December 15, 2010
Behind Time's Person of the Year
Facebook's "T-shirt wearing head of state" lauded. Plus, grim news at Yahoo and the escalating hacker feuds.
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Mark Zuckerberg's latest honor. The award could have gone to WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange, innovative performer Lady Gaga, or the man who brought us iEverything, Steve Jobs. But this year Time magazine says the Person of the Year is a 26-year-old Harvard dropout, Facebook's "T-shirt-wearing head of state." The magazine's profile of Zuckerberg paints a convincing picture of why the boy billionaire deserves the honor, and it has nothing to do with the fact an Academy Award-nominated film about him came out in 2010. "What just happened?" the piece asks. "In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S." Facebook gets one-out-of four U.S. Web pageviews, and in a single day, a billion new pieces of content are posted on Facebook. "We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over." What do you think about Time's selection? Let us know on Ask Inc.
Ho-ho-ho ... heave-ho. The holiday spirit must have turned pretty grim at Yahoo's offices yesterday, where it was announced that executives were laying off four percent of the workforce, or roughly 600 employees, according to Reuters. "Today's personnel changes are part of our ongoing strategy to best position Yahoo for revenue growth and margin expansion," Yahoo said in a statement. It added that the company "will continue to hire globally to support key priorities." Google's dominance in the search market is clearly taking its toll on its competitors. "A new generation of online advertising exchanges are also pressuring Yahoo's sales of premium online ad space," the article notes.
The hacker's quest for glory. First it was an act of revenge by "hacktivist" supporters of WikiLeaks, who shut down PayPal, Visa and MasterCard's websites. Then Gawker, McDonald's, and Walgreens were breached. Now deviantART says its user database has been compromised. This may seem like serious cyber warfare, but it's really just a "hacker pissing contest" to see who can pull off the biggest feat, according to Fast Company. Hackers will likely target bigger companies in the days ahead—in pursuit of the kind of notoriety that the Gawker breach got. "If I was a business with an online presence right now, I'd be on red alert," says cyber security expert Hemu Nigan.
Are Twitter Trends hot or not? Twitter has been rolling out a new set of advertising strategies, ReadWriteWeb reports. Included is a form companies can use to buy promoted content like accounts, Tweets, and even Trends on the site. Advertisers can create a monthly budget from below $10k to more than $100k to buy the space. And while it may be a shrewd monetization move on Twitter's part, leading social media consultant Jason Falls isn't so certain. He compared the sale of trending topics to "gaming Digg" that will "completely ruin the organic nature of the tool." His conclusion: "It's obvious they're making Facebook-like errors to try and compensate for the fact they never had a business model in mind when they built this thing."
Making ADHD an asset. It's been posited that Albert Einstein had ADHD, and Bill Gates might, too. But despite the fact that, for some people, being hyperactive can be beneficial, in today's New York Times serial entrepreneur Jay Goltz explores the more painful moments that come with suffering ADHD as a business owner. "It has been recognized that many successful people have ADHD. In many cases, it is a critical ingredient to their success," Goltz writes. "A lesser known fact is that it can also be a cause of stress, self-loathing, embarrassment, and lack of productivity." He came across this realization after meeting a woman named Nancy Snell, who coaches businesspeople with ADHD. The key problem with having ADHD in the business world, Goltz learned, is "having more ideas than you can process or manage." For those who find a way to manage the ideas, though, Goltz says ADHD can be "an asset instead of a liability."
Office parties get downsized. Given the current economic climate, it's not to surprising that the glitzy office holiday parties of the past have been scaled back a bit. As the Los Angeles Times reports, a nationwide survey revealed that 79 percent of companies will throw some kind of holiday event this year, down 2 percent from last year and a 16 percent drop from the rosier times in 2004. Even those companies that do choose to celebrate are often opting for more muted parties and low-cost alternatives such as office potlucks, holiday lunches, and company charity projects. As one hotel manager explains, "In general people are saying it's been a long, hard year. Their profits have been impacted and they want to be responsible about how they celebrate."
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