Inside the mysteries of Netflix's Chicago warehouse. Netflix has 58 warehouses nationwide, but only one serving greater Chicago's 10.6 million subscribers. The Chicago Tribune's Christopher Borrelli finagled his way into the facility in exchange for keeping some unremarkable trade secrets (and the super-stealth location of its warehouse somewhere in Carol Stream). What he was able to divulge: even Netflix employees are asked to use the mailbox to drop off their returns, shifts begin at 3am, the busiest time is 7am, and for a dotcom success story, it has precious few computers. Instead, 42 people in red Netflix t-shirts are in constant motion. 650 times an hour, they're expected to inspect returned discs i.e. ripping open the envelope, taking out the disc, checking that the title matches the sleeve, inspecting for scratches, cleaning the disc, inserting it into its sleeve and putting the disc in the right bin. After 65 minutes, everyone stands up and performs calisthenics, following the team leader as he leans back, sideways, and so on. "From there, action shifts to long machines that go ffft," to the tune of 30,000 bar codes an hour.
Apple bans its third most-prolific app developer and expunges his 900+ apps. Ars Technica has the story of Khalid Shaikh, a developer whose team of 26 engineers in India and Pakistan (working 12 hours a day/6 days a week) churned out almost 1,000 apps before he had his license revoked and 900+ apps summarily removed. "Shaikh built a business model that took advantage of the worst aspects of the iPhone App Store," by merely appropriating content from elsewhere on the web, writes Ars Technica's Chris Foresman. He sold smartly-titled apps like "US Army News" and "WWE Updates" for $4.99 a pop with the goal of "less product value" and "more monetization," as Shaikh told MobileCrunch. But he's hardly the worst of the lot. Brighthouse Labs, which has more than 2,000 99-cent apps similar to Shaikh's, is still doing business in the App Store.
How to get young people to pay. Venture capitalist and all-around startup guru Guy Kawasaki has a blog post on how to extract money from young people. Unfortunately, he concludes that unless you're selling a wildly popular video game, getting Generation Y to pay for anything on the Internet is tough. "The lesson is that it doesn't matter what a company 'needs," he writes, "it only matters what customers are willing to do." As with all generalizations about an entire demographic group, it's probably worth taking this advice with a grain of salt. For instance, Kawasaki says that young people "seldom intentionally click on any kind of advertising, and they never buy anything because of the advertising." Never? Really? What about Axe Body Wash?
The king of tattoo removal. Back in 2007, Inc. wrote about tattoo artist Mario Barth, who was trying to turn his modest New Jersey tattoo operation into the first national tattoo chain. Today's LA Times explores a related industry. Dr. Tattoff is a Beverly Hills chain of tattoo removal shops (tatt-off, get it?) that hopes to take its tattoo removal concept to Wall Street. (The story is worth a read just for the lead anecdote, which begins with "adult-film star Alexis Amore," which the Times helpfully informs us, is a stage name.) Although Dr. Tattoff only has three locations, owner Will Kirby is thinking big. "We just need the market for IPOs to come around," he tells the paper.
What about the medium-sized businesses? Entrepreneurs love to hear, and quote, statistics about small business and job creation. Case Western entrepreneurship professor Scott A. Shane takes a closer look at the numbers. The SBA defines a small business as any company with less than 500 employees (which accounts for 99.7 percent of all employer firms in the U.S.). If you redefine a "small business" as one with 10 to 49 employees (79 percent of business with less than 500 employees) and a "medium-sized business" as one with 50 to 499 (just 4 percent of those with less than 500 employees), then from 1992 to 2008, medium-sized business were responsible for 30 percent of all net jobs and small businesses only 15 percent. Hear, hear for the bigger little guys.
Coffee shop owners to laptop users: Get Out! The days of milking that $3 coffee for four hours so you can get free Internet access at your neighborhood coffee shop seem to be coming to an end in New York City. A growing number of cafes around the city are banning laptops during busy hours and--get this--even covering, and padlocking, electrical outlets, The Wall Street Journal reports today. Shop owners say they have no choice as they combat declining sales. But not all patrons are forgiving. "Good luck staying open when you're turning half your clientele out on a Friday night," one patron wrote on Yelp.
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