Fred Wilson on "slow capital".The VC and blogger Fred Wilson tackles the slow movement today, and introduces a new term: slow capital. The slow movement encourages people to focus less on accomplishing tasks and more on taking one's time with things. Wilson's take includes focusing on meeting the company's needs rather than the investors' and being flexible with timing. "I've spent almost twenty five years in the capital markets watching investors behave," he writes. "Way too often it is a 'wham bam' experience and then off to the next deal. Things like exploding offers, 'fly by' board members, and shotgun marriages are so common that you sometimes wonder how anyone makes any money. There's a reason why Warren Buffet is the best investor of his generation."
How to come up with a company name. Don't stress. That's the advice of Thomas Petersen who says that a great product will more than compensate for a bad name. So focus on that. "There are no perfect names only great products," he writes. Still, coming up with a name--especially at a time when many short dot-coms are taken--is hard. Petersen advises picking a name that says something about your product. And keep in mind that bad names can start sounding pretty good if your company does a good job. "Your brand cannot make your product better, only you can make your name better," he writes. "By making sure that your customers and users get good experiences when they interact with you, your name will gain value. Therefore concentrate on your customer service, optimizing the service, providing superior experiences and maximum utility and your name is well on its way to be the perfect name you wanted it to be."
Remembering a fast-food legend. Sad news for fast-food aficionados as Troy Smith, founder of the drive-in burger chain Sonic, passed away this week at the age of 87. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Smith's burger joints were originally named Top Hat, but after he introduced a system where drive-in patrons could deliver their orders via speakers, the name Sonic was chosen and gave birth to the company's slogan, "Service with the speed of sound." An innovator in the restaurant field, Smith's original fast-food chains in the 1950's included waitresses on roller skates, a streamlined kitchen, and angled parking spots so that the "wild teenagers," as he described them, couldn't park window-to-window. Smith became Sonic's "chairman emeritus" in 1983, but remained involved with the business as an advisor. In 2008, Sonic had $3.8 billion in sales and 3,600 stores in 42 states.
The SBA ups the size limit for small businesses. If this first round of proposed revisions is adopted, more than 12,000 additional companies would be considered small businesses, and hence become eligible for SBA loans and preference for federal contracting, reports the Washington Business Journal. A total of 71 different types of businesses would enjoy SBA-sanctioned benefits should the changes be approved, including hotels, retailers, and various sectors within the service industry. According to SBA Administrator Karen Mills, the size increase is designed to "reflect changes in the economy and the marketplace."
Facebook and Zappos on hiring strategies It seems like there's always some new company started by former Google employees, but is that good press for the company or brain drain? As the Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Zappos' Tony Hsieh recently discussed their opposing philosophies of employee hiring and retention at Y Combinator's Startup School. Zuckerberg favors a revolving door of bright people honing their craft at Facebook and then going on to their own creative endeavors. Hsieh said he aims to keep employees for the long haul and explained how he achieved that goal. "We now provide mentorship and training so employees can join at the entry level and, over a period of five to seven years, have the opportunity and training to become senior leaders in the company," he said. "Constant growth is what will keep them in the company for a very long time." Get some additional hiring tips from Whole Foods' John Mackey.
Do you know where your children are? Well, if they're at Keith Valley Middle School, be afraid, says TechCrunch. Very afraid. That's because Microsoft has gotten a hold of them, and the result is a cult-like video starring the Bing jingle. (Director's note: What isn't shown is the aftermath in which the Bing students get stuffed in lockers by their Google counterparts.)
Vibrant tech startups emerge from New York's financial wreckage. According to Wired, New York City's tech scene has got an unexpected boost from the financial sector's demise. Investors that used to look to larger institutions are giving startups that need just a couple hundred thousand more of a chance. Scrappy tech CEOs are also having an easier time pulling good talent. With the financial and media industries in turmoil, the market in general is more hospitable to these upstarts. Engineers that were once hard to lure away from six-figure salaries are attending suddenly maxed-out events like NY Tech Meetup. And VCs like Spark Capital, Polaris in Boston, and First Round in Philly are creating a network effect. In fact, New York has been quietly, asserting itself as a hub for tech startups for the past couple years. First Round Capital's entrepreneur-in-residence Charlie O'Donnell tells Wired, "Some of the entrepreneurs who have been 'head down,' building great businesses, are now able to take a breath for the first time in years . . . so there's more visible participation from them in the community." So who are some of these phoenixes rising from the ashes? Ivy Exec: "like an even more velvet-roped version of Ladders.com" that Inc. profiled in July. And GiveReal: a site that started out as a Facebook group and lets people give gifts at nearly a million different merchants by piggybacking on existing credit card networks. (Hat tip, peHUB).
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