A New Incubator on the Block
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.
Education start-up investor launches. In an effort to bring positive change to the educational system, entrepreneurs Geoff Ralston, Tim Brady, and Alan Louie have launched Imagine K12, an accelerator that will invest solely in educational start-ups. According to TechCrunch, K12's model is extremely similar to that of Y Combinator: Find fresh new start-ups, provide funding for a few months of coding, and offer mentoring and advice along the way. K12 will bestow $15,000 to $20,000 to the start-ups and an average of 6 percent of its equity, and forge relationships with schools and education systems to provide testing and distribution. Surprisingly, Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham is not upset by this clone, but rather flattered and encouraged. "We're big supporters of this project and have been talking to [Imagine K12] about it since the beginning," Graham said. "After they launch we're going to publish a blog post encouraging start-ups working on software for schools to apply to them instead of us." Imagine K12 is currently accepting applications until May 1, and its first class will start work this summer.
Venture capital looks toward the cloud. Attention potential start-ups: Ben Horowitz, partner in Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm that's invested in Foursquare, Digg, and Groupon, says he's looking towards a new "big wave" of innovation in cloud infrastructure technology. In a meeting with The Wall Street Journal, Horowitz told reporters that he sees "a lot of goodness to investing on the infrastructure side," which will benefit firms that offer B2B cloud software solutions. "Horowitz said there is a parallel to the change that occurred thanks to the PC revolution, which took computing from centralized mainframe computers to the current distributed model...cloud computing today creates scenarios where, for instance, competing companies have to share storage capacity and bandwidth, which Horowitz said is unacceptable to businesses," the paper noted. The news comes at the same time Andreessen Horowitz is making a first-time $49 million investment in headset maker Jawbone, The New York Times's Dealbook notes.
Would you know when to step away? Buried deep in this interview with Ron Gonen, the founder of Recyclebank, a clean-tech company that provides coupon incentives and rewards for recycling and profits from cities putting less in landfills, is a gem on knowing when to leave your company in other hands. Gonen tells the Wall Street Journal: "I had this night where I was 35 and it was midnight. I was the last person in the office, and I'd been the first person in the office. I'd bought an apartment the year before. There was no furniture in the apartment. I had been doing this for six years, and I realized I could easily turn around five years from now and still be in the office and my apartment would still be unfurnished. I had gotten to a point where I was starting to lose perspective."
Is San Francisco driving Twitter and Zynga away? The city has Twitter jumping through hoops to avoid a 1.5 percent payroll tax, which could easily amount to tens of millions of dollars over the next several years. The microblogging start-up is prepared to move to a blighted part of town—into a building that needs a $30 million renovation—to qualify for a six-year tax break, according to Business Insider. Zynga, however, is already moving into its new headquarters on Townsend Street, "outside of the proposed tax-free/hooker area," writes Michael Arrington in TechCrunch, adding the firm is already considering moving into other Silicon Valley areas. "They can have all the taxes they want, but if there aren't any companies there to pay them, it isn't going to be very helpful," he says.
There's no easy way to cut it. Entrepreneurs have tried tirelessly to create easier, cheaper and scar-less weight-loss surgery methods. But most efforts have fallen short. The New York Times reports the most recent failure came from a company called Satiety, which used its $86 million investment to develop stapler that's inserted through the mouth used to shrink the stomach. It seemed to be a novel idea...only patients didn't lose much weight. Four major companies that have spent millions of dollars constructing alternative weigh-loss procedures—from pills to tubes to jolts of electricity—only to fall short. This news comes at time when obesity rates are high, the Food and Drug Administration lowered the weight requirement Allergan's Lap-Band and more people who are less than severely overweight are turning to weight-loss surgery.
Bracing for the pay wall. Fourteen months after The New York Times announced it would charge for access to its website (a gestation period longer than that of a Manatee, Nieman notes), details on the plan are out. No surprise: people are already looking for ways to hack—or at least get the most out of—the system. Forbes proposes expanding the 20-free-articles-per-month-allowance by using five three clicks a day through Google. And why not set up a Twitter feed with links to every story, so you can pre-gauge which are worth the click?
The $900 iPad queue? Hazem Sayed paid $900 to a college student in line ahead of him in order to be the first to purchase the new iPad2 at Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan. However, he's not the first (and won't be the last) to shell out ridiculous sums of money in order to be first in queue to purchase the latest Apple gadget. Wallet Pop outlines a brief history of Apple gadget enthusiasts with deep pockets, and the buzz they help build. Recall the case of an unidentified woman who arrived at a Dallas AT&T store in July '07 with the intention of throwing $100,000 down on iPhones that she intended to resell on eBay. She paid $800 to get in line ahead of Mark Rebillet, but ended up with a single phone: the quota for that opening day.
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.