Entrepreneurial

Microsoft-i4i fight has big patent implications

What has been an interesting side show over the last few years, has taken on a much greater significance with the latest news that Microsoft’s appeal of a patent win by software minnow i4i will be heard by the Supreme Court.

When the two combatants eventual square off in Washington, D.C. sometime next spring, tech companies large and small will be closely following every legal punch thrown.

In the Microsoft camp will be heavyweights Google and Yahoo and trade groups such as the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

In the i4i corner will be all small firms who have ever patented a piece of software. Ironically this used to include Microsoft.

Loudon Owen, i4i’s chairman and CEO, was not surprised by the support Microsoft has received from Google and other tech giants in this fight.

from DealZone:

Google’s buying binge

GOOGLE/One small acquisition a month, Google chief Eric Schmidt projected last fall when announcing the internet giant was back on the hunt for privately owned firms after a short recession-induced break from buying.

"There may be larger acquisitions, but they really are unpredictable," he told Reuters at the time.

Google has mostly stuck to its plan and even made of few of those riskier big buys. Since Schmidt's revelations, the Web search giant has scooped up everything from small start-ups to much-larger industry rivals such as mobile advertising firm AdMob, a $750 million acquisition that many thought would land Google in an antitrust court battle. Indeed, the company has outpaced itself, buying more than just one firm a month in a few instances.

Do entrepreneurs need education?

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook from his Harvard dormitory, but after the social networking website exploded in popularity, he promptly quit school and became a full-time entrepreneur.

An informal roll call of Fortune 500 CEOs that dropped out of high school or university and went on to become self-made billionaires, includes the following: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Michael Dell (Dell), David Geffen (Geffen Records), Steve Jobs (Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin), Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren), Jerry Yang (Yahoo) and the aforementioned Zuckerberg.

Most on this list received a modicum of post-secondary education, before bailing and pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.

Mobile gaming firm MegaPhone seeks funding in a recession

MegaPhoneImagine being in the middle of Times Square in downtown New York and using your cell phone to play a video game on a giant screen against the throng gathered there. MegaPhone, a digital advertising company launched in 2006, does just that, providing its clients a unique way of interacting with consumers.

“I think all of us who work in the advertising industry have to ultimately admit to ourselves that people don’t like most advertising,” said co-founder Dan Albritton. “What we’re trying to do is to bring a genuinely fun experience and then you’re getting a little advertising wrapped inside of it.”

Albritton and partner Jury Hahn have created a software platform that allows anyone with a cell phone to call a number and play a video game against thousands of complete strangers on giant digital screens at concerts venues, sporting events, or in urban centers like Times Square.

VIDEO: New class of startup aims for quick revenues

peHub‘s Dan Primack spoke with Reuters about a new kind of startup that’s designed to develop an idea and then be snapped up by a larger company.

As Primack explains, these startups differ from the traditional sort in that they tend to be interested in creating targeted web services or applications rather than conventional companies with longer-term growth ambitions.

“The hope for these companies isn’t to create the next Google or the next Cisco, the goal is to create a little application that Google or Cisco or Facebook or Twitter wants and then will purchase,” he explains.

Experts weigh in on Twitter-based shopping site

IMshopping's Twitter pageYesterday we presented entrepreneur Prashant Nedungadi (read his entrepreneur journal) and his startup website IMshopping.com, which offers a platform whereby consumers can ask specific retail-related questions, through the website directly or via Twitter, and have them answered by an online community of retail experts. (click here to read Nedungadi’s pitch)

Nedungadi launched his website last April and has already received $4.7 million in venture capital investment from SK Telecom, but now needs to find retailers willing to pay to utilize his virtual sales force instead of going the traditional route and hiring their own sales people.

Our panel of experts have watched Nedungadi’s pitch video and gave us their reaction to IMshopping and Nedungadi’s business model.

Ex-Googlers seek traffic for how-to video startup

The Web is full of user-generated video, but for Sanjay Raman’s tastes most of it is too bland and poorly produced to actually watch.

That’s why Raman launched Howcast (http://www.howcast.com) – a high-quality, how-to video-sharing website – last year with former Google colleagues Jason Liebman and Dan Blackman.

While at Google the three Howcast co-founders noticed how popular do-it-yourself content was, but how little of it was in video format.

Google service helps small businesses

Web-challenged small business owners, take note. Google unfurled the latest in its long line of freebie services last week, this time offering a so-called “dashboard” aimed squarely at local businesses suffering from a weak online presence and lack of web know-how.

The new service gives business owners a simple, if limited, way to track information about their customers. Drawing on its map and search data, Google produces metrics such as what zip code your customers are coming from and what words they’re searching for to find your business. Owners can use such information to help them make business decisions on, say, where to open up a second store or how to fine-tune the products or services they offer.

Google will likely use the information provided by small business owners to try to sell ads to them, but, still, the service is a novel idea that’s bound to appeal to many small companies, particularly those looking to expand locally.

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