MediaFile

from Paul Smalera:

Brad Feld’s four ingredients for thriving startup cities

BOULDER, Colo. -- One of the most resonant talks I heard at last week's Big Boulder conference was also one of the shortest. In about twenty minutes, Brad Feld, who is without exaggeration the godfather to the Boulder startup community, explained exactly why it is that Boulder feels like a town on the verge, and why it's teeming with startups. A lot of it has to do with Feld himself.

It's not just that Feld is a co-founder of Techstars, the nationwide startup incubator that got its start in Boulder, or that the college kids -- and lately, mid to late twenties startup veterans -- flock to Boulder in hopes of getting a few minutes of his time to discuss their ideas. It's not just that Feld's Foundry Group scored big with an exit on Zynga, though that credibility certainly helps. And it's not just that he picked Boulder as some magical perfect place to be a startup Mecca. In fact when I asked him why he moved there from Boston, he said, laughingly, it was because, "my wife told me she was moving to Boulder." He figured he had better go along.

"Happy warrior" is usually a phrase reserved for politicians on futile crusades, but the four principles that Feld talked about that make Boulder a burgeoning startup locale are ones that he seems to embody, not just talk about. And as to my earlier post, wondering where and whether Boulder needed a billion dollar startup (or founder) to justify itself, Feld more or less shrugged it off. If that outcome is a natural result of the principles Feld sees as key to keeping Boulder a great place to found a company, then great. If it's not, I get the sense no one, he least of all, would mind very much.

Brad Feld's four ingredients for thriving startup cities:

1. The startup community has to be led by entrepreneurs.

Everyone who's not an entrepreneur, says Feld, "is a feeder." Feeders can be useful, indeed even essential. Lawyers, bankers, shared workspace providers, venture capitalists, business services, city hall, even incubators, are all essential components. But if one of those groups get into the position of calling the shots on what the community should be, Feld thinks it won't work.

2. Take a very long term view of success; a twenty year view at least.

If you took a look at a decade-long slice of Silicon Valley, and you took the the period from, say, 1992-2002, you'd have to assume that the promise of technology was a huge bust. But if you encapsulate the next decade, you'd get a better picture of how out of the ashes of the dot-com bubble bust, a new and perhaps more resilient approach to tech startups came about. It's foolish, then, to assume that any startup city is going to have its ecosystem all figured out in a relatively short period of time.

Michael Dell: We’re hiring, but show me your skills

USA/Michael Dell says — in no uncertain terms — that his company, which shed thousands of jobs over the past few years, is hiring. There’s only one problem: it can’t find enough qualified people.

“I’m amazed at this,” he said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday at the company’s Round Rock, Texas headquarters. Dell employs around 100,000 people.

“We go in our meetings and we need more of these, and more of these people –hiring, hiring, hiring. And then you look at 9.7 percent unemployment and you say: ‘whats going on here?’ The people and skills we’re looking for, they’re not there. And so, the educational institutions need to do a better job creating these new skills.”

Does our economy make us happy?

FRANCE/

By Lisa Gansky

The opinions expressed are her own.

Does our economy make us happy?

The crash-and-burn of the financial system, a prolonged recession, and high unemployment obviously cause us enormous distress. We are forced to ask ourselves, “What can we afford now?”

The collapse has also made many of us rethink what we care about. We’re finally asking, “Are all these things we’ve been buying (and probably still making payments on) truly making us happy?”

I started asking myself related questions long ago. Where do we look to derive value? What’s the source? As I talked with people, did research, and listened more intrusively to my own internal voice, I realized that in the process of choosing and buying we are actually being engulfed (essentially consumed), by the stuff in our lives.

Investing in the Internet… literally.

One of the Crystal Palace Space Station domes

The headlines were salacious, the scandal was set. This was going to be the water-cooler story of the week.

27 year-old Erik Novak from British Columbia paid out a record-breaking $330,000 (USD) for a digital space station. Let that sink in for a moment.

A digital space station.

In a video game.

Perhaps even better than all the jokes you and I could write all day was the argument from the company that this was a sound investment.

Frankfurt Motor Show tickets going once… going twice…

Some say the Frankfurt Motor Show, which started on Sept. 15, has lost a bit of its lustre amid the crisis that has hit the global car industry with an economic baseball bat. But there are still people out there who are willing to shell out the big bucks to go see the new car launches. One lucky bidder, identified only as i
l on www.ebay.de paid 158 euros ($232) for two tickets to get into the car show today, days before other mortals are allowed to pass through the big white doors leading into the halls of the show. There are 150 separate auctions for tickets to the car show, with sale prices starting at 7 euros for tickets valid on the days that are open to the public, which start on Sept. 19. So it looks like there are still plenty of people out there who are just wild about cars even though the government has to pay tightfisted consumers to buy a new one with their cash for clunkers programme. Would you pay that much to get a glimpse of  what the automotive industry has in store before others can?

Frankfurt Motor Show features babes and beasts

Photo by Edward Taylor

The Frankfurt Motor Show is bustling with scantily clad models in high, high heels who present carmakers new models. Volkswagen‘s Skoda decided against the models and opted for a more furry mascot. To present its new 4×4 crossover Yeti model, it hired the abominable snowman! Mom is never going to believe this…

from DealZone:

Truth in tender offers? An eyewitness account.

U.S. Securities regulators on Thursday sued a well-connected Kuwaiti financier, saying he reaped millions in suspicious profits after false takeover reports briefly sent shares of Harman International Industries soaring this week.

Reuters reporter Ransdell Pierson was in the office working the Sunday shift when he received a fax with the purported takeover offer.  Unable to verify the authenticity of the fax, Reuters did not publish the story.  Here is Ransdell's first person account of what happened, and a copy of the fax. Would you have questioned its veracity?

Ransdell Pierson:

I was scouring newspapers on a Sunday shift in the Reuters New York bureau and waiting for news about distressed lender CIT Group, when the phone finally rang and broke my reverie. "Newsroom," I said, and the caller replied, "Your Jeddah bureau is closed today. Can I send you a fax?" The male caller, who I imagined to be a middle-aged office aide frustrated by the thankless chore of delivering his fax, said it was a press release about a deal. Something about one company buying another for about $3 billion.
"If it's such a big transaction, shouldn't this news be coming over the PRNewswire or BusinessWire?" I asked him. He explained that it was the weekend, so faxing a press release was the best route.
I gave him a fax number and he called back, irritated the document hadn't gone through. I gave him another fax number and he soon called back again, more irritated than before. So I gave him the number of a third Reuters fax machine, but told him that it needed to include contact information for all the parties. "Otherwise, we can't authenticate it." "OK, you'll have it," he replied.

Economy check

It’s the question of the moment in the technology world: have we hit bottom?

Tech execs appeared at a bunch of investor events this week and gave their best guess on what’s going on in this murky economy of ours. Some said things seemed a bit better, while others said visibility is as bad as ever. Here’s a collection of their comments:

Yahoo Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen, who is leaving the company, said advertisers are “in shock” at the moment because of the economy, but cited the superior return on investments that they get online compared with traditional marketing mediums.

Will Boost’s “so wrong” ads bring it to the masses?

How would you widen your appeal beyond an audience of  14-24 year-olds to say the 18-35 year-old demographic? Some companies might give their advertising a gentler or more grown up tone. Others might throw in a service credit or some airmiles. 
Boost Mobile has decided the right theme is “wrong”
Investors already thought its recently-launched $50 unlimited mobile service plan was so competitive their first reaction was to sell shares in rival companies. The plan’s arrival in a terrible economy plagued with job cuts is also expected to draw crowds. 
But to make sure Boost, a unit of Sprint Nextel, launched an ad campaign designed by Santa Monica-based ad agency 180 LA, to stand out from the clutter. 
One has a coroner eating lunch over a dead body and at one point holding an internal organ in one hand and sandwich in the other. Is this wrong? he asks. Not as wrong like high prices. 
Then there’s a girl on a bike questioning if there’s something wrong about her flowing long arm pit hair.  The answer is of course that its not as wrong as sneaky charges in phone bill.
And what about the cute pig who’s tucking into a plate of ham at the dinner table. 
“Is this so wrong? Its delicious.” says the pig. “I’ll tell you what’s wrong, a cellphone company that advertises one price and charges you hidden fees well north of that.”
Sprint said yesterday that Boost has been taking in 6 times more customers than it is losing since the new plan was launched Jan. 22. Now that  the campaign launched this week on national TV it will be interesting to see the effect on sales.
(Photos: Boost)

from MacroScope:

So many ways to say goodbye

It takes a delicate touch to make job cuts sound more palatable. As U.S. companies reduce payrolls by the thousands, the press releases seem to be getting more and more creative.

Check out today's announcement from The Reader's Digest Association, which is eliminating 8 percent of its global workforce and suspending matching contributions to employees' 401(k) retirement accounts. Somehow it stings a bit less when you tell employees that it's all part of a "Recession Plan" right?

"We have announced a comprehensive 'Recession Plan', which is our internal roadmap for dealing with the extraordinary effects of this recession on consumer spending," Mary Berner, president and CEO, said in a statement.