You have nothing to fear from the youth of America. Google held it's annual Teens In Tech conference yesterday in San Francisco and more than 150 people (ages 10 to 60) attended. It was as much a chance for the next Steve Wozniak to meet, well, Steve Wozniak, as it was an opportunity for tech companies to tap into that coveted and catered to teen demographic, says peHUB. Saar Gur, a partner at Charles River Ventures, one of the events' sponsors, said that age group was interesting to VCs because new, Internet-specific technologies tend to enable new platforms for communication that are typically first adopted by the young. "They don't do email, which the rest of us don't understand." Joey Primiani, a former Google intern who gave his presentation in a space suit, has already raised $1.8 million for his stealth startup Palaran from investors like Joshua Schacter from Del.ici.ous. Okay so maybe you should be a little worried.
Google keeps the new businesses coming. Seems like a week doesn't go by without Google trying to attack another existing business. Earlier this week the company launched Buzz, a competitor to Facebook and Twitter that tries to turn the popular Gmail service into a social network. Two days in, Buzz is already generating some nice buzz. Today, the Wall Street Journal has news that Google, which has hitherto focused mostly on software, will begin laying fiber optic cable in a handful of U.S. cities. The idea is "to pressure Internet providers to upgrade and open up their networks," according to the article. "Impatient with wireless carriers' control over services on cellphones, Google bid to purchase wireless spectrum, invested in wireless carrier Clearwire Corp., and bought a company that allows users to make Internet calls over mobile phones. Now, it is making a similar move in the wired Internet word, facing off against cable and phone providers."
The Silver-Bullet CEO? A Myth. No single person or solution can fix everything that's wrong with a company, says professional coach and former venture capitalist Jerry Colonna. So why do board members and managers persist in thinking a world-class CEO or a deal with a Fortune 500 company can make it all okay? Because it's easier than facing the larger implications. Colonna explains, "We might be afraid to do the real work necessary to correct the underlying problem (like fire everyone, strip the business down to the barest minimum, and rebuild the business model.)" Colonna's advice: keep magical thinking out of the board room.
Two roads diverged in a social-media wood. The destinies of Twitter and MySpace continued to diverge this week with same-day shakeups in the companies' C-level suites. Twitter announced on Wednesday that it was hiring its first CFO, Pixar Animation Studios financial chief Ali Rowghani, as it continues to "step up its efforts to make money," The New York Times reports. On the same days, News Corp.'s struggling MySpace made the shocking announcement that its CEO, Owen Van Natta, was stepping down after just 10 months on the job. Van Natta had previously been the No. 2 under Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook.
Consumers trust CEOs not their friends. A new study conducted by Edelman measured how much consumers trust various institutions and sources of information and it found that in the age of Facebook and casual friending the percentage of people who trust their friends and peers as credible sources of intel dropped from 45 percent to 25 percent since 2008 (Ad Age). This undermines the conventional wisdom of social media marketing. Surprisingly, the one group whose credibility is up seems to be CEOs. The proportion of people who put their faith in top executives shot from 17 to 26 percent since 2009. Maybe it's time for the C-Level to take to the stump a la Jim Perdue.
What's worse: the office gossip or the office grump? Are your colleagues driving you to distraction? Will you throw a stapler if you hear the same tired jargon one more time? You're not alone. London-based research firm Opinium surveyed 1,836 people to find the top 10 office annoyances. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said their stress levels has been increased by office irritations, and one in 10 left a job because of unbearable annoyances. Top workplace exasperations include grumpy or moody colleagues (37 percent), slow computers (36 percent), and office gossip (19 percent). The survey also found office jargon to be a primary culprit, with phrases like "thinking outside the box," and "let's touch base" being the most-loathed.
How to build a web presence. With another social media site popping up every day, the options for beginning your business's web presence are endless. Mashable, however, suggests you start with the basics: website, blog, newsletter. Your website is often the initial point of contact with your consumers, and it should directly answer the questions "What do you do?" and "Why should I trust you?". Once you have a website set up, consider adding a blog. A blog shows that you know what you're talking about and gives readers a reason to come back to your site. When you get to the point when you're able to build a database of your customers, a newsletter is a great way to offer specials and keep core customers up to date on new products. After these three steps, you're ready for a social media plan. Inc.'s Social Media Toolkit can help you decide what social media strategy is best for your business.
Design your blog like you'd design your product. That's the advice Tony Wright, Y Combinator alumni and CEO of Seattle-based RescueTime, has for businesses out there. As he so bluntly puts it, "Most blogs are crappy products." Wright explains that while the quality of a blog depends largely on strong content, a successful blog "is a function of content quality and the ability to turn readers into people who retweet, comment, subscribe, or follow." Wright has some quick-fix ideas to help you strengthen your blog so that readers will become more engaged with you and your brand. According to Wright, a weekend's worth of work revamping your blog could double a visitor's chances of becoming a follower, subscriber, or commenter. Says Wright, "At the end of the day, every web site is a funnel and most blogs are pretty damn leaky. Take a weekend and plug some holes."
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