links for 2009-10-31

  • In about a dozen videos posted over the last two months to YouTube, a man claiming to be “the world’s fastest nudist” streaks through high-profile locations in New York City clad only in running shoes, tube socks, and a strategically positioned frontward fanny pack.
    “The first time you run by, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, that guy’s nude,’ ” he says in one video. “But the next time you run by, they’re like, ‘That’s the world’s fastest nudist!’ ”
    Popular blogs like Gothamist, The Huffington Post and Gawker featured the videos in September, with Gawker’s post drawing more than 25,000 views. On YouTube, the videos have garnered more than 60,000 views.
  • For fast-growing technology start-ups, there are many approaches to employee hiring and retention.
    Two of the more successful Internet start-ups, Facebook Inc. and Zappos Inc., have very different methods, each with different goals: Facebook wants to hire entrepreneurs even if that means they will eventually leave, while Zappos wants to hire the best people to fit its culture and figure out how to keep them.
    Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, said at a talk this past weekend at Startup School, a Berkeley, Calif., event organized by Y Combinator, that Facebook seeks to hire entrepreneurial “hackers” – people who want to build something new – even though they may not want to stay for long. The company is focused on technology and tilts its hiring towards engineers, even for people in non-technical roles such as marketing, he said.

  • The papers are filled with scary statistics. Here are a few more for entrepreneurs on the hunt for capital from angel investors–those loosely banded groups of deep-pocketed individuals looking for the handsome returns that only risky, early stage investing can (sometimes) bring.
    According to the latest data from AngelSoft, which pairs entrepreneurs with angel groups in a particular city or ZIP code, only about one out of 100 companies that make a formal request for angel funding manage to secure the capital. Among the axed, three-quarters never make it past the initial screening process; of those that do, more than half are eliminated during live presentations and discussions, and another 10% during the following due-diligence process.
    It’s a brutal gauntlet.
  • There has been a lot of talk about young entrepreneurs creating all the great companies; Gates, Jobs, Yang/Filo, Bezos, Dell, Brin/Page, Zuckerberg, etc, etc.
    I agree that visionary young people are worth backing and we do a lot of that at Union Square Ventures.
    But there is another kind of entrepreneur I love backing even more. It’s the serial entrepreneur who has had a number of successes under their belt and now wants to swing for the fences. We have a bunch of them in our portfolio and there is nothing more fun than watching someone who has a ton of experience get behind the wheel and really step on the gas.
  • Businesses make hundreds or thousands of decisions every year, many of which seem inconsequential. But the smallest details can have business-changing or even business-ending consequences. Here are 11 of my favorites to watch out for:
    1. The lowly extension cord. People get cold feet. They get a space heater. They plug it into a two-pronged extension cord. They forget to unplug it when they leave work. That night, while you are sleeping, your entire business burns down. Your brilliant marketing plan, your three-year projections, all of your records, your new product samples … . You get the idea. This is not something that most business owners think about, but insurance companies know that extension cords and space heaters are major fire hazards. It is good practice not to allow any extension cords in your business that aren’t three-pronged.
    (tags: Leadership)
  • Wednesday morning, Google notified manufacturers of GPS navigation units that their services would no longer be needed. It didn’t say so explicitly — the news came in a corporate blog post about an improved Google Maps smartphone program offering turn-by-turn directions — but the company didn’t have to.
    The imminent arrival of a no-charge navigation service, complete with real-time traffic data and satellite and street-level views of a route, on phones running Google’s latest Android software made standalone GPS devices look suddenly redundant. GPS manufacturers’ share prices promptly fell off a cliff; Garmin’s dropped about 16 percent and TomTom’s plunged by 21 percent Wednesday.
    (tags: Google maps GPS)
  • When Dmitry Medvedev dined with the Obamas in July, the Russian president appeared both relaxed and powerful. He hit that elusive note by pairing his fine blazer, crisp buttoned shirt, and expensive-looking leather-soled shoes with dark, straight jeans.
    Power jeans are increasingly common in high-ranking business and political circles. Indeed, jeans are now a legitimate part of the global power-dress lexicon, worn to influential confabs where the wearers want to signal they’re serious—but not fussy—and innovative.
    (tags: fashion jeans)
  • Opera has released a report on the state of the mobile web and it shows, as expected, growth in the number of people viewing the web on their mobile phones, the number of pages each person views and the amount of data they each consume.
    (tags: Mobile Web opera)
  • While the Android mobile operating system is open source, some of its most appealing features like tight Gmail integration and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps are not, Google said in a blog post.
    The search giant faced some criticism last week when it ordered developer Steve Kondik to stop distributing a custom build of Android because it utilized closed-source applications like Gmail and Google. The Cyanogen Android ROM had become popular among Android tinkerers because it added many new features from the Donut build, and it also enabled sharing a phone’s cellular data connectivity with a computer.
  • Gartner is predicting that the number one smartphone platform will be Android by 2012, surpassing the iPhone. Can the platform, which is currently only ahead of WebOS in market share, overtake its rivals in just three years?
    Well, actually Nokia’s Symbian platform will still be number one but that is only because they put that on so many basic phones, many of which are viewed as little more than feature phones. While I guess Symbian is technically a smartphone, I don’t see it quite that way as so many Nokia users never install a third party app or are even aware you can do so.

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