How to grow your website. At the Future of Web Apps conference in London, Kevin Rose gave a talk on how to grow your web site's audience from one to one million users. You can watch the whole talk here, but ThinkVitamin has a nice nine step roundup. The approach, which involves quickly releasing a simple product and then cultivating buzz, will be familiar to anyone who has followed the rise of Rose's company, Digg. (Read more about that here.) For instance, Rose recommends that startups "Hack the press." He suggests restricting access to your site to create a sense of exclusivity, talking to lesser-known bloggers who will be more likely to write about you, and skipping conferences (and their high entrance fees) and instead heading straight for the after-parties.
Family businesses face tough times. An estimated 90 percent of US businesses are family owned and, although data is hard to come by, that means that many of the 4.3 million small businesses that closed last year were family businesses, reports the Wall Street Journal. "These businesses, often steeped in tradition and not as flexible to change, tend not to have formal plans in place to respond to a crisis," according to the Journal. So what about the family businesses that do make it? For more on that, check out The Success Gene from our archives, which looks at half a dozen fifth or sixth generation family businesses for whom a recession--even a Great Depression--is nothing new.
Calling all NYC app developers. Taking a cue from the Netflix prize, New York City announced today its NYC BigApps Competition. As the New York Times reports, the contest will supply local programmers and developers with a stockpile of raw municipal data sets to help them build city-related apps for the web and smart phones. At stake is more than $20,000 in cash prizes, as well as a chance to have a private dinner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Submissions are due by December 8th, and the contest will be judged by a panel that includes such tech big wigs as Fred Wilson from Union Square Venture and Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo.
Taking your business virtual. Remember Second Life? Despite reports that the virtual world is struggling, Web Worker Daily says that it's still a great business platform. Revenue for virtual worlds has been doubling year over year and the market could be as big as $10 billion by 2015. Meanwhile, Second Life and other virtual worlds are a great place for employee collaboration. For more on the Second Life story, check out our profile of co-founder Philip Rosedale.
Blogs face new disclosure rules. On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines requiring the full disclosure of the relationships between bloggers and advertisers, The New York Times reports. The new rules, which go into effect Dec. 1, specifically target bloggers who write product reviews and receive pay or free products from the companies--the first time endorsement rules have been revised since 1980. Though these rules seem pretty benign, Jeff Jarvis worries that they could have unintended consequences. "So for the FTC to go after bloggers and social media—-as they explicitly do-—is the same as sending a government goon into Denny's to listen to the conversations in the corner booth and demand that you disclose that your Uncle Vinnie owns the pizzeria whose product you just endorsed," he writes.
Get ready for "augment reality" startups.As reported by the Associated Press, new smart phone applications combine information from the world and the Web to allow users to get information about what surrounds them. For instance, by holding up your phone and using the camera as a viewfinder, an augmented reality application could give you reviews about the restaurants you pass.