links for 2009-11-01

  • Chief executives of venture-backed companies expect their compensation to stagnate this year. But they see more cash flowing into their wallets in 2010 – especially from bonuses, after about half went without them last year, according to a new poll.
    The CEOs surveyed by ExpertCEO, a Web site that helps connect more than 1,300 senior executives, made an average salary of $229,000 in 2008. Those executives expect to make the same amount in 2009, but they expect their salaries will rise to $243,000 in 2010.
    Additionally, 51% of VC-funded executives in the survey received bonuses in 2008 that averaged $101,000. Fifty-three percent expect bonuses in 2009 that average $93,000. But 85% plan to receive bonuses in 2010, with those bonuses averaging $102,000.
  • FOR Jessica Gwozdz, a professional photographer and mother of two, Flickr was a blessing. It allowed her to share photos of her children, Grace and Henry, with distant, tech-averse relatives for whom a username and password would have been too great an obstacle. It even allowed potential clients to freely browse her gallery.
    Then a friend sent her an e-mail message with the kind of subject line no parent cares to read: “Oh no — it’s Gracie.”
    The message contained a link to Orkut, a social networking site popular in Brazil. Someone had created a fake profile, using headshots of Mrs. Gwozdz’s 4-year-old daughter.
    “They gave her a fake name, Melodie Cuthbert, and a relationship status that said she was interested in making friends and dating men,” Mrs. Gwozdz recalled in a recent telephone interview. Other Orkut members had given the profile a “sexy” rating of two and a half hearts.

  • Microsoft Corp. said Friday its net income fell 18 percent in the last quarter, largely because it deferred revenue to let summertime PC buyers get free upgrades to Windows 7, which launched Thursday.
    Investors looked past that accounting decision, noting that if it had counted its deferred Windows revenue, Microsoft’s earnings would have increased 8 percent from last year. Microsoft shares jumped $2.64, 10 percent, to $29.23 in morning trading, hitting a 52-week high.
    The upgrade program, which let someone buy a PC with Windows Vista and later install Windows 7 on it for free, meant that Microsoft counted only half of its Windows sales in the period. It will report the rest as customers upgrade to the new system through January 2010, when the offer expires.
  • The upcoming census count will be accompanied by one of the broadest marketing efforts imaginable — trying not just to reach every person living in the United States with a message, but getting all of them to act on that message.
    “Typically when you’re marketing a product … you market it to the people who are most likely to buy that product. In this situation, we have to market to everyone, whether they are likely to participate or not,” said Vita Harris, chief strategy officer at DraftFCB, who is handling the general-market leg of the census effort.
    (tags: census)
  • I wasn’t sure what to talk about at Startup School, so I decided to ask the founders of the startups we’d funded. What hadn’t I written about yet?
    I’m in the unusual position of being able to test the essays I write about startups. I hope the ones on other topics are right, but I have no way to test them. The ones on startups get tested by about 70 people every 6 months.
    So I sent all the founders an email asking what surprised them about starting a startup. This amounts to asking what I got wrong, because if I’d explained things well enough, nothing should have surprised them.
  • VCs say a lot of stupid things. I’m guilty of it plenty and whenever someone calls me on it I try to acknowledge and change. One that I try really hard not to do is say “my company” when referring to companies I’ve invested in – I think it’s one of the most annoying things a VC can say.
    I was talking to a VC the other day about a few companies he had invested in. By the third time he referred to one of the companies as “my company” (as in “My company is working on X”, “My company would like to talk to Company Z about thing Y”) I felt myself starting to react. I didn’t really have a relationship with this VC, but I knew that he had never run a company (investment banking post college, MBA, then VC). I realized I wanted to stop him at some point and say “dude – it’s not your company – you are merely an 18% shareholder in the business.” I bit my tongue and had the conversation, but I’ve been thinking about this in the back of my mind ever since.
  • Facebook (www.facebook.com), with its millions of members, presents a not-to-be missed marketing opportunity for businesses and non-profit organizations. Facebook offers the marketer a number of ways to use the application for marketing. Here is the best news of all. The price is right. These marketing tools are free unless you choose to support your efforts with advertising. If you want to promote your business, organization of event, here are five tips for using Facebook to get your message out:
  • Location remains a red-hot area for developers of mobile technology. Whether that word appears at the top of an entrepreneur’s business plan, or whether it’s just a footnote, it’s clearly crucial as phones, applications and networks continue to evolve.
    A large share of the 15 up-and-coming mobile tech companies that presented at the recent Dow Jones VentureWire Technology Showcase prominently feature a location component as part of their value proposition. And they’ve raised millions of dollars on the strength of their ideas.
    “We are pushing answers to your phone before you ask for them,” Sanjeev Agrawal, a mobile-tech entrepreneur, told VentureWire recently.
    (tags: vc Mobile)
  • While many venture firms have dialed back their investments amid a punishing economy, Sequoia Capital has made about 20 seed or Series A investments in the past 12 months, more than in the prior two years.
    That’s according to Greg McAdoo, partner at Sequoia capital, who spoke Saturday at Startup School, an event for entrepreneurs organized by Y Combinator at University of California, Berkeley. In front of a standing-room-only crowd, he repeated a common refrain among venture capitalists that recessions are great times to start companies and to invest in them.
    Sequoia, considered one of the highest-caliber venture firms, is putting its money where its mouth is, unlike some firms, who meet with entrepreneurs and go through due diligence without telling them that they don’t plan to invest. Entrepreneurs should research which firms didn’t invest during the last dot-com downturn and be wary, McAdoo said.
  • How to use social media — Twitter, Facebook, Linked In — to elevate your company’s online cred.
    Social networking sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have followed the same path to the business world that blogs did only a couple years ago: They’re all online hangouts that evolved into sophisticated branding, lead generation and sales tools for business. And with the right approach, they are an ideal way to quickly — and cheaply — promote your small or midsize business.
  • Since 1996, Microsoft has been writing operating systems for little computers to carry in your pocket. It was a lonely business until the company’s perennial rival, Apple, introduced the Web-browsing, music-playing iPhone. But now that smartphones are popular, Microsoft’s operating system, Windows Mobile, is foundering.
    More cellphone makers are turning to the free Android operating system made by Microsoft’s latest nemesis, Google.
    Cellphone makers that have used Windows Mobile to run their top-of-the-line smartphones — including Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson — are now also making Android devices. Twelve Android handsets have been announced this year, with dozens more expected next year. Motorola has dropped Windows Mobile from its line entirely in a switch to Android. HTC, a major cellphone maker, expects half its phones sold this year to run Android. Dell is using Android for its entry into the cellphone market.
  • Bien-pensant conservative elites and establishment-friendly Republican big shots yearn for a more moderate, temperate and sophisticated Republican Party. It’s not likely to happen. And probably just as well.
    The Gallup poll released Monday shows the public’s conservatism at a high-water mark. Some 40 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, compared with 36 percent who self-describe as moderates and 20 percent as liberals.
    The conservative number is as high as it’s been in the two decades that Gallup has been asking the question.
    What’s more, fully 72 percent of Republicans say they’re conservative. Thirty-five percent of independents do so as well — and presumably the percentage of conservatives among independents who might be inclined, where the rules permit it, to vote in GOP primaries would be much higher.
    (tags: Politics gop tcot)

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