We're No. 9

Canada Moves Up to 9th Place in Annual Competitive Ranking, U.S. Loses Top Spot
[ca.news.finance.yahoo.com - Sep.08/09]

GENEVA - The United States has lost its place as the world's most competitive economy, mainly because of the financial crisis and accumulated fiscal deficits, according to a new annual survey.

The U.S. is second ranked in a poll of over 13,000 business leaders conducted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, behind Switzerland. Singapore is third and Sweden comes fourth.

The annual ranking found Switzerland has overtaken the United States because the Swiss economic performance has been "relatively stable" while the American economy's "greatest weakness continues to be related to its macroeconomic stability."

Canada moved up to ninth place from 10th place last year and 13th place in 2007.

A spokesman for the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity in Toronto says that over the past two years Canada has moved past the United Kingdom, Korea, Hong Kong and the Netherlands in the rankings.


New Technology

Sony Party-shot Snaps Pictures While You Party
You’re throwing a big party, and you want it be a night to remember. You’ve invited some cool friends, stocked up on good beer, and have the stereo cranked up to 11. Only one thing could make this shindig any better – a robot photographer! Well fear not, Sony’s got your back with the new Party-shot robotic camera dock that automatically pans, tilts, and takes snapshots while you go for the cheese dip. [...]

PrimeSense Paints Future of Home-Tech Interaction
Nintendo certainly created a stir when it introduced motion-sensing controls to the video game industry, but subsequent developments that are no more than a year or two from fruition are already threatening to confine this relatively new technology to the proverbial scrap-heap. The latest of these is PrimeSense, the winner of CableLabs’ Innovation Showcase and ‘best new product’ at the event. On paper at least, PrimeSense appears to be versatile and innovative enough to have widespread impact on the way we interact with modern technology.

The product is essentially a 3D camera that allows devices like televisions to ‘see a view of the surrounding area’ by scanning a room to determine who is present through a combination of shape recognition and thermal imaging. Among other things, this would allow you to interact with games by making hand gestures and movements without the need for a dedicated controller. [...]

Entertainment Weekly Embeds Video in Print Ad
The rise of the Internet has seen some pundits label print media as an increasingly obsolete medium whose death is imminent, but U.S. showbiz mag Entertainment Weekly, along with CBS, is attempting to bring magazines into the multimedia age by embedding a video player in a print ad promoting CBS’s fall TV lineup and Pepsi.

Like the novelty greeting cards that play music when opened, the player activates when the page is opened to display video on the small display. The ad is stored on a chip that can hold up to 40 minutes of video and is powered, for some mysterious reason, by a rechargeable battery. [...]

Self-healing Paint is Just the Beginning
Human skin has an amazing capacity to heal itself from scratches and cuts, so it’s not surprising that scientists are looking at transferring the self-healing properties of skin to materials. Efforts to embed tiny liquid-filled capsules that rupture when a scratch occurs to spill healing agents into the damaged area of electroplated coatings have previously been hampered by the size of these capsules. But now researchers have developed a process for producing electroplated layers with nano-capsules that measure only a few hundred nanometers in diameter that could solve the problem. [...]

In a Twirl With the Chukka Kinetic Music Player
Listening to music became a truly personal experience when Sony first introduced the Walkman all those years ago. Technological advances since then have seen music players store more songs, become more compact and include color screens - and now they're even beginning to liberate themselves from the shackles of the battery. To achieve its battery free charge, the Chukka Kinetic Music Player combines electromagnetic induction with a unique design that positively encourages the user to twirl it around the fingers, throw it about and otherwise toy with it. The result - an eco-friendly personal media player that also gives you the recognized relaxation and stress relieving benefits of tactile interaction and repetitive physical motion. [...]

Holograms You Can Feel
Star Trek’s Holodeck has just became a little closer to reality with news researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a technique that allows 3D holograms to be “touched”. By blending a holographic display, a couple of Nintendo Wiimotes and an ultrasound phenomenon called acoustic radiation pressure, the researchers were able to create the Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display. A system that can give the feeling of holographic raindrops hitting an outstretched hand or a virtual creature running across a palm. [...]

Phase Change Materials for the Perfect Cup of Coffee
You know how it is … you make or buy that perfect cup of coffee or tea only to have it go cold before you’ve finished because the phone rang or your boss interrupted your break with some urgent assignment. Well, there’s great news for coffee-lovers (and tea connoisseurs). Two German scientists have put their heads together to come up with a hot drink receptacle that keeps your beverage at the perfect drinking temperature for up to 30 minutes.

And no, it’s not a thermos, it’s a mug that employs the benefits of phase change materials (PCMs). [...]

TOOB Dome Screen Delivers IMAX Experience at Home
Alexander McDonnell, founder of TOOB (Think Out Of Box) confesses to a fascination with the Mugar Omni Theater in his hometown, Boston – so he decided to build a mini-version for himself. The result is much smaller plastic half-dome screen that’s big enough for a couple of people to sit in front of to watch a movie or enjoy a video game.

The TOOB screen comprises a 3ft x 6ft screen with an 18-inch reflector that projects the image (from any home theater projector) onto the screen. You can use any source that your projector allows for your entertainment i.e. gaming console, DVD or Blu-ray player, etc. [...]

The TOOB dome screen costs a miserly USD$1,400 for that scaled down IMAX experience (plus project and sound system) but if you’re still not sure or don’t have the cash, there’s an option to hire one at the website.


Be Happy

Success-related happiness is a very short term state.

You have to treat acute suffering before you treat lack of happiness...you put the biggest fire out first.

Neutral (state of the brain), generally speaking, is mildly exploratory, mildly positive...if your basic needs are met and you're satiated, you're going to be mildly curious about your surrounding.

We're too focused on happy...We want the outcome but we don't wish to undergo the process for getting there.

The root to happiness is to be maximally resposive to everything that happens in your life - the good, the bad, the blah - the everything.

Why do we need to be this ideal? No one is perfect.

There are lots of pathologies associated with excessive positive emotion. Mania, for example, is a disease of positive emotion.

Cocaine is unhealthy happy.

People can adapt to environments that are incresingly stressful so that after awhile they can live and survive within those environments.

We can train ourselves to be more present in the moment.

It's a notion that's dying that the brain is set in stone after a certain time.

Stimuli that indicate you're making progress produce positive emotions.

Mindfulness can bring their attention back to the present and help them see the beauty and value of things that are immediately in front of them and that's not trivial.

People are very fragile.

Our nervous systems are tilted to protect us.

There are people that need meds...but they're not everything.

We're starting to see this type of mindfulness practices and contemplative practices being put into the curriculum of K through 12 and it's inevitable now that we're going to start using this type of therapy as a way of developing the mental muscle.

You don't want to limit the options that are available to people who are suffering.

The advantage to the mindfulness training is that it's a non-drug option and because it involves learning it's likely to be more permanent. Also the probability that it's going to produce negative side effects is very low which is something you can't necessarily say about medications.

Play is great.


The Deficit

US Debt [wikipedia.org]

David Leonhardt of The New York Times

America's Sea of Red Ink Was Years in the Making
by David Leonhardt
[The New York Times - Jne.09]

There are two basic truths about the enormous deficits that the federal government will run in the coming years.

The first is that President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying. The second is that Mr. Obama does not have a realistic plan for eliminating the deficit, despite what his advisers have suggested.

The New York Times analyzed Congressional Budget Office reports going back almost a decade, with the aim of understanding how the federal government came to be far deeper in debt than it has been since the years just after World War II. This debt will constrain the country’s choices for years and could end up doing serious economic damage if foreign lenders become unwilling to finance it.

Mr. Obama — responding to recent signs of skittishness among those lenders — met with 40 members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday and called for the re-enactment of pay-as-you-go rules, requiring Congress to pay for any new programs it passes.

The story of today’s deficits starts in January 2001, as President Bill Clinton was leaving office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated then that the government would run an average annual surplus of more than $800 billion a year from 2009 to 2012. Today, the government is expected to run a $1.2 trillion annual deficit in those years.

You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush’s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.

The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It’s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists’ assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.

About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.

Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.

About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.

If the analysis is extended further into the future, well beyond 2012, the Obama agenda accounts for only a slightly higher share of the projected deficits.

How can that be? Some of his proposals, like a plan to put a price on carbon emissions, don’t cost the government any money. Others would be partly offset by proposed tax increases on the affluent and spending cuts. Congressional and White House aides agree that no large new programs, like an expansion of health insurance, are likely to pass unless they are paid for.

Alan Auerbach, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author of a widely cited study on the dangers of the current deficits, describes the situation like so: “Bush behaved incredibly irresponsibly for eight years. On the one hand, it might seem unfair for people to blame Obama for not fixing it. On the other hand, he’s not fixing it.”

“And,” he added, “not fixing it is, in a sense, making it worse.”

When challenged about the deficit, Mr. Obama and his advisers generally start talking about health care. “There is no way you can put the nation on a sound fiscal course without wringing inefficiencies out of health care,” Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, told me.

Outside economists agree. The Medicare budget really is the linchpin of deficit reduction. But there are two problems with leaving the discussion there.

First, even if a health overhaul does pass, it may not include the tough measures needed to bring down spending. Ultimately, the only way to do so is to take money from doctors, drug makers and insurers, and it isn’t clear whether Mr. Obama and Congress have the stomach for that fight. So far, they have focused on ideas like preventive care that would do little to cut costs.

Second, even serious health care reform won’t be enough. Obama advisers acknowledge as much. They say that changes to the system would probably have a big effect on health spending starting in five or 10 years. The national debt, however, will grow dangerously large much sooner.

Mr. Orszag says the president is committed to a deficit equal to no more than 3 percent of gross domestic product within five to 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of at least 4 percent for most of the next decade. Even that may turn out to be optimistic, since the government usually ends up spending more than it says it will. So Mr. Obama isn’t on course to meet his target.

But Congressional Republicans aren’t, either. Judd Gregg recently held up a chart on the Senate floor showing that Mr. Obama would increase the deficit — but failed to mention that much of the increase stemmed from extending Bush policies. In fact, unlike Mr. Obama, Republicans favor extending all the Bush tax cuts, which will send the deficit higher.

Republican leaders in the House, meanwhile, announced a plan last week to cut spending by $75 billion a year. But they made specific suggestions adding up to meager $5 billion. The remaining $70 billion was left vague. “The G.O.P. is not serious about cutting down spending,” the conservative Cato Institute concluded.

What, then, will happen?

“Things will get worse gradually,” Mr. Auerbach predicts, “unless they get worse quickly.” Either a solution will be put off, or foreign lenders, spooked by the rising debt, will send interest rates higher and create a crisis.

The solution, though, is no mystery. It will involve some combination of tax increases and spending cuts. And it won’t be limited to pay-as-you-go rules, tax increases on somebody else, or a crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse. Your taxes will probably go up, and some government programs you favor will become less generous.

That is the legacy of our trillion-dollar deficits. Erasing them will be one of the great political issues of the coming decade.

E-mail: Leonhardt@nytimes.com

Allocating blame is interesting media churning, but we need a credible game plan...and that is the essence of the President's responsibility. I know you love the guy, but when is the heat going to be applied?

No mention of the defense budget. Don't we all wonder why European countries can afford such generous social benefits? Because we're paying for their defense.
There's a huge chunk of savings to be had if we could just stop playing World Policeman. Of course defense company lobbyists will never let that happen.

I'm pretty certain that any type of 'meaningful' healthcare reform is going to take a lot more than a quick technical fix.
How about starting things off by deprogramming all the physicians out there who have built up some ridiculous sense of entitlement?

Republicans do not want to acknowledge their role over the last decade in creating this fiscal mess. If you look at states with Republican governors and legislatures you would see that they are performing worse than their democratic counterparts as well. Florida, Nevada, California and Georgia lead the nation in bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment. And they have one thing in common: Republican governors.

Maybe it's time to start questioning why the US spends more on "defense" than all the other countries of the world COMBINED. Are we really so threatened everywhere, by everyone, that we need over 700 military bases around the world? Are billion dollar bombers really needed to defeat a bunch of guys living in caves (al Qaeda)? Or has "defense" become the biggest welfare program of all, always looking for new enemies to justify its existence?
Maybe if we only had maybe 400 military bases around the world and a few less high tech systems we could afford to provide basic healthcare for all our citizens for free. Just a thought.

Its frequently asked, " When will the foreigners decide to stop funding our debt?". At which point we will be on our own and forced to live with the decisions we have made.
But here's another one: At what point will the next generation say ' I am not funding the baby boomers retirement'? Or 'I am not having my kids pay for someone else's retirement'?

The reason we are fighting wars in three different countries and bailing out billionaires all the while being broke is not because of the right or left; it is because of the right AND left! As long America continues to mindlessly categorize itself politically as either a Republican or Democrat nothing of true substance will change. Bankers will continue getting bailouts, the poor will be the sacrificial lambs of our military while Lockheed and the like rake in record profits, and the rest of us will watch as our government robs us blind by funding the aforementioned.

It was Herbert Hoover who said: "You know, the only trouble with capitalism is capitalists. They're too damn greedy."

I guess Republicans are not the fiscal conservatives they claim to be considering they controlled both houses of Congress most of the Bush years.


A Conversation About the Growing Fiscal Deficit
NOT to put too nice a word on it, the long-term prospects just look horrendous, just terrible. And we’re going to have to make some major fiscal adjustments so that those projections never come true.

THE very large deficits we’re running in the short run are going to bring the long
run closer to us a lot faster than we had thought.

IF we don’t act very soon, the capital markets are going to make us act.

IT turns out those Clinton era forecasts were just too optimistic.

THERE isn’t much stomach among either members of Congress or, quite frankly, the
American public, I don’t think, for this kind of serious deficit reduction.

BOTH Democrats and Republicans in Congress have rejected relatively small
attempts to raise revenue coming from the White House. And so, Congress seems even less serious about this than the administration does.

THEY were taking little baby steps, and Congress was saying, no, no, no, we like this program too much.

THE real way to reform health care is to put stuff in place that says, you know what, these services you’re providing aren’t actually making people healthier. We’re going to stop paying for them.

WHEN you see Republicans in Congress holding up charts saying that Obama would increase the deficit by this huge amount, what they’re often not saying is that most of the increase in that deficit is in policies that Republicans themselves support.

THE kind of deficit that you see year to year doesn’t fully capture the extent of this problem.

HE (Obama) sort of backed himself into a corner with this whole notion that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $250,000 a year, which is a huge portion of the population, and that’s going to make it very hard to raise taxes in a way that will help pay for these Medicare and Social Security promises.

THE real conundrum we face is, by the time they finally realize that we need to do something about the problem, the time to do something about the problem will have passed. We’ll then be in a crisis, and our options will be limited and the changes we make will be very painful.

I THINK it’s the politics more than the economics that is keeping them from acting on it (the deficit).

WE don’t want to actually have tax increases or large spending cuts now. But start laying the ground work for these things to occur, starting in a few years. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. I think that would actually have a positive effect on the state of the economy right now.


I'm Rich!

[businessweek.com - May 09]

In his new book, The Richest Man in Town, Worth magazine founder W. Randall Jones writes about his search to identify the richest men or women in 100 towns across the U.S. "Every town has a richest person and I wanted to find out who they were. I started out with the largest cities but wanted to make sure that I included as many states as possible," he says. "The people on my list have a net worth ranging from $40 billion down to $100 million. Of course, for most Americans $100 million would go pretty far in my hometown of Carrollton, Ga., or pretty much anywhere in the U.S." What these people all had in common was that all of them plainly enjoy what they do—and that all of them are self-made. "Everyone needs to find their perfect pitch," Jones says. "These people have found it. These are people who have no concept of retirement and, most important, most of them don't believe in leverage. As the richest man in Wichita, Phil Ruffin, puts it: "There are a lot of people who have a couple of billion in assets, but when you see that cash in the bank every morning, then you know you're really rich." Read on to find out who the richest men or women are from Akron, Ohio, to Woodside, Calif.

Albany, N.Y.
Karthik Bala
With his brother Guha, Bala founded the video gaming company Vicarious Visions, which created such games as Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, Spider-Man 3, and Nintendo's Guitar Hero III. The studio has created more than 100 software titles selling more than 20 million units and accounting for over $800 million in retail sales. Bala is the CEO and chief creative officer of Vicarious Visions. He holds degrees in computer science and psychology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Bernard Marcus
With partner Arthur Blank, Marcus founded Home Depot in 1979 and in 28 years grew it to more than 2,000 stores. In addition to being Atlanta's richest man, with a fortune estimated at around $1.2 billion, he is also the city's greatest philanthropist.

Austin, Tex.
Michael Dell
From humble beginnings in his University of Texas dorm room, Dell has grown his eponymous company into the world's second-largest computer maker. He is today worth more than $12.3 billion. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which has an endowment of more than $1 billion, supports education and health initiatives.

Stephen Bisciotti
Bisciotti founded staffing company Aerotek (now Allegis Group) when he was 23 to provide engineers to the aerospace industry. Today Allegis is the third-largest staffing firm in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world. Worth more than $1 billion, he is also the owner and CEO of the Baltimore Ravens football team.

Bangor, Me.
Stephen King
By scaring the bejesus out of people. Since his first book, Carrie, appeared in 1973, King has sold between 300 million and 350 million books and written, under his own name as well as a variety of pen names, more than 70 novels. In addition, his books have spawned dozens of Hollywood hit movies.

Boulder, Colo.
Judi Paul
Paul, co-founder (with husband Terry) and chairman of Renaissance Learning, started in the basement of her family home, where she developed a quiz-based program to help her own kids learn to love reading. Today, it is the nation's leading reading management and progress program, and its Accelerated Reader program is taught in 67,000 schools around the U.S.

Carrollton, Ga.
Robert J. Stone
The former college professor was the only person in town who knew how to program computers, so what started out as a favor to help out the local Family & Children's Services Dept. soon blossomed into Systems & Methods Inc. During the 1980s and the '90s, SMI was the largest private issuance provider of food stamps in the nation. Today the privately held SMI is a $40 million business.

Columbus, Ohio
Leslie Wexner
Wexner has been the Limited's chairman and CEO since founding the company in 1963. In addition to lingerie manufacturer Victoria's Secret, the company also owns Bath & Body Works and New York department store Henri Bendel. His net worth is estimated to be $1.7 billion.

Danbury, Conn.
Fred DeLuca
Starting in 1965, Fred DeLuca turned a $1,000 investment from his friend and partner, Dr. Peter Buck, into Subway, one of the biggest sandwich chains in the world. With more than 31,000 franchisees, DeLuca now has a fortune estimated at $1.6 billion.

Clayton H. Mathile
Mathile was the former owner and CEO of Iams, the premium pet food maker, before selling to Procter & Gamble in 1999 for $2.3 billion. He is passionate about education and has founded the Center for Entrepreneurial Education just outside his hometown.

Charles W. Ergen
Ergen is co-founder, chairman, and CEO of EchoStar Communications and satellite company DISH Network. A keen poker player, Ergen's biggest bet came in 1995 when he launched the first direct-broadcast satellite into orbit on a Chinese rocket. Today, he has an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion.

Fisher Island, Fla., and Troy, Mich.
Bharat Desai
Desai is the co-founder and CEO of Syntel, a multibillion-dollar information technology company headquarted in Troy, Mich. The Kenyan-born, Indian-educated Desai was one of the early technology outsourcing leaders and divides his time between Troy, Fisher Island, Mumbai, and Syntel's new 1,800-acre campus in Pune, India. Desai has a fortune estimated at $1 billion.

Fort Lauderdale
H. Wayne Huizenga
America's most serious serial entrepreneur, the former trash hauler has hauled a $2 billion fortune by building three of the country's biggest companies: Waste Management, Blockbuster, and AutoNation. He is also the owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Harrisburg, Pa.
Alex Hartzler
A triathlon-running, house-renovating, tech-savvy master networker and real estate developer, Hartzler founded Harrisburg Young Professionals. He made his first fortune on the sale of Webclients, which he sold to ValueClick in 2005 for $141 million. He is currently president of WCI Partners, a real estate development company.

Hollis, N.H.
Patrick McGovern
The founder and CEO of International Data Group, the largest technology publishing, research, and event management company in the world. Using $5,000 from the sale of his car, he started the company to provide information to the computer industry. Today the company has grown to more than $3 billion in revenue derived from publishing more than 300 magazines, including its flagship, Computerworld.

Los Angeles
Kirk Kerkorian
Activist investor Kerkorian may be 91, but he is showing no signs of slowing down. With a fortune estimated at around $5 billion, Kerkorian got his start in the airline business after World War II. From there he moved into the casino and film businesses, buying and selling MGM Studios three times. His private investment corporation Tracinda is majority owner of the MGM Mirage resort in Las Vegas and has at various times also owned large stakes in General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford.

Meridian, Miss.
Hartley D. Peavey
The founder and CEO of Peavey Electronics, Peavey got his start making guitar amplifiers after realizing that he was better at making guitars sound louder than he was at playing them. Today, Peavey has more than 2,000 items in its product line, including microphones, mixers, and computer-controlled audio processors. The company does an estimated $271 million in sales annually.

Richard Schulze
Schulze started a modest stereo store called Sound of Music in St. Paul, Minn., in 1966, renaming the store Best Buy in 1983. It went public in 1985 and by 1992 was doing $1 billion a year in sales. Today it is the largest specialty retailer of consumer electronics in the U.S., accounting for 21% of the market. His personal net worth is thought to be as much as $2.3 billion.

New York
Michael Bloomberg
After being fired from investment bank Salomon Brothers in 1981, Bloomberg used his $10 million severance package to set up his own financial software services company, eventually making him the richest man in New York—as well as one of the richest men in the world. Today closely held Bloomberg has more than 150,000 global subscribers for its eponymous terminals, which rent for $1,500 a month and up, as well as a cable network, radio station, Web site, and magazine. Bloomberg stepped down as CEO of his company when he was elected mayor of New York in 2001, and he is now making a bid for a third four-year term in office. In addition to his mayoral duties, Bloomberg, often cited as a potential presidential candidate, is an active though frequently anonymous philanthropist and has given away hundreds of millions.

Palo Alto, Calif.
Sergey Brin
Ever heard of Google? This former Stanford student co-founded the Internet search powerhouse with Larry Page in 1998. Today it is considered to be one of the greatest business success stories of all time. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants—both of whom are professors—he is worth around $12 billion. Google has a market cap of $123.1 billion.

San Francisco
Larry Page
Like his future business partner, Sergey Brin, Page was born the son of professors, but it wasn't until the two brainiacs met at Stanford that their fate was decided. In 1998 they founded Google, which would soon become the dominant Internet search engine and make them both billionaires many times over. Google has a market cap of $123.1 billion, and Page has a personal net worth estimated at $12 billion.

Portland, Ore.
Philip Knight
The founder and chairman of Nike is an accountant-turned-marketing guru who has created the world's leading supplier of athletic shoes and accessories. A former track star at the University of Oregon, Knight worked with his former coach Bill Bowerman to create a waffle-pattern running shoe tread that would provide better traction. He is today worth in excess of $8 billion.

Josh Kopelman
The founder of Infonautics, Half.com, Turn Tide, and First Round Capital, Josh Kopelman's big windfall came in 2000, when he sold Half.com to eBay for $350 million. He then remained with eBay for three years to run Half.com. During that period he expanded eBay's Media marketplace to almost half a billion dollars in annual sales. He has since founded First Round Capital, a seed-stage venture capital fund, and writes a tech blog called Red Eye VC.

Rodeo, N.M.
John McAfee
The founder of McAfee Software, the largest anti-virus software company in the world, John McAfee sold the company in 1999 and now spends his time flying air trikes—contraptions that look like motorcycles with wings. In addition to writing several books on yoga, he has also built a new town in New Mexico, complete with a coffee shop and movie theater.

John McAfee (born September 18, 1945) is a computer programmer and founder of McAfee. He was one of the first people to design anti-virus software and to develop a virus scanner. He was born in England and raised in Salem, Virginia. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Roanoke College in 1967, and he received an honorary doctorate from Roanoke College in 2008.

John was employed as a programmer by NASA's Institute for Space Studies in New York City from 1968 to 1970. From there he went to Univac as a software designer and later to Xerox as an Operating System architect. In 1978 he joined Computer Sciences Corporation as a software consultant. Later, while employed by Lockheed in the 1980s, McAfee received a copy of the Pakistani Brain computer virus and began developing software to combat viruses. He was the first to distribute anti-virus software using the shareware business model. In 1989, he quit Lockheed and began working full time at his anti-virus company McAfee Associates, which he initially operated from his home in Santa Clara, California.

This company later became Network Associates, a name it retained for seven years until it was renamed McAfee, which remains today as one of the largest anti-virus companies in the world. John McAfee teaches yoga and has written several books about yoga.

Other business ventures that he founded included Tribal Voice, which developed one of the first instant messaging programs, PowWow. [Wikipedia]

Jonathan Nelson
Brown University and Harvard B-school grad Nelson is the founder and CEO of Providence Equity Partners, the private equity firm that currently owns movie studio MGM, sports channels Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, and online streaming video-on-demand service Hulu. He recently completed the largest leveraged buyout in history, purchasing Bell Canada for $50 billion. He also made huge profits selling off Western Wireless (now AllTel) and Voice Stream Wireless, which became T-Mobile.

(l-r) Creamer, Salem and Nelson

[money.cnn.com - May 08]
Bagging Bell Canada put Providence Equity Partners into the top tier of private money firms. Now Jonathan Nelson has to keep it there.

(Fortune Magazine) -- Alarms sounded all over Wall Street in March of last year when word leaked that BCE, parent of phone giant Bell Canada, was in buyout talks with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The news that such a rich prize - BCE had a market cap of $25 billion - was in play set KKR competitors like Blackstone, Cerberus, and Carlyle scrambling to get in on the action.

Watching this drama unfold with a measure of both confidence and concern was Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Providence Equity Partners, a smaller and considerably less flashy firm based, yes, in poor little Rhode Island's capital. Providence had been quietly courting BCE, paying friendly visits to the management team since 2004. (Providence had put money into MetroNet, a Bell Canada rival, and had seen firsthand how dominant the larger firm was.) Providence also knew that local law required the company to be majority-held by Canadians, and in 2006 it had started exploring a BCE buyout with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - a longtime Providence investor and also BCE's largest shareholder. The fact that KKR was now in the hunt did not surprise Nelson - naturally BCE was going to shop itself to drive up the price. But he immediately got on the phone with Jim Leech, the head of Ontario Teachers', to review their strategy. "Of course we were concerned," he tells Fortune, in a rare interview. "But we had spent two years studying the company, we had the ideal partner in Teachers', we had three times before invested in a national phone company, and our banks were underwriting all the debt financing. For these reasons we believed that we should come out on top."

Sure enough, most of the other major equity shops soon backed away when they were unable to secure sufficient Canadian backing. And in late June of last year BCE agreed to be acquired by Providence, Ontario Teachers', and a third partner, Madison Dearborn, for a record-setting $33 billion, or $48.5 billion including debt. The decline in the U.S. dollar has raised the total to $51.5 billion (as of May 8).

The deal was a triumph. Not only had Providence pulled off what would be the biggest leveraged buyout in history, it had outmaneuvered KKR to boot. The coup validated Nelson's strategy of focusing on media and communications and cultivating deep, long-term relationships with the industry's key players. And it launched Providence into the top tier of private equity firms.

But don't schedule the victory parade just yet. Just as Providence snagged its prize, the credit markets started to unravel. With the deal slogging through a regulatory review, Providence's partners have had to reassure investors that their newly cautious lenders, folks like Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and RBS, will honor commitments to finance the huge buyout (The New York Times reported Monday, after press time, that the Wall Street banks are seeking new loan terms, possibly imperiling the deal).

Meanwhile Nelson has his own headaches. Providence had to sue one of its lenders, Wachovia, to ensure financing of its $1 billion acquisition of 56 television stations from Clear Channel Communications. And he has been working overtime on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the movie studio that Providence bought in 2005 with Sony, Comcast, and other partners. MGM has missed financial targets, struggled to find a winning strategy, and released bomb after bomb, a streak that could well continue with the forthcoming Valkyrie, in which Tom Cruise plays an eye-patch-wearing Nazi.

So Jonathan Nelson finds himself at a crossroads. His firm has morphed from boutique to megafund: It now ranks No. 9 on Fortune's private-money power list, ahead of well-known names like Cerberus and Thomas H. Lee. And it's a major player in the media business, with a portfolio of 41 companies, including MGM, television network Univision, and several cable TV and wireless phone companies. Nelson, 51, a mild-mannered man who has enjoyed working in relative obscurity far from the bustle of Wall Street, concedes that he will no longer be able to maintain the low profile and underdog status that was a competitive advantage for so many years. Moreover, Providence's strong track record and mega-investment pool (at $12 billion, its newest fund is three times larger than the previous one) brings intense scrutiny and outsized expectations. Will Nelson thrive under this unaccustomed pressure? One friend, media billionaire (and Univision chairman) Haim Saban, thinks the answer is yes. Don't be fooled by his "gentle, soft-spoken" style, says Saban. "This is a guy who goes helicopter skiing in Greenland, who once dove under his boat because a propeller got caught in seaweed. This is a guy who enjoys a real challenge."

An Unexpected Path
You could call Jonathan M. Nelson the accidental investment banker. He didn't plan on becoming a master of the universe à la KKR's Henry Kravis or Blackstone's Steve Schwarzman. In fact, he says proudly, he didn't plan to do much of anything at all. "You can't at the outset connect the dots," Nelson told a group of students and parents at a Brown University parents' weekend last year. "Life does not and should not work that way." This surely dismayed some parents, who probably had hoped a successful financier would have more practical advice for the young Ivy Leaguers. But the random path certainly worked for him.

The son of an orthodontist, Nelson grew up comfortably middle class in Providence. When it came time for college, he didn't go far, choosing Brown, where he was Mr. Liberal Arts, supplementing his economics studies with music courses and a stint at a local radio station as a jazz deejay. After graduating in 1977, he stumbled into a job at Wellman, a Boston-based specialty-chemical maker. A friend who worked there set him up on a job interview - Nelson claims he just went to practice his interview skills - and he ended up spending about three years helping manage the company's Asian operations.

He left Wellman, lived in Europe for a year, and decided to go back to school. After earning an MBA at Harvard in 1983, Nelson landed at a private equity firm called Narragansett Capital, where his first deal was having Narragansett buy his former employer, Wellman. Founder Bud Wellman was ready to cash out, and the deal was a huge success: Narragansett made 20 times its original investment in about three years.

After several years at Narragansett, during which he focused on local media companies, Nelson decided to strike out on his own - but not too far, of course. In 1991 he and a few Narragansett pals, including Glenn Creamer, formed Providence with a plan to concentrate on telephone and cable companies, which were fragmented at the time and just starting to consolidate.

It was a tough time to raise money. The U.S. economy was in the tank, and while Creamer and Nelson had a strong track record at Narragansett, they nonetheless were asking investors to take a risk on a specialized firm. Most pension funds and institutions were more comfortable with big generalist outfits with diverse portfolios. But the ones that took a chance on Providence - including Ontario Teachers' and Calpers - were well rewarded. Providence would not provide the data and won't comment on returns. But according to documents seen by Fortune, its first four funds notched annual returns of 47%, 111%, 21%, and 56%, respectively, before fees (the typical Providence fund lasts about five years). One fund-of-funds manager says these results put Providence in the top decile of private-money players. "They have some of the best returns of any of the megafunds," this manager says. "It's a damn fine performance."

In its earliest days Providence mostly provided growth capital to growing businesses such as upstart cellular company Western Wireless or Brooks Fiber, a local phone company trying to take on the monopoly operators. Those young companies certainly enriched Providence. For example, it put $63 million into VoiceStream starting in 1992 and reaped more than ten times that amount when Deutsche Telekom bought the company in 2000. But the burgeoning firms also provided inspiration. Watching entrepreneurs like Western Wireless CEO John Stanton as they strove to build a business spurred Nelson and his partners to think about themselves as more than mere financiers. "It isn't just about money; it is about creating an enduring franchise," says Creamer earnestly, as we sit in Providence's modest offices, adorned with nautical paintings, in a downtown high-rise. "We think we've done that."

Uncommon Courtesy
A key part of building that franchise has been maintaining an atmosphere of collegiality. Indeed, politeness seems to be a core value. Providence is only 180 miles from New York City, but it is light-years from the rough-and-tumble mentality of most Wall Street trading floors. Paul Salem, a senior managing director who joined the firm in 1992, tells the story of a CEO who was rude on the phone to one of the office assistants. "That's not a guy we want to do business with," Salem says.

But as the firm grows - it now employs 65 investment professionals in offices in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, New Delhi, and of course Providence - Nelson frets openly about maintaining the more-than-moneymen culture he's tried to achieve. During our first meeting, at Providence's New York City offices in Lever House on Park Avenue, the word "institution" keeps coming up. So I ask if he'd be melancholy if, say, he came back 20 years after retirement and found Providence had become a big, faceless institution like a Goldman Sachs or a J.P. Morgan Chase. He thinks for a moment and says, "If I stopped someone in the hallway to ask directions and the person had no idea about my prior role at the firm but was polite and helped me out, I'd say, 'I am absolutely okay with this.'"

Providence's clients certainly seem to be okay with the firm's low-key vibe - indeed, it's something of a competitive advantage. "Those of us in regular business tend to think of private equity as having the mentality, 'What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine,'" says Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony, which partnered with Providence in the MGM buyout. "The thing about Jonathan is that he maintains relationships, and that's what generates a level of trust for him that others don't enjoy."

Nelson's self-effacing style has won him friendships with media elite such as Stringer and News Corp.'s Peter Chernin. "Jonathan is somebody who is comfortable in his skin," says Dick Parsons, chairman of Time Warner, Fortune's parent. "He doesn't have that mogul or movie star gene that drives him to be the show, the story, the centerpiece." That probably is a competitive advantage too. "These big egos are not looking to partner with another big ego," says James B. Lee Jr., vice chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase. "They are looking to partner with someone who will work well with them." Indeed, Nelson is one of the few outside bankers invited to mingle with the media heavyweights at Allen & Co.'s annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. Of course, controlling companies with combined annual revenue of $55 billion, Providence is arguably as significant a presence on the media landscape as, say, Time Warner or Viacom.

He's a familiar figure in that rarefied orbit, but Nelson is surprisingly anonymous in his hometown; he says he has never once been interviewed by the city's paper, the Providence Journal. "In Providence, among people who follow business, everybody of course knows about the firm and its success and that he's the top guy there, but that's about it," says Ralph Wales, headmaster of the Gordon School, a private school Nelson attended. "Jonathan is a very private man." He declines, for example, to talk about a particularly difficult period in his life when his first wife died and he became the primary caregiver for his three young daughters (he remarried in 2004).

That's not to say Nelson doesn't have any ego, especially where his firm's track record is concerned. "He's not an ostentatious guy who likes having his name on the front page of newspapers," says an executive who knows Nelson well. "But Jonathan flies in a private jet, and he wants you to write an article that says he's the smartest media and telecom investor in the world." Is he? "He's pretty darn good," the executive says.

And he's raising his profile in his hometown. In 2010, Brown University will open the $45 million Jonathan M. Nelson Fitness Center. Nelson, now a Brown trustee (are you surprised?), donated the lead gift for the facility. Nelson, who says he might have been a carpenter or architect if he hadn't become a media investor, also is playing a hands-on role in its design. "This whole area needs to be improved," he says. It is a warm afternoon in Providence, and we are standing in a parking lot in front of the existing athletic complex, which consists of personality-free concrete buildings. "I am confident that you'll come back here and smile," he says. A fitness buff who works out five days a week, Nelson clearly believes a healthy body and a healthy mind go together: Before the Brown fitness center, he helped the Gordon School build a new gymnasium.

Lately, Nelson may have moments when he wishes he'd become a carpenter. While he insists he loves the job, especially the stimulation he gets from working with smart colleagues, he also acknowledges that as Providence Equity has grown, his gig has become much tougher, the problems more public.

Legal Battles
Take the fight with Wachovia. Providence prides itself on maintaining friendly relationships with its partners, so insiders were surprised when Wachovia sued Providence without warning. Providence had renegotiated the price of its Clear Channel television acquisition, and the bank said the price reduction violated the terms of the lending agreement. Providence countersued. The parties eventually dropped the suits and the financing went through, but it seems unlikely that Providence will do business with Wachovia again. "There were three banks involved, and two of them handled this difficult situation very well," Nelson says plainly. "We appreciate that, and we will remember their behavior."

Similarly, three of the four lenders backing the BCE buyout also are trying to renegotiate loans to the parties seeking to buy Clear Channel's radio stations; some analysts suspect the banks might try a similar tactic with the BCE deal. "We are engaging with the company and the banks and expect everyone will honor their commitments," Nelson says.

While the credit crisis is taking a toll, Providence isn't only an LBO shop, and it doesn't rely on debt markets for all its investments. It recently put $100 million into Hulu, the web-video joint venture of News Corp. and GE's NBC Universal. It is pushing deeper into Internet investing, and many of its international investments involve companies seeking growth capital, not buyouts. Indian wireless operator Idea Cellular, for example, sold a 16% stake to Providence last year for $400 million. Neither Hulu nor Idea really needed Providence's money; what the companies sought was external valuation of their business, as well as the expertise and cachet that Providence brings. "It means a lot when someone of Jonathan's stature puts his firm's money into Hulu," says Jason Kilar, CEO of the venture.

Nelson says that the tough times in the markets will not lead him to alter his basic strategy. Providence certainly will do more big deals; after all, it has $12 billion to put to work. But while some peers look for distressed companies to bail out or bad debt to buy, Nelson plans to stick with what he knows best. Asked how he plans to weather the economic slowdown, for example, he trumpets the virtues of BCE: "Bell Canada looks like a great business to us, in part as a defensive position in a possible economic downturn," he says. "People don't shut their phones off." Similarly, Providence has recently been pouring money into one of its original businesses, cable television, albeit in places such as Ukraine. It may not sound all that glamorous, but it makes perfect sense for a guy who built a private equity powerhouse by sticking with what he knows.

Woodside, Calif.
Larry Ellison
The Bronx-born billionaire founder of Oracle, a major enterprise software company, and is reputedly the fourth-richest man in the world. The thrice-divorced Ellison has all the billionaire toys: the yacht, the $200 million Japanese mansion complete with a reproduction 17th century Kyoto teahouse. He is also a passionate sailor and is the second-biggest backer of BMW Oracle Racing in the 2007 America's Cup bid.

Being Larry Ellison
[Business Life - Jul./Aug.01]

In a phone interview the week before the shoot, Ellison was as upbeat as ever. Asked what advice he had for startups going through their first market downturn, he said, "You can't worry about it, you can't panic when you look at the stock market's decline, or you get frozen like a deer in the headlights. All you can do is all you can do." Ellison talks at least twice as fast as the average intelligent person, and his sentences tend to pile up, words bumping into each other as they race out of his mouth. "If your cash is about to run out you have to cut your cash flow. CEOs have to make those decisions and live with them however painful they might be. You have to act and act now, and act in the best interests of the company as a whole, even if that means that some people in the company who are your friends have to work somewhere else."

Ellison is known as a ruthless businessman, firing senior executives days before the last of their stock options is due to mature and, most notably, denigrating Oracle's chief rival Microsoft at every opportunity. Last June, the U.S. press had a field day when it was discovered that Oracle had paid private investigators to snoop through the trash of a supposedly independent research group it suspected of being funded by Microsoft during the antitrust trial. "It's absolutely true we set out to expose Microsoft's covert activities," he said in a press conference. "I feel very good about what we did.… Maybe our investigation organization may have done things unsavory, but it's not illegal. We got the truth out." [...]

Ellison has said on several occasions that he reached where he is today by doing the opposite of what was expected of him. "The most important aspect of my personality, as far as determining my success goes, has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting the experts and questioning authority," he said in 1997. "While that can be very painful in relationships with your parents and teachers, it's enormously useful in life." [...]

Ellison deserves most of the credit for the success. But not all. One of his strengths, says Don Lucas, a venture capitalist and Oracle boardmember who has known Ellison since 1979, is that he "delegates almost totally." [...]

True, Ellison does leap at any opportunity to lambast Microsoft. Before the garbage incident, he was one of the rare Silicon Valley CEOs brave enough to testify personally in Microsoft's antitrust trial. He told the U.S. Senate that "consumers are free to choose a Microsoft PC from Dell, a Microsoft PC from Compaq, a Microsoft PC from Gateway...You get the point. Feels to me a little like a Soviet supermarket."

There is another way of looking at his Microsoft obsession. All competition, he has said previously, is just as much about self-exploration as it is about winning: "There's a wonderful saying that's dead wrong. ‘Why did you climb the mountain?' ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there.' That's utter nonsense…You climbed the mountain because you were there, and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like." When I asked him if he would be satisfied to see Microsoft's possible punishment for its monopolistic crimes by being broken up into separate companies, he sputtered, "Absolutely not! I don't feel good about Microsoft passing us on the way down. We'd like to pass them on the way up." [...]

There's one more arena that Ellison wants to test himself in: biotechnology. At some point, he says, he will probably retire from Oracle and devote himself full time to Quark Biotechnology Inc., a gene-based drug developer focusing on cancer research, whose board he chairs. This is not a whim. Ellison has been interested in the life sciences for years: in addition to a longtime investment in SuperGen, a developer focusing on drugs for cancer and blood cell disorders, he took a two-week holiday to work in the molecular biology lab of his friend Josh Lederberg, a Nobel laureate. Through the $250 million Ellison Medical Foundation he established in 1997, he has already funded numerous studies into age-related diseases and disabilities; last year the EMF added infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis to its focus.

Typically, the U.S. media has been cynical about Ellison's motives for anti-aging research. But "I've never gotten the impression that Larry's interest is in prolonging his own life, rather than in understanding the biological process of aging and improving the world's quality of life," says Richard Sprott, the foundation's executive director. [...]

That is the essence of Larry Ellison, the contradiction that fuels so much of his critics' ire. When he says that he prefers "strategic" philanthropy, the media look at his total wealth and call him parsimonious. But perhaps it's just that like most people, whether billionaires or janitors, he prefers not to be told how to spend his money. He is generous to a fault with friends and family, reportedly buying a house for one ex-wife's ailing parents. When an Acura NSX zooms past you in Silicon Valley, there's a good chance it was paid for by Ellison; he buys several each year as gifts. His personal pilot drives one of the $100,000 cars.
But his friends have learned to keep quiet. Few were willing for their compliments to be on the record, fearing like Ray Lane that they would be twisted out of context. Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who Ellison refers to frequently — and touchingly — as his "best friend" and "idol," did not respond to requests for comment.

A clue to Ellison's complicated worldview can be found in his love for the 1984 movie The Natural, in which a middle-aged baseball player (Robert Redford) comes out of nowhere to take a 1930s team to the championship. "It's the one movie I watch over and over. It's an amazing combination of idealism confronted with reality," he says. That theme can be found in another of his favorite films, the Dian Fossey biopic Gorillas in the Mist. (He is also a longtime boardmember of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.) [...]

In spite of his dedication to flouting convention, Ellison admits to at least one universal sentiment. When I jokingly asked him if he would agree with Machiavelli that it is better for a leader to be feared than loved, he answers, "Oh no, it's much better to be loved than feared. Being feared is terrible. Dentists are feared. Everyone, everyone wants to be loved. We kid ourselves and pretend that we don't, but we all do." That can be a problem for a CEO, or, say, a world leader like Bill Clinton, I answered. He laughed: "Well, you can't be prevented from seeking love, but you can be carried away by that, by wanting to be liked and loved by too many people."

Ellison, it is safe to say, will never sacrifice who he is — mercurial, enthusiastic, risk-taking, and occasionally tyrannical — in that pursuit.

What the Hell is Cloud Computing?

Larry Ellison's Fake Blog

Q + A with Larry Ellison


Not Above the Law

Lost luggage and layover blues

Lost luggage

Waiting for lost luggage

Lost luggage art installation__Sacramento Int'l Airport

[ca.travel.yahoo.com - May.09]

A frequent flyer in Winnipeg is claiming a significant victory for fuming air travellers with lost or broken luggage after the Canadian Transportation Agency upheld his complaint about Air Canada's baggage handling policy.

"I see this as a landmark decision in passenger rights. It tells the airlines 'You are not above the law,' " said Gabor Lukacs, 26, an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba.

Lukacs filed the complaint over Air Canada's policy that it's not responsible for delayed or damaged baggage after returning to Winnipeg from a trip last fall. He said he was prompted by an airline notice about claims not being accepted for anything from scratches to missing straps, and was reminded of past aggravation over lost and damaged bags.

"I thought that it would give me a kind of moral high ground to be struggling for something where I'm not personally affected by it in any immediate way. It's not that I'm fighting for money. I'm fighting for something which is for everybody," he said.

The CTA - an independent federal agency responsible for dispute resolution and economic regulation in the Canadian transportation industry - ruled May 13 that Air Canada's policy violates both international conventions and Canadian law and must be changed within 90 days.

The airline has 45 days from the ruling to argue why it should not be required to alter its own policies on the issues.

Isabelle Arthur, a spokeswoman for Air Canada, said the airline is currently reviewing the ruling and is not in a position to comment.

Lukacs said airlines have an overwhelming financial advantage because they set the conditions, and individual passengers must go to court to challenge them.

"Who would go through the trouble of actually suing an airline for $50 or even $500 of damage to luggage. It's not worth it because you will have to hire a lawyer and they will probably charge you $5,000 or $10,000," he said.

Lukacs said he would like to see other passengers follow his lead and take their own action on problems facing the air travelling public. "My dream would be to set up some kind of non-governmental organization that deals with providing accurate information and perhaps assistance to passengers who have problems."

He also said he's pleased that Winnipeg NDP MP Jim Maloway is behind an airline passengers' bill of rights.

Lukacs, a native of Hungary, has taken on the airline industry in the past. Three years ago he agreed to a $6,000 settlement in a Nova Scotia court after he missed a conference because of a cancelled Continental Airlines flight.

He recently won a partial victory against Skywest Airlines in Manitoba Court of Queens Bench, but he's not satisfied with the award and has filed a motion for leave to appeal.

"I think there is a major consumer crisis here with what airlines are doing. I think passengers have to get organized and make their voices heard," he said.


My First Million

Sprouting business card

Kevin Mitnick's business card is a break-out lock picking kit


“Three or four years ago, when I spoke to people about LoveFilm.com, they’d look at me in a strange way and wonder what my night-time activities were on the internet!" Simon Calver, boss of DVD rental website LoveFilm.com, explains how he's shaken up the film industry and created a £70m business.

Brands were in the blood.

The moment you find an issue, fix it...issues in business are not like wine: they don't improve with age.

Do you really understand your customers and why they're using your product?

Grow your resources as your business grows.

If you're a small, nimble, light organization you can actually have a bit of fun!


When Hiro Harjani stepped off the plane from India, he had no contacts, no cash and zero business experience. So how on earth did he build a global fashion brand with 5,000 international trade accounts, sales of £25m and celebrity endorsements from Lisa Snowden and Helen Mirren?

There was a hunger and I think that hunger to do, to achieve something is very important.

If I'm going to sell it one store, I might as well sell it in 500 stores or 5,000 stores.

It's not about chasing the buck...everything has to be in balance.

Find a mentor: it'll save you a lot of headaches and mistakes.

Most entrepreneurs don't give up.

You must look after your health. Budding entrepreneurs must look after themselves.

(Re: The credit crisis) The government and bankers are to blame. Go to them (bankers) for a £5k loan and they’ll say, “No, we can’t help you”. But they’ll give billions to subprime people and lose everything in one shot.
And look at the brains of these guys. Instead of helping the individual in the country set up mortgages and businesses, they go and lose in one chunk the wealth of the nation.

The day you decide to stop growing is the time to go.


"We're recession proof. You need glasses – and we deliver them cheaper than anyone else. I'm bullish and so are our investors. We've just raised another £2.5m." James Murray Wells, the young entrepreneur behind Glasses Direct, explains why his start up caused chaos on the high street and how he's beating the downturn.

With the university ecosystem you have all the resources you need: marketing research materials, the computer hardware...

All we were doing was shuffling around data - we'd never even seen the glasses.

I kicked my sister out of her bedroom to make more room for office space.

We'd have a captive audience with our flyers on the train all the way to Bristol International Airport.

On the internet you can see in real time what is happening.

We did anything we could to make people talk about the business.

They (high street sellers) were shocked that we were exposing them...we even had hate mail from opticians.

The industry's beginning to realize that the internet's here to stay and you can't be ostrich-like about it.

Everyone loves giving advice...you can literally go to some big shot and they will support you. They will.

Don't get sentimental about the idea...if it's not good, or proven wrong don't be afraid to abort it.

Look at some of the best businesses out there: Amazon, YouTube, Facebook - these are businesses that came out of garages, university campuses.

The customer is the boss.

Be objective in terms of funding. Your business has a life of its own and you're there to support it as an entrepreneur. We can add to it, we can help it grow, but it will grow and you mustn't reign it back...don't hold back, let your business fly.

We eat credit crunch for breakfast.

Internet businesses can grow a lot more virally than offline ones.

Glasses Direct

"I didn’t have the £2,000 to bottle the first set of oils, so I spent two weeks hand-bottling 9,600. My girlfriend did 500, even her ironing lady did 100!” With sensitive skin and no money, Will King set about competing against Gillette. Hear how the “King of Shaves” took on the industry giants and how he plans to build a £200m-turnover business by 2012.

It was a question of persistence. Phone persistence. Picking up the phone and convincing the buyer.

It's always hard to see the faults in yourself.

You've just got to get on and do it.

Passion, persistence, working hard, timing and good luck's important.

(On how he got where he is today) 15 years of foundation building and getting unique, differentiated, patented, innovative, cool, funky products aligned and then massing them via a conventional piece of market growth: scaling it, advertising it etc.

You've got to be a bit different. You've got to zag where they zig.

King of Shaves

"I didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t own a house. And I didn’t have any savings. So I went to the bank and tried to convince them to give me a loan. They turned me down."
He's a serial entrepreneur, a venture capitalist and the multi-millionaire star of Dragons' Den – but even the smooth-talking James Caan had trouble funding his first business. Here the CEO of private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw talks about start-ups, set-backs and success.

Instinctively I always knew I wanted to do my own thing.

Because the product - the service - was quite unique, it took off literally from the word "go".

It was all about having the ability to craft your own journey.

I could have gone to my parents (for money) and I didn't because they wouldn't have understood the business.

That word "unsecured" stuck in my mind...basically I got three credit cards and got £30,000.

As an entrepreneur, I think what drives you is fear, although that's the complete opposite of what you see because when you look at successful entrepreneurs, you think what drives them is their confidence, their optimism, etc., but actually deep down inside every entrepreneur I know is driven by the fear of failure.

In business you must never believe it will last forever, you must never get complacent because any business that becomes complacent and thinks it's arrived, is on its way down.

(Re: the economic downturn of '99) For the first time as an entrepreneur I could see the business collapsing, I could see it actually disappearing...1,500 quid (profit) in a year is not amusing.

Business is a very lonely life: sometimes you're faced with making decisions you've never made before.

Everybody you go to has an agenda.

I don't spot successful businesses, I spot successful people.

You only do things if it makes a difference.

Hamilton Bradshaw

"We went from earning a big, fat corporate salary to cycling everywhere and living off beans on toast." Motorbike fanatic Sarah McVittie and self-confessed “mobile phone tart” Thomas Roberts tell us why they quit their high-flying City jobs to set up question-and-answer SMS service Texperts – and why they still don't flash the cash.

His main advice (on starting a business) was just to do it earlier - the earlier the better, in terms of not having mortgages and dependents and children and very high-paying jobs which make it difficult to want to leave that security and that salary behind for something where you really can't tell what's going to happen 6 months down the line or sometimes even one month down the line.

I'm not scared of failing. I'm very passionate about doing something I believe in.

We only had one bowl in the office so we had to take turns using it to eat the salad.

The first person you see is probably the least likely to give you the money.

With the banks, we didn't really understand what their real criteria were - it wasn't about believing in the strength of the business, it was about ticking the right boxes on the forms they had to fill in internally to make it happen, and it was about what questions they needed to answer on the internal form that we never saw...understanding that internal process was key to getting that (funding) to happen in the end.

If anyone listening to this doesn't know what "trading" and "solvent" is go and look it up before you start a business.

"The only wrong decision is no decision" was very good advice.

Another skill is learning to switch off - if you don't do it ever it can really get you down.

They will invest in you because you have real belief and passion (about what you're doing).

You don't need to invent something that's never been done before or come up with a concept that's brand new - the key thing is to do something really well, or slightly differently or just be passionate about it and put more energy into it.

If you try and fail it's not failure, it's just the next step to how you get there.

You're not carrying anybody because everybody's pulling in the same direction.

If you don't enjoy being at work on a daily basis then it's really going to be difficult.

Textperts Chief Sarah McVittie Answers a Call
Forget your 3Gs, WiFis and what-nots for a minute, Textperts does exactly what its name suggests: text any question you can think of to McVittie's army of experts and they'll text you back with the answer, pronto. It will cost you a pound, charged to your mobile bill, and you'll need a mobile with a UK SIM card.

"One thing you learn very quickly is that the information is never worth a quid, but it's the information in the context of where you are that's worth a quid," says the officer's daughter, words quick-marching at the double. "People's information needs are very different when they are out shopping, say, to when they are at home online." [...]

How much nicer, thought McVittie and her colleague Thomas Roberts, if someone had done the grunt work for them. "Part of our jobs as analysts was to locate information, and we found it very frustrating that we would spend all of our time locating information when we could have been doing more interesting work. We couldn't find a service that could deliver it."

The duo secretly commissioned research from poll company NOP to discover whether there was demand for such a service, one that would provide bespoke information for people when they were out and about. And the survey said yes. [...]

Such is the demand to be a Textpert that, to save trawling through stacks of applications, McVittie has set up "The Text Factor" on the company website, a test that roots out the best candidates. Only 1.5pc of applicants pass.

"These are very, very bright, amazing, awesome people," beams McVittie. "And they are quick. We get lots of PhD students, lots of mums who are very well qualified and don't want to commute, want to work from home and have extra income and they can do from 15 minutes to as much as 15 hours a day. And it's incredibly environmentally friendly." [...]

With a user demographic of cash-rich, time-poor 19 to 35 year olds, McVittie says there are big opportunities for Textperts to evolve. She is coy about exactly how but admits one option could be to offer advertisers so-called sponsored links, displayed alongside Textperts' answers.

Well, it's a model that worked on the fixed-line internet. Ask Google.

Acquisition of Textperts to Accelerate 118118 Text Growth
London - Dec.17, 2008
The Number UK Ltd, subsidiary of kgb (www.thekgb.com), and operator of the nation's most contacted number, 118 118, today announced it will acquire Texperts, the UK text information business.