Too many VCs spoil the broth. When syndicating a round of financing, an entrepreneur gets more shots at funding but also has the potential to loose more control of their company. Brad Feld, co-founder of Foundry Group a Boulder, Colorado-based VC firm, lays out the trouble with syndicating on his blog. Ensuing problems include too many VCs on your board, what Feld dubs Lame Duck Syndrome, namely VCs who show their face at meetings to keep an eye on their investment but don't contribute anything constructive and the dreaded decision vacuum. "It's similar to when I lived in a fraternity at MIT and a dozen of us would stand in the hallway trying to figure out where to go out to eat. This drill could go on for a while, especially if we had a keg of beer (or, er, something else) nearby," Feld jokes. (via peHUB)
Free apps to help you better understand your business. Business intelligence applications, which let you manipulate and organize your data to get insights into your company, have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. GigaOm has 5 free ones that will help you see your business in a new light.
Vermont company sold to its employees. Last month we named Burlington, Vermont-based Gardener's Supply, which composts the city's gardening waste and food scraps and gives the mulch to farmers, one of 30 entrepreneurs saving the world. Today the New York Times reports that rather than selling the company to outside buyers, Gardener's Supply owner and founder Will Raap chose to reaffirm his commitment to his 250 full-time and 100 seasonal employees and sell it to the employees themselves. We've written about Gardener's Supply, which made it to 310 on our Inc. 500 list in 1989, a number of times during the company's 26-year history, including pieces on how to motivate employees and working with partners.
The $75 tablet PC. The One Laptop Per Child program, the idealist non-profit that is attempting to put computers in the hands of the world's poor, has released plans for a new computer, a slick tablet PC. Forbes says that the tablet, which was conceived by the celebrity designer Yves Behar, is "still more of a pipe dream than a product." In addition to being ridiculously cheap, the device, which is slated for release in 2012, will be waterproof, half as thin as an iPhone, and incredibly energy efficient. Forbes is excited about the possibility but notes that One Laptop Per Child has failed to live up to outsized expectations in the past."When it comes to his plans for the $75 dream tablet, however, Negroponte admits his track record of lofty promises doesn't offer much assurance that this latest fantasy machine will appear," the article notes.
And the entrepreneur of the year is . . . The votes are in. Entrepreneur magazine named Skullcandy's Rick Alden entrepreneur of the year. Park City, Utah-based Skullcandy, which has elevated making headphones into a (profitable) art form, made number 14 on our Inc. 500 list this year, up from number 31 the year before, with $85.5 million in revenue in 2008. When we spoke to Alden, he told us his products were designed to appeal to bass-hungry skateboarders and snowboarders. "The sound rattles your head and bleeds through your eyes. It's a damage-your-hearing kind of bass."
Fun with crowd-sourcing. Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk allows anyone to outsource a job to hundreds of thousands of distributed workers. It's a cool technology, but no one has really figured out what to do with it. Most recently an entrepreneur named Steve Quezadas came up with a novel idea: He hired 50 people around the world who were each paid $1 to say hello to the actress Lili Bordan. He posted the results of his weird experiment here. (Via Hacker News).
When Christmas gifts go wrong. The golden rule of holiday gift-giving states that it is always the thought that counts. However, there are some gifts that are so tremendously bad, so misguided, that they defy all polite conventions. The Chicago Tribune spoke with a handful of CEO's to get their list of the worst holiday gifts they've ever received. One CEO recounted how his mother dutifully gave him a hideous Christmas sweater every year for 25 years. Another mentioned a client who inexplicably gave him six pairs of nylon stockings. Of course, there are times when the gift is nice, but the thought is way off. As one CEO explained, "Someone once gave me a fly-fishing pole, complete with a tackle box full of flies. I hate fishing."
Obama and Bloomberg to transform technology in 2010? Business Insider predicts that two "unlikely allies" President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be responsible for spurring several significant changes in the way Americans use technology and the Web in 2010, many of which will likely benefit small businesses and tech start-ups. The articles notes, for example, that through Obama's appointments of the first Federal chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, and the new FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, issues like net neutrality will be tackled, and government data transparency will be pushed to the forefront. According to the post, Bloomberg has already moved forward on this idea by launching the NYC BigApps Competition, a contest for developers and members of the public that allows them to build web or mobile apps using city data.
More college graduates are turning to entrepreneurship instead of the traditional job search. The absymal unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds (currently pegged at 16 percent) is causing recent grads to take an early plunge into entrepreneurship. Employers are only projected to hire 7 percent of undergrads from the class of 2010 (down from 22 percent in 2009). In response, the The Wall Street Journal reports that that more and more college graduates are creating their own start-ups, which could benefit entrepreneurship in the U.S. as a whole. "It's a lot easier to launch your own company when there aren't a lot of jobs out there," said Bo Fishback, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.
Happy holidays, loyal readers. We'll be on hiatus until January 4th. But check back at Inc.com regularly for more blog posts, entrepreneurial news and Inc. features.