After previously investing in the company, Google has now acquired Makani Power, a green energy startup that is currently building airborne wind turbines. The acquisition was first reported in Brad Stone’s Businessweek story about Google X, and judging from Stone’s story, the team will join Google X. Google invested $10 million in the Alameda, Calif.-based company in 2006 and another $5 million in 2008. As far as we can see, this also marks the first time Google has acquired a company specifically for its Google X skunkworks.
Stone reports that Google CEO Larry Page approved the acquisition, but as Google X’s director Astro Teller notes, Page said that X “could have the budget and the people to go do this, but that we had to make sure to crash at least five of the devices in the near future.”
The company was founded by Saul Griffith and Don Montague, a former World Cup windsurfer. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.
Google has confirmed this acquisition and provided us with the following statement from Astro Teller, Google X’s “Captain of Moonshots”:
Creating clean energy is one of the most pressing issues facing the world, and Google for years has been interested in helping to solve this problem. Makani Power’s technology has opened the door to a radical new approach to wind energy. They’ve turned a technology that today involves hundreds of tons of steel and precious open space into a problem that can be solved with really intelligent software. We’re looking forward to bringing them into Google[x].
Makani says it hopes that this acquisition will provide it with “the resources to accelerate our work to make wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuels.” The acquisition comes just a week after the company completed the first autonomous flight of its Wing 7 prototype.
Here is how TechCrunch columnist Matylda Czarnecka described the project back in 2012:
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The Makani Airborne Wind Turbines, which resemble mini airplanes, are launched when wind speeds reach 3.5 meters per second. Rotors on each blade help propel it into orbit, and double as turbines once airborne. The blades are tethered to the ground with a cord that delivers power to throw them into the sky and receives energy generated by the turbines to be sent to the grid-connected ground station.
Like you and a lot of other people in the Valley, I read the blogs snarking on the Valley, because nothing is funnier than making fun of people just like us, technology elite who download hot apps, ringtones and backgrounds all day and all night – all on our separate phones reserved for daytime and nighttime.
It makes you feel like you’re part of a community instead of a tiny speck of dust in the vast cosmos with no reason for existing beyond randomness.
The best one lately is a Tumblr called Jesus Christ Silicon Valley (note the double meaning), and its most dazzling, scathing piece is this relatively mild one about how silly and vain people’s avatar profile pictures are. Yesterday’s piece on the Tumblr acquisition was also pretty good.
You’ve probably heard the news. No, you’ve definitely heard the news, because it’s Monday and you’ve been reading tech blogs all day, slowly burning your investors’ money. “Keeping tabs on the industry,” of course.
It’s funny because it’s true. Because I am curious and because I like the writing when it’s not too ragey, I dug around a little for the blog’s author. Not too hard obviously (this is TechCrunch after all) — just on Twitter and Quora. The Quora question, which is followed by Keith Rabois, postulates that Jesus is one of us. Just a slob like one of us.
“The secret lies within the pages of the blog itself. Someone so pathologically clever with hints of self-deprecation would hide where least expected: among the very targets referenced.”
And today, I got a response to my Twitter request for an email: An email sent “To the Direction of Alexia Tsotsis” from “email@example.com.”
From: Jesus Christ <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Greetings, To the Direction of Alexia Tsotsis.
Date: May 21, 2013 9:30:28 PM PDT
I am Ivan Moltobov, student in Ukraine.
I am big admiring fan of Tech Valley, and writing about love for Tech Valley on the Jesus Christ Silicon Valley tumblr blogspot by wordpress. You like? What is meaning of word “cock?” Sound funny, Americans seem to enjoy. I write much cock words, get many pageviews, exchange for Bitcoin, buy yak.
American dream to own many yaks.
(I searched and TechCrunch has yet to ‘print’ the phrase “cunty little cumdrops.” What’s with that?!)
Well, now we have “printed” that phrase, Ivan. Moltobov is unGoogleable, in case anyone was about to.
[Image via]Read More →
Today, thanks to the maturation of the web, digital tech, and smartphones now in seemingly every pocket, startups are finding it easier than ever before to build scalable solutions to finally address the many inefficiencies in our food manufacturing, production and distribution systems.
As interest in food tech balloons, one area in particular appears to already be at the tipping point: Online and mobile food delivery. Over the last few days, we’ve hearing about a merger between two of the largest companies in the space. Rumor has it that “arch rivals” GrubHub and Seamless are in talks which could see them join forces as part of a merger. While our sources tell us that the talks are serious, the terms of the merger are not yet clear and, of course, any potential deal could fall through.
Furthermore, it’s not yet clear what kind of synergies would take place, how management of the new entity would be structured or even what the new business will be called. The two companies would not confirm on the record on any of the above. But as far as the name goes, we’re hoping for Grubless. Or Hubless GrubSeam. But they have a nice ring to them, don’t they?
If these rumors are true, the merger comes at a good time for the arch rivals, who have been seeing mounting competition of late from a laundry list of new startups entering the space, including increasingly popular alternatives like Delivery.com, ChowNow, Munchery (meals from local chefs), Campus Special, eat24 or the bigs of Europe, like Food Hero and Just-Eat.
If the online food-ordering and delivery market is roughly where daily deals were three-plus years ago, then the deal essentially creates the Groupon of food delivery. Like the daily deals market, food ordering has traditionally had a fairly low barrier to entry, which helps explain why we seem to see a new startup pop up every week.
Plus, the business model isn’t particularly complicated, making it replicable. That being said, innovation and tech adoption have been slow to come to the food industry, and, at scale, this model (taking a slice of transactions) has the potential to be able to generate a lot of cash.
This is just one part of why the “food tech” business has been so hot lately. Just ask venture capitalists who collectively poured $350 million into food startups over the last year. (Compare that to 2008, when it was less than $50 million.) Plus, when you get right down to it: People need to eat. And, as it turns out, people are pretty busy. Uh, and lazy.
Of course, for those who remember the spectacular failure of online food companies like Webvan, Kozmo and HomeRuns, this whole “tech in your kitchen” and online ordering jibber-jabber probably sounds familiar — and not in a good way. But this time it’s different. Research from Cornell University recently found, for example, that over 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have ordered food online, and 10 percent of restaurant orders now originate online — and these numbers continue to head north. GrubHub and Seamless have built successful businesses on this very idea.
Both GrubHub and Seamless have been around for some time: The New York City-based Seamless was founded in 1999, while the Chicago-based GrubHub got its start in 2004. And for the most part, the two companies have catered to two different markets geographically. While both now have fairly expansive coverage, GrubHub has naturally developed a firm foothold in the Midwest, while Seamless focused its early attention on NYC, before moving into cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. From that perspective, a merger would make sense, allowing the new, consolidated entity to gain penetration into markets where they lacked a major presence.
Writ large, the companies, while having some fundamental differences, do seem to have a lot of synergies on paper — at least “nominally,” depending on who you ask — likely why they’ve increasingly become rivals over the years. Bboth are of fairly comparable size, as GrubHub has more than 18,000 restaurant partners across more than 500 cities, while Seamless has over 12,000 restaurants and serves nearly 5,000 businesses and more than 2 million users. As of February, Reuters reported that Seamless was on track to generate more than $100 million in revenue this year as it expands into new cities and focuses more aggressively on mobile.
The company reportedly generated $85 million in revenue last year, growing its consumer business by 60 percent year-over-year and “will soon be processing $1 billion worth of food orders a year,” Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky told Reuters at the time. For the majority of its history, the company focused primarily on New York, but launched a major expansion effort last year, bringing its service to 10 new cities. According to the report, Seamless saw its transaction volume quadruple in Los Angeles during 2012, with transactions tripling in San Francisco.
Another interesting point to note: GrubHub was reported to be considering an IPO last fall. The company denied the rumors at the time, and if this merger is true, then they’ve been given the proper perspective. Certainly, it would seem that this wouldn’t take a potential IPO off the table, instead, likely making an opening price that much higher.
The IPO rumors for GrubHub came at a time when the company was reportedly doing about $60 million in revenue (this was in 2012) — a little less than half that of Seamless. Furthermore, Crain’s reported in December that GrubHub’s revenue has been doubling every year and, as the company reported $30 million in revenue in 2011, that revenue estimate would make sense and put the company on the path to crossing $100 million well before the end of this year.
That is all to say that, although the terms of the potential deal are unclear, these are two sizable businesses that are growing relatively fast, so any potential valuation has got to be fairly high. After all: The two companies were fairly comparably capitalized and staffed, with GrubHub growing to over 250 employees and Seamless over 300, while GrubHub raised about $84 million from a mix of venture and growth equity firms (including Benchmark) and Seamless raised $51 million, $50 million of which came from private equity firm Spectrum Equity.
While both companies have made a couple of acquisitions, this would be the second big M&A deal for Seamless, as the company was acquired by food services giant, ARAMARK, in 2006. Five years later, Spectrum bought a minority stake in Seamless from ARAMARK, and about a year later, the food services company spun-off its remaining interest in Seamless to its shareholders. Free from its corporate ownership, Seamless proceeded to go out and buy MenuPages for $15 million, showing up GrubHub, which MenuPages had initially targeted as its acquirer. When GrubHub and MenuPages couldn’t agree to a deal, and it seems that GrubHub was instead in the process of buying Dotmenu/Allmenus, Seamless swooped in — according to BetaBeat.
So, as you can see, the companies have a long history of jostling. While GrubHub had been out acquiring restaurant partners fast and furiously, Seamless stagnated a bit under ARAMARK, but since becoming an independent company (again) and with a new board/investors, the company seems to have been compounding its growth. Together, that growth could be exponentially higher.
Finally, if this deal is in fact a go, it’s worth looking at this quote from GrubHub co-founder and CEO Matt Maloney from back in 2011. In it, he shares his opinion on GrubHub’s top competitor, a little company called Seamless. He told BetaBeat:
I typically don’t talk this much about Seamless because we don’t view them as incredibly strong competition for what we’re doing … Seamless fundamentally is a corporate catering business. They were founded years and years and years ago to do just that. And they’re still best in the business for corporate. They recently got into the consumer and residential pick-up and delivery. And they do it well in New York, but they really have zero business anywhere else. We don’t even consider them competition anywhere other than Manhattan specifically.
So, there you go. A match potentially made in heaven, and one that’s sure to shake up online and mobile food ordering if it happens.Read More →
Jen Lamere, The 18-Year-Old Developer Trying To Save Us From TV Spoilers On Twitter, Scores An Internship There
Participating in hackathons is nothing new in certain parts of the world, especially Silicon Valley. Once in a blue moon, a small team of people creates something exciting that generates buzz, potentially selling to a larger company.
One developer took on 80 competitors at a hackathon called “TVnext” and won with a solution to save you from reading spoilers on Twitter with an app called Twivo. The developer has nabbed an internship at the company she built the hack on top of — Twitter.
This particular developer’s story took on a life of its own, not just because the app was really cool (I often don’t pay attention to my feed during Saturday Night Live, because all of the people on the other coast ruin it for me), but because Jen Lamere is a female developer who was up against an all-male group of hackers. She was 17 at the time. An attendee discussed the scene with Mother Jones, explaining: “the only other females in attendance, that I saw anyway, were an organizer, two camerawomen, a caterer, three judges, and a participant’s wife.”
The news of Lamere’s summer internship, which looks like it will be with the Crashyltics team specifically, came via Twitter, naturally:
There’s no word on what she’ll be doing, but the experience that she’ll get will be incredibly useful.
Whether you want to take this news as a win for female developers, teenagers or technology as a whole, the story is a great one. At its very core, you have someone who is fascinated enough with tech to take the step and build something without a team, present it publicly at a hackathon and then take it to the next level by pursuing an internship…and that’s inspiring.
While not every hackathon project will lead to some type of fundraising or exit, or even an actual startup, this is a nice lesson to learn that the networking and experience gained at an event like this can go a long way. It’s also nice to see Twitter, a company that is preparing for an eventual IPO, give chances to younger coders. Investor Chamath Palihapitiya told the audience at Disrupt NYC that “everyone should learn how to code,” and this story is a perfect example of that line of thinking.
Imagine if, instead of a spelling bee in junior high, you had entered a hacking competition? How different the world would be.Read More →
GoPollGo, a real-time polling tool that lets brands and media properties collect and analyse feedback, has announced that it has been acquired by Yahoo. The news comes just one week after the search giant announced the acquisition of mobile personal organization app Astrid, as part of its ongoing acquisition spree. It comes at the same time that Yahoo has confirmed the acquisition of travel site Milewise. For now, GoPollGo says that it will be shutting down its services on its site, as well as its embeddable widgets and mobile app.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. While Milewise is joining Yahoo’s operations in New York, GoPollGo will be at its Sunnyvale HQ.
“Today Milewise and GoPollGo joined the Yahoo! mobile team. GoPollGo created a cool social polling app and the team has joined our mobile org in Sunnyvale,” Yahoo told us in an emailed statement on the two deals. “Milewise created a great app to make travel planning easier and personalized. They have joined our New York mobile team.”
GoPollGo, which was launched in 2011 and has received some $425K in funding from IdeaLab and CrunchFund (the VC run by TC’s founder Michael Arrington), has run millions of polls in its time. In January this year, after launching an iOS app, the company released a beta of a premium service it called Promoted Polls. Like Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, this let pollsters pay a little extra to insert their questions into a stream of other, non-paid polling questions.
For now, it’s not clear how GoPollGo’s technology is going to be used in the startup’s new home. The three founders, Ben Schaechter (a former developer at TechCrunch), Sam Grossberg and Paul Kompfner, are relatively vague about this point in their note on the site: “We’re so excited to bring the knowledge and experience we’ve gained at GoPollGo to Yahoo!” they note. “We share an enthusiasm for building delightful user experiences, and we couldn’t be happier to join forces.”
But you can see where this might fit into Yahoo’s wider business strategy if it does get used. For one, the company is trying to increase ways to keep users interested in its content and more engaged, the current buzzword for the digital ad industry. GoPollGo has done things like power polls that ran on ABC.com’s site alongside the presidential debate. The idea is that these polls, instead of seeing users jump to other sites to watch coverage and how people interact, or turning off altogether, they stay tuned in there with the poll being one way to keep their interest up.
On the other hand, it’s interesting that GoPollGo had already introduced a paid service with Promoted Polls. With companies like Google and Facebook largely dominating online advertising right now in areas like search and display, smaller players like Yahoo (similar to Aol, TechCrunch’s owner) needs to get more innovative and creative with how they target would-be advertisers with services that they will pay for. Adding polls as, effectively, another marketing/advertising unit would be one way to do that.
Interestingly, the whole area of polling has been one that others have eyed, but have been less than successful in tackling. Facebook launched, and then pulled, a Polls product between 2007 and 2009. Then a follow-up/adjacent product, Questions, was similarly launched in 2010 but then shut down in October 2012, effectively giving in to competition from the likes of Quora. Most recently, Facebook’s foray into canvassing opinion, the ability to create threaded comments and replies on Pages, can effectively be used as a template for Q&As (bringing to mind Reddit’s AMA events), and, yes, polls.
More to come. Note on GoPollGo’s site is below.
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GoPollGo Team is Joining Yahoo! Mobile
We are excited to share some big news: We’re joining Yahoo! For two years, we’ve worked incredibly hard to make it as easy as possible to get feedback from friends and followers. It has been so rewarding to build a product that scaled up to millions of people and supported large media properties and diverse brands — all while staying true to promise to deliver fun, engaging, real-time experiences.
We’re so excited to bring the knowledge and experience we’ve gained at GoPollGo to Yahoo!. We share an enthusiasm for building delightful user experiences, and we couldn’t be happier to join forces.
Huge thanks to all our users, partners and customers who helped us realize our vision. As of today, we’ll no longer be supporting GoPollGo’s properties on the site, embeddable widgets or mobile app. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, shoot us an email to email@example.com.
Donald Trump, one of the most prominent businessmen in the world, gave crowdfunding his stamp of approval earlier today, helping to launch the new platform FundAnything.
“People’s lives have been destroyed by this economy and they feel hopeless,” Trump said in a press release announcing the platform’s launch. “FundAnything is a real solution.”
The rewards-based platform will allow projects of all kinds (hence the name) to raise money, as long as they don’t violate the site’s terms.
Trump is a partner and an investor in FundAnything, but will not have an active role in operating the platform (the CEO is Bill Zanker, founder of The Learning Annex). Trump will, however, pick campaigns every week to fully or partially fund out of his own pocket, as well as promote on his Twitter feed, where he has over two million followers.
At a launch event in New York earlier today, Trump announced the first three campaigns he’s chosen to fund: a couple raising money to pay for an expensive surgery, a small business looking to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, and an aspiring singer.
Trump’s involvement with the platform should help it attract a large number of projects quickly, since there’s a chance that the Donald himself may wholly fund a campaign.
FundAnything’s fee structure looks a lot like Indiegogo’s: 9 percent for campaigns that don’t meet their goal, and 5 percent for those that do (Indiegogo’s is slightly lower at four percent).
Trump’s entrance into the crowdfunding space suggests that the industry has matured enough to attract big-name businessmen and investors into the fray.
“It’s a real validation of what Indiegogo has established over the last five years and how our crowdfunding philosophy is disrupting finance that someone as accomplished as Donald Trump is offering us the sincerest form of flattery,” Indiegogo founder Slava Rubin told InvestmentNews.
Few can flaunt Trump’s fame and notoriety, but look out for other one percenters experimenting with their own crowdfunding initiatives in the near future. The big question is whether their connections and cash will muscle out established industry leaders like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The fight to win over the crowd’s hearts (and wallets) is only beginning.Read More →
Editor’s note: Howard Lindzon is co-founder and CEO of StockTwits, a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. You can read his full bio here and find him on Twitter @howardlindzon.
The markets are not changing so much as the technology that makes markets move. The technology has enabled machines to ping each other at speeds that give them an edge over humans (at least in the very short-term) and people are connected to other machines and people in ways that can’t be quantified. The social web and the leverage from these connections have the media confused, and it seems angry, if not completely wrong.
The New York Times $NYT and the rest of the financial media continue to butcher story after story about the social web (media) and financial markets. This week it was this stupid, stupid headline and first sentence:
Twitter Speaks, Markets Listen and Fears Rise
Could the global economy hinge on 140 characters?
The writers of the article have ignored reality, facts and the state of the markets. It is the people who are speaking, and it is Twitter providing the fantastic black canvas of the time. The global economy does not hinge on any one person or event, let alone 140 characters.
The reality is that information is not behind the walls all neat and tidy like Bloomberg, public companies and the wires would like it to be. People who want to be tapped in now follow the right people on Twitter and obviously other networks like Stocktwits that offer communication, context and community. The markets in the real short-term do a real horrific job of listening. They are too big. They react.
The $VIX (one widely accepted measure of market volatility) has been in a steady decline since the social web began its boom in 2009. Here is a chart:
It makes sense. Everyone is connected, not just the people “in the know.” Of course with everyone holding hands in this new world, the reactions like the AP hacking will be more volatile and the recoveries that we saw after just as fast.
The hackers know this. Hackers are impossible to stop. You just force them to step up their game as the technology improves. Mark Cuban had this to say about the change in markets from technology:
“There’s just no new names, no new energy, no new opportunities, and that’s a problem,” said Mark Cuban, an avid trader, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. “That’s a reflection of the lack of trust, the fact that we don’t know what business the markets are in, and there’s so much algorithmic trading and technology-driven trading it’s created downstream problems.”
More rules are not going to help. Better enforcement of the existing rules and punishing the thieves that break them is the solution.
We are still paying for awful regulations that were a reaction to past hacks on the financial system from the likes of Enron (which led to Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and the investment banks and mortgage panic (Frank Dodd).
If we let guys like Bart Chilton get his way around this type of shoddy headline writing, the walls will get higher around the financial world, not lower, and we will go backwards.Read More →
Editor’s Note: The following guest post comes to us from Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games. Stegmaier offers some valuable thoughts on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. For more tips, check out our interviews with crowdfunding consultants Lucas McNelly and Rose Spinelli.
My name is Jamey Stegmaier, and I’m the owner of a board game startup called Stonemaier Games. I launched and successful funded our first game, Viticulture, on Kickstarter in the fall of 2012. Since then, while designing other games and coordinating the manufacturing and distribution logistics for Viticulture, I’ve written a series of Kickstarter Lessons so that other project creators can benefit from what I learned from running a Kickstarter project, backing many other projects, and researching what works and doesn’t work.
Today I’m going to share 12 specific insights about running a successful Kickstarter campaign, broken down into three chronological sections.
- Back Other Projects. Even if it’s just for $1. Back mostly projects similar to yours, but branch out to a few others as well. Backing a project subscribes you to the e-mail updates for that project, so you can see what type and frequency of updates engage you opposed to disengaging you.
- Have Professionals Create Some Art and Design. The look of your project is really important. Some projects begin with complete art and design, but all you really need is enough to show backers what the full art and design will look like. This applies to the concept as well as the project page. Pay for the art and design. Your friend who knows Microsoft Paint really well and is willing to do it for free will hurt the project in the long run, not help it.
- Connect with Bloggers. Your project will not be funded if you rely solely on friends, family, and the “magic” of Kickstarter. You need strangers to find your project from other websites, and blogs are the best option. However, do not wait until you need blogger support to reach out to bloggers. Instead, start connecting to bloggers today. Subscribe to a lot of blogs in fields related to your project and comment on a semi-regular basis. Don’t make your comments about you. Just be a part of the conversation.
- Create Appealing Reward Levels. Kickstarter is not a charity, nor are you. Give your backers something of value at a price that matches that value. Ask yourself, “Would I pay $X for this?” If the answer is, “No, but people will support me by overpaying,” then you just made yourself a charity instead of a creator. Also, make your rewards relevant to the project—give backers a piece of the experience or product you’re creating. Don’t offer a t-shirt as a reward level unless your project is about making t-shirts. People are not actively seeking more t-shirts with random brands plastered on them.
- Designate a Lot of Time for Kickstarter. If you run an effective Kickstarter campaign, it will take upwards of 40 hours a week, easily. Strategically, take days off from your job, especially launch day and the final two days of the project. Clear your schedule so that all of your free time can be devoted to Kickstarter. Make sure to come up for air and bathroom breaks every now and then, but your priority for that month or so is to create the best experience for your backers.
- Interact with Backers. Your backers are the greatest asset you have. Connect with them as often as possible in comments, updates, and messages on Kickstarter, and give them a forum (Facebook and/or blog) to interact with them off of Kickstarter as well. Treat their ideas with respect—the fact that they’re giving you feedback means that they care.
- Create Stretch Goals. Projects reach their funding goal for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason they overfund is stretch goals. Stretch goals make every version of your product better for the backers, so it gives them a very compelling reason to continue to share and promote your project after it’s funded. Stay flexible with your stretch goals throughout the project and use them as little ways to nudge your backers to share it. Instead of sending out a backer update that says, “Hey! Share my project!”, send an update that says, “If we raise $2,000 more and reach $10,000 overall, I’ll add a new special thing to every copy of the product.” That’s compelling. Just make sure you calculate your costs in advance.
- Share Your Project with Grace and Passion. You know that friend of yours who posted the same link to his Kickstarter project twice a day for the last month? Remember how you removed him from your Facebook feed? Don’t be that guy. You can share your project, but do it in ways that add value to other people’s day. Be funny, insightful, passionate, and appreciative.
- Be Honest and Transparent. No matter how well organized and prepared you are, you’re going to run into at least a few issues after your Kickstarter project. Something you had counted on will fall through. And that’s okay. Really. You’ll figure it out. The key is not to withhold that information from your backers. Tell them what you’re learning as you’re learning it, and tell them your solution. Don’t wait for backers to come to you to ask how things are going.
- Deliver on Your Promises. The common perception among repeat Kickstarter backers is that they expect for projects to be delivered late. Think about that for a second. It has become such a common practice for Kickstarter creators to deliver late that it is widely excused. That means that you can exceed expectations simply by delivering on time! In the meantime, make sure to deliver on the other promises you made, especially in terms of quality. Don’t cut corners.
- Shipping. Shipping is the detriment of many Kickstarter projects. There are better ways to spend your time than hand-packing and labeling 500 widgets. Let a fulfillment company do that for you—some can actually do it more cost-effectively than you can because they get bulk shipping and packing rates (do not forget about the cost of packaging if you insist up on shipping yourself). Also, make sure that you know the cost of international shipping up front. Charge the true cost to international backers—you don’t want to bankrupt yourself on shipping.
- Give Back. You are going to learn SO much by running your Kickstarter campaign, creating your rewards, and getting them to your backers. Share that knowledge with the world. One of the best ways you can continue to build a community after your project is over is to create a conversation around the insights you now have.
To dig deeper into these tips and to see many more, check out the 30+ Kickstarter Lessons on our blog. Good luck with your project!Read More →
An internal email written by Huawei founder Ren Zheng-fei and obtained by Sina Tech (link via Google Translate) sheds light on the secretive Chinese firm’s future. In it, Ren downplays his company’s reputation for opacity, which has fueled charges that Huawei, the world’s second largest maker of telecom equipment, is involved in espionage for the Chinese government.
Ren, who is 68 and rumored to be near retirement, also insisted Huawei will not go public in the next decade and that he will not hand over Huawei’s reins to a family member.
With sales of $35.4 billion last year, Huawei is the second-largest telecom network equipment seller in the world after Sweden’s Ericsson. It is also the world’s third-largest maker of smartphones, trailing after Samsung and Apple with a five percent share of the global market, according to IDC.
Concerns that Huawei is involved with espionage, however, have kept it from advancing in the U.S. market. Last October, a U.S. congressional report fingered Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE as a threat to national security, calling on U.S. government and private sector companies to avoid buying equipment from both. At the end of March, Sprint Nextel and Japanese telecom SoftBank promised the House intelligence committee not to use equipment from Huawei if they merge. Last week, Huawei’s executive vice president Eric Xu reportedly said that Huawei is pulling out of the U.S. market, but the company later said that Xu’s remarks had been misinterpreted.
Part of the U.S. government’s concern revolves around Ren’s past as a former engineer with the People’s Liberation Army. Huawei has repeatedly denied, however, that it is a security threat. In his email, Ren insisted that his reputation for secrecy is overstated.
“With regards to the media, I have always been completely transparent,” Ren wrote. He pointed to the number of articles he has authored himself over the last 20 years, as well as speeches he has given at various venues, including the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Huawei’s founder was equally blunt in insisting that his successor will not be a family member. The New York Times recently reported that Huawei is “undergoing an unusual, American-style effort to decentralize Huawei’s management, including a high-profile, public search for his successor.”
Ren wrote in his email that he is looking for someone who not only has “vision, character, and determination,” but also take a long-term strategy toward the company’s development and who is able to navigate the current business environment.
“None of my family members have these skills, so none of them will ever succeed me,” wrote Ren.
Ren’s daughter Cathy Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, has previously been named as a potential heir to her father’s position, but that seems less likely given what he wrote in his email.
More likely candidates include Ken Hu, one of the Huawei’s three rotating CEOs, who previously served as chairman of Huawei’s U.S. board operations. The other co-CEOs are also in the running: Xu, who has run Huawei’s strategy, marketing, products and solutions businesses and Guo Ping, who ran Huawei’s devices business.
Reports have repeatedly circulated that Huawei will launch an IPO, but Ren insists that his company will not be publicly listed within the next five to 10 years, echoing recent statements made by executive vice president Eric Xu.
Ren said that Huawei’s board of directors has never focused on going public because they don’t believe it’s in the best interests of the company’s development.
Photo credit: HuaweiRead More →