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BRINGING INNOVATION TO MARKET

The Problem with Digg

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Upheaval at Digg. Two years ago, Digg was flying high, with fast-growing web traffic and a fanatical following. But then came the recession and a nasty battle for control, that ended earlier this year with the ouster of then-CEO Jay Adelson by founder Kevin Rose, according to TechCrunch. Rose has been making changes since then and has cut costs, but Michael Arrington says they don't go far enough. He wants Rose to act more like Facebook and Apple, which sometimes make changes to their products over the vigorous objections of their customers. "Now is your time to shine and show that you aren't just a really nice, really fun guy," Arrington writes. "You are a hard core steel eyed product dictator who wants to kick some ass and change the world...Fight the urge, Kevin. You want to win the war, not be the most popular startup founder who ever lived. You can be both, actually, but that comes from winning."

Paying your staff in peas and carrots. So you can't give your employees a raise. So the budget's run dry on gym memberships. No fear. There's another, more recession-friendly, trend in at-work perks on the rise: corporate gardens. The New York Times reports that gardens have been sprouting up at big businesses from PepsiCo to Kohl's. The gardens only cost about $1,000 to start up, according to the story, and if they're properly maintained, they can do wonders for both employee health and corporate culture. 'It takes the politics out of the job,' PepsiCo senior manager Sheila Golden tells the Times. 'Everybody is on the same level in the garden."

Mozilla CEO leaving for Greylock Partners. Mozilla CEO John Lilly is joining the ranks of entrepreneurs before him who have gone over to, what some would consider, the dark side: venture capital (via AllThingsD). "Venture investing is what I've wanted to do for quite a long time" Lilly wrote on his blog, "I've been involved in many start-ups, even building an incubator a decade ago, and have interests that span enterprise, open source, and the broader web." One nice thing about a CEO becoming a VC is they can then turn around and give entrepreneurs the inside scoop on how to successfully pitch a VC, as Jeffrey Bussgang at Flybridge Capital Partners did in our May issue.

The most memorable TV businesses. We've already given you the 30 Greatest Fictional Entrepreneurs. Now, here's 12 of Focus.com's favorite businesses from TV shows. Our favorite? Has to be Vandelay Industries of Seinfeld fame.

An innovative way to dispose of unused inventory. In ReadWriteStart, vaunted entrepreneur and social media expert Gary Vanyerchuk talks about the results of his recent project between his consulting company, VaynerMedia, the New Jersey Nets, and geolocation app Gowalla to try to see whether location-based services could get fans in unsold seats with free tickets.  ReadWriteStart says it has some interesting implications for "the future possibilities for geolocational advertising." Vanyerchuk used Gowalla to offer free tickets to users who checked-in at places where basketball fans might hang out like local gyms and parks. Seventy-six of the 500 seats offered (or 15.2 percent) were filled as a result of this mobile promotion. And those 76 people ended up buying merchandise, food and drinks, and parking they wouldn't have otherwise. Vanyerchuk's conclusion? Mobile ads are going to play a big role in how expiring inventory--unfilled hotel rooms, that last batch of doughnuts, unused airplane seats--are sold, most likely through location-based apps like Gowalla and Foursquare.

Lessons to be learned from street vendors. Their work might not be glamorous, but street vendors in underdeveloped nations represent the promise of entrepreneurship in its most basic form. As the American Express OPEN Forum points out, there is also a lot entrepreneurs can learn from street-stall vendors. The post lists a number of lessons regarding supply and cash flow, but probably the most salient point is that, "Bootstrapping is a way of life for these individuals, and we could stand to learn a lot from them. Most importantly, of course: they teach us that, with the right focus and determination, you're never too poor to start a business."  

How to perfect the art of the follow-up e-mail. Following up on a line of e-mail communication isn't always as straightforward as it seems, explains communications strategist Dave Clarke on WebWorkerDaily. He says follow-up e-mails by nature are annoying and tend to come across as needy, so he offers a few tricks for crafting an e-mail that gets the response you're looking for. Paying attention to the email habits of the person you're working with is important, he points out, but you can even go as far as to make fun of yourself. "For example you could try something like, 'Hey Jim - I know the line between persistence and annoyance is thin (and I hope this doesn't lump me into the latter category), but I wanted to see if you had a chance to check out the spec sheet I sent over last week.'"

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