links for 2010-12-08

  • Smartphones and tablets have never been more popular, but they pack puny computing power compared to the average desktop computer. Two companies hope to change this by connecting modestly powered portable devices to powerful Internet servers that perform intensive tasks on their behalf. This week, both these companies–OnLive, based in Palo Alto, California, and GameString, in Seattle, Washington–demonstrated handheld gadgets running high-end games and other complex software. Since launching last year, OnLive has used powerful servers to stream computer games to its subscribers' PCs. It recently released a lightweight "microconsole" that brings the service to television sets, and it also has its sights set on portable devices. Yesterday it released an iPad app that uses the same technology to bring those PC games to Apple's tablet. 
  • A reader asks:  I’m the founder and CEO of a successful startup and we’ve been trying to sell certain non-core assets (including some IP) to a competitor.  Their CEO sent me a letter of intent, which I signed and emailed back to him last week.  Now I just received a much better offer from another company and was wondering if I can back out of the first deal.  I’ve seen some articles that imply letters of intent are non-binding – so I just wanted to make sure.
  • During the earliest stages of starting a business, the last thing you should concern yourself with is writing lengthy plans or long-winded executive summaries. It's time to kill the traditional business plan in favor of a realistic, practical tool: a one-paragraph startup plan. You might think there's no way to write everything there is to know about your brilliant business idea in one paragraph. Guess what? You're wrong. You probably don't have much to say — because it's likely that you haven't proved a thing yet.
  • The Draper family is to Silicon Valley venture capital what the Gallos are to California wine. The three-generation dynasty began in 1959, when William H. Draper Jr., a retired U.S. Army general, created Draper, Gaither & Anderson — the first VC firm west of the Mississippi. The family's youngest investor is the general's grandson, Tim Draper, co-founder of the prominent early-stage investment firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Connecting those two formidable players is William H. (Bill) Draper III, the general's son and Tim's father. Bill Draper helped shape the modern VC industry, most notably at Sutter Hill Ventures and at Draper Richards, where he is a general partner. He has invested in companies such as Skype, Hotmail, and OpenTable.
  • … is almost always more profitable than living with certainty. People don't like doubt, so they pay money and give up opportunities to avoid it. Entrepreneurship is largely about living with doubt, as is creating just about any sort of art. If you need reassurance, you're giving up quite a bit to get it. On the other hand, if you can get in the habit of seeking out uncertainty, you'll have developed a great instinct.

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