Google's China Problem and Learning from Leno
BY Max Chafkin
How to stick to your New Year's resolutions. 13 days into January and more than a few people are already probably kicking themselves for not staying true to their New Year's resolutions. Tech entrepreneur Neil Patel can't help you with your goal to lose 15 pounds, but he does have some suggestions for helping you stick to the resolutions you set for your business. His first piece of advice is to narrow down your resolution from something overly broad like, "make more money," into a more refined goal that is easier to act upon. His post goes on to give a month-by-month breakdown of how you can motivate yourself throughout the year. As he explains, "Just because you've already failed to achieve your New Year's resolution, it doesn't mean you still can't achieve it. You just have to change your approach and the way you are thinking about it."
What we can learn from NBC's late night debacle. "Hello, my name is Conan O'Brien, and I may soon be available for children's parties," was how the late night host opened his show Tuesday night. The joke was a reference to a dispute with NBC, which initially moved O'Brien to the Tonight Show and now appears to be having second thoughts, as it watches its ratings suffer and as O'Brien seems poised to bolt to Fox. What went wrong? Writing in the Times, Mauren Dowd says it was a case of over-managing by NBC's Jeff Zucker. "Zucker is a master at managing up with bosses and calculating cost-per-hour benefits," writes Dowd. "But even though he made money on cable shows, he could not program network to save his life."
Google crowing about China. Google threatened to exit China yesterday after learning about attempts to access the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists. The search giant is far from the only company frustrated with Beijing's policies, according to the New York Times. The chairman of a Beijing consulting firm told the Times, "There has been this received wisdom that no one can afford not to be in China, but that is being questioned now." If you are thinking about doing business there, check out Stephanie Clifford's story on how to get ahead in China
Mint.com for the marijuana business. For decades there has been a class of businesses that never had to worry about invoices, regulatory compliance, or even paying taxes. We call them drug dealers. But now, with the booming medical marijuana industry, notably in California, the industry is suddenly legal--and regulated. And John Lee is here to help. His four-month-old start-up, PlainView Systems, is like a mashup of Mint.com and Alibaba for the pot industry, a B2B exchange that allows licensed providers and patients to form growing collectives and buy and sell inventory. It also helps users keep their records in order. Lee estimates that the California market alone is worth $200 million. "It's a business where everyone is very, very paranoid." Naturally.
Start-up makes water filtration fashionable Manuel Desrochers's unique water filtration system, called the Ovopur, looks a bit more like a work of art than a 2.9-gallon, eco-friendly water filter. Based in Montreal, Canada, Desrochers and his sister, Noemie, have created a water filter that they hope will reduce the consumption of bottled water, Reuters reports. Their filter, which costs $660, is a lot pricier than a humble Brita. However, Noemie claims the pair came to this price point based on their target demographic: "Our target market is really 30- to 50-year old young professionals, who really like the design of it and they're thrilled to hear that it's actually functional. We really came to this price thinking this clientele is willing to pay for quality, so they'll spend around $700 for the Ovopur."
A year to forget. We all knew that the recession was not especially kind to American entrepreneurs, but a study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor says the feeling was pretty much universal around the world. The BBC writes up the report, and says that on average entrepreneurship dropped 10 percent among the world's 20 richest nations. Which is a shame, because, as we keep saying, a recession is a great time to start a company.
Foursquare on the rise. Last week, the location-based service Foursquare, which encourages users to tell their friends when they visit a local business, said it was opening its application to be used anywhere in the world. Apparently, there were swaths of hopeful users sitting on pins and needles for this announcement, because the very next day, the company said that it is averaging a check-in every second, TechCrunch reports. "Some quick math tells me that this means they must have seen over 86,000 check-ins in that 24 hour span," the post says. While that's no indication Foursquare is anywhere near the popularity of Twitter, it's still a pretty impressive feat.
How to make money through affiliate networks. Did you know that you can get paid for that link to Amazon.com? Most e-commerce companies pay affiliate fees to websites that send customers their way. Startup VigLink launched a service today that serves as a middleman between website owners and affiliate marketers programs. Instead of signing up for programs individually, site creators receive payments from VigLink after they reach a $25 minimum for all combined programs. GigaOM reports that merchants are also able to use the new service to track participating publishers in order to reject those whose content isn't appropriate.