Should You Boycott The Tech Industry's Biggest Bully?

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Jason Calacanis thinks Comscore needs to be stopped. The Mahalo founder calls analytics company Comscore the biggest bully in the tech industry and advocates for a massive boycott. Henry Blodget calls Comscore's new policy essentially blackmail. What are they all riled up about? After a decade of protests that its estimates severely undercount a website's traffic, Comscore is changing its ways. Historically, part of the difference has been that extrapolates overall usage from a small panel of users.) But bowing to pressure from Quantcast and Google, which both offer free tracking pixels that sites can use to measure traffic, Comscore is changing it's ways. Instead it's adopting a "hybrid" model of panels and tracking pixels. Paying clients get the tracking pixels, non-paying ones will just get the panel, which is universally acknowledged to yield lower than accurate results. Comscore's research is extremely expensive. Says Blodget, "This amounts to Comscore saying, 'If you want your higher traffic numbers, you need to pay us $10,000."

Big boost for electric car charger start-up. Its vision is ambitious and, up to now, largely unrealized. But Better Place, the start-up that hopes to build a network of charging spots for electric cars, has received $350 million in new venture capital, according to The New York Times. HSBC contributed $125 million for a 10 percent stake, putting Better Place's valuation at $1.25 billion. The company's commercial debut is set for 2011 in Israel and Denmark, but as The Times reports, "Better Place and its backers will have to persuade consumers to move away from the internal-combustion engines that characterized motor vehicles for more than a century, while also winning the support of major automakers." Renault is the only major automaker to so far publicly endorse the company's plan, The Times says.

When it's time to take a step back. Starting a business can turn you into a control-freak. But once your company grows enough to hire staff, it's important to stop doing everything yourself. One owner in a Wall Street Journal case study couldn't help micromanaging his growing search engine marketing firm. After a decade of working 12-hour days and avoiding vacation, he trained his team to run without him. As much trouble he had letting go at first, the switch in his managing style freed him up to focus on bringing in an additional$100,000 in business--and to take his first vacation in ten years.

A business by any other name. Choosing a name for your business can be daunting, especially if you plan to have a web presence; good domain names are growing scarce. Business Week suggests you work your personal connections with a flare for language or hire a consultancy if you can afford it. It's also good to see if you're legally permitted to use your chosen business name and to avoid domain name scams. On the creative front you have to try to capture what distinguishes your company. Steve Cone, EVP of Epsilon, a Dallas-based direct marketing agency days, "So many names, slogans and taglines are platitudes and overused words like 'life,' 'power,' and 'promise' that don't mean that much."

Y Combinator opens applications. If you're a start-up looking for money you may want to consider applying to the handful of small scale venture capital funds that have sprung up over the past few years. These funds generally give entrepreneurs about $20,000, three months worth of mentorship, and a chance to pitch top venture capital investors at the end of the program The oldest of the group--and the model for the others--is Y Combinator, which began accepting applications for next class today. In a blog post, Paul Graham says that because of the emergence of competing funds, such as the Boulder-based TechStars, he decided to make decisions a month earlier than usual. "In the past, [competing funds] tried to pressure startups into accepting offers before they had a chance to interview with Y Combinator," he writes. "We hope that now that we're all deciding at about the same time, no one will be pressured to take an offer that's not their first choice." He also says that for the first time Y Combinator will give preference to early applicants. So get that application going.

Why won't the NHL sell this man a hockey team? Canadian entrepreneur and billionaire Jim Balsillie made his fortune as the co-CEO of Research in Motion, the company that brought the world the Blackberry. Among hockey fans, however, Balsillie is more famous for his persistent attempts to purchase a National Hockey League franchise, despite the league's equally persistent attempts to block his bids. Since 2006, Balsillie has made active bids to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Nashville Predators, and the Phoenix Coyotes, all of which were rebuffed by the NHL. Canadian newspaper, The Province, has an interesting take on why the NHL doesn't want Balsillie as an owner. Namely, the very traits that made him so successful as an entrepreneur are the exact traits that could potentially make him a Mark Cuban-esque maverick franchise owner. Unwillingness to take instructions, a need to be in control, and a distrust of authority are just some of the entrepreneurial traits that Balsillie demonstrates which may be behind the NHL's aversion. But it's an entrepreneur's resilience that the NHL should be prepared for. As the Province explains, "It's wise to never count an entrepreneur out. They tend to return when least expected."

Are business cards going digital? There are plenty of entrepreneurs with creative calling cards, but technology may lead to the end of traditional, paper business cards altogether, reports MSNBC. Most of the next-gen business cards will be mobile applications and websites that will enable CEOs to store and disseminate their contact information digitally. One such example is DUB, an interactive service that shares mobile business cards, now available on BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Google's Android. Perhaps the most useful aspect of DUB's digital cards is that the technology supports links to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

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Last updated: Jan 25, 2010




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