The drumbeat we have heard all year about the need to prove mobile ROI just gets louder with the latest Forrester Consulting survey of 155 enterprise executives responsible for hiring marketing staff (commissioned by Aquent). Of the staffers surveyed, 68% said they need to “prove that mobile marketing has a positive ROI” before hiring mobile marketing talent. This was far and away the leading hurdle to further staffing investment in a field -- more than double the 30% who also said they needed first to earn executive support for growing the mobile marketing effort.
According to the Forrester research there remains considerable reticence in companies to commit in-house personnel to mobile and even to expand their mobile marketing budgets without a firmer sense of ROI. This is how those polled expect to spend their mobile ad dollars:
45% said they expected their mobile marketing budgets to “increase slightly” between 2011 and 2012.
35% expected them to remain the same.
15% projected a significant increase in spending.
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Most companies are still getting their feet wet in mobile -- a third of them have only two years experience using mobile channels and another third has less than that. As a result, brands are leaning on their agencies for support. This how brands are presentingly getting by:
63% are using a traditional brand agency for their mobile strategy now.
53% use a full-service agency.
45% use a mobile marketing specialist agency now -- but this is where we find the most interest among companies.
29% say they plan to enlist a mobile-specific partner in the next six months.
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In identifying the three biggest challenges to mobile marketing overall, these company staffers cited:
42% say they need better measurement/ROI.
34% say they want to reach the correct audience.
34% need data security most frequently.
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The Forrester/Aquent report recommends that companies take “a truly open mind” when quantifying mobile ROI and not simply apply the same template to it that they use for the more familiar Web. The report advises.
“Everything from the mechanics of measurement to the data points that are collected can be markedly different in mobile, depending on the tactics being employed.”
Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (Click Image To Enlarge)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg won the top spot in the list of 50 highest rated CEOs while Apple's Tim Cook, last year's winner dropped 18 places.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has been named as the highest rated CEO by a careers site Glassdoor. The site surveys hundreds of thousands of employees across all industries and come out with a list of 50 highest rated CEOs.
The honor for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) becomes all more important considering a host of problems including botched IPO, several lawsuits and mixed reaction to Timeline and Graph Search. The Facebook employees gave their CEO a 99 percent approval rating for a 12 months period that ended February 24, which by the way, is 14 percent more from last year.
Top 50 Highest Rated CEO's for 2013 - Glassdoor - March 2013 (Click Image To Enlarge)
One of the employee of the social networker told Glassdoor that there is “mutual trust companywide and sense of community and drive, instilled by our CEO who we all truly respect.”
The list includes twenty tech CEO’s including SAP’s Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe at 2nd place. Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs took the 8th place with Google’s Larry Page at 11th. The 13th and 16th spot is bagged by Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Oracle’s Larry Ellison is in 46th place while Dell’s Michael Dell is at 49th place.
Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook’s drop from No. 1 to No. 18 is in line with Apple Inc. stock decline that took place since the 2012 rankings. At that time, the company’s share touched $700 and now they closed at $432.50 on Thursday.
Apple CEO Tim Cook (Click Image To Enlarge)
Out of 50 only 17 CEO this year were on the Glassdoor’s report last year. Another important fact is Victoria’s Secret’s Sharen Turney is the only female CEO to make it to the list at number 42 with 82 percent approval rating. Last year, HP’s Meg Whitman, was the only female CEO on the list. As per Robert Hohman, Glassdoor CEO and co-founder, the CEO’s who are clear on vision and plans to attain that vision are ones who are favored by employees.
Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe points that surveys like this always have a touch of doubt and may be biased as it represent the persons who visit the Glassdoor site.
No matter what, it’s really a big deal with Facebook’s Zuckerberg, just 28, to be at the top of the list while other veterans in the tech and other industries following him.
COMMENTARY: It's really arguable whether Mark Zuckerberg should be rated higher than Apple's Tim Cook. Steve Jobs hired Tim Cook in March 1998. Tim has served as Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Operations, Executive Vice-President of Worldwide Sales and Chief Operating Officer until he was hand-picked by Steve Jobs to become Apple's CEO on August 24 2011, who died on October 5, 2011.
Prior to Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg never held a full-time job with any company, and he never had the opportunity to be mentored or progress through a series of jobs with higher responsibilities like Apple's Tim Cook. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg, by virtue of his founding and controlling interest in Facebook, became the de-facto CEO. Clearly, Tim Cook is a much more experienced CEO of a much larger company when measured by different metrics:
Stock Price: Apple - $443.66 vs Facebook - $26.65 as of March 15, 2013.
Market Cap: Apple - $416.62 billion vs Facebook - $63.47 billion as of March 15, 2013.
Revenues: Apple - $156.5 billion (9-30-2012) versus Facebook - $5.1 billion (12-31-2012).
Net Income: Apple - $41.73 billion (9-30-2012) versus Facebook - $53 million (12-31-2012)
No of Employes: Apple - 33,000 versus Facebook - 3,500
When Tim Cook joined Apple, revenues were only $5.9 billion. For the year ending September 30, 2012, Apple's revenues were $156.5 billion -- an increase of 2,552% or a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.38% per year.
Facebook made $382,000 in revenue 2004, $9 million in revenue in 2005, $48 million in revenue in 2006 $153 million in revenue in 2007, $272 million in 2008, $777 million in revenue in 2009, $1.974 billion in 2010, $3.7 billion in 2011 and $5.1 billion in 2012 -- an increase of 13,321% since 2004 or a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 227.77% per year.
Keep in mind that Apple and Facebook business model's are as different as night and day, so the above figures are superfulous and almostly meaningless when compared side-by-side. Facebook's revenues are predominantly (83%) from advertising. Apple's revenues are predominantly (95%) from consumer electronics products. Apple makes real products. At Facebook YOU are the product.
Having said this, comparing the CEO abilities of Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook is like comparing the speed and power of the SR-71 Blackbird vs a Boeing 777. You simply cannot compare the two. The Glassdoor poll is mostly based on personalities and the personal preferences of day-to-day people. There is no attempt to break the veneer underneath the companies that these two CEO's manage and lead.
Having said here's TechCrunch's Executive of the Year for 2012:
Courtesy of an article dated March 15, 2013 appearing in ValueWalk and an article dated February 1, 2012 appearing in TechCrunch
Young mother telecommutes so she can spend more time with her children
Yahoo may want to wrangle the herd, but plenty of companies still encourage remote work. StackExchange lead developer David Fullerton explains why his company does, and how it makes this work.
It’s 2013, almost three years after we first raised money and started growing beyond the first four employees. At the time, cofounder Jeff Atwood wrote a great blog post about working remotely, basically laying out our plan for how we were going to make it work. Now we’re a few years in and it’s time to update it with, well, what actually happened.
First, where are we now? Stack Exchange now employs 75 people, roughly evenly split between sales (and sales ops and marketing) and product (development, ops, design, community management). The product side is where our remote working happens: We have 16 full-time remote and 18 in-office developers, sysadmins, designers, and community managers. So we are very much a hybrid team, which I’ve come to believe is the best of both worlds. I’m the lead of engineering, so I’m mostly going to talk about developers, but a lot of this applies to other positions as well.
#1: It lets you hire good people who can’t move. Hiring remotely opens you up to an enormous pool of people who can’t move. I can’t stress this enough: For every one person who is in your location or is happy to move there, there are 100 more who are not. They’re tied down by a spouse with a job, a kid in school, a visa they can’t get, or a mortgage they can’t get out of. If you’re hiring for technical positions, hiring remotely is the best-kept, blindingly obvious secret for finding people. By hiring remotely, we have been able to fill our team with awesome people with lots of experience, who were stuck happily living in places like Corvallis, Oregon, or Forest of Dean in the U.K. (Seriously, look it up. It’s basically The Shire.)
#1a: You don’t lose people to silly things like their significant other going to medical school. Before I worked at Stack Exchange, I worked at Fog Creek. I watched at least five great people leave because their family situation made it necessary to move, and Fog Creek had (at the time) a strict no-remote-workers policy. This drove me crazy. These were amazing employees, in whom the company had already invested deeply, who were now walking out the door because they couldn’t live in New York any more. At Stack Exchange, we’ve already had two people move away from New York; they are still happily employed doing the same job they were always doing. If we didn’t allow working remotely, we’d be down at least two great developers.
#2: When done right, it makes people extremely productive. Private office? Check. Flexible hours? Check. Short commute? Check. I’ll let you in on a secret: Most of our remote developers work longer hours than our in-office devs. It’s not required, and probably won’t always be the case, but when going to work is as simple as walking upstairs (pants optional, but recommended), people just tend to put in more hours and work more productively.
#3: It makes you focus on more than butts in chairs. As a manager, I can’t easily know how many hours each person on my team is working. This is actually good for me because it forces me to look at what they’ve done. It’s good for the remote person as well: They can’t fool themselves into thinking that, just because they’re in an office, surfing Reddit for an hour is work. In a perfect world, we’d both already have this perspective, but it’s amazing how easy it is to delude yourself into thinking that “going to the office" = work.
What we’ve learned.
#1: Remote working isn’t for everyone. There’s a tendency to think that working from home is all sunshine and rainbows and working in your PJs. It’s not. You miss out on being around people (which wears even on introverts), doing fun stuff like playing ping-pong or having lunch together, and (sometimes hardest of all) you lose a clear distinction between work and the rest of your life. Some people thrive when working from home, while others wither or just…drift. We’ve had people move both ways: Remote people deciding to come in to the office, and people in the office deciding to go remote. The key, for us, is offering both and helping people decide which is best for them.
#2: Working remotely is a skill you need to hire for. If remote working isn’t for everyone, you'd better be sure that the person you’re hiring to work remotely is going to be good at it. The most important thing that we look for is that they must be self-motivating and proactive: self-motivating in finding things to do, proactive in communicating with the rest of the team. Our remote developers are some of the most argumentative people in the whole company because we hired them to be that way. We like opinionated people. Opinionated people find things they care about to work on and make sure you know what they think, which is essential if you’re not sharing an office together.
#3: You have to commit to it as a team (and a company). There are no halfsies in a distributed team. If even one person on the team is remote, every single person has to start communicating online. The locus of control and decision making must be outside of the office: no more dropping in to someone’s office to chat, no more rounding people up to make a decision. All of that has to be done online even if the remote person isn’t around. Otherwise you’ll slowly choke off the remote person from any real input on decisions.
#4: Communication is hard (but it was always hard). I am far from the first to point it out, but the hardest problem in growing a company from 4 to 75 people (and, presumably, to 200) is communication. When there were four people, everyone knew everything. When there are 75 people, that no longer scales. So you have to work out your channels of communication, and that’s doubly true with remote workers because you can’t rely on overheard conversations or gossip to spread the word. You have to force yourself to be explicit in communication.
#1: Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts are the lifeblood of our organization. If you haven’t tried them for video chat, you’re living in the Stone Age. We have persistent hangouts for every team available at URLs that everyone knows. We spin up one-off hangouts for quick video chats. We use them for meetings, for hanging out (no, seriously), for demos, for teaching… for everything. There really is no substitute for face-to-face conversations, and when you get to the point where people in the office are actually preferring hangouts to talking in-person because it’s easier, you know you’re on to something.
#2: Persistent Chat. Chat is good for shorter conversations or quick pings to ask someone a question. It has two big benefits: (1) It’s asynchronous enough that people can get back to you when they have a second, and (2) it’s persistent, so other people can skim it and catch up on what they missed (vital when you’re in different time zones). Every company should have a chat system, whether they have a distributed team or not. It’s better than interrupting someone at their desk or dragging someone into a hangout for a quick question. We built our own chat system, but there are good alternatives like Campfire and HipChat out there.
#3: Email. Asflawed as email is, it’s still alive and kicking. Email is for fully asynchronous communication (don’t use email if you need a response today), and for communicating status updates and decisions. We have a standing rule that all decisions must be typed up and shared with the rest of the team via email, basicallywhat Jeff described at the beginning. Each team sends out a weekly status update to the whole company, giving a high-level overview of what’s going on so teams don’t get isolated from one another.
#4: Trello + Google Docs. We use Trello for keeping track of who is working on what, and Google Docs for notes, specs, designs, etc. Both are excellent tools that you should use, even if you’re not working remotely.
Distributed teams aren’t for everyone, but they are working extremely well for us. Yes, they are more work, but for us it's easily worth it because of the quality of people we get and the quality of life we’re able to offer them. For us, it’s been a part of our DNA from the beginning and something we’re committed to making work long-term. Will it still work when we hit 500 employees? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.
Sound like the kind of place you’d like to work? We’re hiring, especially developers and designers. We’re still figuring it all out, but we’ve got a great team and some really interesting problems to work on. Come be a part of figuring out what the future of remote working looks like.
Republished with permission from the Stack Exchange blog.
COMMENTARY: The disadvantages of telecommuting are tied to the main advantage -- you don't have to go into an office every day. But while it sounds great to avoid rush hour, consider the downsides.
Becoming isolated. Loneliness is the number one disadvantage of telecommuting. If you're working from home full-time, you may start to time your coffee break to the arrival of the mail man. That's how desperate you can become for human contact!
Missing out on shop talk. You're so much more productive when you telecommute because you don't waste time chit-chatting with co-workers. But the gossip serves an important purpose -- building relationships and allowing for casual brainstorming and information sharing. If you telecommute, make sure to regularly call colleagues and stop by the office to keep your network strong. Identify the important meetings and events to attend in person. You want to avoid being blindsided by layoffs, being unaware of a new corporate strategy or missing an opportunity to participate in high-profile projects.
Becoming the fallback child care provider. When you're working from home, people sometimes forget the "working" part. You run the risk of neighbors, teachers and even your spouse taking for granted that you will be in the home during work hours. While it may be simple to let a repair person in the house now and then, you don't want to be called on for multiple errands and child care when you're supposed to be doing your job.
Feeling work-family conflict. If you have young children at home, it can be hard for them to understand that you're physically present but unable to care for them. They may refuse consolation from their babysitter if they know you're only a few feet away. Some work-at-home moms even pretend to leave for work and sneak back into their home office! Older children and even spouses may fail to respect your work time or space and interrupt for just a "quick question."
Courtesy of an article dated March 1, 2013 appearing in Fast Company and an article appearing in About.com
One month ago, Fast Company contributing writer Elizabeth Spiers interviewed then-Groupon CEO Andrew Mason for a forthcoming Fast Company feature on the future of Groupon. His performance--at turns, defensive, weary, combative, and naïve--foreshadowed his firing on Thursday.
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason was fired on Thursday. This is a not entirely surprising development given that on Wednesday afternoon, he and his fellow top executives reported quarterly earnings that can only be characterized as disastrous. Revenue was up, but no one expected the losses the company announced, and first-quarter guidance was far below what analysts hoped for. As Mason himself acknowledged in his resignation letter to employees,
“If you're wondering why...you haven't been paying attention."
"From controversial metrics in our (initial public offering) to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable."
Four weeks ago, I saw it coming. And I think Mason surely did, too.
He and I met in Palo Alto on the first of February to have breakfast, a continuation of my reporting on the company for a future Fast Company story. We sat in the dining room at Madera, a Michelin 1 star-rated restaurant in the Rosewood, a luxury hotel that’s partly owned by Stanford University. The Rosewood is located on Sand Hill Road, across the street from legendary venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. (This fall it was the subject of a story on a satirical website called the Silicon Valley Pasquinade alleging that undercover detectives had arrested several prominent VCs for soliciting prostitutes at the restaurant’s famed and very scene-y bar. The story was noted by several prominent news outlets and was often mistaken for the truth, in part because the restaurant’s Thursday night, aka “Cougar night,” crowds allegedly exhibit a certain type of transactional behavior that isn’t restricted to term sheets.)
On this Friday morning at 7:30 a.m., the restaurant was still a good 12 hours away from its weekly influx of glamour, money, and what economists would classify as utilitarian behavior. Only a handful of tables in the vast dining room were occupied, and to a man (literally, there were no women) by people in suits reading newspapers or checking their smartphones.
Mason was not wearing a suit. He was wearing a brown sweater over a gray T-shirt and jeans and he looked like he just crawled out of bed, which given the hour, may well have been the case. (He once experimented with sleeping in his clothes to see if it would allow him to get out of bed later. He immediately deduced that this was a bad idea and the experiment terminated fairly quickly.)
He seemed simultaneously alert and exhausted, in the sense that you would be if you’d been pursued by a bear and turned to find it was gone; you'd remain physically drained but twitchy with the knowledge that the predator could reappear at any moment.
And this was understandable. Mason was nearly eaten alive by the market and the press in the last year. And while there were some bright spots--an analyst upgrade here and there like a daisy in a vast landscape of weeds; a vote of confidence from prestige hedge fund Tiger Management, which picked up a not-insignificant 9.9% stake in the company--for the most part you got the sense that the bear was always there, looming, waiting to maul Groupon--and Mason--at any sign of weakness.
He was four weeks away from announcing fourth-quarter earnings, and the last quarter had not been so great for him. In November the Groupon board met to discuss, among other things, whether Mason should be replaced as CEO. Groupon co-founder and chairman Eric Lefkovsky reportedly stood by Mason at the meeting, but discussion was heated and it was unclear whether Lefkovsky would continue to support him under pressure from other directors.
I asked Mason how often he talked to Lefkovsky. He said.
“Every so often.”
Specifically? He snorted.
When I contacted Lefkovsky’s office, his spokeperson noted that Lefkovsky had decided to pull back involvement with Groupon over the summer and referred me back to Groupon’s head of communications Paul Taaffe for questions. Neither party was inclined to talk about the other.
Mason was defensive, even in discussing issues that were relatively innocuous, as if he suspected that every inquiry was a trick question. I had been heavily pitched on Groupon’s new R&D projects and the interesting technology the company was developing, yet when I asked Mason if Groupon was becoming a tech company, he protested, as if the question was some sort of accusation. He said.
“What does it mean to think of someone as a tech company? We don’t have a small division working on a space elevator, if that’s what you mean.”
I clarified that my definition of tech company was very much a business definition, unencumbered by innuendo: a company whose value is primarily defined by its tech-related intellectual property portfolio.
He softened a bit.
“I think in the first phase of our company, we were a glorified mailing list. We had a completely unintelligent email that we sent out once a day and we had a human sales force that was going around and procuring the deals... Absolutely IP is going to be an important and necessary part of our success. I suppose that makes us a technology company. I suppose somebody could ask us, are we a marketing company? Yes. Are we an e-commerce company? Yes. Are we a technology company? Yes.”
Part of Mason’s legitimate challenge was that Groupon was not easy to define at that point. Groupon Goods was one of the company's fastest-growing revenue segments but also one of its lowest-margin businesses. It had acquired interesting emerging technology companies, many of which were promising but were too early stage to yield meaningful numbers. It had seen enormous growth in the international sector the year before only to see it tank on Europe’s macroeconomic woes, integration issues, and problems replicating what Groupon called its “North American Playbook” in international markets.
One of the impressive things about Andrew Mason is that he’s not especially threatened by other entrepreneurs. This may seem like a small matter, but entrepreneurs are a delicate species, with easily wounded egos. They’re not the types that take well to working for other people. It’s very difficult to go from directing operations with no bureaucratic or authoritative friction, no need to ask anyone for permission, to taking direction from someone else. Many of Mason’s staunchest loyalists are entrepreneurs whose companies Groupon acquired. COO Kal Raman describes him as one of the best listeners he has ever known. (Wall Street would dispute that, but I’d wager that Raman might not be wrong. Mason is just selective about who he listens to.)
SVP of product management Jeff Holden bonded with him over a two-day stay at Holden’s house where Holden says they had “one of those conversations where you see the world exactly the same way.” The founder of Breadcrumb, Groupon’s point of sale system for restaurants, Seth Harris, was “a restaurant guy--it’s in your blood” but was convinced to go to Groupon because he liked Mason’s vision for empowering local businesses with better infrastructure and tools. And as Mason put it,
“Whatever you think of me, I have a great team below me that’s had a lot of success.”
To his credit, this is something that many public company CEOs never learn how to do.
But it was Mason’s job to define Groupon not just to a hand-picked team of executives but to the world. And communication, at least in that context, wasn’t his strong suit.
However he connected with people internally, he struggled to do it publicly. In part, this is because Mason was uncomfortable with the spotlight. He attributes some of his legend as prankster to this.
“I think that story built up, and part of it was my way of dealing with the lack of comfort of being in public. But it doesn’t reflect reality or the way I behave day to day. I’m weird. But I’m a pretty serious person.”
Mason never could convince Wall Street of that, and he seemed disillusioned with his experience dealing with it.
“What’s just depressing to me is how--and it’s not just for us, let me generalize it--the moment a company goes public the conversation shifts from how they’re trying to change the world and the product they’re building to how they’re making money.”
“All the coverage around Facebook’s new search tool was a little bit about the feature, and then it gets immediately into how the market is reacting to it. Like, who the fuck cares?”
“If you look at a lot of the issues we’ve had since going public, it feels like we’re at Wimbledon and we just keep on double-faulting. It’s like we don’t even get to play the match.”
He thinks the Street is callously unsympathetic.
“It’s the nature of a four-year-old business that’s trying to get its arms around 11,000 people in 48 countries, a lot of them strung together from acquisition.”
Part of Mason’s downfall was that he’s an idealist. He feels betrayed by a market that does not understand what he’s trying to accomplish or appreciate his good intentions. There is of course an arrogance in that--an expectation that the market should conform to one’s own ideals instead of the parameters in which it has always operated. He seems wounded by the fact that Wall Street doesn’t care as much about the quality and efficacy of Groupon’s products as it does about raw profits.
This is at best naïveté, but then naïveté has plagued Mason all along. In 2012, Groupon filed statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission that had to be restated because Groupon had used an accounting metric--ACSOI (Adjusted Consolidated Operating Income)--in its required filings that suggested a net gain in its operating income. Conventional SEC-required metrics would have suggested a loss.
To be fair, ACSOI is an important metric for Groupon internally. It’s a measurement that helps them think about long-term costs before they spend money on marketing. And considering that they believe their marketing budget is variable, it’s important for them to know what sort of profits they’re looking at without taking marketing into consideration.
But it’s not what the SEC asks for. And it’s rare that a company blatantly flaunts what the SEC wants. Mason said.
“Looking at it in retrospect, like many stupid things that people do, it looks obvious. But at the time, we were in a different world. We were the darlings of the tech world. Everything was and had gone our way, and we thought, we’ll put this metric [ACSOI] in here because we think it’s helpful. And people were like, We think you put this metric in here because you’re evil.”
“They were basically like, Here’s the list of companies that have made up metrics and these companies suck. So you probably suck, too.”
Mason admits that it was unsophisticated.
“That was us not realizing what we were getting into in going public.”
When I asked him whether he regretted going public--whether he thought he could have accomplished more without the market pressure--he became incensed.
“I feel like the only reason you could be asking me that question is because you think I’m stupid or because you’re trying to see if I’m going to lie to you.”
Like most reporters—and let’s face it, most human beings--I’m always interested in whether people will lie to me. But it was an honest question. I know entrepreneurs who have regretted exits for precisely that reason. And I sincerely wonder what Groupon would look like if it weren’t a public company now. I suspect Mason does, too.
But Mason fails to see why the market behaves the way it does. It is callous, to be sure, but it isn’t stupid. The Street is not unaware of the fact that it has a regimented system that does not reward eccentric behavior. Mason’s lack of prior experience and personality quirks were at odds with Wall Street’s platonic ideal of a public company CEO: a numbers-driven operator who is experienced, polished, reliably predictable, and predictably reliable. In other words, not the kind of guy who makes jokey yoga videos in his underwear or who nearly presents the mayor of New York with a pony (a GrouPony, to be exact) as a party favor for an office visit. Certainly not the kind of guy who creates an entire room in his corporate headquarters for an imaginary tenant named Michael whose belongings include an exercise bike that plays Sade when pedaled, Cheerio boxes as décor, and a toilet full of Almond Joy bars. All of which Mason had done.
The presentations that public company CEOs have to make to institutional investors are called “dog and pony shows” for a reason. Wall Street knows some of it is superficial and irrelevant. It recognizes that it’s inconvenient and annoying for the CEO to have to trot the company out, brush its hair, decorate it with pretty ribbons, and walk it around the stage. The CEO has better things to do, after all. Isn’t the CEO supposed to be building the company?
Well, yes and no. Mason failed to accept that if you’ve taken money from public investors, you have to acknowledge that you owe them. Or you shouldn’t take the money at all. If you’re a public company, you have stakeholders whose interest in your company is entirely tied to fiscal performance. Mutual funds buy you for individuals who want to invest. Institutional funds buy you because you seem promising. Individuals in Peoria buy you because they think you will perform the way you said you would, even though that fourth quarter miss wasn’t your fault. It’s cold comfort to those people that you’re empowering small businesses if your management policies disempower them by draining their investment accounts. Those people were not investing in an ideal; they were investing in a security.
So it disturbs the Street when a public company CEO won’t do these things. They think it’s disrespectful to institutional investors who have invested in the company and deserve an audience. They think it’s a sign that the CEO is trying to hide something. How hard is it to give a simple presentation about where the company is going with no drama?
Julie Mossler, Groupon’s PR director was upset on his behalf. She mentioned a 60 Minutesepisode earlier in the year wherein the show’s staff was annoyed that Mason didn’t present himself as the clownish prankster they had hoped to capture on camera. SheMocked.
“Andrew’s not being funny! Where’s funny Andy?”
To be honest, I was relieved not to see funny Andy, if such a persona exists. As a human being, I’d rather see the sincerity--the irritation, the exhaustion, the frustration of being misunderstood, even if part of the misunderstanding is a function of self-inflicted difficulties that could be remedied by an acceptance of the realities to which Mason has consigned himself by virtue of going public. I’d rather see Mason as a complete person and not a character optimized for amusement. I ask him how his wife would describe him, and he says,
“She’d say ‘I wish he was home more so I was capable of characterizing him.”
It’s intended as a joke but there’s a tinge of sadness to it. Mason doesn’t like talking about himself. It makes him uncomfortable. But even his attempts at self-deprecation fall flat.
Mossler, both by virtue of her role and her longstanding relationship with the company (she has been at Groupon from whatever constitutes "the beginning"), is extremely sympathetic to Andrew. Like several of the other senior executives with whom I spoke, she seemed protective of him, and not simply because it was part of her job. She believed in him.
But the market did not.
Mason is by most accounts a passionate, smart guy who cares deeply about creating a superior product. He hires people who have more experience running companies than he does and finds ways to gain their trust. If he can learn how to tolerate the things that the public company CEO must do for the public market and come to peace with the fact that it entails walking the be-ribboned pony around the enclosure and smiling while doing it, maybe he has the potential to be an effective CEO of another public company.
But I don’t think he’d like it. And I don’t think it would be the best use of Andrew Mason.
COMMENTARY: I don't feel bad for Andrew Mason one iota. As many startup CEO's have quickly discovered after going public -- it's not the end of the journey, but the beginning. As the CEO of a startup, if you are smart, you hire the best people possible, and give the responsiblity to execute the company's corporate initiatives. Although early and late venture capital investors may exert some influence over operations, they don't call the shots. Very often the CEO puts himself in the position where he controls the votes on the board of directors, and is somewhat immune from being fired. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Zyngao CEO Mark Pincus have voting control by virtue of holding enough Class A and Class B shares to veto any effort by the board to fire them. They are the luck few. Andrew Mason did not have full control over the board, and his longivity as CEO depended on how many bad quarters Groupon had.
Groupon Inc only had one quarter (Q2 2012) when it reported a profit. It lost money every quarter prior to that and every quarter after that. And, I have a feeling it will continue to lose money because of its controversial business model. Yes, it was only a matter of time before Little Andy Mason was canned, but I am surprised they let it go this long. Here are the financials and stock prices. You be the judge. In a world of stock analysts and institutional investors, there is no room for idealism, just profits, profits and profits.
Groupon Inc - Profit & Loss Statements - Year's Ending 12-31-09 through 12-31-12
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Groupon Inc - Stock Prices - 11-11-11 through 3-7-13
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Courtesy of an article dated February 28, 2013 appearing in Fast Company
When first striking out on their own as businesspeople, many consultants and designers don’t know how to bargain or strike a deal. Consider this story from Ted Leonhardt, cofounder of The Leonhardt Group and a consultant for design businesses. What would you do in this situation?
"My associate, Tim, had the opportunity to redesign one of the great American brands. It hadn’t been updated for years, and the company needed to present a revitalized brand at an upcoming event."
"Tim was chosen because of his packaging expertise. While not known as a brand design house, his firm had significant experience with packaging that overlapped nicely into branding. He was desperate for this job, because brand design has more status than packaging design. This assignment would launch his firm into that heady, highly profitable world. So, Tim’s leverage was spectacular. His firm was the only one being considered. His skill set was a perfect match. He was the perceived expert, and, even better, the client had only three months until the unveiling of the new brand. There was no time to source a new design firm."
"Tim presented his fee proposal. His direct client approved it and they began work. At the next meeting, while discussing the results of the discovery phase, his client mentioned that Purchasing had questions and would be calling in to the meeting to talk. Enter Mr. Procurement. He called from his car, apologizing for not being there and mentioning that he has been extremely important to the company’s turnaround by streamlining divisions and vendors globally. (A classic power play.)"
'We can’t wait to see your solutions. We are thrilled to have you on our team. Hitting a home run on this will launch your firm into big-time branding. But there are a couple of things we must address before I sign your purchase order …” (Another textbook power play.)'
"You can guess what happened next. The client’s purchasing policy required a 20% discount on fees over $300k, and payment 180 days after completion. Before he really knew what was happening, Tim had agreed to the terms."
"What went wrong? Tim was vulnerable. He needed the job and had his team going full speed. He was confused by the new conditions and afraid of losing the work. However, he forgot that he had the leverage of expertise. Time was on his side. The company could not meet their deadline without him. Instead of negotiating from this position of strength, Tim let his client take advantage of him."
When working with any new or existing client, you need to be prepared to address situations like these. Whether you’re negotiating the payment terms for an upcoming project or amending changes to a design based on client feedback, negotiation skills are required in the conversations you’ll carry out with a client. The following tips will help you next time you enter into a negotiation with a client. Similarly, they can apply to internal negotiations within your company.
Good negotiation starts with knowing what you want and putting it forth in conversation. This requires a substantial amount of preparation and asking the right questions through the discovery process, rather than improvising responses in calls and emails. When you negotiate from a position of strong preparation, the other party will be more comfortable meeting you on your terms, based on your expertise.
If you wanted two million dollars and a platinum-plated Rolls Royce, negotiations would be difficult. However, if you’re presenting an estimate for a design project and have some strong logic behind your pricing, or some ground as to why your audience will prefer green instead of blue for their new logo, you shouldn’t change your position.
Don’t give up in your negotiations until you’ve exhausted possibilities that meet your shared interests and help your firm create a quality product. Push for your best-case scenario, preserving your project’s schedule, budget, creative direction and so forth. Know what other cards you can place on the table or return to your hand before considering a compromise.
Know which decisions require formal negotiation and which are just potholes in the road. Changing a headline or swapping out a photo shouldn’t be a drama. Spiking a killer concept to play it safe? That’s another story. If you have a strong creative brief and a strong contract, these points shouldn’t become issues. Don’t treat every single discussion and point of feedback with the client as a potential conflict.
When discussing action steps, withhold agreement when necessary. Avoid saying yes on anything related to schedule, scope management and other contractually required action steps until you can review the discussion with your internal team. Make sure that your team’s goals and your client needs are aligned. To quote Robert Solomon in his excellent book The Art of Client Service:
I once worked with a foreign client whose method of negotiation was to state in every deliverable review that there were always things that could be improved. We found ourselves increasing the project scope and number of deliverables in order to compensate for the perceived lack in quality. Their negotiating position wasn’t unusual in their country, but it was for our team. After a few nerve-racking weeks, we realized that the client’s escalations were an opportunity to set up clear approval criteria to demonstrate how our design work had merit and was on brief. In our final presentation, the success of our project was clearly evident to everyone within their organization.
If the stakes are high, take your time and hash out the finer points in detail. The longer and more drawn out the negotiation, the more important it is to never show your “settling point.” Get some time and space to think it over. Don’t jump on the phone and immediately try to iron it out. Otherwise, whomever you’re negotiating with may think that they can push their position even further. These situations are very hard for designers; we love to solve problems as quickly as possible!
When negotiating with clients or your boss, make sure you don’t turn your negotiations into an “us vs. them” scenario. Our clients and co-workers have the same set of human needs that we do, and relating with them on a human level will strengthen your continued working relationship. It will also cement the expectation that no matter what happens in your work, you’ll always be on equal footing as people.
Be willing to walk away from a negotiation if you think the options available are going to hurt you in the long term. Being willing to say no is important in contract negotiations, and the natural human desire to avoid conflict is a something that potential clients may exploit. It’s okay to say no.
Hindsight is 20/20. If you don’t land a project because it wasn’t the right fit, or the client overrules your beautiful color scheme because they dislike purple, learn from what happened and move forward. Don’t let your conscience eat a hole in your gut. Analyzing these failures can have a big impact on improving future negotiations.
Relationships between your co-workers and your clients continue, even if you fail in your first negotiations. If you’ve been cordial and truthful about your position and the experience that you bring throughout the entire negotiation process, you’ll gain respect. Mutual respect comes from establishing clear boundaries and reinforcing them throughout the life of a relationship. This is the currency that will yield future work and support you when you get down to business.
COMMENTARY: Excellent advice. I would also like to add the following:
Make sure you an make a profit from the project. Know your direct and indirect costs. This means knowing how many direct hours you and your team can expect to spend on the project. If you have to outsource some of the labor, make sure you know what that is going to cost you. Indirect costs or overhead can eat into profitability very quickly. If you must buy special equipment, outside services or do traveling, make sure you factor those costs into the equation. A rough rule of thumb is to make a gross profit of 30% after deducting direct and indirect costs.
Always assume that your client will try to lowball or negotiate a lower price. Make sure you have built a "fudge factor" into your quote so that if you need to reduce your price, you can do so without losing your ass on the project.
Never drop the price on a project referred to you by another client before meeting with or knowing that clients needs, requirements and full scope of the project. I actually reduced my price to the new client, but little did I know that the referred client was the biggest asshole I would ever work for. My advice, talk to the new referred prospective client, feel them out, make sure you both agree on the full scope of the project, and that you will be able to work for that client.
Meg Whitman’s Hewlett-Packard tried to put the debacle of its Autonomy acquisition behind it last week by taking an $8.8 billion write-off, charging that previous management had been misled by cooked books and other nefarious deeds on the part of the UK-based software automation company. The claims have turned into yet another public relations spectacle for the Palo Alto-based company as Autonomy founder and former CEO Mike Lynch fights back with fire and feist, and pundits again point fingers at HP’s management, board and outside advisers for ineptitude.
Meanwhile, a class action suit filed in San Francisco yesterday “alleged that HP had issued false and misleading statements on its financial performance and prospects between August 2011, when the $11 billion Autonomy deal was announced, and November 20 this year,” when the write down was made public, as Chris Nuttall reports in the Financial Times.
The write-off of Autonomy and class action lawsuits hit HP's stock hard today:
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) Share Price Between November 28, 2011 and November 27, 2012 - Google Finance (Click Image To Enlarge)
The civil action was not unexpected, and more lawsuits may follow. Labaton Sucharow partner Dominic Auld tells Nuttall while disclosing that his firm is considering action of its own.
“It’s hard to imagine that this deal goes so far south so quickly without somebody having culpability.”
Whitman, now HP president and CEO but only a yea-voting member of the HP board at the time of the acquisition, effectively blames her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, and the former chief strategy officer, Shane Robison, for the bad deal.
ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall told Reuters’ Poornima Gupta and Nicola Leske when the write-off was announced.
"To put it bluntly ... this story has been an unmitigated train wreck, and it seems every time management speaks to the Street, there is new negative incremental information forthcoming."
The Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” columnist, Rolfe Winkler, offers a scathing appraisal of the situation this morning, pointing out in his lede that
“More than two people from Hewlett-Packard were responsible for the disastrous Autonomy acquisition, never mind what chief executive Meg Whitman says.”
“The sad reality may be that the company is in such bad shape that it can't afford more turnover at the top. Until it can, investors should stay away from the shares, no matter how cheap they appear.”
And as Reuters’ Nadia Damouni and Nicola Leske pointed out last week,
“15 different financial, legal and accounting firms were involved in the transaction -- and none raised a flag about what HP said Tuesday was a major accounting fraud.”
Meanwhile, Lynch, who in 1991 played a hunch that the “theories of the then-little-known 18th-century Presbyterian minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes could be used to search and understand unstructured data,” as Wendy M. Grossman relates in The Guardian, has been vigorously pushing back against HP’s charges.
“Lynch has been unusually candid and vocal in defending himself and the company he built, rather than hiding out behind a phalanx of lawyers as might be expected. He says he was blindsided by a long-prepared public relations onslaught by HP, little of which had to do with the substance of its claims about Autonomy.”
Lynch is not limiting himself to denying the accusations. Among his charges in an interview with Business Insider’s Julie Bort:
"HP executives engineered the ouster of Apotheker and appointment of Whitman because they feared Apotheker's plan to spin off the hardware business in favor of software, which caused Whitman to abandon the software strategy, which left Autonomy and Lynch in the lurch."
And to top it off,
“HP's convoluted bureaucracy created situations where its own salespeople couldn't sell Autonomy.”
If all these convolutions have you scratching your head, Reuters’ “Breakingviews” columnist, Quentin Webb, delves into such accounting procedures as “Vendor Specific Objective Evidence” (VSOE), which allows companies “to book upfront payments in full if they establish a predictable pricing framework,” in a “Guide for the Perplexed” piece.
Webb writes, pointing out.
“As things stand, HP’s accusations are hard to judge that it still has to prove its claim that it was duped by fraud which could not be detected before acquisition.”
Richard Waters and Chris Nuttall wrote in the Financial Times Friday evening.
“As HP’s reputation as the company that cannot shoot straight has grown to almost legendary proportions, its stock price has collapsed.”
It was up 2.4% yesterday to $12.74, but was trading in the $50 range as recently as April 2010. At the end of trading on November 27, 2012, HPQ shares ended at 12.36, down 0.38 or 2.98%, then dropped an additional 0.03 or 0.24% in after-hours trading.
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COMMENTARY: Coming off the biggest quarterly loss in Hewlett-Packard's history, CEO Meg Whitman braced investors for even more trouble ahead as she methodically tries to fix a wide range of longstanding problems. Those challenges will be compounded by a feeble economy that Whitman expects to weaken even more during the next year.
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) Annual Revenues, Gross Profits and After-Tax Income FY Ending October 31, 2009 through FY Ending October 31, 2012 - Google Finance (Click Image To Enlarge)
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) Quarterly Revenues, Gross Profits and After-Tax Income - Google Finance (Click Image To Enlarge)
On Wednesday, October 3, 2012, Whitman delivered the disappointing forecast at a meeting that the ailing Silicon Valley pioneer held for analysts and investors. The gathering gave Whitman the opportunity to persuade Wall Street that she has come up with a compelling strategy for turning around HP one year after being named CEO.
The EDS charge is the main reason that HP lost $8.9 billion during its most recent quarter, which ended in October 31. In early October, some analysts are worried HP would absorb another charge on an $11 billion acquisition of software maker Autonomy, which hasn't lived up to expectations since the deal closed last year. This finally came to pass today.
HP bought EDS while it was being run by Mark Hurd, who resigned in 2010 after the company's board raised questions about his expense reports. The company agreed to buy Autonomy during the reign of Leo Apotheker, who lasted less than a year as CEO before being replaced by Whitman.
Hewlett-Packard Merry-Go-Round in the last seven years includes CEO's Carly Fiorina, Mark Hurd, Leo Apotheker and now Meg Whitman (Click Image To Enlarge)
"There are no silver bullets to solve our challenges. We will solve our challenges through consistency of leadership, focus, good blocking and tackling and, most importantly, great products and services delivered in the way that customers want to buy them."
HP said the internal and economic turmoil will cause its earnings to fall by more than 10 percent next year, a decline that hadn't been anticipated by analysts who follow one of the world's largest — and most dysfunctional — technology companies.
Investors evidently didn't like what they heard. HP's stock plunged 13 percent after Whitman's presentation, shoving the company's shares to their lowest level in nearly a decade.
HP's troubles stem from a combination of managerial malaise, high-priced acquisitions that haven't paid off and an inability to offset the damage done to its personal computer and printer divisions by the rising popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.
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Whitman maintained that she inherited a bloated, poorly managed company that hasn't been innovating quickly enough in any of its divisions, which span from PCs and printers to software and data storage.
In a recurring theme during her tenure, Whitman said that she will instill the discipline, focus and accountability needed to rehabilitate HP, but she reiterated that the recovery will take several years to complete.
It could be 2015 before Hewlett-Packard Co.'s revenue growth begins to accelerate again, according to Whitman. By 2016, she envisions HP's revenue increasing as the same pace as the U.S. economy's overall growth, with earnings rising at a faster clip.
"It is going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like."
Investors are worried HP's woes will allow its competitors — a long list that includes such technology powerhouse as Apple Inc., IBM Corp. and Oracle Corp. — to race even further ahead. In that scenario, HP is constantly scrambling to catch up with new technology trends, leaving the company in a state of perpetual disarray.
Whitman, who won acclaim during a successful decade-long stint running eBay Inc., is confident HP can recapture the drive and creativity that established the company as an industry leader through most of its 73-year history.
She hopes to orchestrate the same kind of turnaround that has revitalized IBM after a long stretch of decay brought on by the shift from mainframe computers to personal computers in the 1980s and 1990s. IBM managed to transform itself into a company focused on providing technology services and software, a transformation that HP is struggling to duplicate.
HP Turnaround Initiatives
Whitman mentioned the following initiatives to turnaround HP:
Reduce Staff - In her shake-up of HP, Whitman has already reshuffled management and started to eliminate 29,000 jobs through employee buyouts, attrition and layoffs. She's trying to trim the company's annual expenses by more than $3 billion.
Performance-Based Compensation Programs - She assured analysts Wednesday that she is imposing more internal controls to align employees' paychecks with their performance.
Utilize New Technologies - She said she is also requiring the company to subscribe to technology services offered by smaller companies such as Salesforce.com Inc. and Workday Inc. to automate many of HP's customer management and personnel systems.
Reducing Product Lines and Inventories - HP also is reducing the number of different printers that it makes. It is also rolling out a new line of personal computers and tablets running on Windows 8, an overhaul of Microsoft Corp.'s operating system that's designed to appeal to consumers and companies that want more mobile devices with touch-control display screens.
Introduce New HP Smartphone - Whtman wants HP to design another smartphone, something it did two years ago after buying Palm Inc. only to scrap the device after a few months on the market. HP's return to the smartphone business isn't planned for next year, though.
Cloud Computing Products - Whitman also is lacing big bets on "cloud computing" — a term that refers to the increasingly popular trend of storing software applications in remote data centers that are accessed over the Internet instead of installing programs on individual machines.
Big Data Products - HP also is angling for a bigger piece of the "Big Data" market, a field devoted to helping companies and government agencies navigate through the torrent of information cascading through Internet-connected devices.
But the payoff from those initiatives won't come in HP's fiscal 2013, which starts Nov. 1.
The company, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., expects its earnings for fiscal 2013 to range from $3.40 to $3.60 per share, after stripping out charges for layoffs and other accounting measures unrelated to its ongoing business. The projection translates to an 11 percent to 16 percent drop from the adjusted earnings of $4.06 per share that HP expects to deliver in its current fiscal year.
HP Shares Tumble
Whitman's forecast for next year caught investors off guard because analysts, on average, had predicted HP's adjusted earnings would be $4.17 per share.
HP shares shed $2.22 to close Wednesday at $14.91. The stock price has fallen by 35 percent since Whitman became CEO last September.
Foxconn factory locate in Shenzhen, China (Click Image To Enlarge)
10,000 Foxbots have been deployed so far, with plans to install 30,000 by the end of 2012, with 200,000 more to come before 2013.
Foxconn, the Chinese electronics manufacturer that builds numerous mobile devices and gaming consoles, has been in the media lately because of labor issues, complaints over working conditions, rumored riots, and even suicides, all occurring in the past few years as demand for smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing.
While consumers began to complain in response to media coverage over working conditions, prompting Apple to hire an audit of the factories, Foxconn’s President Terry Gou had another idea for dealing with labor concerns: replace people with robots. In fact, last year Gou said that the company would be aiming to replace 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within 3 years.
It appears as if Gou has started the ball in motion. Since the announcement, a first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have made its way into at least one factory, and by the end of 2012, another 30,000 more will be installed.
30,000 industrial robots like this one will be installed in Foxconn factories by the end of 2012 (Click Image To Enlarge)
Though little is really known about these new bots, the rate of robot installation thus far is much lower than Gou’s original claim; however, the evidence suggests that it is difficult to know exactly what is going on in the factories and what is coming down the pipe. On top of that, these robots are manufactured in house, meaning that little information about them needs to be shared with the outside world in marketing reports, for example.
The FoxBots that have been installed apparently are designed for simple, yet precise repetitive actions common for simple manufacturing robots (lifting, selecting, placement). When it comes to automated factories, robots that can perform these tasks aren’t really anything new. But one look at the photo of the robot and it’s clear this isn’t just a simple machine, but a similar type of robotic arm to those used in assembly lines of automotive manufacturers.
Hon Hai Precision Industry Company parent of Foxconn has 270,000 workers at its sprawlng complex in Shenzhen, China. The complex stretches 1.9 miles x 0.75 miles. The complex includes factory buildings, restaurants, bookstores, hospital, basketball courts and swimming pool. (Click Image To Enlarge)
That means more sophistication might be possible with these bots alone or in tandem.
As part of the investigation into conditions inside the factory, a few camera crews have been given access. As we reported back in April, you can see for yourself what conditions appear to be like:
According to a translated page from the Chinese site Techweb, each robot costs between $20,000 to $25,000, which is over three times the average salary of one worker. However, amid international pressure, Foxconn continues to increase worker salaries with a 25 percent bump occurring earlier this year.
It’s worth noting that you can see automation is already part of the manufacturing process at Foxconn, but the new Foxbots are aimed to not merely complement factor workers, but replace them. As the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics, this move wouldn’t be happening unless the robots were ultimately cheaper than human beings.
If Foxconn ramps up the robot rollout, it’ll be interesting to see what the worldwide response is. While there are those who worry that the rise of robots will bring about the end of work as we know it, others see the Foxconn working conditions as violating human rights, and therefore, might welcome robotic replacements, if it means that conditions for the remaining human workforce could improve.
Because Foxconn employs 1.2 million workers, robot replacements both solve worker problems and create them. It should come as no surprise then that many manufacturers are watching the situation at the company closely.
Foxconn will replace plant workers like this with robots beginning in 2012 (Click Image To Enlarge)
An important statistic from the International Federation of Robotics is that the number of operational robots in China increased by 42 percent from 2010 to 2011 (close to 75,000 robots), an unprecedented growth in the 50-year history of robots. At that rate of adoption, it would be 2019 before there were 1 million robots in all of China, but odds are that the use of robots is only going to increase as the pendulum that led to the economic boom in China swings back in the other direction.
In the end, we all know that the future of manufacturing is all about robots. It’s a question now of how fast the transition will occur and whether governments, businesses, and organizations will be able to adjust with the shifting workforce and economies.
During this time of flux, many are looking for leaders to take the lead. Whether Foxconn proves it can correct its current problems with robots or digs an even deeper hole by its displacement of a large workforce will play out in the immediate future.
COMMENTARY: If you've been following my posts, I have reported the latest developments surrounding Foxconn International. Foxconn International apparently believes that replacing its factory workers is the solution to their numerous labor problems. They just gave their plant workers a straight across the board 25% increase in response to Apple's demands that they improve worker morale and productivity. All of this in pursuit of the allmighty dollar -- Apple makes well over 30% profit margins on its iPhones an iPads, and they didn't want that disturbed.
It's going to be very interesting just how Foxconn's plant workers will react when they are summarily replaced by a Foxbot. The vast majority of Foxconn's plant workers are young Chinese workers from the countryside. This is the first time that they've been in the big cities, and working for a company that produces Apple's magical devces is considered quite prestigious. They are not likely to rock the boat and complain about the sweat shop working conditions at Foxconn's plants for fear of losing their jobs.
The body of evidence that Apple's overseas vendors operate sweatshops, treat their plant workers like slaves and polluting the environment on a monumental scale is overwhelming and can no longer be disuputed. In spite of rampedup plant inspections by Apple and claims of improved working conditions, it appears that nothing has really changed. This overwhelming evidence should give Apple evangelists pause for concern and swear not to buy another Apple product ever again. Join me in this crusade. Swear by these words: "I will never buy another Apple product again."
This infographic pretty much lays it all out for you to see.
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Courtesy of an article dated November 15, 2012 appearing in Robotics Trends
Facebook announced its long-awaited job board this morning, ushering in a new era of online recruiting and, eventually, what’s likely to be an important new source of revenue for the company. After a year long “Social Jobs Partnership” with the U.S. Department of Labor and other government agencies, the company released the Social Jobs Partnership application today, an interactive job board that aggregates 1.7 million openings from recruiting companies already working on the platform, including Work4Labs, BranchOut, Jobvite, DirectEmployers and Monster.com.
Social Jobs Partnership page on Facebook (Click Image To Enlarge)
Though a spokesperson for the company insists the announcement does not mean Facebook is entering the recruiting industry, that statement appears far-fetched given the capability of the application. The page allows users to search for jobs by location, industry and skill, apply to them directly through Facebook, and then share the jobs to their social network. Its developer partners also believe Facebook is making a clear statement of its intentions. Stephane Le Viet, founder and CEO of Work4 Labs says.
“Facebook is launching a jobs page within Facebook. This is a very big disruption in a very large space.”
The company’s own blog post reveals some telling statistics about the potential for recruiting over the platform. According to Facebook, half of employers in the U.S. use the social network during their hiring process. Of those companies already using Facebook to engage with customers, 54 percent anticipate using it more heavily in their recruitment efforts in the future. Given those numbers, the lucrative nature of the recruitment industry and the success of companies like Work4 Labs—not to mention increasing pressure from battered shareholders—it appears likely that Facebook will seek monetize recruitment efforts at some point soon.
Le Viet surmises that the current application is just an early, lightweight version intended to test recruiting on the platform while triggering a PR push letting the general public know the social network is now a place to find jobs. A more robust version may eventually mean users will see more recruitment-related activity on their newsfeeds.
The Social Jobs Partnership was meant to serve as a consortium to guide the company’s recruitment offering.
Given today’s announcement, does November 14, 2012 mark the beginning of the end for LinkedIn? The varied demographics of Facebook certainly differ from LinkedIn’s 175 million older, college-educated users. Le Viet’s Work4 Labs acknowledges this reality, focusing on entry-level and hourly positions rather than the salaried openings for which LinkedIn provides candidates. And as Forbes contributor George Anders noted in a July cover story, although Facebook's Job Board presents a huge threat to LinkedIn. Here are a few reasons why LinkedIn may still succeed:
LinkedIn Recruiter, the company’s enterprise recruitment tool, is the company’s core business. They have a three-year head start and a product with cachet among recruiters said to rival the Bloomberg terminal for bond-traders.
LinkedIn is also a trusted, professional brand created for the explicit purpose of business networking.
Older employees may not feel comfortable mixing work with a social platform better known for party photos.
The sheer size of Facebook’s user base however, means that the company can slice the population a number of different ways. Though only 22 percent of users are above the age of 45, that’s still 220 million people–more than LinkedIn’s entire platform. And Facebook has already been shown to be highly effective in recruiting lower-skilled workers. A foothold in the lower end of the market could serve as a nice starting point for moving upstream and eating LinkedIn’s business. The twenty-somethings who tend profiles on both LinkedIn and Facebook may not care where their next job comes from.
It is certain that traditional online job boards like Monster.com are on the way out. While Monster has seen its market share and stock price plummet in recent years, LinkedIn has soared and Facebook’s developer partners–Work4 Labs, BranchOut and Jobvite–have raised tens of millions of dollars to pursue social graph-based recruiting models. The future of recruiting is decidedly social.
Though Forbes staffer Eric Savitz noted that the lockup agreement covering 777 million Facebook shares ended today, the company’s stock is up nearly 8%.
COMMENTARY: There’s no doubt that Facebook could leverage these partnerships with job sites and its massive user base of more than one billion to create a powerful job listings service. The bigger question though is whether it poses a threat to LinkedIn as a recruiting engine, which is where LinkedIn makes most of its money. LinkedIn has spent years building up relationships with headhunters and providing them with premium tools to scout for talent on the social network. To compete on that front, Facebook would need to do more than just aggregate listings from other job sites.
Still, as Facebook points out in its announcement, one study has found that half of employers already use Facebook in the hiring process, so there’s certainly potential.
LinkedIn investors clearly think there’s cause for concern. The company’s stock dipped slightly (down 0.49) immediately after Facebook announced the news about the Jobs Board, and was down more than 2% on the day as of publication.
Facebook investors reacted very positively to the news about the Job Board, and although another 804 million shares lockedup since the May IPO were released for trading today, Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ:FB) shares increased by 2.5 points or 12.59%, and 229.75 million shares were traded throughout the day.
The big question that I have is how much Facebook will charge recruiters and companies to list job openings on the Facebook Job Board. Facebook certainly has a lot of leverage -- 1 billion monthly active users is one hell of a big number, so LinkedIn stands to be hurt in the longterm. LinkedIn may have its recruiting tools, which it charges a premium price for, Facebook certainly has the ability to develop recruiting tools of its own and a shole slew of analytics that could allow employers to react quickly to market competitive conditions.
Facebook's Job Board partners will also have to ponyup something to access Facebook's huge user base. This will not come free. Will Facebook charge a small commission for each employee hired through their Job Board? Up until now, LinkedIn has had little competition when it comes to professionals.
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LinkedIn is no slouch, it's been a social network for professionals long before Facebook came along. Here are a slewful of reasons why LinkedIn might actually win the Jobs Boar War:
If you're like most college students, chances are good that you spend more time on Facebook than you do on LinkedIn. But if you're concerned with furthering your career (and you should be), it's time to switch over to a more professional network. We've shared 20 great reasons why you need to be spending your time on LinkedIn much more than Facebook, and we hope they motivate you to make a change for the better. These reasons should be especially compelling for students earning online bachelor's degrees, as they will have fewer face-to-face networking opportunities and will need to capitalize on their online networking skills to bolster their job hunt.
LINKEDIN IS PROFESSIONAL AT ITS CORE - LinkedIn was created to connect professionals in online networking; Facebook was not. Although both services have evolved to include elements of each other, they do still remain true to their original purpose, and LinkedIn excels at presenting a professional front.
LINKEDIN IS A GREAT PLACE TO GAIN EXPERT STATUS - Although experts are increasingly flocking to Facebook, it's still hard for some people to take the site seriously. On LinkedIn, the setting is much more open to gaining expert status and credibility. Forums, question and answer sections, and groups make it simpler to connect and share your knowledge in a credible way. Students working toward a graduate degree can even share their research with other experts in the field and receive valuable feedback as they complete master’s theses and doctoral dissertations.
YOUR COLLEGE PROFESSORS MIGHT ACTUALLY CONNECT ON LINKEDIN - Although some colleges take a lax approach to social media, many still frown on Facebook connections between students and professors. But on LinkedIn, connections are typically seen as a positive thing, opening you up to the resources that your professors can share with you, including positive recommendations.
LINKEDIN REPRESENTS A MORE TARGETED AUDIENCE - Facebook now has 1 billion users, a figure that basically obliterates LinkedIn's comparatively small 135 million plus users. One might think that more users means more exposure, and that would be correct, but on Facebook, you can't be sure that the millions of users are actually online to hear about your professional life. On LinkedIn, you can expect to reach a more targeted audience that is connected to you, interested in your work, and willing to listen to what you have to say.
YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO GET A RECOMMENDATION ON LINKEDIN - A recommendation on either LinkedIn or Facebook is a great way to put your best foot forward, but you're simply more likely to land one on LinkedIn. Recent stats show that 36% of LinkedIn users make a recommendation, compared to 27% of Facebook users. LinkedIn also has a 57% interested recommendation response, compared with 42% on Facebook.
LINKEDIN USERS LOG IN WITH A SENSE OF PURPOSE - While on Facebook, you may be surfing to find out about the latest cat video or your friend's wedding photos, but LinkedIn tends to lead to a more task-driven visit. Users log in to check out job and collaboration opportunities, people to hire, and relevant industry news.
LINKEDIN IS AN ONLINE RESUME - LinkedIn is a great place to collect references, share your work experience, professional samples, and more. Your Facebook Timeline is much more like a digital scrapbook of personal experiences.
LINKEDIN SEARCHING IS MORE ROBUST- While you can search for people and terms on Facebook, LinkedIn really shines in this category. You can search for companies, find people to connect with, get news, and more on LinkedIn. Your profile is also highly searchable, and represents a great tool for allowing recruiters to find you.
FACEBOOK CAN MAKE YOUR SCHOOLWORK SUFFER - Experts report that students who regularly surf Facebook do not do as well on tests. In fact, some students suffered by as much as an entire grade. They believe that using the social media site takes up valuable study time.
RECRUITERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO SHARE APPLICATIONS ON LINKEDIN - Facebook and LinkedIn are both experiencing growth in applications shared on their sites. But LinkedIn stands out for the number of candidates who actually apply. You can expect recruiters to go where the interest is, which clearly rests with LinkedIn.
FACEBOOK IS A MAJOR TIME SUCK - Facebook is fun, but for most users, it takes up much more time than it should. In a comparison, researchers found that Facebook visits resulted in stays of 405 minutes per visitor, compared with 17 minutes on LinkedIn. It is much wiser to spend 17 focused minutes on LinkedIn than several hours frittering your time away on Facebook.
GROUPS ON LINKEDIN ARE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE - Facebook has groups, but not on the level that LinkedIn does. LinkedIn remains an incredible resource for connecting and networking in industry groups on the site.
YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO GET HIRED ON LINKEDIN - In a recent comparison of job search markers on Facebook and LinkedIn, LinkedIn beat Facebook handily in every category. The most interesting and revealing, however, was social employee hires, with LinkedIn earning 73% and Facebook at a low 22%.
LINKEDIN IS A GREAT PLACE FOR BUSINESS INTRODUCTIONS - One of the best features of LinkedIn is the ability to be introduced to new business contacts through the site, especially through contacts you already know. So if you’ve recently completed a business degree and want to expand your professional connections, LinkedIn in the place to be.
LINKEDIN USERS HAVE MORE MONEY - Out of all the popular social media sites, LinkedIn users have the highest average income of $89K. If you're looking to earn a good salary, you'll be in great company on LinkedIn.
LINKEDIN REALLY SHINES WITH RELEVANCE - While your friends on Facebook may be sharing music videos that you scroll right past, LinkedIn works hard to bring you content that is the most relevant to you. The site sends emails to users with the most-shared news, groups that belong to your job focus, and contacts you're likely to be interested in getting to know.
LINKEDIN IS AWESOME FOR RESEARCH - Facebook is growing in this respect with better Pages, but LinkedIn still wins the battle of employer research. You find out who works there, who used to work there, whether or not you have any connections within the company, and more. For example, if you recently earned a master's degree in finance, and are looking for employment with major financial services companies, you can search for employment leads by networking with a company’s current and former employees.
Courtesy of an article dated November 14, 2012 appearing in Forbes and an article dated May 5, 2012 appearing in OnlineCollege.org
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is a drain on the U.S. economy.
No, we’re not talking about Facebook’s IPO fiasco earlier this year and the subsequent stock price meltdown. It’s bigger than that.
Facebook is worst offender among the many Internet distractions keeping workers from getting things done in the office.
Most workers stop what they are doing several times an hour to respond to messages from friends and co-workers on social media like Facebook and Twitter, browse the Internet, and check and respond to e-mail.
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And once distracted, it takes time for a worker to get back to the task at hand – one study put the average disruption at 23 minutes.
All those interruptions add up to a massive expense for businesses and the U.S. economy.
Facebook Costs Us Billions
A study in 2005 by Basex Inc. estimated that Internet distractions to “knowledge workers” (managers, professionals and office staff) added up to over two hours per day and cost the U.S. economy$588 billion.
Using the Basex formula, Money Morning has calculated that Internet distractions will bleed a stunning $785 billion from the U.S. economy in 2012 – nearly 5% of the $15.8 trillion gross domestic prouct (GDP).
Noted the Basex report.
“Whether sitting at a desk in the office, in a conference room, in one’s home office, or at a client’s, the likelihood of being able to complete a task (what many call “work’) without interruption is near nil.”
Last year research firm uSamp conducted a survey on work distractions for social email software maker harmon.ie that found 45% of IT employees couldn’t even work for 15 minutes without getting interrupted by something.
Assuming an average IT salary of $30 an hour and just one hour of time wasted each day, uSamp calculated a loss of $10,375 to the employer in lost productivity.
Facebook the Biggest Culprit
Another survey, conducted this year by Salary.com, showed just how deep the problem of wasted time on the job runs in the American workplace. Their survey revealed the following:
64% or nearly two-thirds visit non-work related websites every day while at work.
29% admitted spending 1-2 hours a week on personal websites.
21% admitted to wasting 2-5 hours each week.
As for what workers are doing on the Internet the survey revealed:
41% said they were going on Facebook.
37% said they visited LinkedIn.
49% or nearly half used work time to hunt for another job.
These online activities of American workers while at work can cost companies more than lost time.
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Other popular Internet distractions included:
Many companies try to curb Internet distractions by blocking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but with limited success. People just use their smartphones instead.
“Executives may be naïve in thinking that banned access to social networks eliminates employee use. Indeed, the survey shows that by restricting or blocking access, many employees tend to move their activity to their own personal devices which are often less secure and completely unmonitored.”
In some of the surveys, employees said spending work time on Internet distractions provided much needed breaks that made them overall better workers. Maybe so, but any time spent on Facebook on the job is time that no work is getting accomplished.
Yaacov Cohen, co-founder and CEO of harmon.ie, said of the survey he commissioned.
“Information technology that was designed at least in part to save time is actually doing precisely the opposite. For all of us, it’s time to take back the Internet and find ways to control our digital addiction.”
How Employers Feel About Social Networks
According to the following infographic, researched and developed by PayScale, the higher-ups are really not too keen on the social media movement at large, especially when it involves giving social media freedom to employees within the company. And the fear of negative information keeps employers running for a tight leash. Only half of companies have a formal social media policy, and 42% of companies surveyed nix all forms of social media activity at work. In the employers’ eyes, social media should be exclusively reserved for carefully managed brand promotion and professionally handled social recruiting.
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Mobile Devices Driving Social Networking In The Workplace
According to Facebook's Q3 2012 earnings report, the social network now has 1.007 billion monthly active users, of which 604 million or 60% use mobile devices to access the site.
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So even though over 40% of employers surveyed by Scale block or prohibit Facebook while at work, the adoption of mobile devices to access the internet and social networks, has done little to stop social networking while at work. In fact, if you look at the following graph, the number of minutes spent on social networks each month exploded from 27 billion minutes in June 2008 to over 70 billion minutes by the end of June 2011. With the phenomenal growth in mobile devices, it would not be surprising if the number of minutes has doubled by the end of October 2012.
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By mid-May 2012, Facebook had reached 901 million active users, but the number of time spent on the social giant stood at 393 minutes per year. This is more than twice the other major social networks combined.
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Courtesy of an article dated November 9, 2012 appearing in Market Daily News and an article date June 10, 2012 appearing in Mashable
Accelerators seem to be the golden ticket for many startup founders. Especially the best-known ones get massive numbers of applicants. Y Combinator is again accepting admissions for its twice-a-year program and is likely to break records again, at least judging by the popularity of the Startup School it ran at Stanford recently.
But do startups really know what they’re in for when they join an accelerator?
Last month, I surveyed 151 accelerator applicants in order to answer that question for my just-released book Speed Up Your Startup. The folks I interviewed had applied to 22 different accelerator programs around the world, including Y Cominator, TechStars, 500 Startups, and Seedcamp. 108 of them had completed or were currently in an accelerator program; the others had not applied or had not yet been accepted to a program.
Four findings from the survey were especially interesting.
1. The experience can be tougher than you think
I didn’t ask this question directly, but in the unprompted comments, many startup founders I surveyed were shocked at how demanding the accelerator experience was. At least 15% of respondents to my online survey spontaneously alluded to this issue, and I heard it further emphasized in my follow-up interviews. The experience challenged not only their product and their business, but also their social lives and self-esteem. One founder wishing to remain anonymous experienced the team at a top-tier accelerator as manipulative and opportunistic and considered quitting the whole program because of this. In retrospect, the founder saw the value in their approach but was still prepared to advise others against joining the program.
Many also developed ways of dealing with this stress. “You’ll get tons of advice, and a key skill is filtering out what is important to you,” said one respondent, Oliver Mooney of GetBulb who participated in Startupbootcamp. This filtering has to be done with your time and resource constraints in mind. Another way to free time and resources for dealing with the requirements of an accelerator is have a team in place to keep the day-to-day work going on. The mentoring times and demo day preparations take a lot of the founder’s time. “That’s less time to code, less time to talk with customers,” said Kellee James, founder of Mercaris. “However, if the founders have a team in place, work can continue on the core business while this goes on.”
2. Finding a mentor with a personal connection is key
Mentorship is the great value driver of startup acceleration. Startups not yet in programs know to expect this, and startups that have been accelerated place much value on it. 95% of startups that completed an accelerator program rated the mentorship received as “very good” or “good.” Startups also expected this prior to joining the programs, with 97% of those not yet in a program reporting mentorship as “very valuable” or “valuable.”
The best mentorship is based on a personal relation. Accelerator programs with a heavy emphasis on mentorship, such as TechStars, tend to let the startups and mentors find each other. Across the board, founders indicated that “connecting with the mentor” or “finding the right person to support you and help you prioritize the mass of feedback you get,” attesting to the fact that a mutual discovery process is the best way to connect startups with their mentors. One founder’s experience was that finding the mentor who had been through a similar life situation – not just in business, but in their personal life – was the key to him getting value out of the accelerator experience. It is this personal connection that comes into play when the times are really tough, and that’s the time you need to be prepared for.
3. You’ll walk away with a lot of connections, but you could still be missing the most important ones
Mentors, advisors, and investors are important groups of people who the accelerators usually take great care to introduce and integrate into their programs. But accelerated startups reported that they wish they’d gotten more introductions to industry contacts – potential partners and customers. 49% of respondents who had not participated in an accelerator reported that customer contacts would be very desirable. However, only 22% of accelerator veterans reported that the industry contacts provided by the accelerator had been “very good.” 46% rated the industry contacts provided as “neutral” or “poor.” The open-ended answers support this, with many founders pointing out that an accelerator would add the most value by providing partner or customer contacts. Indeed “industry fit” was mentioned as an important criteria when selecting an accelerator program in the first place.
This emphasizes the need for accelerators to more closely meet the startup’s business needs and may mean more demand for accelerators that have a clear industry vertical focus. Mentorship, as mentioned above, is done very well. Investor contacts are highly desirable for startups that have not participated in an accelerator program, 93% reporting them as “very” or “somewhat” interesting. Accelerators do seem to deliver value on this front as well, although there is a small discrepancy between expectations and reality. While 56% of accelerator applicants place investor contacts in the highest category of importance, only 45% of accelerator veterans report the investor contacts offered as having been “very good,” while 35% rated them “good.”
One founder from a TechStars company said the social validation accelerators give startups is very real and very valuable. “TechStars provided me and my startup with social proof that investors, business partners, media, and customers respond to. Not all care, but with those that do, the brand association is helpful,” he summarized.
4. The money is relative
Often, accelerators are compared based on the money they invest in a startup. The hard numbers are easy to compare, after all, but the value founders get from the money invested is relative. The real valuation of a startup is a matter of future potential, real or perceived. Some business models require completely different orders of magnitude of capital outlays. And your mileage will vary: The same money can go much further with cheaper teams in cheaper locations.
But there seems to be a goldilocks zone for the accelerator investment size. In accelerator programs where the investment was over $150,000 or under $10,000, some of the startups considered the value of the investment poor. That’s easy to see in the lower end. In the higher end, this can be explained by the accelerators attracting companies requiring higher capital injections. But even the high range of accelerator investment may not be enough.
A surprisingly high 40% of startups that had not joined an accelerator rated the investment as “not important” or “neutral.” And 51% of startups that had gone through an accelerator rated the value of the money invested as “very high” or “high” This is also due to selection bias: Startups that do not join accelerators may make that decision precisely because the money offered is not valuable to them.
How to know if an accelerator is any good?
Finally, a question that 70% of the startups who hadn’t yet joined an accelerator raised was how to gauge whether the programs they were considering would add any value. Twelve startups that had completed accelerator programs certainly indicated that’s a question worth asking: They added unprompted comments to the survey along the lines of “avoid the s****y programs” and “do it [join a program], but only if it’s top tier.”
An accelerator is only as good as the startups it produces. And as founders should know, it’s not a sprint but a marathon they are in. Results are not instantaneous, and success does not come overnight. Similarly, it takes time for accelerator programs to prove themselves. Today’s most highly regarded accelerators have also been around the longest. Their track record is, in great part, due to the fact that their portfolio has had the time to mature.
To this most-raised concern, I would like to offer the strongest recommendation that came out of my research and indeed from my personal experience as well: Choose an accelerator program that has the best fit for your startup. If there are vertical accelerators that specialize in your industry, look for those. I predict that as the market matures, we will see more specialized, vertical accelerators. If you can’t find one yet, look for programs where the core teams or investors have experience with the kind of product you are creating or the market you are trying to address. Who has the most relevant contacts for you? Apply there.
Finally, if you feel you can’t find an accelerator that meets your needs, or don’t want to join one, check out my book for compiled learnings from accelerators and accelerate yourself instead.
COMMENTARY: Creating a new company is an incredibly difficult endeavor. It takes perseverance, stamina, and stubbornness, to push through the tens of thousands of decisions, and the repeated bouts of pushback, negativity and angst. Despite the difficulty, many thousands of people each year begin their efforts and launch multiple thousands of new ventures.
Most of these people find help along the way, in a vast variety of forms, from support by friends and family, to classes at schools and institutions, or formal help at business incubators. This help, along with investors, mentors, and others comprise a startup incubator “ecosystem”.
Startup Incubator Ecosystem
Creating a thriving startup ecosystem requires at least six components.
Startup Incubator Ecosystem (Click Image To Enlarge)
Talent - This pool of talent needs to extend well beyond the entrepreneurs starting the companies, including others with a variety of talent and experience in product, design, marketing, sales, etc. who are willing to join new startups and help them grow and thrive.
Education - This talent pool is ideally created and augmented locally, at universities and other learning institutions. Better still if these institutions themselves draw in talent, to seed the ecosystem with the latest knowledge.
Locations and Events - Ecosystem flourish when ideas are shared. Ideas are more readily shared when startups and their staff are co-located in a single neighborhood, when startups physically meet up at events, when there are common physical locations where people often gather.
Mentorship - When these shared ideas include lessons from experienced mentors, fewer mistakes are made by the new entrepreneurs, leading to more successes. This sharing from “generation” to generation can kick off a virtuous cycle turning a community into a true ecosystem.
Incubators and Accelerators - A tool which combines talent, education, location, and mentorship is a business incubator/accelerator. These institutions provide a centralized program to draw in talent, to bring the talent together in a single location, and to provide the necessary education and mentorship to help first-time entrepreneurs speed their way into the market.
Funding - Most new ventures require funding to reach profitability. While it is possible to import the necessary funding from elsewhere, the final component of a thriving startup ecosystem is local funding, ideally recycled from the successes of the previous generations of entrepreneurs, who truly understand the complexity and difficulty of creating successful startups.
A Virtuous Cycle
When these six components are combined, a virtuous cycle begins wherein new entrepreneurs find the training, help, and funding required to get started. They in turn help their peers and the next generations of entrepreneurs, who continue the cycle forward.
None of this is new. Ecosystems of craftsmen date back to the antiquities. Ecosystem in the last 500 years include Venetian glassmakers of the 14th Century, Swiss watchmakers of the 16thCentury, and British steam engines of the 18th Century.
In more modern times, we have the “tech” ecosystem centered in and around San Francisco (a.k.a. Silicon Valley). The talent pool began with Hewlett Packard (1939) and Fairchild Semiconductor (1957) and includes Stanford University and UC Berkeley as key educational institutions. Today this is a multi-billion dollar ecosystem, containing companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, and the virtuous cycle of “The Valley” is unmatched anywhere in the world. But one should remember that this cycle began over sixty decades ago, when most of the valley was orchards and farmland, and that no one person or small group of people set out to create this center of excellence.
However, with the hindsight of these historic examples, many people today are consciously organizing to purposefully create ecosystems in their cities. For example, in Seattle, all six components now exist to create an ecosystem for “sustainable” business, a.k.a. social enterprises, a.k.a. high-impact ventures, a.k.a. “conscious” companies. In October, four organizations are co-locating into a single building, The Center for Impact and Innovation: Bainbridge Graduate Institute, HUB Seattle, Fledge, and Social Venture Partners. The expectation is that such a concentration of social and environmental consciousness will draw in yet-more talent, more mentors, and more funding, setting off a virtuous cycle to create not only a business ecosystem, but to help the planet’s biological ecosystem as well.
Top 10 Startup Incubators
Having trouble choosing between the myriad of startup incubators and accelerators. Well, this list from Forbes should help. Y Combinator Tops the list with $7.8 billion In value. Next comes TechStars, DreamIt Ventures, AngelPad, Launchpad LA, Excelerator Labs, Kicklabs, 500 Startups, TechNexus, and Tech Wildcatters.
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Courtesy of an article dated October 29, 2012 appearing in VentureBeat and an article dated August 6, 2012 appearing in Seattle 24x7 and an article dated April 20, 2012 appearing in Forbes