Apple Vs. Teen Hackers; How to Twitter for Business
BY Jason Del Rey
The kids Apple loves to hate. If you're one of thousands of iPhone users who has "unlocked" or "jailbroken" your phone, you may have a 15-year-old to thank. The Wall Street Journal takes a look today at teams of teens that spend hours a day developing jailbreaking software that allows users to access an app store with non-Apple-sanctioned programs. "These include applications that block ads on the iPhone's mobile Internet browser, for example, or let the phone double as a laptop-computer modem," The Journal says. At the center of one such operation is Ari Weinstein, a rising 10th grader who has been hacking since he was 11. "Apple doesn't have the right to tell me what I can put on my phone," he says. "I only do hacking that helps people." People outside of Apple, that is. For more hacking fun, check out this FastCompany.com video.
Twitter for business owners 101. Probably like a lot of people out there, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel was initially skeptical about the actual usefulness of Twitter for his business. He has since come around and on his blog, Quick Sprout, he discusses the lessons he's learned in making Twitter a valuable tool for growing his brand. Even if you don't know a tweet from a blog, Patel does a good job in explaining not only how to get your company up and running on Twitter, but why you should even bother in the first place. Once you've mastered the basics, check out this link from Inc. Technology for some more tips on how to use Twitter to find potential customers and turn those contacts into sales.
VC too big for its britches. First-quarter venture capital investment is down to $4.3 billion from $7.1 billion from the same quarter last year, and that might not be such a bad thing. The New York Times reports that some VC firms are shrinking themselves in an effort to return to their roots as firms founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. An influx of arguably over-thinking MBA-educated partners and aging industry veterans who have lost touch with technology could be hindering the industry's ability to fund successful start-ups and make worthwhile returns, the paper reports. And more firms with more money are actually detrimental to the process, as well, investors say. Cramming more money into a start-up than it actually needs can choke the company and bloats valuations to a size where only nominal returns are possible. "The best thing that could have happened to V.C. is this economic crisis," one venture capitalist says, "because it's lowering the flow of capital into these funds."
This is your brain on venture capital. A more humorous look at the venture capital world comes from anonymous blogger Sand Hill Slave, whose motto is "I no longer fear hell for I work in Venture Capital." Sand Hill Slave has a handy graphic depicting what goes through the brains of a typical general partner, venture partner, and associate at your average Sand Hill Road firm. According to the drawing, equal chunks of a GP's brain seem to be devoted to both of the following thoughts: "A CEO just pitched us using the buzzword 'freemium'. Smells like a winning strategy. Huzzah!" and "Get Mike Arrington to pimp the companies I just invested in." A significantly smaller portion of the GP's brain, is occupied with the thought, "My admin better not turn out to be that wench Sand Hill Slave." (via peHUB)
The MJ effect on Los Angeles. With Michael Jackson's memorial service scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. PST today, 17,500 people have flocked from around the world to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. For this southern California city, the event could mean a $4 million boost in tourism, a local economist tells the Los Angeles Times. Many flights to LA were sold out by Monday, and hotels have seen a surge in occupancy rates. Local businesses can thanks fans like Florence Kesler, who flew in from Paris without even having a ticket to the event.
Black and white but not dead all over. Large newspapers' profits have decreased more than 100 percent over the past five years, but these publishers still rank among the nation's best companies when it comes to operating margins, WIRED says. In 2008, newspapers with circulation greater than 80,000 posted average operating margins of 12 percent. That's twice as much at Wal-Mart's but only half as much as Google's. But being the big behemoth isn't always a positive. The Inland Press Association, which just released the data, found smaller news outlets to be the most resilient, crediting the fact that local markets are tougher to shake up.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey