Is web advertising broken? Wharton professor Eric Clemons has a thought-provoking piece today on TechCrunch that suggests the web hasn't yet settled on an advertising model that works. Clemons argues that web ads have three serious very serious forces working against them -- consumers increasingly don't trust advertising, consumers don't want to see ads on the web, and, with all of the information available on the web, consumers get no reliable product information from web ads. If you're a web advertiser, or considering becoming one, it's well worth a read.
Your medical history is now a booming market. How would you like $20 billion injected into your industry? Thanks to the Obama administration's promise to modernize medical records, that's the prospect facing start-ups in the electronic medical records space, reports the WSJ. One company, the Westborough, Massachusetts-based eClinicalWorks, a two-time Inc. 500 honoree, plans to hire 500 people in the next few years. eClinical's co-founder couldn't be more bullish: "As of Dec. 31, we had put together a game plan saying, 'This economy looks like it's really getting bad. Why don't we be a little bit prudent?" eClinical's Girish Kumar Navani told the WSJ. "It changed in four weeks to, 'You will hire for growth; forget hiring for need."
How angel investors think. Paul Graham hosted a free conference for aspiring angel investors earlier this month and posted his talk in the form of an essay. It's pretty technical--and it's aimed at investors --but it's worth a read if you're interested in raising cash from angels. Some of the tips: use a standard term sheet (Y Combinator publishes one for free) so you're not spending hundreds of dollars an hour in legal fees to negotiate, use a lawyer with start-up experience, and don't get hung up on valuations since they don't mean much when the company is tiny. "Don't get hung up on mechanics or deal terms," he says. "What you should spend your time thinking about is whether the company is good."
The pains of payroll. Ever wonder why so many owners of small companies are ambivalent about the U.S. government? According, to this piece in The Big Money, it's all about the assorted agonies of paying the payroll tax. Jonathan Webber, the founder of the New West, a media company in the Rocky Mountain region, writes about the sheer difficulties of actually filling payroll taxes for his small company: "What we'd like more than anything is a less cumbersome process and an IRS field rep who was actually empowered to work with us rather than simply scold (and punish) us for missing a payment or paperwork deadline. We were recently told that we had missed a quarterly payroll tax report dating back to 2006—which, in fact, we had not, but the burden of proof was definitely on us."
Calling all young entrepreneurs. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is holding a contest challenging budding entrepreneurs to come up with the next big idea. City Hall is inviting B-school students from around the world to submit business plans, and the winners will receive $20,000 and a trip to the city to meet with VCs, professors, and entrepreneurs. The contest, called NYC Next Idea 2009, is the latest in a series of initiatives to bolster small business in the city.
A sweet spot in the downturn. Call it a comfort food or a cheap indulgence, but candy stores are seeing increased sales during the downturn. The NYT reports that sales are significantly up at many shops, large and small. To quote the owner of the Sweetdish candy store in San Fransisco, "All is well in candy land."
27 graphics explaining the financial crisis. Flowing Data, a data visualization blog, gathers the "tasty visuals" magazines have put together in the past few months to depict the financial crisis. Check out the number of subprime homeowners to prime homeowners rise from 2005 to 2009, the effects of deregulation, congressional voting on the bailout plan, and golden parachutes—all in eye-friendly infographic form. (via naked capitalism)
WebTV founder eyes video games. The Wall Street Journal has news on a new company founded by Steve Perlman, the entrepreneur who started WebTV. Called OnLive, it allows people to play sophisticated video games over the internet--without a video game consul or a pricey PC. It's like cloud computing, except fun. The article also notes that Perlman's technology incubator, which created the new service, also provided the technology for Brad Pitt's reverse aging in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (Via Business Insider.)