Green Banks, YouTube’s Demise, and Top Roadside Eats

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Twittering in Tehran. No one really knows what's been happening in Iran over the past few days as protests and violence flare up in the wake of a disputed presidential election. That's because there has been an extreme government crackdown on communications. Journalists have been banned from reporting on the opposition, phone lines have been cut, text messages have been restricted, and Internet bandwidth has been severely limited. One of the only communications tools that has survived--so far--has been Twitter, which protestors have used to broadcast news. The micro-blogging startup, which has long been dogged by technical snafus, had scheduled a service outage last night, but then announced in a blog post that they were delaying the outage until today (the middle of the night in Iran) because of "the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran," according to cofounder Biz Stone.

Supporting small businesses never tasted so good. With the 4th of July holiday approaching, why not plan a road trip to sample some good old-fashioned, All-American roadside food? The Wall Street Journal has a cool, interactive map of America's top 15 food stops, traversing everywhere from Maine to Oregon. Taken from, "500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late," the book chronicles some of the country's best local haunts that are hanging tough against the spread of the ubiquitous chain restaurants. There's the green-chile cheeseburger from Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe, New Mexico or the whole-hog barbecued pork from the Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina. Do your part--your stomach and your local businesses will thank you.

States giving assist with work-sharing. The New York Times takes a look today at underutilized state programs that are helping companies supplement pay to employees whose weekly hours have been cut in work-sharing programs. Seventeen states have instituted programs in which they make up some of employees' lost wages by dipping into their state unemployment funds. These programs should make work-sharing a more viable alternative to layoffs in companies and industries that are expecting to bounce back as the economy rebounds. But only a fraction of eligible companies are taking advantage of the program, the Times reports. "Many companies are unaware of the program's existence, and few states advertise it," writes Steven Greenhouse. Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and Washington are some of the states that are helping out. Check with your state labor department for more details.

Corner drugstores an endangered species? "I'm a dinosaur in the industry," said Ken Villani, the owner of a Woodbury, N.Y., corner drugstore. Although his business has kept its doors open for more than 30 years, filling 300 to 400 prescriptions daily, Cottage Pharmacy is struggling to compete with the popularity of mail-order companies. When these large distributors sell direct, they are able to negotiate much lower prices than the retail pharmacies can. Last year's figures from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores show that sales at independent pharmacies fell $3 billion in two years, while mail order sales jumped up almost $5 billion. It's no coincidence that Obama called for an overhaul of the nation's health system yesterday at the American Medical Association.

Proof that it pays to go green. GreenChoice Bankin Chicago and e3bank in Malvern, Pa. are one step closer to opening their LEED certified doors, the Chicago Tribune reports. The two received regulatory approval at the beginning of the month. With incentives like lower interest rates to green builders and fuel-efficient car owners, these green banks hope to further demonstrate how "sustainability has entered the mainstream as evidenced by the ubiquity of green messaging and reporting in the media," said GreenChoice's application with the Office of Thrift Supervision. While other more traditional banks like Chase, Citibank and Bank of America offer earth-friendly products, GreenChoice and e3bank, (the three e's in its namesake represent environment, economy and social equity), have rooted their overall business models on the green movement.

Is YouTube doomed to fail? Benjamin Wayne, CEO of Fliqz and the man who says, "YouTube is soaring towards the future like a pigeon towards a plate-glass window," would argue yes. Advertising Age asked him to expand. Citing an expected $470-million revenue shortfall in 2009, Wayne says YouTube has plenty of consumer emotional support, but not enough income for Google to continue supporting it. Even if YouTube isn't making the money it needs, he says, many other businesses are using embedded video on their own Web sites to increase both traffic and bottom-line profit.

Shakeup at HuffPo. Arianna Huffington's startup news empire, Huffington Post has a new CEO, Eric Hippeau, formerly of the venture capital firm SoftBank. Paid Content caught up with the Huffington who explained that the ouster of former CEO Betsy Morgan was not about traffic growth--Huffington Post has had plenty of that, thanks largely to the excitement of the 2008 election--but about money. "We need to keep monetizing our traffic at a higher level' and we need to keep expanding," Huffington said. Her cofounder Ken Lerer told Paid Content that the company has spent $11 million of the $37 million they've raised from VCs and has been profitable "some months."

Last updated: Jun 16, 2009




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