How to Find Investors on eBay; $20 Million for Twitter
BY Nitasha Tiku
Not just for Jesus-shaped potato chips. One struggling publisher found a buyer for his small gaming magazine, Hardcore Gamer, in an unlikely place: eBay. After traditional investors and publishers turned him down, Tim Lindquist decided to put the magazine for sale on eBay for an asking price of $42,000 (the size of publication's profits in 2008), reports Stephanie Clifford in The New York Times. He got 15 serious inquiries, but no viable offers until the last minute when an entrepreneur who recently sold his video game business swooped in with a request to stop the auction and an offer to pay more that Linquist's asking price. The sale is expected to close this week. With the death count for magazines in January now at around 14, Lindquist's innovative approach to financing seems a lot less far-fetched.
Twitter raises more money. Twitter, the oddly addictive micro-blogging service has been growing like gangbusters lately. (Read more here, and find us on Twitter here). The company is raising an additional $20 million bucks—at a valuation of $250 million, Techcrunch reports. The company recently turned down a reported $500 million offer from Facebook.
Don't delete that doc. That's the advice of Fred Wilson, the Union Square Ventures VC and blogger, who recommends electronically saving every single document and email you work on. "It goes against popular wisdom that you should shred, delete, and otherwise destroy documents so they can't be used against you in court," he writes. "Here's my thinking. If you are a bad person who does bad things to people, then by all means destroy the evidence before someone can get at it. But if you try to be a good person and do the right thing, then you should be saving the evidence so when someone tries to paint you as a bad person, you can pull out the email or document and wave it in their face and remind them who did what to whom."
Shipping rates fall thanks to "mega containers". A new generation of super-sized container ships and declining demand for freight services has made international shipping cheaper than it has been in years, reports the Wall Street Journal. The new boats, which are the size of an aircraft carrier and can haul more than 13,000 containers per load, have helped push rates to one tenth of what they were just a year ago. Shipping a container from Asia to Europe now costs just $300 plus fuel and transit fees, and some companies, eager to fill their enormous boats, are shipping containers for free. The Journal predicts consolidation in the industry and says that prices will eventually go up, but not before an even larger ship--this one designed to hold 22,000 containers--hits the water.
Wilmington faces "the winter of our hardship". Last week new claims for unemployment benefits reached a 26-year apex. 60 Minutes looks at one town struggling after its largest employer, DHL, which we named one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in 1981 (a year before the Inc. 500 started), shut down its U.S. operations. In 2003, DHL, a German company, bought out Airborne Express, and along with it a former Air Force base in Wilmington that Airborne converted into a hub for overnight shipping. Last fall, DHL was losing $6 million a day in the U.S.; in November, the company announced it would close air and ground shipping in the U.S. Wilmington's mayor estimates that 1 in 3 households have a family member working at the company's air park. "There is a feeling in town that the German company wrecked a successful American business and wiped out thousands of jobs," says correspondent Scott Pelley.
Who killed the electric car, the sequel. According to the Wall Street Journal, start-up electric car-makers are struggling. After rapidly expanding in the race to get new models to market, many are unable to get new financing in the current economic climate. This is bad news for both venture capitalists invested in cleantech and other green industries. Richard Canny, chief exec for Think, which filed for bankruptcy in mid-December, isn't happy about the Big Three's influx of taxpayer cash, either: "It doesn't seem right that the traditional auto companies are getting massive public money to stave off their decline, while newcomers in the electric-car space are being starved of capital." For more on one electric start-up, see Max Chafkin's piece on Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
But you don't have to wait around for Tesla. Wired's January jargon watch column highlights a new term for a concept we covered last April: "ecomodding"—modifying a car to maximize fuel economy. Check out our run-down of the aftermarket to convert Priuses into plug-ins.
The desire to ski to the South Pole is recession-proof, apparently. Reuters reports the upper echelon of the adventure travel industry is bucking the downturn, because people who want to scale mountains are too determined to let a recession stop them. Zambezi Hunters, an outfit selling elephant and rhino hunts for tens of thousands of dollars, has only seen one cancellation related to the economy, out of 40 trips per year.
Last updated: Jan 26, 2009
Reporter NITASHA TIKU covers technology, finance, green business, and social entrepreneurship for Inc. magazine and contributes to the staff’s daily links blog. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Villager, Chelsea Now, and on nymag.com. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. @nitashatiku