Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zuckerberg's Facebook Page Hacked

Perhaps it is not that Zuckerberg's page was hacked, but what the hacker wrote...

(CNN) -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's fan page was hacked Tuesday -- a high-profile breach on a site that constantly faces scrutiny about its handling of its members' private data.

The message that appeared on Zuckerberg's page under his name read: "Let the hacking begin: If Facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn't Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? "Why not transform Facebook into a 'social business' the way Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus described it?" the message continued, referring to the founder of the Grameen Bank which has transformed millions of lives by extending micro-loans to poor people.

Zuckerberg's fan page has more than three million followers and is probably managed by media assistants to the social networking magnate, according to cyber-security experts.
The message received more than 1,800 "likes" before it was removed from the page. Facebook's representatives have not returned calls seeking comment.

So the hacker was complaining that, why has Facebook not crowd funded its members especially when they have 600,000,000 of them. Why indeed?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 launches with input from the crowd.

Is this the new Hal?

Qwiki is out of private testing and now available to the public. Haven't heard of them? Well, then, you haven't been reading TechCrunch lately. Qwiki is the winner of the most recent TechCrunch Disrupt contest and is using video in some pretty interesting ways. Now that the service is public, I thought I'd take it for a spin and let you know what's going on.
Qwiki isn't the easiest service to explain, as evidenced by their own "About Us" description:

How to 'Crowdfund' Your American Dream


Politicians do it, and now more and more people are finding money to start their businesses thanks to small contributions from supporters.

Back in 1992, former and current California Gov. Jerry Brown ran for president against, among others, Bill Clinton. As Clinton emerged as the favorite, endorsements -- and more importantly, money -- started to flow his way. And as a result, the other candidates in the field began to drop out as votes and money dried up.

But not Jerry Brown. Brown had hit upon a then-unique fundraising idea in a pre-Internet day that kept his quixotic campaign alive: He created an 800 telephone number and asked people to call in and donate small sums to his campaign. No more than $100. It turned out that his supporters were more than happy to help him if it didn't cost a lot and was easy to do.
He didn't win, but Jerry Brown was one of the first to 'crowdfund' his campaign.

A more recent example from the business world: Filmmaker Kieran Masterton used crowdfunding to fund his startup, raising more than $12,000 in the process. And maybe even better, like Jerry Brown, Masterton did not have to pay people back with cash, since people who donate to crowdfunding projects expect to be repaid in ways other than money.

Pretty nifty, eh?

Crowdfunding is a process whereby people with projects or business ideas ask the crowd to donate to the cause in exchange for some sort of reward. Typically the reward has something to do with the businesses or project. In Masterson's case, he was starting a website that would distribute the work of independent filmmakers, so he asked them for $100 each – in exchange for getting listed on the website. It worked, big time.

Another example: is a crowdfunding platform which offers bands something it calls "fan funding." Let's say an indie band has a new tour or album it wants to produce and needs funding for the project. The band would list it on the Sellaband website, and in exchange for donations, would "repay" participants with "free downloads... exclusive CDs, T-shirts, free lunches etc."

Not surprisingly, crowdfunding -- an idea that began as a way for various artists to fund their projects, has morphed into a tool for entrepreneurs to fund their own dreams. As Time puts it, "Politicians do it. Charities too. And now for-profit entrepreneurs are tapping the Internet to get small amounts of money from lots and lots of supporters. One part social networking and one part capital accumulation, crowdfunding websites seek to harness the enthusiasm -- and pocket money --o f virtual strangers."

If this makes sense to you and looks like a way for you to get some funding for your own project, here are some sites you will want to check out: Listing a project on Kickstarter is free, although KickStarter keeps 5 percent of all money raised, as well as a small portion of all credit-card processing fees.

One interesting thing about Kickstarter is that projects must raise 100 percent of their funding goal, or they receive nothing. Here's why that's a good thing: Let's say that you are trying to raise $10,000 to self-publish a book and that you offer credits in the book in exchange for investments at $50 a pop. If you only raise $5,000, it would not be a very good deal for all of those people who gave you $50, since the book would never get published. So it's 100 percent or nothing at Kickstarter.

IndieGoGo. Similar to Kickstarter, IndieGoGo is a "collaborative way to fund ideas." The difference is that it does not does not require 100 percent funding, although if you do not raise the full amount, they charge you 9 percent as opposed to 4 percent.

Here is one last nice benefit about using crowdfunding to fund your dream: Because it gets people interested in your venture early on, those folks become (literally) invested in your success and thus become your cheerleaders.

Starting a business with a built-in audience and getting funding without having to repay it in cash? Sweet.
To Learn More Click Here

Friday, January 14, 2011

Groupon Now Valued at 15 Billion Dollars

By BRETT LIPTON Times Square Chronicles

Internet coupon new comer Groupon, is now slated to be worth $15,000,000,000, that is BILLION with a 'B'.

Rumors have been buzzing about Groupon recently, reporting that the online Coupon Deal Venue, headed by CEO Andrew Mason, may be planning to go public with an IPO in as early as Spring of 2011. If you are not familiar with, the new internet giant uses the following business model:

Vendor contacts Groupon with a deal, good for 1 day.

Vendor applies a minimum number of people that need to take the deal for everyone to be able to cash in on it ergo "Group"

Vendor makes a discount offer offer i.e. 20% off a purchase, $50.00 discount..., ergo "Coupon"

Result = GROUPON

If the minimum takers is reached: Deal On - for everyone!

If the minimum takers is not reached: Deal Off - for everyone!

Groupon was started a scant 3 years ago in 2008 and currently the Chicago based company houses approximately 120 employees. In this short time they have achieved an audience of approximately 15 million daily viewers to the site. According to internet website rankings by Quantcast, they are the 198th most trafficked site in the US. Amazon's Alexa ranks them at 87 in the US and 401st in the world. Interestingly, it is alleged that only a few months ago internet search and advertising giant Google offered them $6 billion only a couple of months ago, effectively almost tripling the value of Groupon in less than a year.

According to Groupon they just hit a online coupon milestone, saving their users over $1 Billion in shopping sprees. The site popularity and investment lure can be made quite apparent by summing it up this way: In August 2011 a single Groupon Gap deal offered its users $50.00 worth of shopping for $25.00 generated 445,000 takers and landed the company $11,000,000 in one take. The demand was so high that the deal was being taken at a rate of 534 per minute. As a result's servers suffered and the site experienced technical issues from the bandwidth draw.

Here’s Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, the “quirky personality” behind Groupon's group couponing, in an interview for Crain’s “40 Under 40: 2009.”

To Learn More Click Here

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Five Financing Trends for 2011

By Eileen P. Gunn at
Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:04pm EST

When it comes to funding options for startups, new ideas seem to come along every season. Some may be old ideas dressed up in a new way, while a few may be something we really haven't seen before. It isn't certain which ones will become the new black of small business and which will disappear with this year’s hemlines. But here are five financing trends for 2011 that could have an impact on your company.

1. Crowdfunding

Kickstarter popularized the idea of crowdfunding, which is when a large group of people help fund a project or business through a cluster of small donations. Kickstarter began as a new way to help artists get projects off the ground. In return for funding, donors receive goods or services, or even just a well-crafted thank-you, in lieu of equity or interest payments. Now the same idea is spreading to business ventures. Diaspora, a tech company that wants to build a social network to rival Facebook got more than $200,000 in seed money from a Kickstarter campaign

Of course, the Securities and Exchange Commission frowns on companies offering equity to the public without filing with the government to do so, so when it comes to crowdfunding backers always get something other than equity. Take Catwalk Genius. Its members fund fledgling fashion designers and in return get a share of the revenue generated by the designer’s clothing lines. Then, there's Indiegogo, which leans toward creative and tech business ventures, and, a community of people specifically looking to support entrepreneurs, which are similar to Kickstarter in that they encourage preselling products as a way to raise funds. Look for more niche-oriented crowdfunding sites in 2011.

2. Microlending

The idea of offering very small loans, even just $100, has its roots in helping women in underdeveloped countries start small business ventures. But as the recession tightened credit offerings, the popularity of microlending has extended to the U.S. -- especially as aspiring entrepreneurs are starting ventures with far less than the $50,000 business loan threshold common at many banks. Not-for-profit Accion is the largest organization putting that idea into action with loans that start at $500 and average a little more than $5,000. You can also research other microlending programs around the U.S. through the Association for Enterprise Opportunity's searchable database.

3. Credit Unions

These cooperative financial institutions are among the most active in making smaller loans to entrepreneurs and have only gotten busier in recent years, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Its figures show credit unions made more than $33 billion worth of business loans in 2009, up from $12 billion in 2004. They have relatively low default rates and terms that are often better than traditional banks, according to the NCUA and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Credit unions also can be a resource for aspiring business owners whose credit score might not pass muster with other banks. The catch? You will likely have to become a member of the credit union to borrow from it.

4. Bootstrapping

If you’ve trimmed your start-up costs down to a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars, why not skip the loan altogether and bootstrap your business? When you tap personal savings, get vendors to front start-up supplies for delayed payment terms, hit up friends and relatives, or use one money-making venture to fund another, then you’re bootstrapping. It’s a good way to test an idea and make sure it has legs before investing heavily in a new venture. Think of it as the business equivalent of going retro. It’s an idea that has been around forever, but is making a big comeback as people who have lost their jobs in the recession increasingly look to start a small business as an alternative to traditional employment.

5. The Slow Money Movement

Woody Tasch, longtime chairman of Investors' Circle, a hugely successful angel network for socially responsible companies, is spearheading this fledgling movement. Its ambitious aim is “a million Americans investing 1% of their assets in local food systems within a decade."

The idea is to help entrepreneurs who buy, use and sell local food or who engage in sustainable agriculture get seed funding from people they know in their communities. The terms are set on a deal-by-deal basis, which can range from a loan to equity to a credit extension. Backers are encouraged to invest in ventures that won’t just turn quick profits but will benefit their communities over the long term by creating jobs, supporting other local businesses and the fostering local food chain.

It’s ambitious and will likely evolve as it goes. But in its early days so was Investors' Circle, which has facilitated over $134 million in investments in more than 200 companies since 1992. We’re interested to see how Tasch will sustain this movement.

To Learn More Click Here