Great electronic gifts for thrifty shoppers. Tech entrepreneur Anil Dash got the idea for Last Year's Model when he went home to visit relatives in India. In the middle of a rice paddy in one of the poorest regions of India, Dash's uncle was holding a fairly recent Nokia smart-phone. Tech geeks rallied behind Last Year's Model and the idea of buying a great gadget, and then keeping it. But it's a hard sell for holiday shoppers who don't want to look stingy or uncouth. Slate is trying to help change that by putting together a handy list of cool, affordable gadgets that have been overlooked merely because they're not the latest and greatest--for instance, the first Kindle, TiVo HD XL, Flip Mino HD, and WowWee Rovio.
Craigslist and eBay trade barbs. In court proceedings this week, Craiglist founder Craig Newmark compared eBay to a cheating spouse, and eBay executives mocked Newmark's inability to use PowerPoint. (Yes, at eBay, the ability to use PowerPoint is apparently seen as a sign of management prowess.) All this is according to Reuters, which reports from a Delaware courtroom where the two companies are arguing over a partnership gone bad. Ebay acquired a 28 percent stake in Craigslist in 2004, but the relationship soured when the auction company launched a competing classified site and when Craiglist responded by throwing eBay off its board of directors. A few new facts emerged from the proceedings--for instance, that Newmark received $8 million when eBay acquired its stake and that Google was a competing bidder. We've also learned that Newmark gives very entertaining testimony: ""EBay, specifically Meg Whitman, made commitments and broke them," he said in court. "Basically this is the equivalent of a 'Dear John' letter. You thought you were dating and they show up with someone else."
The Friendster saga ends With a $100 million sale to a Malaysian payments company. As I wrote last night, it's not a bad coda for the beleaguered social networking company, which basically invented the category and then struggled behind its copycat competitors. Even so, the company will likely go down in history as a cautionary tale in how to kill a great idea.
Is Paris the new Silicon Valley? Maybe not yet, but the French government is doing its best to make that happen. As Tom Foremski reports on ZDNet, France is making a push to promote entrepreneurship and encourage tech start-ups through a unique mix of government programs and substantial tax breaks. In addition to a number of government- and city-run incubators, France also offers a 75 percent tax break for wealthy individuals who invest in start-ups and perhaps one of the best research tax credits in all of Europe. Starting a venture in France is also incredibly easy, thanks to an "auto entrepreneur" website that handles all the necessary paperwork with just a few clicks. As Foremski points out, "It wouldn't surprise me if in the near future, some U.S. start-ups might choose Paris as a headquarters because of some of the advantages they can gain here, compared with an indifferent U.S. government."
To be or not to be a public company. The recent flurry of IPOs is a sign of the revival of U.S. capital markets, says the Deal (via, peHUB). Only about 23 companies completed their IPOs this year (down from 282 in 2007 and 51 in 2008). If you're considering braving the compliance process, the Deal runs down of the challenges and requirements you'll face, including disclosure controls and procedures, audit committees, internal control over financial reporting, and more. For most companies, that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, but there's always the do-it-yourself approach.
Hell hath no fury Like a blogger scorned. Fresh off the heels of the closely-chronicled demise of the CrunchPad, a low-cost web browsing tablet, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced today that he has filed a lawsuit against his former partner Fusion Garage, which is now moving forward to release a similar web tablet called the JooJoo. Arrington's blog post includes a viewable copy of the entire lawsuit, which alleges fraud and deceit, misappropriation of business ideas, and unfair competition. Among other things, Arrington also claims that Fusion Garage is strapped for cash, and is depending on pre-sale figures to publish the device.
The new upscale restaurants. They reside in hotels or resorts. They have expanded their bars at the expense of seating. And they have put a new emphasis on small plates. These, according to The Wall Street Journal, are the restaurants of the future.
Can micro-budget movies provide reliable hits? Given the success of movies like Paranormal Activity and Snakes on a Plane, the low-budget, word of mouth hit makes some sense, but is there really a business model? Paramount Pictures thinks so. Despite similar, and failed, attempts by Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Studios to craft micro-budget hit machines, the LA Times makes Paramount's approach seem just crazy enough to work.
RIP these 21 products. Remember going to Wal-Mart or Walgreens to get your film developed? Yeah, we don't either. That's just one of the products listed by Business Insider among the 21 things that became obsolete this decade. Some of the others include fax machines, phone books, dialing 411, buttons (courtesy of the iPhone), and "boundaries," whatever that means.
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