E-Billers Dirty Tricks and Google’s Shaming Tactics

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Google's shaming tactics for entitled employees. After a devastating wave of layoffs last week, Google has seen a rush of resumes from ex-Yahoo engineers. Valleywag recommends an "overtly modest approach" to anyone that scores an interview. That tip is based on an interview our columnist Joel Spolsky conducted with Googler Steve Yegge, a former Amazon coder, who works out of the search giant's Kirkland, Washington campus. The Kirkland folks apparently have a reputation for whining, for example this note about the free food that irked Yegge: "Please don't put frosting on the chocolate brownies because it gets on my finger." But other campuses are not so forgiving for acts of gross entitlement. Says Yegge, "I heard one dude stand up at the company All-Hands and complain that because there was now a cafe in every building but not a bunch of micro-kitchens, what would happen if he didn't like the chef's food and had to walk to another building. . .And he got boo'd off the stage, everyone was laughing at him, jeering at him." Check out archives of Spolsky's column, How Hard Could It Be?, including why he never lets employees negotiate raises and startup static.

Glimmers of hope in credit market. Are small business loans a leading economic indicator? Let's hope so. The market for SBA loans is showing some signs of recovery, reports the WSJ. Both the market for new loans and the demand for loans sold on the secondary market have shown solid gains of late. The volume of new SBA loans has risen 20 percent since Mid-march. And, the rate of approved loans is up 28 percent for the first two and a half months of 2009.

Is an IPO recovery right around the corner? Union Square Ventures' Fred Wilson is at Silicon Alley Insider today with five reasons he expects the IPO market to recover by the end of next year—at the latest. We're probably not out of the bear market yet, he says, but argues there are a lot of solid private companies waiting in the wings, their business models will work well as public companies, and they're simple businesses that grow based on cash (not leverage). Accountants have also gotten the cost of Sarbox compliance down far enough that an IPO isn't prohibitively expensive. Finally, the financier shenanigans of the past few months have made VCs look good again, so public investors are mostly over their distrust after a rash of shoddy IPOs.

The dirty tricks e-billers use to keep you paying. In an effort to try to trim expenses, Slate's Timothy Noah tried breaking up with his e-billers, but found the task much harder than the days when you could just call a customer service line and tell them you were no longer interested in their service. "Now every biller is a clinging vine, unwilling or unable to accept rejection," says Noah, who has the transcript of the hour-long ordeal he went through to try to cancel his $16.95/month eFax bill. "I'd told Steve S. that I wanted to cancel. I'd told Steve S. why I wanted to cancel. When Steve S. had tried to talk me out of it, I'd told him I wanted to cancel NOW. It seemed like he was now saying OK, you can cancel, and here's our goodwill gesture as you head out the door. But that "you can just get back to us at any time" haunted me."

Apple buying Twitter? Why not? asks Valleywag's Owen Thomas, citing a "source who's plugged into the Valley's deal scene"--whatever that means. Thomas pegs the deal at $700 million and says it could be closed by next month. But Kara Swisher says that while Apple is indeed interested, negotiations are far from advanced, that there's plenty of competition for the red hot microblogging service from the likes of Google and Microsoft, and that Twitter's founders may not want to sell anyway. "I have done a lot of reporting and have found that most of them would like a chance to ride this rocket ship and see if they can prevent it from being a shooting star, by figuring out some viable, innovative and lucrative business plan," she writes. For more on Twitter, check out Inc.'s story on founder and CEO Evan Williams.

The new Kindle. Amazon is holding a mysterious press event tomorrow, and the speculation is that founder Jeff Bezos will use the opportunity to unveil a new, larger Kindle. The device is expected to be aimed at college students who will use it to buy textbooks, and for magazine and newspaper readers, the Wall Street Journal reports. But the Journal notes that Amazon faces competition from publishing companies Hearst and News Corp.--and from a startup called Plastic Logic that will unveil its own larger reading device this summer.

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Last updated: May 5, 2009




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