Twitter Gets Hacked; How Consumers Spend Their Money
BY Jason Del Rey
Twitter internal documents to be made public. A hacker has sent TechCrunch hundreds of what he says are confidential corporate and personal documents from Twitter and Twitter employees, Michael Arrington reported this morning. Arrington says that some of the documents showed the names of people who interviewed at Twitter as well as security passwords for Twitter offices. "The vast majority of them are somewhat embarrassing to various individuals, but not otherwise interesting," he wrote. "We're not going to post any of those documents." What the site has published so far is the pitch document for a Twitter TV show. And it promises to publish a few more documents today--those that "have so much news value that we think it's appropriate to publish them." Mashable thinks Twitter "needs to burn everything security-related down to the ground and build it all anew."
Small business preps for health care reform. House Democrats rolled out their new health care proposal yesterday, a plan that The Wall Street Journal says will bring in $544 billion over the course of 10 years by taxing the wealthy. The bill, according to the Journal, would penalize small businesses that did not provide health care to their employees with a fee equal to 8 percent of payroll. Employers with a payroll of less than $250,000 are the only exemptions. Of course, according to one small business owner's testimony in The Oregonian earlier this week, the 8 percent penalty would probably be quite the relief. He currently devotes 18 percent of payroll to health care costs. Others, however, are not encouraged. "This bill costs too much, it covers too few and it has way too much government involvement," says a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business.
What consumers spend their money on. Visual Economics turns the latest survey results from the Department of Labor into an incredibly compelling pie chart. The average U.S consumer unit consists of 2.5 people, with 1.3 earners, spending an average of $49,638 a year. The big expenditures are as expected: housing (34.1 percent), transportation (17.6 percent), food (12.4 percent), and insurance and pensions (10.8). But some of the results may surprise you: consumers spend almost as much on entertainment (5.4 percent) as they do on health care (5.7 percent). They spend three times as much on alcohol (0.9 percent) as they do on reading (0.2 percent). Tobacco (0.7 percent) is somewhere in between. (Via What I Learned Today.)
Big game publishers taking on iPhone start-ups. Small game developers have so far dominated the iPhone app niche, but the behemoths are starting to inch into the territory. Electronic Arts claims to have the largest market share by revenue of any of the developers, WIRED reports, due in part to its wildly-popular iPhone iteration of "The Sims" which launched in the app store at $9.99. Smaller developers have released most of their paid apps for 99 cents, hoping to raise download numbers in order to compete with the recognition and financial resources of the name brands. "Although top iPhone games are made by independents today, the big publishers will strike back," says Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners. His firm has invested in social gaming companies. "The iPhone only offers one way for games to get discovered today, and that favors the cash-rich big publishers."
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. It used to be that early November marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Not any longer. Today's Washington Post reports that an increasing number of stores have started to launch promotions aimed at enticing shoppers to start their holiday shopping while summer is still in full effect. The pre-Yule-time push is an attempt to avoid last year's slumping sales which, according to the National Retail Federation, was the first time holiday sales have declined since the NRF began tracking those figures in the early 1990's.
Entrepreneurs remain optimistic. For obvious reasons, optimism is almost a prerequesite for entrepreneurship. You don't open a shop, clean out your savings account or work 16-hour days because you're worried the world is out to get you. Entrepreneur magazine recently published a survey that gauged whether business owners could maintain their postive outlooks through what has been a tumultuous semester for many. Low and behold, 67 percent responded that their businesses were doing better than expected, or at least that business over the last six months was "not as bad as it could have been." While most were looking toward a bright future, it wasn't without sacrifice -- some 45 percent of respondents had either laid off workers, cut hours, or lost employees through attrition. Going forward, business owners responded that cash flow, credit availability and health care costs would be the most important concerns for their business.
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