Ron Conway: the hardest working man in Silicon Valley. In a fascinating post, with an epigraph by hip-hop artist the Game, Ben Horowitz, co-founder of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (along with Netscape founder Mark Andreessen) breaks down the mystique of investor Ron Conway's success. The key, it seems, is Ron's always-on network. An example of that comes from an executive at a company where Ron was a minor investor. After facing the prospect of their biggest customer signing a deal with a competitor, he emailed Ron at 11pm to ask for a meeting with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The next morning, he had the meeting, and shortly after an eight figure contract. So why doesn't everyone copy Ron's m.o.? He's fearless about asking connections for help, he's scrupulous about proper conduct, oh, and that work ethic. "If Ron's awake, he's working." (via peHUB)

The collapse of a superstar green home start-up . Just a few years ago, Michelle Kaufmann was proving that the future of building might very well be in green prefab homes. Back in 2006, we profiled Kaufmann as part of our list of the new Green 50. Then the world came crashing down on her company mkDesigns. Here's her story, courtesy of The New York Times.

Erratic SBA funding lets small business fall through the cracks. Despite the fact that Congress has supplied 7(a) SBA loans with three times the capital, short-term renewals are leaving business owners in the lurch, reports Wall Street Journal. Provisions in the Federal Recovery Act temporarily boosted guarantees on SBA loans from 75 percent to 90 percent and dropped associated fees. In response, the number of loans last quarter jumped to 16,558--more than twice than the same quarter last year. But when funds dried up in November, those on the waiting list had to wait weeks for Congress to pass legislation to continue. "This starting and stopping has a detrimental effect," admits SBA spokeman Jonathan Swain.

Product-design startup attracts $6 million in VC funding. Quirky, a new startup that allows inventors to pay $99 to submit an idea that is rated each week by a community of collaborators, has secured $6 million in Series A venture financing, reports Fast Company. Twenty-three-year-old Ben Kaufman founded the company nine months ago. It already has 20,000 users and put 12 products into production.

A Twitter cheat sheet. Despite Twitter's popularity, entrepreneurs are still finding it tricky to incorporate the social network into their business strategies. If you fall into that category, check out the "cheat sheet" WebWorkerDaily put together, which not only gives step-by-step directions on how to use Twitter, but also details the different types of tweets, such as "informative" or "questions to start conversations," and offers tips to make your tweets more "retweetable," like limiting the length of characters in your message.

Rhapsody executive on the Microsoft and Apple threat. On Tuesday Rhapsody, an online music service, split from parent companies RealNetworks and Viacom. The Seattle Times spoke to chief executive John Irwin about where the 150-person company is headed. Irwin sends the message that the company, which pulls in revenue of $130 million, will be focusing on building their user base in the U.S. In response to a question about the threat of Microsoft's music subscription service Zune Pass appearing on Windows phones Irwin said, "A benefit we have is being device agnostic, carrier agnostic. It allows us to reach the broadest audience with our service." He also espouses a healthy dose of competition. "Companies like Apple, like Microsoft, pushing these models help validate the model we've been evangelizing," he added.

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