Growing on the outside, dying on the inside. That's how Steve Blank describes a company on whose board he served, which was continuing to grow revenue while its core business was "crumbling under its feet." "There's nothing harder than making radical changes when the numbers look great," he writes. Here's his story on one board that did just that.
Former CEOs locked in election day races. Voters cast primaries in a handful of congressional and gubernatorial races today in elections that could signal which way the political winds will blow come November. (Curiously, it looks like voters hate everyone.) Two of the most closely-watched races are in California, where two former CEOs from high-flying tech companies, Carly Fiorina of HP and Meg Whitman of eBay, are expected to win the Republican nominations for senator and governor, respectively. That's according to the Wall Street Journal, which rounds up the primaries to watch.
The entrepreneurial space race. Today's New York Times offers a sneak peek at Bigelow Aerospace's space station model. The inflatable modules, which are set to launch by 2014 and accommodate visitors by 2015, would make up the world's first privately-owned space station. President Obama's 2011 budget proposal would dedicate $6 billion to the development of commercial space crafts, with this week's successful launch of the privately-held Falcon 9 shuttle bolstered that faith in space travel privatization. Bigelow will lease the space station (at $395 million a pop) to countries that lack funding for their own space programs, while simultaneously being a source of revenue for the commercial space shuttle companies that Obama plans to fund. "This represents the entrance of the entrepreneurial mind-set into a field that is poised for rapid growth and new jobs," Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., a NASA administrator, said. "And NASA will be driving competition, opening new markets and access to space and catalyzing the potential of American industry."
The primary difference between entrepreneurs and VCs. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs perpetually have trouble seeing eye to eye. Still some business owners would envy the option of batting away interested VCs on a regular basis as Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu does (via peHUB). His company, whose cloud-based services made our list of low-cost and free collaboration tools, doesn't need a VC boost because he knows he would be at loggerheads with any investor's interests. "Ultimately it comes down to the question of 'exit.' As a founder I have no interest in exit or liquidity. I am in business to run a business, not to run away from it. Or as Warren Buffet puts it: Our favorite holding period is forever." If you too are VC-averse, here are 10 tips for bootstrapping your marketing.
Cold, hard marketing truths you ought to know. Over the course of his career in software, Palo Alto Software founder and president Tim Berry has learned a few things about marketing his products. In the OPEN Forum, Berry shares some of the sad-but-true lessons he's learned along the way. First and foremost, Berry says that "great marketing for a mediocre product will almost always beat mediocre marketing of a great product." As he explains, it isn't always fair, but the truth is that, "the best product doesn't usually win the race." Among the other lessons Berry shares is that a mediocre marketing plan applied consistently is more effective than a brilliant, but sporadic, marketing plan.
Back that app. Still looking for a way to finance your mobile app idea? AppBackr, the winner of a PayPal developer challenge earlier this year, is launching today as a wholesale app marketplace, in beta form. The basic premise: app developers can submit their idea, price, and necessary investment, and buyers can purchase shares - sort of a bet on the future success of the app. Developers get a cash advance, through their PayPal account, and both developer and buyer/investor profit when the app actually is created and sells through the iTunes store. AppBackr creator Trevor Cornwell told CNET he hopes to have 1,000 apps backed by the end of the year - and 20,000 more in 2011.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey