100 Days, An App Sells Out, and How to Give Feedback
BY Max Chafkin
Marking 100 Days. The big news: Today is the 100th day of the Obama presidency, and the Wall Street Journal tackles the milestone with an ambitious package. The paper's article on Obama's approach to the private sector--more hands-on than years past, and, at times, confrontational--has riled some big companies. But the Journal also notes that Obama's tendency to listen to competing interest groups has meant that small businesses have "found a new, welcoming tone in the White House." What's your take on the first 100 days? Comment or Twitter us.
Hot market for iPhone apps Now is a good time to be building applications for Apple's wildly popular iPhone. Business Insider brings news that IAC bought UrbanSpoon, an app that lets users shake their phone to get restaurant recommendations. It's the 11th most popular free iPhone application. Dan Frommer predicts we're going to see a lot more of these acquisitions "This makes sense. Many of the most successful apps are nimble startups run by a few people with little or no outside funding. That means apps can be acquired -- and engineers and designers can be 'acq-hired' -- for a price that's fair to the buyer and probably very nice for the seller."
The dangers of going mainstream. More people may be watching Hulu, but not for long, says NewTeeVee. In March, Hulu surpassed Yahoo's claim to the No. 3 spot by number of video streams (it had 380 million, an uptick of almost 30 percent). But it did lose in one category: minutes per viewer. The mainstream audience, it appears, "just doesn't seem to park on the site the way early adopters did," explains NewTeeVee. The streaming video site is on the verge of adding content (and investment) from Disney and is in the middle of negotiations on exclusivity that could impact the entire landscape for video—with the old guard cable companies watching and waiting to pounce on the site's turf. Also: word is that a Hulu iPhone app is on the way.
Gordon Gekko: The Redux. Hollywood's latest attempt to leverage the populist backlash against corporate greed? Fox Studios just greenlighted the sequel to Wall Street, Oliver Stone's 1987 archetypal drama. Stone is back on board as director and Michael Douglas is slated to revisit his role as corporate raider Gordon Gekko, reports the L.A. Times. Shia LaBeouf is rumored to takeover for Charlie Sheen as the hungry young broker who idolizes Gekko's success. Says the Times: "The focus remains on the Gekko character, whose exploits will closely reflect much of the greed and chicanery seen in the past year on Wall Street." (via peHUB)
Improve your feedback process. Feedback is important, but higher-ups don't like giving it and employees rarely find out anything useful. Harvard Business Publishing has some advice on how companies can improve the evaluation process, to cut through the emotional drama and deliver feedback that works. Tips include focusing on business outcomes, giving feedback often, and asking questions to make sure you have the whole picture.
Mixed news on the economy. GDP shrank 6.1 percent last quarter, which is pretty terrible (and worse that economists expected). But that result is actually a little bit better than what happened during the fourth quarter of last year when the economy shrank 6.3 percent. There was also some (sort of) good news on housing prices. The decline slowed in February, the first time that has happened in 16 months according to the Wall Street Journal.
Is it a bad time to sell? According to CNN, you'll face a tough market if you're looking to sell your business; the number of sold small businesses fell 36% from last year in the first quarter of 2009, and the price sellers paid dropped sharply. "Those doing well enough to sell or want to sell are shying away," says Mike Handelsman, general manager of BizBuySell in San Francisco. "If they sell, it'll be based on cash flow and revenues, which are depressed now. In many cases, this is their nest egg, so they'll put off retirement to wait out these uncertain times." For more on selling your business, read on at Inc.com here.
Why Everybody Loves Zappos. This month's cover story, on online shoe retailer Zappos, went live yesterday. Give it a read, here.