Why Hulu's pay model may save the Internet. For years, the web has been a freeloader's paradise, says Chadwick Matlin in The Big Money. In Free: The Future of Radical Price, Chris Anderson argued that that cost-free meant maximum audience, followed (ideally) by maximum ad revenue. But as ad revenues fall, it's clear the Internet can no longer support that model, says Matlin. Startups are monetizing earlier, content sites are reinventing their business models by sticking ads in cracks and crevices, and news sites are toying with the idea of pay walls. So the fact that Hulu may start charging for content both legitimizes the site's business model and provides a test-case for other Internet companies moving away from the ad-supported revenue. "It's time we grow up and understand we're going to have to pay for things we really love once they become successful," says Matlin. "We're getting too old to expect to crash on our friends' couches without paying rent."
How to turn developing countries into consumers. For the past ten years, some of the world's largest companies have tried to convert the four billion people living in poverty around the world--the so-called Base of the Pyramid--into consumers. But it's always failed, argues Erik Simanis in the Wall Street Journal, because companies have been approaching it as though they were selling to a consumer market, when in fact, none existed. "They haven't been conditioned to think that the products being offered are something one would even buy," says Simanis,a reseacher at Cornell's Johnson School of Management, drawing a parallel between American resistance to the idea of bottled water back in the 1970s. "For many poor consumers, paying for clean water or sanitation products seems just as outlandish." What's the best way to create a market? Work directly with local communities to develop products and businesses and "give consumers a stake in adopting the goods." Rather than engaging in the uphill battle of widespread messaging involved in an educational campaign once the product or service has already been developed, seek involvement from the start, says Simanis, who, along with his colleagues, has developed a Base of the Pyramid Protocol that's proven successful in a test with Solae, a soy protein, in India. WaterHealth International, do-good capitalist of the year in 2007, took a similar approach with its water filtration device in Ghana, going as far as building a local network of professionals to service and maintain the equipment and helping communities find financing for the water centers to keep new consumers invested.
More app developers eyeing the Android. With 2 billion iPhone apps downloaded, Apple has enjoyed a lengthy reign as the king of smartphones -- at least when it comes to the everyday consumer. But according to a post at GigaOm, the number of projects started by app developers for Google's Android has shot up a whopping 94 percent between September and October, which might indicate a growing shift toward the underdog's mobile platform. The Android's rising popularity among creators could partly be attributed to Apple's stall on jumping on the augmented reality bandwagon -- but still, developers for iPhone apps have made millions through the App Store. We'll have to wait and see if developers have the same success with the Android OS.
Ivy League degree not required. Entrepreneur turned academic Vivek Wadhwa writes an interesting guest post on TechCrunch regarding his research into what makes for a successful entrepreneur. Turns out, a fancy Ivy League degree isn't a necessary precursor for entrepreneurial success. In three separate studies, Wadhwa sampled large cross-sections of entrepreneurs to determine where they had received their schooling. His research showed that in each case, a large majority of successful business owners received their college degree from non-elite schools. Another interesting aspect of Wadhwa's research shows that entrepreneurs who did not attend college were less successful than their college-educated peers. As Wadhwa explains, "What makes entrepreneurs successful is the education, not the school."
Entrepreneur opens his office to the public. Speaking of colleges, 37signals CEO Jason Fried has taken a page out of a university professor's handbook and begun holding "CEO Office Hours" where he makes himself available via telephone for anyone who cares to speak with him. As the Chicago Tribune reports, Fried has set aside the hours between 3 and 5 p.m. Central time Tuesdays and Thursdays to take calls from the general public. Fried reports that a lot of the early calls have been from would-be entrepreneurs looking for business advice. Want to chat with Fried? Check out the article, it even lists his phone number.
Hiring data shows a glimmer of good news. According to a new economic survey published by the National Association for Business Economics, unemployment is moderating. As reported by the Associated Press, although the jobless rate is currently at 9.8 percent, and estimated to rise above 10 percent by early in 2010, companies in general appear more willing to hire employees. The survey also showed that while tight credit is continuing to hurt business, the credit squeeze is also hurting less businesses nationwide (42 percent) than reported back in July (54 percent).
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.