2010: The Year VC's Returned?
The downside of being the "Next Big Thing." There's a lot to learn from businesses like Google or Facebook, but it's probably not a good idea to try to make your business "the next Google," or "the next Facebook." That's the advice given by Detlef Schobert at the American Express OPEN Forum. As he explains, "Businesses succeed when they produce something special, something different than what can already be found out there." Rather than trying to beat an existing business at its own game, Schobert says you will be much better off figuring out what makes your business stand out from the rest of the pack. "What do you offer that stands out? What 'secret' do you have that enables you to offer it? That should always be the core of your business," he says.
2010: The year of the tech start-up recovery? This year could be a turning point for tech start-ups if the upward trend in VC dollars continues. Mashable has some helpful graphs detailing how the first quarter of 2010 is shaping up compared to last year and how VC firms are faring compared to private equity funds. The signs are good, but as the article points out, there's still a long way to go before funds approach the flushness of their peak in 2007.
What happens when you put an iPad in a blender? Tom Dickson, founder of blender manufacturer Blendtec, decided to find out. Dickson hosts a popular series of online videos dubbed "Will it Blend?", in which he places everyday objects into his Blendtec blender and lets the machine do its worst. How did the iPad stand up? No surprises here, it gets eviscerated into pile of grey dust. Although to be fair, in order to fit the iPad in the blender, Dickson first had to smash it into two pieces. The video is a YouTube favorite with nearly three million views, although Mac lovers would probably do best not to watch. (Hat tip to CNN).
The FTC has their eyes on Google's possible AdMob deal. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission already has a litigation team to investigate Google's attempt to buy mobile advertising firm AdMob for $750 million. The FTC has already asked AdMob's competitors to testify about the threat the buyout poses and briefed Congress about its concerns. Sen. Kohl of Wisconsin has been vocal about warning that this deal poses more danger than just anti-trust issues. "Consumers have to worry about exactly why Google wants AdMob, notably Google's hunger for ever more user data," says FastCompany. But the FTC's case isn't cut and dry. Google works in mobile search ads, so AdMob, which puts ads in apps, isn't a competitor. And Apple, owner of the world's largest app store, did acquire Quattro Wireless (a smaller, but AdMob-like company). Check out our interview with AdMob about behavioral targeting from last November.
AOL admits Bebo acquisition was a failure. Two years after it acquired the second-tier social networking site Bebo for $850 million, AOL announced yesterday that it is looking to sell or shut down the site that had been best known for a strong following in the United Kingdom. "Essentially, AOL...had forked over $850 million to corner the market on teen girls in the United Kingdom," writes Kara Swisher. "Of course, all those girls are now using Facebook." Shortly after the deal had closed in 2008, we spoke to the couple that walked away from it with more than $500 million.
Social-gaming company could be worth $5 billion. Analysts at SecondShares.com estimate that Zynga, the company behind the popular Facebook games Farmville and Mafia Wars, would have a market value of as high as $5 billion if it were publicly traded, GigaOm reports. With 237 million monthly gamers and six of the top seven social games, the analysts say that Zynga is the "clear leader in social gaming" and that the company could will earn about $500 million in revenue this year and as much as $1.6 billion per year in five years.
Federal court ruling strikes a blow against net neutrality. A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the power to stop Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to certain sites or charging sites like YouTube to deliver their content faster to users. The FCC had been trying to require companies to give Web users equal access to all content, regardless of whether it was taking up space on the network, reports the New York Times. The ruling came in the wake of Comcast's assertion that it had the right to slow customer's access to BitTorrent, a popular file-sharing service. Based on this ruling, Congress might pursue a legal change to give the FCC explicit authority to oversee Internet service. The ruling also poses an obstacle to the Obama administration's initiative to increase national access to high-speed Internet.
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