Top 7 articles I read this week

  1. How do we bring the next billion people online? Ben Davis suggests three points: (1) alternative funding models like a $35 Android tablet funded by advertising, content and networks, (2) apps that can switch between web and SMS depending on if they are online or not, (3) devices that make it easier for developing world’s computer programmers like Raspberry Pi.
  2. Evernote CEO on how company was saved at eleventh hour. Evernote CEO Phil Libin’s key moment was deciding to build a product they loved. And then there would be others that also loved it. That’s a message I’m sure will resonate with many open source software fans. Note that I think you can make a product you love that you realize you are not the main user. (For example, I may love kids books or certain type of toys and realize they are for an audience that is not 100% like me.) Another point to me in the article was that this wasn’t the founders’ first company. It took them a couple of companies before they founded one with a product they loved!
  3. Schools Aren’t Teaching Kids To Code; Here’s Who Is Filling The Gap. This article is about how US high school students are not learning how to code and how a nonprofit Code.org is helping to fill that gap.
  4. Startup Lab workshop: How Google sets goals: OKRs. This hour and a half video is an insightful look at how Google manages their quarterly and annual goals and how startup companies might use that same process.
  5. Firefox Developer Tools Highlighter. Are you a developer and want to weigh in on how developer tools work? Now’s the time to talk about the highlighter. (Mozilla introduced the Firefox OS App Manager this week too.)
  6. Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior. This makes me feel better about my super strict bedtimes! I do it because I think you sleep better if you go to bed at the same time everyday and I think sleep greatly affects how well you think and therefore how well you learn.
  7. Google’s five questions every business should address on mobile strategy. Google publishes a mobile playbook – this is Econsultancy’s summary of what’s important in it. One interesting tidbit is that “68% of mobile searches actually occur at home where there are other larger screen devices available.”

 

Other interesting links:

Not an article but a top site:

  • The Old Reader – it’s just like the old Google Reader complete with sharing, navigation, look and feel. Thanks to Justin Crawford for telling me about it!

Starbucks helps Mom and Pop coffee shops

There’s an interesting article in Slate magazine that having a Starbucks nearby actually helps Mom and Pop coffee shops.  I recommend reading it but the basic argument seems to be that Starbucks does all the advertising, brings in new customers and unlike a Walmart, doesn’t underprice the local competition.

Are you passionate about your ideas?

As this inventor of a toothpaste squeezer tube says in the NYT:

“If you’re not boring the pants off people,” Mr. Robertson said, “you don’t have enough passion.”

I’m not sure I’m boring the pants off people but I’ve definitely gotten some strange looks.

Will our current corporate culture change?

Escape from the Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim has a podcast by Dr. Srikumar Rao, Columbia and London Business Schools, author of Are You Ready to Succeed?  My favorite quote was:

I don’t have a work life and a personal life.  I have one life and either it’s working or it’s not.

If you are the same person at work and at home and if you are unhappy at work or at home, you’ll likely be unhappy both at work and at home.

Pamela thinks the corporate environment is so broken that so many people will start leaving to start their own business that corporations will have to change in order to keep people.  Maybe I’m a cynic but I think it’s much easier for people to go into work everyday and collect a paycheck than it is for them to dream up a business model, quit and run a business.   I think corporations and the current corporate culture is around to stay for a while.

One of the reasons that many small business owners are not successful is because they want to do what they love, not run a business.  For example, massage therapists go into massage because they like massage therapy and want to help people and then they discover that you have to run your own business.   Giving massages is not the same as advertising, making business cards, renting an office, scheduling clients, etc.  Running a business is a lot of work.  If you just like writing code or giving massages or fixing cars, you might not be willing to quit your job to start a business of your own.  You might spend a lot less time actually writing code or giving massages.

Small businesses: More Generation Y, Women and Baby Boomers


Intuit published an interesting study about small business trends.  According to the study more small businesses will be owned by Generation Y (1981-2001), baby boomers, women, and immigrants.  Generation Y because they don’t believe in trusting a company to take care of them and they are quite comfortable with all of the new technologies and able to easily start not just one business but multiple ones at once.  Many high schools have now started small businesses.  I personally interviewed a Generation Yer who had started his own company in college – a website for trading video games online.  Baby boomers, according to the study, are more likely to start business with social causes in "retirement."  Women owned business will grow – maybe as they become more disillutioned with the glass ceiling.  Immigrant owned businesses will grow as the number of immigrants continue to grow.

It’s an interesting study, an easy read and well worth reading.