Daily Roundup for 2008-01-31

  • The population of Web sites dedicated to the crime of phishing jumped markedly in October after dipping late in the summer, according to the latest data from the Anti-Phishing Working Group. The good news, though, is that experts appear to be working out a new way to shut down these sites in a way that will keep fraudsters off the Internet. The group’s October report, released last week, shows the number of unique phishing sites grew 22% from September, to 34,266. That’s the highest number detected by the APWG since May, though it falls far short of the record 55,643 found last April.
  • When lawyers defer their legal fees, they expect equity for the risk of not getting paid. If their risk is low or they’re not deferring fees, you can say no. In any case, offer them the right to invest $25K-$50K in your financing instead of giving them free equity.

  • Hedge funds obviously have money, and periodically, entrepreneurs will be confronted with whether or not to consider taking an investment from a hedge fund.  This article on TheFunded.com is a terrific summary of the things you better know before you take an investment from a hedge fund.
  • Again, another terrific post at TheFunded.com.  Many venture funds today employ people with little or no venture experience, much less actual in-the-trenches operating experience. Many newcomers are merely resource allocators and could function just as well in a mutual fund.  If you are an entrepreneur thinking about raising venture capital, read this article before you choose your next boss!
  • On January 16th, eBay announced a massive overhaul to the eBay Trading Assistant Program that will take effect on February 11th.  The overhaul of the Trading Assistant Program (an eBay program that helps consignment sellers find customers and sell their items on eBay) was long overdue. eBay’s program provides for a Trading Assistant Directory where people who have merchandise to sell can locate registered TA’s in their local area to sell the goods on consignment for them. The TA program, and the directory, had become clogged with thousands of inactive and/or inexperienced sellers. Many active Ta’s felt the program was basically broken. The new announcement contains welcome and needed changes to the program, but there are a few big hurdles for some TA’s including the new insurance requirements.
  • Believe it or not, 2008 is upon us. Savvy entrepreneurs are educating themselves about new products, practices and ideas, and strategically looking for the one or two trends they can adopt to catapult them past the competition.
  • Buyers save billions of dollars each year bidding on eBay auctions, according to a new study that quantifies the benefits online consumers enjoy over and above what is derived by sellers, or eBay itself.  The study fails to mention the billions lost by merchants and consumers every year on eBay due to fraud and marketplace information asymmetries.
  • It was mid-June and a khaki-clad Meg Whitman beamed from center stage as she looked over the thousands of eBay users crammed into Boston’s newest convention center. The event was eBay Live, the annual networking extravaganza for eBay’s customers, and Whitman sought to reassure attendees that she’s looking out for their interests and the core eBay services that depend on their participation. The following morning, Whitman sat in a small conference room sporting a tailored black pantsuit and flanked by public relations officers. She was prepped for media interviews aimed at getting her message across to a different constituency: the investors who have been hammering eBay stock and demanding revenue-boosting moves such as seller-fee hikes that rankle the very users who cheered her the night before.
  • For three years, as the stock of eBay (EBAY) has slid, Chief Executive Meg Whitman has asked investors for patience. On Jan. 23, when the online auction site announced that John Donahoe would take over the top job, he had a clear message for investors: 2008 isn’t going to be your year, either. Managing eBay is one of the toughest jobs in the tech industry. The CEO at the online auction site has the daunting responsibility of trying to keep happy three vocal, and often opposing, factions: eBay’s investors, shoppers, and sellers. While Whitman did a stellar job of balancing the conflicting interests for years, she struggled more recently to keep any of the groups satisfied.
  • The worldwide collapse of stock prices has many victims — pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds, financial services firms. But those are players who, if they are smart, have the wherewithal to withstand a steep sell-off. Some will even use short-sales or derivatives bets to profit on falling prices.  What about the small investor, the individual who is socking away modest sums for retirement or college costs? Should small investors rush for the sidelines? Or should they view this as a buying opportunity and plough more money into the market?
  • While attending the Shop.org Strategy And Innovation Forum in Orlando today, I had the pleasure of presenting on the topic of Social Shopping with Carrie Johnson from Forrester Research. We each did a twenty-minute presentation with about fifteen minutes of questions and answers. One individual asked our thoughts on where online merchants should best devote their time – on retention or acquisition?
  • The Funded has some excellent resources for a first-time fundraise. You need to dig a little, as not all of these posts have floated to the top. Members should agree with the good posts more so that they stick out! Also, you need to be a member to see the discussion, where a lot of the good pointers are.
  • Want your own online store? Creating one from scratch is a real challenge. Fortunately, major websites offer one-stop e-commerce solutions. This helps take the hassle out of developing an online store.
  • Mozilla’s head of security yesterday confirmed a bug in Firefox that could be used by attackers to scout out a system prior to mounting a more thorough assault. The flaw, said Window Snyder, Mozilla Corp.’s chief security officer, is in the browser’s chrome protocol, she said in response to reports of the vulnerability and the public posting of a proof-of-concept exploit. "Chrome" is the Firefox term for its user interface.
  • It’s experiment time for B2B online. Business-to-business (B2B) marketers are still focusing their digital efforts on company Web sites and search engine marketing. But some are finding success using newer channels—particularly online social media—according to several reports released in the latter half of 2007.
  • Do you know what the Golden Rule is? The Golden Rule is: THE GUY WITH THE GOLD RULES!! Another words, the VCs usually end up with control of your company, especially if you have to raise alot of money from them. Since this is usually the case you should take particular precaution in selecting who is going to greatly impact your success. A High Standard of ETHICS and Good and Fair JUDGEMENT in difficult situations are the two most important traits to look for in picking a VC investor to join your board.
  • Viral marketing, also known as word-of-mouth marketing, if used properly, can be a highly effective and cost-efficient tool in your marketing mix. A viral idea or content has greater impact and more credibility when it comes from a friend, and by transferring the work of distribution to consumers themselves, you minimize costs – significantly improving your marketing ROI.
  • nline retailers today are facing what may seem to some as contradictory business challenges: delivering a superior online customer shopping experience and securing transaction information to protect customers and comply with regulatory mandates such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and data security breach laws. To meet both challenges successfully, e-tailers must define a set of performance metrics to reflect the desired customer experience, security mandate compliance and corporate operational integrity.
  • As many as 10 percent of eBay listings that close with a bid go unpaid, according to a report from Wall Street analyst Scott Devitt of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.
  • It’s been quite a week. Stock markets around the world showed sharp declines on Monday; on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The rate cut helped stem the losses on some indexes, but by January 23, the volatility had returned. The obvious fear is one of recession — a possibility that the White House and Congress are trying to avert by coming up with a stimulus package that will keep the economy off life support. Are we headed into a recession? How effective will the Fed’s interest rate cut be, and what is the outlook for the Asian and European economies? Knowledge@Wharton asked finance professors Jeremy Siegel and Franklin Allen to comment on these issues.

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