Facebook's creation myth through the Hollywood lens. The fact that former fiction writer Ben Mezrich sold his upcoming Facebook expose, The Accidental Billionaires, to film producers before it was even penned should have been the first clue. From advance copies, it seems like sordid details and lustful encounters win out over narrative about how the site was developed or the company's growth. Valleywag is skeptical about whether some of those stories--like Mark Zuckerberg getting picked up by a Victoria's Secret model at a party in San Francisco or the co-founders in flagrante with co-eds in adjacent bathroom stalls--may be fabricated. Mezrich was said to have played fast and loose with the facts in Burning Down the House, his book about MIT students counting cards that was made into the movie 21. As for the Facebook biopic, Fight Club's David Fincher is rumored be in advanced talks to direct.
SBA is feast or famine. Last Monday kicked off the SBA's America's Recovery Capital program, which provides interest-free loans up to $35,000 to small businesses. So far the SBA considers it a success, but try telling that to the business owners who are still waiting for funding - and have been for months. Adding to the air of gloom is the prediction that funding will dry up before the previously estimated 10,000 businesses will see a cent. More realistic expectations are now tallied at 5,000, but the SBA somehow retains a sense of optimism. "We rolled out this program differently than other loan programs because of the urgency," said Jonathan Swain, SBA spokesperson. "But we always knew there would be a ramp-up period."
It's a dog-eat-dog world. A battle is brewing between Superdawg, Chicago's well-known hot-dog eatery, and an upstart New York weiner stand that goes by the all-too-similar name, Superdog. The Chicago Tribune reports that Superdawg's owners have sued their East Coast rival in U.S. District Court, claiming trademark infringement and unfair and deceptive businesses practices. The Chicago landmark has been in business since 1948 and is famous for a pair of 12-foot frankfurters that grace its rooftop and bear the likeness of the store's owners, Maurie and Flaurie Berman. Scott Berman, son of the original owners, said the restaurant has had to defend their brand dozens of times and they have always emerged as top dog.
Hoffman out as LinkedIn CEO...again. For the second time in two years, Reid Hoffman has handed over the CEO reigns at LinkedIn, the Wall Street Journal reports. Jeff Weiner, formerly the company's president, will now move into the top spot. Weiner was hired as president in December and TechCrunch hypothesized at the time that he was likely being groomed as the next CEO. With the move, Hoffman now becomes executive chairman, "a full time exec role...not just a board of directors seat," TechCrunch says. Both Weiner and Hoffman have suggested to Michael Arrington that an IPO could be on the horizon. For a look at how Hoffman built LinkedIn into a company with a $1 billion valuation, check out his recent How I Did It.
"The Past Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes." That's the title of a talk by Tokyo University professor Kiyohiko Nishimura at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago comparing the post-bust experience the U.S. is facing now to Japan in the '90s, the country's "lost decade". Nishimuru talked with Slate's Daniel Gross who found his theories surprisingly optimistic. Japan's crisis started in q4 of 1990 when commercial land prices started to fall. The policies put into place to counteract that--rate cuts, stimulus, expanding bank insurance, injection of public funds into banks, and zero-interest rate policies--were doled out over the next 8 years, but it wasn't until 2005 that its economy fully recovered. But the U.S.'s recovery is moving 7 times as fast. In our case, the damage has been more devastating, but real-time information has quickened the reaction time for first responders. Check out the full transcript of Nishimura's talk, including four lessons learned.
Why buy the paper when you can get the news for free? With 25 percent of print ad revenue down in the newspaper industry -- the chief source of revenue for most publishers -- many outlets have been weighing the feasibility of charging for a product that consumers have long-enjoyed for free. Journalism Online, The Associated Press reports, plans to kickstart this transition to paid content, and expects 10 percent of readers to opt for the specialized-vendor program it will offer. Bloomberg says that The New York Times is considering charging readers for mobile content, where advertising space is less abundant, before putting a price tag on the Web.
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