101 Dumbest Biz Mistakes

Business 2.0 has a must-read article about dumb business mistakes.

My favs:

No. 3: Don’t you just love a guy who stands behind his product? Smith & Wesson chairman James Joseph Minder was forced to resign when newspaper reporters discover that, before becoming a corporate exec, he’d spent 15 years behind bars for a string of armed robberies and an attempted prison escape.

No. 1: Bike-lock maker Kryptonite finds out the U-shaped locks it’s been making can be picked with a Bic pen. Bloggers continued to rail at the company until it finally agrees to exchange the old locks for new ones, at an estimated cost of at least US$10 million.

No. 4: Michael Soden, Bank of Ireland CEO, issues a dictate: No porn surfing on the job. His next dictate: The IT department is to be outsourced to Hewlett-Packard. Shortly after the outsourcing deal goes through, IT staffers, now employed by HP, discover porn on Soden’s computer. Soden resigns, leaving the bank and HP scrapping over who should pay his severance, estimated at $5 million.


Negroponte and another "cheap PC for the masses" idea

MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte who I interviewed before has jumped on the cheap PC bandwagon. According to this Red Herring article it will cost US$100, have a 14-inch colour screen, AMD chips, and run Linux.

Negroponte’s cheap-PC is separate from AMD’s ‘change the world’ shot at same market.

A prototype is said to be “nearly ready” with real production in around 18 months from now.

“The portable PCs will be shipped directly to education ministries, with China first on the list and only orders of 1 million or more units will be accepted.”

So let’s see that’s 1 mil X $100 = US$100 million per order. Hmmm, why am I skeptical?

Terrorist VW ad makes rounds

A parody VW ad featuring a terrorist who pulls up at a cafe then blows himself up – leaving the car intact – makes an interesting case on how advertisers may no longer be in control of the message.

VW is flipping mad and threatening to sue but the free mileage it will get for the controversy will far exceed any ad campaign its agency can dream of.

I suspect creators Lee and Dan will probably get a lot more prospective phone calls for this.

China vs India debate rages on

I filed an opinion by Oracle’s Derek Williams on China + India versus Malaysia.

Increasingly the two giants are being compared with each other. This McKinsey article (in PDF) suggests China has long way to go in IT services.

The authors are of the opinion that fragmentation is the problem.

“To compete effectively in global outsourcing, China’s software industry must consolidate. The top ten IT-services companies have only about a 20 percent share of the market, compared with the 45 percent commanded by India’s top ten.

Furthermore, China has about 8,000 software-services providers, and almost three-quarters of them have fewer than 50 employees. No company has emerged from this crowded pack; indeed, only 5 have more than 2,000 employees.

India, on the other hand, has fewer than 3,000 software-services companies. Of these, at least 15 have more than 2,000 workers, and some — including Infosys Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro Technologies — have garnered international recognition and a global clientele. Without adequate scale,Chinese players are unlikely to attract top international clients.”

Epinion co-founders take it to court

I was recently recommended by a friend to use Banana Boat After Sun lotion to help with my daughter’s eczema. I immediately checked it up on epinions.com and came up with this. The reviews were mostly positive.

Epinions hasn’t let me down yet. It was one of the early forms of “shared knowledge” websites that made the net really useful.

It was a surprise to find out that three of the co-founders are now suing the venture caps that funded them and another co-founder who allegedly screwed them on a deal by rendering their shares worthless when Google was on the horizon.

“It’s rare for the founders of a company to sue their financial backers,” said Paul T. Friedman, a partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. “Venture is a small world in which relationships are very important. Most people find a way to avoid disputes so they can live another day.”

The basis for the suit is the proposal made in February 2003 to merge Epinions and DealTime, a comparison-pricing site. By then four of the company’s five founders–Naval Ravikant, Ramanathan Guha, Mike Speiser and Dion Lim, who did not join the suit–had left the company but still owned a total of more than six million shares of Epinions common stock.

The four owned enough shares to scuttle the merger but gave their blessing, even though it meant valuing those shares at zero. At the time, investors holding preferred shares, including Benchmark and August Capital, had a claim on the $45 million they had invested collectively.

The four founders, the suit says, were led to believe that the company was worth $23 million to $38 million, making common stock worthless.

I guess some of us who missed out on the dotcom rise are still itchy and keen on going back in time and riding the wave again. All together now…..“Day O! Day-ay-ay O! Day light come and me wanna go home!”


Coming SMS scams

Thousands of mobile phone users have been charged up to £1.50 a time for text messages they say they never asked for.

The BBC highlights the coming SMS scams — here’s how it could so easily happen here:

1.If you receive a text inviting you to subscribe to a service and you text back “no thanks” or something less polite, the computer at the other end can’t read, so it may take your reply as an agreement to subscribe.

2.If you fill in a coupon for a competition in a magazine or newspaper that entails giving your mobile phone number, you may find that the tiny print at the bottom also subscribes you to a linked text messaging service.

3.If you visit a website offering a free ringtone which you accept, the terms and conditions of service may state that you must also take regular paid ringtones as well.

Flickr coincidence

“A guy from Scotland goes 5490 miles to Tokyo and takes a picture of a girl taking a picture. She turns out to be from England, 413 miles away from him.

Impressive, but not all that weird.


He posts the picture he took on a Website (in Canada, irrelevantly) and within 6 weeks the girl in the photo finds it?

That is truly amazing.”


Then read: More Flickr coincidences.

David Weinberger speaks…

David Weinberger sounds positively funny.



Beer + Talking = Beercasting

Beer + Talking = Beercasting. Enough said.

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