collection of euphemisms: "...a mass layoff is called a RIF, short for 'reduction in force.' The termination day is the 'day of notification,' and the initial meeting with a laid-off worker is a 'pickup.' Consultants are careful to say that people are not eliminated, positions are eliminated. (Or, preferably, they are 'made redundant.')" Inc. reported on the layoff industry back in 2007. Check out the article here.
The plot to kill Google. That's the rather melodramatic headline of an article in this month's Wired magazine that tracks Google's move from scrappy, beloved startup to would-be monopolist: "The company's growth, ambitions, and politics have made it a target of some of the country's most powerful businesses and interest groups." Ironically, the search engine's foes include Microsoft and AT&T, two companies with plenty of experience dealing with their own anti-trust issues.
Is this the future of American manufacturing? CNN Money takes a look at Cardinal Fastener and Specialty Company, a company being touted by the Obama administration, which is pushing for an ambitious green industrial initiative. The company, which makes steel screws, washers, and bolts, has seen sales to traditional clients like John Deere and Caterpillar slow. But sales to wind turbine manufacturers saved the business.
What to expect from Obama's SBA. Business Week takes a look at Karen Gordon Mills, Obama's choice to head the Small Business Administration. Mills runs a private equity firm based in Brunswick, Maine. Under her tenure, expect an increased focus on women-owned businesses and on the role American entrepreneurs can play in the global economy. For more on Mills, see Robb Mandelbaum's blog for Inc., the Entrepreneurial Agenda.
Last updated: Jan 21, 2009
Senior contributing writer MAX CHAFKIN has profiled companies such as Yelp, Zappos, Twitter,
Threadless, and Tesla for the magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @chafkin