Entrepreneurial

from MediaFile:

Why are cheap startups so expensive?

Starting up a Web company is never easy, but at least it's not as expensive as it used to be. Instead of buying and maintaining an IT infrastructure, as they had to do in the dotcom boom, startups now turn to cloud server services like Amazon's. Instead of costly proprietary software, OpenOffice and Google offer cheaper (or free) options. Instead of paying office rent, employees can work from home. And the viral power of social media can bring new customers with little marketing. Open-source projects and the durability of Moore's Law promise to lower costs even further.

But if it's cheaper than ever to fund a startup's growth, why are some Web companies receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in financing? And why are valuations rising quarter after quarter, to the point where some venture capitalists are complaining that certain startups have simply gotten too expensive to invest in? How is it that Web companies are becoming both cheaper and more expensive? Are VCs valuing companies on fundamentals, or following the market's momentum?

Such questions might seem academic, except that the gap between startup costs and valuations keeps widening. The last six months alone have seen a surprising number of nine-digit venture rounds. In July, Airbnb, a home-sharing startup that had 130 employees, raised $112 million in a round that valued the company at $1.3 billion. A week later, Twitter, which had 600 employees, raised $800 million (half going to cash out early investors), valuing it at $8.4 billion. In October, online-storage company Dropbox, another small company of 70 employees, said it raised $250 million in a round valuing the company at $4 billion. And just last month, group-buying company LivingSocial closed a $176 million round, vowing to raise an even larger amount in the coming months.

There are two key reasons for such outsize venture investments – one strategic and one emotional. The strategic is that startups that have built a loyal customer base and strong word of mouth often solicit big investments to scale up in a nascent or highly competitive market. So, for example, Airbnb is building on its early success to expand internationally and bring in more users. And LivingSocial is looking for a bigger share of a group-buying market that once belonged to Groupon.

“There's not a lot of value in second place,” Ryan Moore, a partner at Atlas Venture in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Reuters. “If you have an interesting model, you spend aggressively and build aggressively to win in your category. There are a lot of situations out there where people are betting big.” In accepting a large investment round, a small startup may be banking on ambitious growth, or even preparing against the risk that the capital markets may slow down.

from MediaFile:

The Life of Jack: Twitter/Square co-founder details his grueling workweek

Managing a fast-growing tech start-up is not a job that everyone is cut out for.

Managing two of today’s hottest start-ups simultaneously? That’s a feat that could overwhelm even some of the corporate world's biggest egos.

Somehow, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of microblogging service Twitter and mobile payment company Square, is managing to pull it off, putting in 8 hour days at each of the two companies every day, without collapsing into a pile of jello.

How does he do it?

Dorsey, who serves as Chairman of Twitter and CEO at Square, shed some light on his double-duty worklife during a talk at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Arizona on Sunday.

Why do customers shop at local small businesses?

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Despite hard times and shrinking profits, Americans still shop at locally owned, independent retailers.

A new small business survey from American Express polled 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older. Ninety-three percent of respondents believe that it’s important to support local small businesses. And on average, they spend about one third of their monthly discretionary income at these stores.

Flipboard founder on venture capitalists: “Take their money”

– Connie Loizos is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This story originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

Many entrepreneurs privately disparage venture capitalists as egoistic, autocratic, and increasingly unnecessary. Not serial entrepreneur Mike McCue. He believes in VC.

Case in point: McCue’s newest startup, Flipboard, a 20-month-old iPad application that transforms social media feeds into an elegant, print-like magazine. Though the Palo Alto, California-based company has yet to develop a business model — McCue is contemplating running full-page ads and allowing publishers to charge subscriptions to their Flipboard-rendered content — Flipboard has already raised $60 million in venture capital from Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures, and others.

Entrepreneur Peter Yared: Social is “so over”

– Connie Loizos is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This story originally appeared here. –

Entrepreneur Peter Yared doesn’t mince words. In April, after TechCrunch misreported some of the circumstances around a Facebook employee’s termination, Yared wrote a widely read post titled “Why TechCrunch is Over” in which he called its founder, Michael Arrington, “insane,” adding that it “must be hard to live amidst a rapidly declining site.”

In more recent posts, Yared has called Twitter “primarily a broadcasting platform with very few active users” and unusable for “normal people.” He has also suggested that if he were to start a company today with either entrepreneurs Mark Pincus, Evan Williams, or Mark Zuckerberg, he’d go with Pincus “given what we now know” about Williams and Zuckerberg. (Both have been accused of elbowing their early co-founders out of the picture.)

Al Jazeera boss tops innovators list

When former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cut off the country’s Internet in an attempt to silence the media, Al Jazeera got creative and began broadcasting via cellphones and reporting through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

This kind of lateral thinking thrust the “Arab CNN” into the global spotlight and landed its leader – Wadah Khanfar – at the top of Fast Company’s 2011 list of “The 100 Most Creative People in Business”.

“We think a lot about who’s going to be No. 1,” said Fast Company executive editor Rick Tetzeli, noting Khanfar’s selection, ahead of innovative leaders at Apple (Scott Forstall, No. 2) and Google (Sebastian Thrun, No. 5), is a testament to the Al Jazeera editorial director’s unorthodox approach to news.

Entrepreneur’s tweet sparks fight with angels

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Last month, entrepreneur Matt Mireles published a tweet, asking: “Why is TechStars NYC run by a non-entrepreneur?”

The “non-entrepreneur” in question is 29-year-old David Tisch, whose grandfather built Loews into a Fortune 100 company that operates hotel chains, and whose family’s largess has helped bankroll numerous institutions, including the Tisch Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Since 2007, the young Tisch has been seed-funding startups with his brothers. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has also started two Internet companies, both of which were shuttered in less than a year’s time.

Tax incentives for moving into blighted areas

Police officers stand near the scene of an underground explosion in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, California June 5, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

One of the bigger stories out of San Francisco of late is Twitter’s planned move into the Tenderloin — a blighted area riddled with shuttered restaurants, graffiti, and crumbling facades.

An entrepreneur takes on LinkedIn – and Facebook

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Entrepreneur Rick Marini has a lot to be thankful for, including smart, connected friends who’ve supported him in the launch of two of his businesses. The most recent of these is BranchOut, which leverages Facebook to help people find business connections and that has an enviable list of backers and advisers.

Managing elephant-sized social media blunders

Global brand strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin can’t help but scratch his head over the rationale behind the controversial social media dispatch from GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. The flamboyant CEO sparked a backlash recently when he posted a video link to his elephant shoot in Kenya Zimbabwe.

Baskin offers the following advice on how small businesses can prevent or manage social media blunders.

Q: Are social media posts pertaining to a business owner’s non-business doings relevant to consumers?

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