Four Cs of The Scale Challenge

by Shefaly

”Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!”

Robert Browning

Businesses want to scale. It is especially true for ambitious entrepreneurs. It should be easy, should it not? After all, the smart view is that it is ambition that scales, ’stuff’ does not. But the reality is not linear, not bi-modal, but nuanced. The road to hell is paved with a surfeit of ambition and a shortage of what it takes.

So what does it take to scale successfully?

Here is what.

Cardinal check: The core issues

Is the core of the business profitable? If it is not, then there may be a problem to solve already. There could be many reasons for unprofitability from bad strategy to poor execution. But one big outcome is that the business has little money to spend on dreams.

Is the business amenable to scaling? Not all businesses are. Some personality driven businesses and hourly chargeable careers may not always scale. The entrepreneur needs to take a dispassionate look – or ask someone else more dispassionate than she is to take a look – at the possibilities in and limitations of his business. That will also help think about strategic pathways to scaling. For instance, Nicky Clarke, who is a well-known hairdresser, can give only so many haircuts himself. Can he scale? Yes, possibly by personally training other stylists, or by launching haircare related products. But only he can decide if it is acceptable to him to scale that way.

Does the business have the capabilities required? A firm may be looking to open a new market. But it will be difficult to service a demand it actively creates if, for example, its manufacturing capabilities do not scale, or do not scale easily. For one of my clients in biologics manufacturing, we are doing our sums and readjusting our timetables because  the manufacturing plants must obtain regulatory approval. In other cases, a firm may not have the capabilities but may be willing and able to source help from outside.

Above all, will the added scale enhance the value of the business? If the answer to that is ‘no’, the project may not be worth the hassle.

Capital: do your sums!

Does the business have the money it will take? Nearly all scaling activities require money. Lots of it. There are both monetary and opportunity costs associated with raising money. One could approach one’s bank, assuming it is willing to lend. One could go to investors who have expertise in one’s industry or bring other non-financial value-add. However with both these sources, tough questions regarding the profitability of the core business must be answered.

If one’s ambition really does scale and if there is confidence in other organisational capabilities, then one could bootstrap, as one of my clients – a serial biotechnology entrepreneur – is doing! He understands the risks and that if he must use leverage or raise money, timing is all important.

Regardless of how one raises capital, the balance sheet will change. So will the nature and scope of control as we see next.

Control: See, letting go of.

Can you let go? For ambitious entrepreneurs, one of the hardest things to do is letting go of absolute and full control: control of the company ownership and sometimes, of strategic pathways to propel the ambition forward. It is however a necessary risk, since the entrepreneur himself cannot scale.

Scaling also requires organisational and process redesign. And empowerment of people who buy into the vision of the business and have the capability to make the right decisions. If a robust core business and a basic but clear structure exist, letting go of control enables emergent structures that suit emergent needs. Continuar leyendo «Four Cs of The Scale Challenge»

The raison d’être of a business/ Google and political reform

Google in 1998, showing the original logo
Image via Wikipedia

by Shefaly

What is the raison d’être of a business*? To serve a societal or consumer need? To make profits for the shareholders? To keep the stakeholders happy? To create jobs? To realise the vision of the entrepreneur? Any combination of these?

What about social and political reform? Can that be the raison d’être of a commercial business? Would that not be called “profiteering” since any profits will necessarily be about taking advantage of some people’s miseries.

Google, whose original justification for entering China and agreeing to censorship did not convince me, and whose recent strategic moves leave me less than impressed, is now publishing a report on Google service accessibility from within mainland China.

I don’t imagine it uses up much resource for Google to generate that report. But the question must be asked:

What is the point of this exercise and what, if any, strategic aims of Google are likely to be furthered by it?

I frankly find the exercise pointless. Those in the world, who passionately care about the issues of freedom of speech (yours truly included) and political freedom, have a fair idea about what information China blocks. Many of us have friends and business contacts, who straddle China and HK, and do not hesitate to share how their web experience changes in the mainland and the hoops they jump through to circumvent the Great Firewall of China. So Google’s report is quite likely to be preaching to the choir.

If the report is about naming-and-shaming China into something, I think Google is once again over-reaching its raison d’être as a business. Moreover, having lain once with the dogs and now woken with fleas, it can now hardly be a credible turncoat.

Further the timing of such a shaming exercise couldn’t be worse. One could say that Google is just trying to add its voice to the growing discontent in USA with China’s direct impact on the SME and the manufacturing sector, whether through trade and through protectionism. But in reality, China is holding the USA by the short & curlies. Any posturing at this time could only serve to damage diplomatic relations further, especially as the balance is no longer unquestionably favourable to the USA.

My money – and I daresay the smart money of those, who understand nuance and the complex dance of cross-cultural business – is on that Google should do its duty as a business and not try to bring about political or social reform in China. At the very least, any such action reeks of hubris; at the kindest, of naïveté. And when one hopes to do business across cultures, neither is very helpful.

What about the Chinese people and their freedom of speech then?

With a rich, if somewhat inscrutable to us, heritage, the Chinese are hardly a stupid or insentient people. When they are fed up enough, they will redeem themselves.

* n.b. The word “business” here is used to indicate a commercial, profit-making enterprise, funded by private individuals and/ or other commercial institutions. A body such as UNHCR or Amnesty International would not be a “business” by this definition.

Late edits (March the 25th): Links on the issue: My agreement is not a necessary condition for links to be included.

Google’s slow boat from China or slow death? (Telegraph);

Google’s Quixotic China challenge (Business Week);

Google, China and the Art of War (Guardian); via Salil who has commented below;

While you read an explanation of why Google’s move saves face for China, remember the flanking manoeuvre as applicable to diversified businesses.

China Unicom won’t allow Google on mobiles using Android

China reminds Sergey Brin of Russia and WSJ in a hilarious moment says he is using that experience to shape Google’s China strategy. Hilarious because Brin left Russia when he was 6!  His parents remained and tolerated Russia till they were good and ready. They redeemed themselves, when they were ready. Just as the Chinese will.

Google also censors elsewhere: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burma, Cuba, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, India, Iran, Morocco, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UAE, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

More on India’s “reasonable restrictions” on free speech here.

Rape, pillage and philanthropy: via Hemant, who has also commented below.

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Social Networks Said To Account For 60% Of Mobile Web Usage

MySpace put ahead of Facebook, too

There’s good news for social networks – and perhaps MySpace in particular – this week courtesy of Ground Truth.  The mobile measurement firm has determined that almost 60 percent of the time people spend online using a cell phone is dedicated to social networks, and that MySpace is ahead of Facebook in many respects.

Let’s start with the basics.  Ground Truth’s stats indicate that 59.83 percent of «time spent on mobile Internet usage» is committed to social networks.  The runner-up is then the «portals» category, consuming 13.65 percent of time spent, while «operator,» «messaging,» and «mobile downloads» trail further behind.

As for Ground Truth’s site-specific data, the below chart pretty well shows the interesting manner in which things worked out.  It seems that MySpace has a lead over Facebook in every respect, even as a few mobile-specific sites are managing to do better still.

Continuar leyendo «Social Networks Said To Account For 60% Of Mobile Web Usage»


Carmichael Gallery, LA

Carmichael Gallery, LA

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Buenas ideas mal desarrolladas

Por Javier Martín Cuando me preguntan si pienso que la idea de negocio tiene valor de cara al éxito de un proyecto siempre digo que no es la idea concreta sino las ideas que lo rodean y que convierten al proyecto en algo único. “La idea” me parece un elemento más, sin duda necesario para empezar, pero que pierde su valor si no existe un equipo capaz de hacerla realidad y de innovar entorno a ella para generar valor para la gente.

A diario me llegan correos de emprendedores que comienzan a poner en marcha una idea de negocio a través de una nueva web, llegan todo tipo de ideas pero por desgracia muchas de ellas no llegarán a tener éxito y eso es de lo que quería hablar, de la capacidad del emprendedor y su equipo para desarrollar una idea hasta que llega a ser un gran negocio. En primer lugar hay que considerar que en realidad muchos de los proyectos que hay en la red y un buen número de los que comentamos por aquí tampoco creo que tengan el interés de llegar a ser un gran negocio.

Pero el emprendedor que decide apostarlo todo por su proyecto, dejar su trabajo, buscar financiación y crear un equipo o invertir en desarrollo, ese emprendedor tiene que hacer lo posible para convertir una idea en un buen negocio y para ello tiene que ser capaz de desarrollar la idea lo mejor posible. Cada proyecto de los que vemos a diario tiene una idea detrás, la mayoría son buenas ideas pero pocos proyectos tienen grandes ideas secundarias que lo conviertan en algo único. Por dar algunos ejemplos de proyectos de los que hemos hablado recientemente aquí: la central de compras que han desarrollado en la red social Petuky y la api de la comunidad de viajeros Minube.

El desarrollo del proyecto, la estrategia comercial, la capacidad de darlo a conocer, la relación con los usuarios, la captación de tráfico, la venta de publicidad, … hay cientos de factores en el desarrollo de un proyecto en la red, y cada uno de ellos se puede enfocar de mil formas, es el emprendedor y su equipo quien va a determinar que sobre una idea de base se realice un desarrollo que venda, que enganche al usuario, que satisfaga necesidades, que llegue a ser conocido por la gente.

La realidad es que tener una idea es fácil, como dijo Santiago Bilinkis en La Red Innova, basta por ir por la calle y observar lo que nos vamos encontrando en nuestro camino. Lo difícil es desarrollar esa idea y envolverla de fantásticas pequeñas ideas que conviertan hagan que el carbón se convierta en diamente.

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Rutamina, nueva web de rutas y mapas

Por Javier Martín rutamina

Hace tiempo que no hablamos de una web de rutas con GPS y mapas online. Anteriormente hemos hablado de proyectos como Wikiloc y Senda CLM, ahora conocemos Rutamina. Se trata de un proyecto colaborativo donde los usuarios pueden crear sus rutas preferidas sobre Google Maps y compartirlas con sus amigos. La aplicación se conecta con Facebook para facilitar el registro de usuarios.

Rutamina ofrece algunas otras opciones de contenido y participación, como la posibilidad de incluir fotos en las rutas o las opciones para valorar y compartir las rutas creadas por otros usuarios. Si Wikiloc parece más enfocado a rutas al aire libre, sobre todo senderismo en Rutamina por ahora las rutas que encontramos están más enfocadas al turismo. En este sentido parece interesante la opción de promociones que se pueden ofrecer a los usuarios que estén interesados por una ruta o lugar concreto. Si trabajan en esta línea pueden encontrar un buen modelo de negocio para esta web.

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Creating and Applying Natural Textures

// // Textures make a website feel tangible.

They give content a relationship to the physical world, a sense of place and a reality that people can relate to.

Unfortunately, simulating physical textures isn’t as simple as shooting a photo or running a few Photoshop filters.

One has to blend random noise and recognizable patterns, striving for similarities rather than pure repetition.

Here, we’ll discuss what gives textures an organic quality, and we’ll look at techniques for creating and applying natural-looking textures and seamless tiles.


Sense of Touch via Sight

A “texture” is the surface of a physical substance or object. Like sight, our sense of touch helps us understand objects. Rough, smooth, slick and crumbly are textures and tell someone what an object is made of, where it has been and if it is related to something else.

On the web, a person’s sense of touch is limited to their input device. But not all websites need to “feel” the same. Based on their experience from handling everyday objects, people associate certain appearances with certain textures. In digital art, one could say that texture is how something “feels” to one’s eyes.

While modern image editors make texture creation easy, not every texture is a surefire winner. Creating a natural-looking texture is a tricky task that mixes pattern, chaos and usage to create character.

Natural Textures Have a Measure of Randomness

Many textures fall between two extremes: regular patterns and random noise. Pattern-based textures make no apologies for looking artificial. They can be made up of a known symbol or text, and they always have a predictable arrangement.

samples of tiled patterns

Above, samples of tiled patterns.

At the other extreme, noise-based textures embody random static. They’re easy to create—Photoshop has its own “Add Noise” filter—and easy to tile because they lack any features that look odd when cut off.

samples of tiled noises

Above, samples of noisy textures.

Natural-looking textures sit somewhere between regular patterns and random noise.

diagram showing images mixing patterns and noise

Above, a range of textures mix patterns and noise to varying degrees.

While nothing is wrong with either extreme, many good textures have characteristics of both. In natural-looking textures, seams are absent or hard to spot, and we can’t identify any patterns in repeated tiles. Their look is as distinct and effective as any regular pattern, but less blatant.

“Organic” textures have the right combination of noise and pattern.

Rational Chaos, Orderly Noise

In the context of texture, “noise” refers to irregular variations in a group of pixels. Film grain, low-light artifacts and dithering are three common types of noise that, desirable or not, are often found in complex images.

Texture noise is what makes natural surfaces look natural. But it’s not simply static. Rather, texture noise balances chaos and order.

diagram showing different arrangements of the same shape

Above, a single geometric shape repeated many times creates a pattern. On the left, the shape varies only in placement: the rows aren’t quite even.

The other shots show changes in the shape’s angle, density and size. Textures made from these variations in shape would appear more chaotic—but all of the textures would retain the original’s unique character, because the variations are based on the same basic shape.

Of course, the result still looks artificial. Obvious repetitions in noise-based textures ruin the effect because people are very good at recognizing patterns. Textures in the real world have variation in shape, color and depth.

diagram showing distinct features of three textures

Above, real-world textures show both noise and repetition. Burlap, pink granite and wax paper have their own “regular irregular” patterns, but each is still distinct from the others.

  • With its predictable horizontal and vertical lines, burlap is the most regular. But the lines aren’t perfect. Slight variations in tone and direction keep the pattern from looking artificial.
  • The pockmarks in the granite aren’t evenly distributed. Seeing the unevenness up close is hard. The characteristic becomes more apparent when seen over a wide area.
  • The wax paper has both the least contrast and the least personality. A few clumps of dark shades keep it from being random noise.

Every texture has certain features—whether pockmarks, streaks, spots or rills—that make it unique. Variations in these characteristics make it work.

diagram showing distinct features of three textures

Above, a metallic texture incorporates overlapping ragged-edged shapes in no particular order, but it retains its distinct character. (Texture courtesy The Design Mag.)

Depth and Contrast Range from Murmurs to Screams

A key variable of any natural texture is depth. The “bumpiness” of a texture provides a sense of tactility more than color or size. But depth also adds contrast, which attracts attention and might degrade legibility.

sample web design with a loud background Continuar leyendo «Creating and Applying Natural Textures»

20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer

We’ve all read countless articles on the reasons you should consider freelancing.

They often make it out like anyone still working in the corporate world is just a schmuck with no ambition. But the truth is, there are plenty of reasons not to start freelancing.

Below are twenty such reasons, all laid out so you can make an informed decision about whether freelancing is really something you want to do in your career.

There’s nothing wrong with staying in a corporate job, just as there’s nothing wrong with setting out on your own. But it’s a choice every designer and developer needs to make for themselves.

One note: when we talk about “corporate jobs”, we’re talking mostly about design firms with multiple employees (whether they’re corporations or not), but most of it also applies to in-house design teams at large companies.


1. You Think It Will Be Easier Than a Corporate Job

A lot of people considering freelancing think it will be easier than their current corporate job. After all, they’ll only have to take on projects they want to take on, they won’t have a boss or coworkers to deal with, and they’ll be able to set their own hours.

But most freelancers, when the first start out at least, aren’t able to be too picky about the work they take on. And while they don’t have coworkers or a boss to deal with, that means they also don’t have anyone to turn to if they get stuck on a project.

There are still clients to deal with, too. And the whole thing about setting your own hours pretty much just means you can choose which sixteen hours in the day you want to work when you’re getting started.

2. You Don’t Have Much Experience

If you’re just getting out of school, you may not have much experience to draw on. And there are a couple of reasons why experience is more important when you’re a freelancer.

First of all, you’ll need a portfolio to show prospective clients if you want them to hire you. While you can always use personal projects, it’s also good if you have at least a few sites in your portfolio that you completed for other people (bonus points if they’re not friends or family). This shows a prospective client that you’re legitimate, and that you’ve had happy clients in the past.

The other reason is that experience proves to both you and the client that you’re capable of finishing projects. If you’ve never done anything but personal projects, there’s no indication that you’ll be able to finish a project.

Freelance designers need to be able to handle client requests and revisions, as there will almost always be things your client wants to change, no matter how great your initial design is. And until you’ve finished a client project, you don’t even have any proof that you have what it takes to work with clients.

3. You Have No Business Sense

When you’re freelancing, you generally don’t have anyone around to handle invoicing, collections, marketing, PR, and the myriad other tasks that corporate design firms handle for you. These are all things you’ll need to deal with yourself when you start freelancing.

Of course, you can always outsource some or all of these functions, but you may find it prohibitively expensive when you’re starting out. It’s better if you know how to do all of them yourself.

Keeping your own books is especially important, as it gives you a clear picture of how much money you have coming and how much is going out (and where it’s going). That’s important if you want to stay in business.

4. You Need Benefits

Some people can’t get by without benefits. If you have existing health problems, you’ll almost certainly need health insurance. And even if you’re healthy, that’s no guarantee you will be in the future. Plus, if you have kids, you’ll likely want health insurance for them, too.

This is one of those issues that’s not going to matter in countries with universal health coverage, but even in those countries there are other benefits you may not want to lose.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll no longer have employer contributions to your retirement plans. You won’t get paid sick days or personal days anymore. All of these things will need to be built into your budget or schedule.

5. You Think the Pay Will Be Better

Many considering switching to freelancing think the pay will be better. After all, they’ll get to keep all the money they’ve billed out, without sharing any of it with an employer. And that’s true. But you’ll also be responsible for paying all of your own taxes (in the U.S., at least, that amounts to an extra 7.5% in payroll taxes that you have to pay that would otherwise be paid by an employer).

You also have all sorts of other business-related expenses you’ll need to pay. Things like office supplies, new equipment, software, and all those other expenses that go along with running a business will all have to be paid by you.

There’s also the difference between hours worked versus billable hours to contend with. Not everything you do will be billable work. Time you spend on administrative tasks aren’t billable.

If you screw up on a project and have to take time to fix it, that’s usually not billable either (at least not ethically). At a corporate job, you generally get paid either for the hours you actually work or on a salaried rate, regardless of how much the client is billed.

6. You Have No Self-Discipline

If you can’t discipline yourself to actually work, then you’re not going to make it as a freelancer. If you find you’re spending hours playing video games or on Facebook instead of working, you’re going to have a very hard time finding enough billable hours to pay your own bills.

When you work in a corporate environment, there’s always the threat of being let go if you goof off too much. When you work from home, you don’t have that same threat lingering. But if you don’t get client work done on time, you’ll have unhappy clients and, eventually, no clients.

If you can’t discipline yourself to work when you need to, you’ll be better off sticking with a corporate gig.

7. You Don’t Love Your Work

So many people who work the usual 9-to-5 don’t really love their jobs. They don’t wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work. But they do it in order to earn a paycheck and put food on the table. Sometimes this is because of the work environment itself, but others times it’s because they don’t really enjoy the work they’re doing.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to love it any more once you’re freelancing. Freelancing is hard work, and if you’re already struggling to find the motivation to get your job done, you’ll probably struggle even harder once there’s no boss there to motivate you.

8. You Think the Hours are Better

When you own your own business, you’ll likely end up working twelve- to sixteen-hour days five to seven days a week, at least for the first few years.

Freelancing is like any other business. Sure, once you’re established, you’ll likely be able to reduce your hours and only take on higher-paying projects. But in the interim, you’ll probably have to take on any work you can get to build up your reputation and a stable of regular clients.

It’s also likely that your workflow won’t be as efficient as it could be for your first few months, or even years, in business. You’ll spend time on unnecessary activities. You’ll end up repeating things because you don’t have good methods for keeping track of everything.

And because of this, you’ll spend more time than is necessary on a lot of things. Time and effort will eventually fix these issues, but they’ll still have to be dealt with for a little while.

9. You Have No Space in Your House/Apartment/Bedroom for an Office

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Will Google’s AdSense be in Trouble Because of Facebook?

Would Facebook Launch its Own AdSense?

Facebook is infiltrating sites all over the web. These sites are happy to add Facebook’s social plug-ins. What if Facebook launched an AdSense-like product – a product that lets publishers stick relevant ads from Facebook on their sites for a cut of the money? They would be HIGHLY, HIGHLY targeted because the more sites that use plugins like Facebook’s like button, the more users will share their likes with Facebook, which goes to the profile, which is where Facebook already draws its information from to serve its own ads today.

Should Google be worried?

These ads are already pretty well targeted, when the user has enough information in their profile. Social plugins like the like button will only facilitate the population of such information in the profile.

Apparently Mashable founder Pete Cashmore has a similar view on this, as he says in an article for CNN, «Google makes the vast majority of its money from ads — these ads typically match your search terms, or the content of the Web page you’re viewing. Google has certainly worked to personalize these ads, but its knowledge of your friends and interests is more limited than Facebook’s. The data gleaned from thousands of Facebook Like buttons around the web could make for an ad network that rivals Google’s AdSense.»

Ian Schafer at AdAge has also contemplated such a scenario. «It seems to be an inevitability that all of this intelligence will one day be applied to power a socially targeted ad network as big (or bigger than) Google’s AdSense,» he says. «It would be a network that would theoretically deliver even better results for advertisers, resulting in higher CPMs/CPCs/CP-whatevers that can deliver higher payouts to publishers, making a choice between the two platforms a not-too-difficult one for those publishers.»

The Like button is a game changer because all of a sudden you have the whole world wide web of content to «like» not just what’s within your immediate network within Facebook and what you may have taken the time to add to your profile two years ago. It keeps user interests current and enables an infinite amount of interest indication that advertisers would salivate for.

If Facebook were to launch an AdSense-like product, that doesn’t necessarily mean Google would completely lose out. I can certainly see a lot of sites going forward with both. When pressed to make a choice between the two, however, it could make things interesting for the industry at large.

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Yahoo’s Head Of Advertising Platforms To Leave Company

Wise started at Yahoo when the company acquired Right Media in 2007. Prior to that, he served as Right Media’s president, the CEO of Didit, a senior vice president at Ask, and a vice president at DoubleClick (among other things), which makes for a tough-to-match resume.

Solid replacement already lined up, at least

Although it’s hard to imagine that any company keeps all its employees forever, it looks like Yahoo continues to be worse than average in terms of retaining important people.  This afternoon, a report revealed that Bill Wise, who is in charge of Yahoo’s Advertising Platforms business, will leave the same as so many before him.

YahooWise started at Yahoo when the company acquired Right Media in 2007.  Prior to that, he served as Right Media’s president, the CEO of Didit, a senior vice president at Ask, and a vice president at DoubleClick (among other things), which makes for a tough-to-match resume.

Yahoo’s already found a replacement, however, in the form of Ramsey McGrory.  McGrory, like Wise, worked for Right Media before Yahoo bought it, and put in three years at DoubleClick, too.  What’s more, McGrory was even employed by the Army for about eight years.

Then here’s one other important point: Staci D. Kramer, who first reported this move, indicated that Wise isn’t just cleaning out his desk and disappearing; he’ll instead work with McGrory during a transition period.

Yahoo may not have the whole «keep people from quitting» thing down, then, but the company seems to have gotten extremely good at minimizing the damage due to their departures.

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Microsoft Matches, Tops Forecasts w/Earnings Report

Analysts thought Microsoft would report $14.4 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $0.42. The company instead managed to report $14.5 billion in revenue, and that amount represents a six percent year-over-year increase and sets a record.

Online services division just not doing so hot

Microsoft released its earnings report this afternoon, and for better or worse, seemed to follow a pattern established by Google, Yahoo, and eBay.  Which is to say: Microsoft beat analysts’ estimates, but is getting roughed up in after-hours trading.

Microsoft LogoAnalysts thought Microsoft would report $14.4 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $0.42.  The company instead managed to report $14.5 billion in revenue, and that amount represents a six percent year-over-year increase and sets a record.

What’s more, in the earnings per share department, Microsoft reported $0.45, and that works out to an impressive year-over-year increase of 36 percent.

Fans of Microsoft’s online offerings should be pleased to hear that the company’s success wasn’t just due to new computer sales and old system upgrades, either.  Peter Klein, Microsoft’s CFO, said in a statement, «Windows 7 continues to be a growth engine, but we also saw strong growth in other areas like Bing search, Xbox LIVE and our emerging cloud services

Microsoft’s online services division did lose $713 million, however, compared to $411 million for the same period last year.  And perhaps as a result, Microsoft’s stock is down 3.79 percent in after-hours trading.

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<!– 10/09



<!––>Winston-Salem, NC

<!––>Winston-Salem, NC

<!––>Winston-Salem, NC

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7 Tips For Rapid Iteration (aka The Quirky Approach)

My career has been all about rapid iteration – generating lots of ideas and then quickly testing them to find the ones worth pursuing. My latest project is Quirky, which aims to develop a new product every week with the help of an active community of participants and a committed in-house design team. Quirky has rapidly accelerated the traditional product development cycle, but perhaps the better example of rapid iteration is how I have launched three businesses in five years. Five years may not sound like very rapid anything, but trust me, it was.

by Ben Kaufman

My career has been all about rapid iteration – generating lots of ideas and then quickly testing them to find the ones worth pursuing. My latest project is Quirky, which aims to develop a new product every week with the help of an active community of participants and a committed in-house design team. Quirky has rapidly accelerated the traditional product development cycle, but perhaps the better example of rapid iteration is how I have launched three businesses in five years. Five years may not sound like very rapid anything, but trust me, it was.

In the spirit of the 99%, I want to share some of the tenets I live by – the ones that have enabled us to accelerate product development and make so many ideas materialize…

1. It is very much about ideas.
It’s been said that it’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen. Who could disagree? Me. It’s very much about ideas. Lots and lots of good ideas. The trick is killing good ideas quickly and swiftly in an effort to focus on great ones. This requires being a ruthless prioritizer and relentless critic. You need to be able to sift quickly through a long list of ideas both good and bad, slicing and dicing until you end up with a great, effective, and elegant solution.

2. Find great critics.
Part of the idea-killing process is surrounding yourself with critics who aren’t afraid to give it to you straight. Quick, educated opinions, even if they’re harsh, are key to picking up and moving forward to your next iteration.

3. Don’t worry about the new, focus on the next.
Fail and fail fast. At Quirky, every product we develop, whether it’s a runaway success or a huge flop, teaches us valuable lessons that we can apply to future iterations of that product or other products.  Whether it’s a failure, success, or something in-between, there’s always something to learn from each iteration. We’re never “done,” which allows us to stay on our toes and figure out what’s the next step for that initiative, instead of worrying about what was just delivered.

4. Set unrealistic deadlines.
This is where people start to think I’m nuts. Put ambitious goals on the table and publicize the heck out of them. This may force you out of your comfort zone, but that’s the best place for a creative person to be. Knowing that people are expecting great things will motivate you to actually make those things happen. And hey, if you fail, at least you’ll learn a good lesson for next time.

5. Distract yourself from your unrealistic deadlines.
It’s natural to get too caught up in an ambitious or unrealistic project. Make sure you take regular breaks to pursue other interests – reading, sports, cooking, or anything else that uses your brain in a different way. Doing other things allows your big project to percolate in the back of your mind in a way that can be surprisingly productive. The inspiration you’ll need to meet your unrealistic goal – that “a-ha!” moment – usually comes when you least expect it, especially when you’re trying to do something that’s never been done before.

6. Know what options D, E, and F look like.
Even if you follow all of the tips listed above, you’re probably not going to get it right each and every time. Most people will tell you to have a Plan B and C; I’d take it a step further and say come up with a Plan D, E, and F as well. You want to be flexible and always look as far down the pipeline as possible. If A, B, and C fail, use the best elements of those plans or experiences to create newer, better plans. There’s no shame in making an F if it’s better than A, B, C, D, or E.

7. Take a deep breath.
Living a rapidly iterative life can burn you out pretty quickly. It’s important to give yourself time between iterations to pause and regroup. Use this break to evaluate the previous project(s) and gather your thoughts so you can take on the next one.

Ben Kaufman is the 23-year-old founder of Quirky, a social product development company that launches a brand new consumer product each week.

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El éxito sonríe a las agencias digitales 22 Abr 2010 · Agencias

El éxito sonríe a las agencias digitales

El sector de las agencias digitales parece ser inmune a la crisis económica. Así lo demuestra el ranking de las 60 agencias digitales más grandes de Alemania que publica Horizont. Según este estudio, los honorarios crecieron un 6,4% durante 2009 en este sector, que también registró un incremento del 5,4% en el número de empleados … Leer más

10 Things You Need To Know This Morning

tiger woods elinHere’s what you need to know this morning:

  • President Obama is in New York today making his case to Wall Street for financial reform. He is seeking cooperation on Sen. Dodd’s bill, and several changes he wants to see implemented. There continues to be significant political and industry opposition to these moves.
  • Russia is taking advantage of current market confidence and offering the second largest emerging market debt offering on record, valued at $5.5 billion. It will be the first time the Russian government has tapped markets since the ruble crisis and default of 1998.
  • The story of China’s housing market tightening continues to grow more robust as Hong Kong today launched a further duty to quell speculation on high priced residential properties. The stamp duty increase targets properties worth more than $20 million.
  • U.S. telecom giants CenturyLink and Qwest have agreed to a merger, where CenturyLink will buy Qwest for $10.6 billion. The resulting company will be worth $19.8 billion in revenues based on 2009 results.
  • The UK’s annual deficit tops anything the country has seen since World War II, as its parliamentary leaders head for their second televised debate. Tonight’s topic will be foreign affairs, but the subject of debt will surely arise and polling results after are likely to impact pound futures.
  • European flights have returned to normal today, as a backlog of stranded passengers finally begin to make their way home. Airline Ryanair, which originally refused to pay stranded passengers compensation, is now agreeing to do so.
  • Bernie Madoff’s right hand man, Frank DiPascali, is being charged responsible for $170.25 billion in debts the firm incurred to victims. The government plans to strip him of his assets, and sell them in a effort to pay back those who lost money in their investments.
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