domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2012

Should You Trust Your Gut? The Answer Is Yes.

Editor's note: Derek Andersen is the founder of Startup Grind, a 30-city event series hosted in 15-countries that educates, inspires, and connects entrepreneurs. He's ex-Electronic Arts and the founder of Commonred.

A few years ago I asked a successful entrepreneur for advice on what I should do with my latest product idea. His reply was simple. "Trust your gut. What does your gut tell you?" I confidently replied, "That this is a $100MM business." To which he added, "Then go for it."

So that's exactly what we did. We went for it and a year later we didn't have a $100MM business or even a $10MM business. We didn't even have a….ok I'll stop there. But how did I get it so wrong? Is my gut untrustable? Was I wrong to follow it? Or was my stomach just acting up after a recent trip overseas? I recently sat down with Charles River Ventures Partner George Zachary who has had his fair share of big successes.

In his 17-year venture capital career, he has had over $1B in returns on $150MM in investments. He is an investor in companies like Twitter, Yammer, Playdom, Jambool, and a lot more you've heard of. This subject is one George has preached for a long time.

"Listening to my gut is the right thing to do for me. It doesn't mean it's going to work out.  But it does mean that's what I should follow," he told me a few weeks ago at Startup Grind in San Francisco. "That's my passion. When I've done that it has worked well. When I've followed my brain and not my heart it's resulted in disaster and failure every time. I've had no success operating from making a rational decision or a decision based on fear. It's all come from listening to my gut and intuition."

George isn't the only person with this creed. Steve Jobs famously said at the Stanford Commencement Address in 2005, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

But that's Steve Jobs. For the rest of us normals some times it does let us down or so it appears. Like when your gut tells you that you're building the next great product of this generation, and after 3-months you have 1,000 users, most of which were college friends, extended family, and creepy ex-girlfriends who still can't let it go. You know who you are.

For someone with his level of success, George is surprisingly honest and frank about his failures. Despite their friendship, George didn't invest in one of Elon Musk's early companies which he says was a mistake. He had an opportunity to lead Twitter's Series A at a $25MM valuation (eventually taken by Fred Wilson at USV), but he did invest a smaller amount.

"A lot of the mistakes I've made at acting out of my gut, led to important things that I've needed to learn to get better. I'm not so sure there's any divine purpose or anything behind it, but what I do know is that by learning through my mistakes I've tended to get better," George says. "There's no science to it, there's no 64,000 variable algorithm to investing. If there was then I'd be doing it and so would everyone else. My investing algorithm is: Do I feel more energized at the end of the meeting than at the beginning of the meeting? That is all it is. There is nothing more."

In 17-years of investing, his gut is a solid bet. George was a founder of Shutterfly which eventually went public. He was one of the few Odeo investors that managed to also invest in Twitter. He backed David Sacks at Yammer and Geni. He's an investor in Millennial Media. Early in his career he even nearly managed to convince his firm to invest early in Google but was outvoted by the other partners. His gut approach is working just fine.

So back to my original experience. Yes I followed my gut, and yes I failed at building a massive company with it. But I learned all sorts of things. I worked with a dozen engineers refining my product management skills. We had lots of small wins which taught us we have what it takes but this was the wrong mixture. I solidified my relationship with my co-founder and we're battle scarred taking on the next thing. I earned my startup education through blood, sweat and tears, and we were able to eventually sell the product at a small financial but massive moral victory. Not a $100MM, but it was the right decision for me at that time and my gut was still right. So next time you're in doubt about the right decision, remember George's advice on the cause of his success, "It's all come from listening to my gut and intuition."

Klout Would Like Potential Employers To Consider Your Score Before Hiring You. And That’s Stupid.

Let's put it out there right now: I am personally not a fan of Klout, which ranks people based on their Internet interactions and engagement on services like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. I have nothing against the company whatsoever, and this is a vertical that someone was going to get into sooner or later.

However, I still feel like the whole concept is bunk.

I came across a tweet by Klout CEO Joe Ferndandez the other day and it really bothered me:

This is something that I've feared for a long time, that companies would seriously consider a candidate's Klout score before hiring them. I understand doing background checks to make sure that someone isn't a convicted murderer and checking on a GPA to get an idea of how someone did in school. Fine, I get that. However, since nobody really knows how Klout scores are calculated, these numbers mean absolutely nothing to me.

Why should they mean something to a company like Salesforce? I have no idea. The job that Salesforce was hiring for was "Community Manager." Some have argued that looking at someone's Klout score is perfectly reasonable since that person should have a firm grasp on how Internet services and social networking works. However, in my experience, the smartest marketing, customer service, and community folks don't really use these services to build a "personal brand." They just do good work.

You see, what we know about Klout is that they consider your online activity, like tweeting, in a way that is only somewhat scientific. The system was gamed in the past and will probably be gamed in the future. Based on who follows you on Twitter, who tweets at you, what you tweet about and who retweets you, your Klout score goes up. That means that you spend a lot of time tweeting from your own personal account, which doesn't necessarily mean that you're a focused, hard-working team player.

Let's take a look at the Salesforce job description, and just so you know, these positions have been filled. So, sorry. First, the video at the top of the job description:

Ok, so this guy is a pro. He wants to hire the best. I get it. Here's the snippet of the job description that mentions Klout (notes are mine):

Desired Skills:
- Knowledge and use of social media/social networks considered an asset (Of course, good thinking!)
- Ability to work independently and as a part of a team (Definitely. Smart ask.)
- Experience with Radian6, video, photography considered an asset (This is pretty smart to ask for.)
- Klout Score of 35 or higher (I'm sorry, WHAT?)

Make no mistake about it, whether you hook up your social presence to Klout or not, the company is collecting a ridiculous amount of information about you. Valuable information, in fact. This is information that is "sold" to companies to give you "perks" and rewards. Klout calls it targeting, but I call it creepy.

When it comes to hiring someone, I find it absurd to even mention something like Klout in a job description. In fact, if someone has worked in this industry for a while, they shouldn't even consider working for a company that has a job description like this. At least, that's what I would advise. It's a lazy metric to look at, it's unscientific, and it gives Klout more power than they deserve.

Again, great people work there, but this is just getting into very dangerous territory if you ask me. If someone doesn't know what goes into the algorithm that makes their Klout score, it will always feel too low to them. They will always feel like less of a "professional" since other people have higher scores. That's bullshit, because people can do awesome things when you least expect it.

Will Salesforce hire Community Managers with a Klout score less than 35? I don't know. Can someone even have a Klout score lower than 35? I have no idea. Is this legal? I don't know. Should it be? I don't think so.

Just so you know, my Klout score is like 80 and I don't know what it means. The hiring manager at Salesforce in that video above? 64. Does that make me smarter than him? More talented? Should I replace him? Should he be replaced by someone with a higher Klout score? NO! Of course not. Because it's a worthless number.

That number won't be worthless if companies jump on this bandwagon, though. I am warning hiring managers, don't do this to yourselves. Don't be naive. Don't put so much trust into one metric from one company. Do your due diligence and find the BEST people who will be a great addition to your team.

Numbers are numbers, people are people. People make companies win.

P.S. Using tools on the Internet isn't rocket science, but being a real asset to a company is.

[Facepalm Photo Credit: Flickr]

A Tech Way Around “Creative Block”

Editor's note: Alex Cornell is co-founder and creative director at Firespotter Labs, makers of ÜberConference, NoshList, Nosh, and Jotly. Firespotter is backed by Andressen Horowitz and Google Ventures. Follow him on his website and on Twitter.

I've always found it interesting when the non-creatives in a company estimate how long it will take the creative team to accomplish something. What's often baked into their scheduling assumption is that the creatives will deliver results at a predictable and regular rate. They expect that 10 hours of creative work will produce 10 hours worth of pretty pictures; as predictable as a banker crunching numbers.

Instead, it's entirely possible to spend all day "creating" and literally accomplish nothing. In a way, it's like a baseball game. The process of arriving at an effective creative solution, while scheduled to take nine innings as it were, could theoretically last a lifetime. And you still might lose the game. Working all day doesn't always mean anything is actually being created.

There are many reasons for this, and of course some turmoil is a necessary part of a creative process, but there is one particularly gnarly reason artistic production can be so erratic. What causes the creative process to arrest most haltingly is often described as a "block." Most are familiar with writer's block of course, but I've always been interested in how this ailment affects creatives of all sorts — the so called "creative block."

Two years ago, I found myself in the unique position to do something about this. Writing for the design blog ISO50, I was in contact with many awe-inspiring artists and designers — folks who had presumably figured out a way to, at least periodically, wriggle their way out of the confines of creative block. I decided to enlist them to build an arsenal of strategies. The results make up my book, Breakthrough, which was released last week.

Included are inspirational strategies by everyone from writer Douglas Rushkoff to singer Jamie Lidell. They explain how they stay inspired, overcome creative block, and what's worked best for them. Since one block is not the same as the next, a diverse array of strategies is necessary to have at your disposal. This book is that array, the start of your arsenal. I've chosen a few pieces to excerpt below from some familiar names around the tech scene.

Robert Andersen – Creative Director, Square

As a product designer, most of what I do is twofold: understand the problem you want to solve and approach it from as many angles as you can. After executing on a well-defined and accurately constrained problem in multiple ways, it soon becomes obvious what the true or best solution is. Creative block generally arises from a breakdown in this process.

If you're stuck in the middle of the design, it probably means that you're not asking enough questions. Who is the audience? What do they feel? What do they desire? What will improve their life and create joy? How do other designers tackle similar problems? At the core of every successful design is a set of simply defined constraints that you measure your ideas against. It's all about determining the soul of a product before laying down the first pixel or pen stroke.

Using constraints and understanding as a foundation, you should then execute as many variations you can within those bounds. There are limitless ways to tackle a problem both functionally and aesthetically, which is why you need to uncover a wide spectrum of possibilities to see what feels right. This is crucial to determining quality. Creating various options also means that you don't need to put pressure on yourself to form one perfect solution from the start. Explore the good and explore the bad—creative block does not exist here, because even a bad direction can move you closer to the right one.

Accurately understand your task and explore immediately. Give yourself the space to freely fail, and that same space will give you the freedom to succeed.

Aaron Koblin – Digital Creative Artist, Google Creative Lab

They say an elephant never forgets. Well, you are not an elephant. Take notes, constantly. Save interesting thoughts, quotations, films, technologies…the medium doesn't matter, so long as it inspires you. When you're stumped, go to your notes like a wizard to his spellbook. Mash those thoughts together. Extend them in every direction until they meet.

Your notebook is feeling thin? Then seek assistance and find yourself a genius. Geniuses come in many shapes and colors, and they often run in packs. If you can find one, it may lead you to others. Collaborate with geniuses. Send them your spells. Look carefully at theirs. What could you do together? Combination is creation.

Beware of addictive medicines. Everything in moderation. This applies particularly to the Internet and your sofa. The physical world is ultimately the source of all inspiration. Which is to say, if all else falls: take a bike ride.

Nicholas Felton – Designer, Facebook

I rely on a few tactics to keep my creativity flowing. I try to alternate the tenor of my years, like crop rotations. During even-numbered years, I try to do more work and make more of a profit; during odd-numbered years, I travel more and concentrate on personal projects. In 2005 I spent five weeks traveling with an around-the-world ticket, and in 2007 I went to China, Tibet, and Nepal for three weeks. After both trips, I returned to my desk filled with thoughts and initiative to create.

My other strategy is to keep my plate as full as possible. I tend to say yes to more than I can do, and the fear of failure keeps the work flowing.

When I'm really at a loss—when it feels like my designs are simply circling the drain—I will leave the office. There's no point in trying to blindly bump into a solution, so whether it's sketching in the park or reading a book, I avoid trying to use brute force…it's kind of like trying to get rid of the hiccups.

Gillmor Gang: Platformicide

The Gillmor Gang — John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor — watched in amazement as Twitter made good on its promise to hobble the core of its viral power adopter developers and users. By shutting down third party clients to focus monetization on its core clients and the Web, Twitter leaves itself exposed to its challengers for control of the realtime wave. To some of the Gang, Apple's move to eject Google Maps in favor of its own immature product seems similarly motivated and fated to bad results.

But Twitter has historically made these kinds of protective overreaching in order to protect the fledgling company from being overrun by more powerful competitors. This time it's different, as Twitter releases services designed to capitalize on the innovations of its ecosystem. The real calculation is whether the openings provided to Google + and to a lesser extent Facebook can be leveraged before innovation dries up in the Twitter pipeline. A high stakes game of Chicken.

@stevegillmor, @borthwick, @scobleizer, @kevinmarks, @kteare

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

John Borthwick is CEO of betaworks. betaworks is new form of internet media company. Prior to betaworks John was Senior Vice President of Alliances and Technology Strategy for Time Warner Inc. John's company, WP-Studio, founded in 1994, was one of the first content studios in New York's Silicon Alley. John holds an MBA from Wharton (1994) and an undergraduate degree BA in Economics from Wesleyan University (1987).

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Robert Scoble is an American blogger, technical evangelist, and author. He is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. Scoble joined Microsoft in 2003, and although he often promoted Microsoft products like Tablet PCs and Windows Vista, he also frequently criticized his own employer and praised its competitors like Apple and Google. Scoble is the author of Naked Conversations, a book on how blogs are changing...

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Steve Gillmor is a technology commentator, editor, and producer in the enterprise technology space. He is Head of Technical Media Strategy at and a TechCrunch contributing editor. Gillmor previously worked with leading musical artists including Paul Butterfield, David Sanborn, and members of The Band after an early career as a record producer and filmmaker with Columbia Records' Firesign Theatre. As personal computers emerged in video and music production tools, Gillmor started contributing to various publications, most notably Byte Magazine,...

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Keith Teare is the CEO and founder of Inc and a Founder at the Palo Alto incubator, Archimedes Labs. Teare has a track record as a serial entrepreneur with big ideas and has achieved significant returns for investors. History (a) The EasyNet Group: Founded in 1994 as one of the first ISP's in Europe, Teare was CTO and co-founder. It went public on the AIM exchange in London in 1996 and was trading at a valuation of more than $1...

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Kevin Marks is a software engineer. Kevin served as an evangelist for OpenSocial and as a software engineer at Google. In June 2009 he announced his resignation. From September 2003 to January 2007 he was Principal Engineer at Technorati responsible for the spiders that make sense of the web and track millions of blogs daily. He has been inventing and innovating for over 17 years in emerging technologies where people, media and computers meet. Before joining Technorati,...

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Canadian Internet Provider Rogers Experiencing Major, Prolonged Outage [Update: It's Back!]

Canadian wireless and internet provider Rogers is currently experiencing a widespread, continued outage of services on both its cellular and cable home internet data networks, according to various user reports. Rogers is the second-largest internet provider in Canada by subscriber count, and the largest cellphone provider with somewhere around 10 million mobile customers.

Reports of outages are coming in on Twitter from a variety of cities in Southern Ontario, including Toronto, Waterloo and London, and some even suggest that the outage may spread across the entire country. Little is known about the potential cause, but some reports suggest that the Rogers Internet DNS is the culprit, as per this tweet:

Attempts to call Rogers support are met with a system that's clearly not holding up well under a high influx of user reports. The system doesn't even appear to be able to route calls properly, and customers are instead left scratching their heads. For now, there are millions of customers likely in the dark and without internet unless they also get mobile or other service from one of Canada's other major providers who maintain their own networks.

I've reached out to the company to find out more, and will update as additional information becomes available. Here are some of the tweets from affected customers describing the situation:

In addition to Rogers customers, Dan Levy on Twitter notes that those using either Fido or Chatr (both Rogers subsidiaries) are also affected by the outage.

Update: Rogers has issued the following statement via Twitter. I've been in touch with a representative of the company who said they'd try to provide some additional information, but have yet to hear back:

Update #2: A few more tweets, including the first I could find of any problems, putting the estimated length of service issues at over two hours now:

Report from the East Coast, meaning Ontario definitely isn't the only market affected:

And one joke at Rogers expense:

Update #3: Some customers, including in Barrie and Ottawa, report having no problems with service. Still, the vast majority of reports I'm seeing say just the opposite: connectivity is eithes very slow or non-existent:

Update #4: Reports are starting to come in that service seems to have been restored. I'm also seeing speeds that seem to be back to normal, on both LTE and cable:

Update #5: Despite improved performance for some, others are clearly still facing problems, and Rogers has been silent since its last tweet over an hour and a half ago:

Update #6: Rogers now says that the issue affecting customers has been resolved, let us know if that fits with your experience:

A Venture Capitalist’s E-Commerce Shopping List

Editor's note: Sergio Monsalve is a Partner at Norwest Venture Partners where he is focused on early and growth investments in the digital media, mobile, and social areas. Follow him on Twitter

E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing sectors in technology and is poised to get even hotter, with sales expected to double between 2010 and 2015, according to eMarketer. So how can discerning investors find the most promising opportunities? They have to first take off the rose-colored glasses.

While innovative, fast-growing e-commerce companies abound, many of them will not succeed in the long run. For all the opportunity, it remains extremely difficult to build a great e-commerce company that truly and repeatedly delights the consumer.

At Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), we've been shopping in the e-ommerce market for years. The companies that rise to the top of our list have one thing in common: an obsessive focus on the consumer lifecycle, which can be measured and managed in many ways. For me, it boils down to four key elements that I refer to as the 4 A's: Awareness, Activation, Addiction, and Amplification. exemplifies the 4 A's cycle. In 1994 Amazon began offering readers a much larger selection of books than would ever fit on the shelves of local bookstores. The startup gradually improved and extended customer experiences and engagement as it expanded far beyond the book realm. Massive brand loyalty turned Amazon into the world's largest online retailer, a household brand, which benefits from loyal customers praising it in online and offline social conversations.

The Cycle Begins: Awareness

The cycle starts by using a variety of channels to expose prospective customers to your brand, attract them to your e-commerce site, and get them to revisit and start to engage. These channels may include direct marketing (e-mail, direct mail, catalogs, etc); search-based advertising and marketing; social networks; and mobile technologies. The precise mix is dictated by the habits of the target audience and can generate powerful cross-channel synergies.

Tracking visitors, Monthly Active Users (MAU) and monitoring social chatter can measure awareness. If you can, give pre-purchase users enough reason — such as a delightful digital experience — to Facebook Connect, comment, register or log in on subsequent visits. You can collect more detailed statistics implicitly and/or explicitly and propel users to the activation stage.

Activation and Engagement

The Activation stage starts with a transaction. Consumers will purchase something, and perhaps register for future interactions. First-time impressions are critical, so obtaining feedback on the product and the entire experience at this stage is critical. Tools such as the Net Promoter Score can measure satisfaction levels and start separating out your evangelists from your detractors.

Tactics that can distinguish your site at this stage include unique merchandising, a superior user interface, more granular personalization, seamless accommodation of mobile devices, and streamlined logistics.

Revel Touch is a company that fosters activation by extending a retailer's footprint to the fast-growing iPad channel. It also helps lead into the addiction phase by turning a retailer's website into an app that can be as sticky and engaging as a game.

Addiction and Loyalty

You reach the Addiction stage when you have captured some significant mind share. You get a high level of repeat purchases from your customers, and your site becomes the first thing they think of when they want to buy something in the category or occasion your brand represents.

Apple can boast a very addicted customer base, the foundations of which pre-date the web. When Apple releases a new iPhone, legions of passionate evangelists are ready to tout it. An addicted customer base is ready and willing to be engaged, with e-mail campaigns, contests, games, and links from social sites. At this stage it is important to measure everything in the sales funnel, quantify delight factors, and keep a close eye on customer service metrics.

As customers get more addicted, you will see increases in purchases-per-buyer ratios and average order values. There are also mind-share metrics that help you measure brand loyalty.

Creating a personalized connection with each customer is critical to the Addiction phase. Companies like Certona, SailThru, and MyBuys that create personal recommendations and promotions can help boost loyalty and build devotion.

Amplification and Social Spread

Once you have established a cadre of addicted evangelists, they will start promoting and amplifying your brand to others. If you track and further engage with your best customers and empower them via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Extole, Kenshoo and other social tools, they can amplify your message endlessly.

You can increase evangelist impact in the Amplification stage by making effective use of social media measurement and marketing tools. Other Amplification tactics include personalized offerings, incentives that encourage social sharing, and tell-a-friend campaigns. Good customer testimonials are worth their weight in gold at this stage.

Key metrics for the Amplification stage include buyer/sharer ratios; a traffic mix that is increasingly organic; lower customer acquisition costs; higher repeat purchases; Net Promoter customer loyalty scores; and viral coefficients. Ultimately, a delightful service with a high measure of evangelists and low level of detractors should translate into higher Awareness, beginning the cycle again at the first A for a new wave of customers. has nailed Amplification with a product feed that ties directly to a consumer's social graph. Built to be extremely social, the amplitude is that company's most valuable asset.

The Wow Factor

The 4 A's cycle hinges on delighting customers, and just what constitutes customer delight varies from one e-commerce brand experience to another. What makes your product — or how you sell it — stand out?

Zappos sells products that are quite ordinary and uses massive availability and no-hassle returns to delight customers. Zappos offers the same brands at roughly the same prices, but carries most sizes and widths. You will find what you want. Zappos also removes some of the risk of online shopping, by offering a very friendly returns policy and great service.

Another great example is Gemvara in the jewelry category. Gemvara delights you with customized products that don't exist until you create them, and engages you with enjoyable virtual renderings of inspiring jewelry that exists nowhere else.

ModCloth sifts through the fashion universe and carefully curates vintage and retro-inspired clothing. You don't know what you will find, but you know it will be on-trend and beautiful.

E-commerce has undergone massive changes since Amazon first opened its virtual doors in 1994, and there is no sign that the transformation is abating. This continuing disruption favors agile startups that deeply understand and obsessively measure their unique 4 A's of the consumer lifecycle: Awareness, Activation, Addiction, and Amplification.

With each turn of the cycle, the customer base increases rapidly while customer acquisition costs drop and the lifetime value of each customer goes up. The result is a high-worth and durable e-commerce brand that scales and delivers high profits.

5 Easy Steps To Make Your Job Descriptions Go Viral

Jason Webster is a social recruiting enthusiast and co-founder of Ongig, a platform that creates shareable, visually-appealing job descriptions. He has spoken at multiple social recruiting events, where his passion for candidate experience is the primary topic. Connect with Jason and Ongig on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

A Community Manager job description recently got 57 tweets, 20 likes, and 3,979 views. How'd they do it?

First, let's back up for a second. It's no secret there are more online venues to search for jobs than ever before. According to recent research, job candidates today use an average of five resources in their job searches, most of them online.

However, recruiters haven't yet adapted to all of these options and are only using one or two means of sharing a job. So, not only are jobs too cumbersome to apply for, but they aren't being seen by the appropriate candidates.

One remedy is to make your job description viral. A viral job has similar qualities to the other content (videos, websites, and photos) that you regularly share with your own social network. It's socially connectable, visually appealing and transparent. Here are five easy tips to help you get there:

1. Be Transparent About Your Hiring Team

Top candidates are most interested in three things:

  • Who will I work for?
  • Who will I work with?
  • What is the environment like?

If you are trying to communicate this through a three-paragraph, written job description, good luck. Top candidates will not take the time to read your description, nevermind a passive candidate.

Want a good attention-getter? Put the hiring manager or member of the hiring team up front. You can do this by posting their name and some means of contacting — or better yet, connecting with — them within your job description. Suddenly, your job is better and more attractive than 99% of jobs on the Internet.

You want to avoid making job prospects feel like they are sending their applications into a black hole. This quality itself will make the job description more appealing.

2. Integrate Pictures and Video

Studies have shown that employers using recruiting videos received a 34% greater application rate.

So, an even better thought is to post a video directly from your hiring manager. The average job seeker spends less than 30 seconds reviewing a posting. Sites with more compelling and content-rich job descriptions can reach upwards of four minutes on a posting — that is due in large part to the pictures and video employers put up there.

SEE ALSO: Join Twitter Today! Recruiting Video Is So Bad It's Good

Whether candidates give you 30 seconds or four minutes, here are some easy ideas for video and pictures to consider:

  • Show team members.
  • Show the office space, inside and outside. (Surprisingly few employers do this!)
  • Show events you attended or hosted (including company parties).
  • Have a little fun and go unscripted.

3. Enable Social Connectability To Your Team

We have had A-player candidates tell us a job "hooked" them primarily due to the fact that they learned they knew someone who worked at the employer. So, enable candidates to easily see how they're connected to you and your team through social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn.

The providers of tools for connectability include Facebook and LinkedIn themselves (both of which will supply you with access to their API data), as well as new career-related sites like Glassdoor.

4. Give Your Employees A Good Reason To Share The Job

Just like any other shareable content on the Internet, if there's a "Share" link that allows postings to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it's already more likely to be shared. This will not only increase referral rates, but also create a better job applicant pool.

But you can't stop there.

You must arm your employees with awesome content to share. Awesome content that is based around people and emotion is more likely to be shared.

What makes for awesome content?

It begins with tips 1 – 3 above — if you can do those, your content is already more awesome. But the most important advice for providing awesome content is to be authentic and just tell the story of the job opportunity through the best tools you can find.

Always remember this headline when creating content: Your employees are your best social recruiters. Get them involved early and often in the process. They will feel ownership in the process and share more frequently.

5. Real-Time Interactivity

Finally, businesses should add commenting to their descriptions that allows candidates to "follow" jobs, ask questions online, and receive updates about the application process.

Candidates should be able to interact anonymously — or identify themselves if they choose. Real-time interactivity brings the job to life, and candidate can evaluate the opportunity over time versus in a 30-second browsing of the written job description.

Close the loop with all applicants and interested candidates when the position is filled by simply placing a comment. Everyone is notified, and you created a positive candidate experience instead of the application "black hole."

Applicants will feel more connected to — and impassioned about — a job description that provides them with job status updates straight from the hiring manager or, in some cases, the recruiting team.

Remember that job? It received more than 50 applications and resulted in an awesome hire. If you follow these five steps, the chances that your job description goes viral — like's — will increase exponentially.

What other ways can employers make job description go viral? Tell us in the comments.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we post a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we publish a huge range of job listings, we've selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, VCTStyleM

The Digerati: 7 Profiles of Successful Entrepreneurs

In the Day in the Life Series, Mashable hand-picked seven successful tech entrepreneurs to follow for a day. We wanted to know what their routine is like, what they eat for lunch, how much time they spend in meetings, who they seek out for advice and what keeps them going day after day on little sleep. What we found is that these entrepreneurs are driven by insatiable passion, and they'll let nothing stand in their way. Read on and get to know these entrepreneurs; click through for the full story, which will include either a cinematic video or a beautiful photo gallery of go-getters at work.

1. Felicia Day, YouTube Star and Founder of Geek and Sundry

Few people know YouTube stardom more than actress Felicia Day, who memorably co-starred in Joss Whedon's Internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. In April, Day launched Geek & Sundry, a multimedia company and premium YouTube channel dedicated to indie geek entertainment, and the sixth season of her web series The Guild will be released on Geek & Sundry soon, along with six new web shows. While shooting season six, Day let us follow her around to see what it's like to be in her shoes. (Hint: It involves long days and a lot of caffeine.)

Watch the video here.

2. Nihal Mehta, Founder and CEO, LocalResponse

Typical New Yorkers are always hustling, always busy. But when you're a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Alley, you might find yourself busier than most Manhattan dwellers. In fact, you might look at your Google Calendar only to see a collage of color and very little white space. And if you're like Nihal Mehta, that's exactly how you like it.

Mehta is the founder and CEO of LocalResponse, which targets social media content toward consumers who've displayed intent to purchase. For example, a Foursquare check-in at Walgreen's might yield a targeted tweet about a special discount.

"A phone knows who you are, where you are and where you've been. But no ad platform was taking advantage of that [when we launched]," Mehta told Mashable.

Watch the video here.

3. Jason Goldberg, CEO and Co-Founder, Fab

Fab has become the darling of the Interwebs. What started as a gay social network has pivoted into a design-focused, socially charged ecommerce site that sells everything from rugs to wine glasses to decorative tchotchkes. And co-founder/CEO Jason Goldberg is incredibly involved in every element of the Fab product.

We followed Goldberg around for a day to get a sense of what a typical in his life is, but we learned quickly that there's no such thing as a "typical day" for Goldberg. Just last month, he got married, and he parlayed his honeymoon into a trip to the Fab office in India. He returned stateside for a week, so he could have a board meeting and a global all-hands meeting, and then headed to Berlin for a week to visit Fab offices, before heading to Tokyo to check out trends in the design-forward city. Such is the life of a busy CEO, but you'll see in the photos that Goldberg does it all in style.

Check out pics here.

4. Ge Wang, Stanford Professor and Co-Founder, Smule

"I don't really have a set schedule," says Ge Wang. His name may not be familiar, but his work certainly is. Wang is the co-founder and chief creative officer of Smule, the app developer responsible for the Ocarina and iPad violin and other things that started out as "crazy-ass ideas." To date, Smule has accumulated more than 65 million downloads. Also in Wang's repertoire are the Stanford Laptop Orchestra and the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra. On a day-to-day basis, Wang explores social music-making, both as a Stanford professor and an app developer. For someone with interests and obligations as widespread as Wang, would you expect him to have a set schedule? And yet, between teaching, research, coding and product testing, Wang finds plenty of time to "goof off." Take a look at what a "typical" day entails for Wang. If you're like us, you're bound to be jealous.

Watch the video here.

5. Zach Sims, Co-Founder and CEO, Codecademy

Despite the early success and $12.5 million in funding for Codecademy, Zach Sims doesn't get a whole lot of sleep. He goes to bed around 2:00 a.m., usually wakes up by 7:00 a.m. and works almost non-stop. But he doesn't mind.

"I'm pretty much working whether I'm in the office or not. Having a phone means always being tied to work. That said, work isn't always 'work.' It's spending the day with smart people and building something that can change the world," he tells Mashable.

Check out pics here.

6. Scott Heiferman, Founder and CEO, Meetup

50,000 Meetups. 45,000 cities. 10.8 million monthly visitors. 11.1 million members. 117,000 Meetup topics.

When Scott Heiferman and his co-founder launched Meetup in the wake of 9/11, their mission was to revitalize local communities in America. With these numbers 10 years later, it's safe to say, "mission accomplished."

But Heiferman is still hard at work helping people find "Meetups Everywhere About Most Everything." The platform uses the power of the Internet to get people off the Internet, so they can develop relationships IRL with those who share their passions, from book clubs to entrepreneurship networking to running groups. If you have a passion, there's a Meetup for it.

Heiferman himself starts many days with a Meetup. "It's so important to stay connected to what you're doing," he says.

Watch the video here.

7. Kellee Khalil, Founder and CEO,

When Pinterest launched in 2010 and exploded in popularity in 2011, the big joke was that people use it to plan their weddings (even if they're single or not yet engaged), or to decorate their hypothetical dream homes. But little did brides-to-be know that there was something better for wedding planning, something more tailored to their precise needs. That product came from Los Angeles native Kellee Khalil, who received $1 million in seed funding to get her idea off the ground.

"We're in execution mode. You have to move 100 miles per hour in any direction you can. It's all about momentum and keeping the momentum going. That's what I love about business — you get to go hard," says Khalil.

Check out pics here.

The Search For Minority Entrepreneurs Is Over — Now They Need To Be Ready For Investors

Editor's note: Wayne Sutton is the founder and CEO of PitchTo, a mobile development lab that builds tools for investors to make smarter decisions and help entrepreneurs deliver exceptional pitches. This article is inspired by Dave McClure's "Women in Tech: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is." post. Follow Wayne on Twitter

What a difference a year makes.

Last year the question was "Where are the minority entrepreneurs?" It was highly motivated by the 2010 CBinsights Venture Capital Human Capital Report, which stated that only 1 percent of minority tech startup founders were founded by African-Americans. But the conversation about minority entrepreneurs didn't only apply to African-Americans, it also included women and Hispanics. The dialogue reached its peak by various snippets from the CNN's "Black in America 4" documentary and niche tech blogs.

Fast forward to today and, although we don't have an updated CBinsights report, I believe the search for minority entrepreneurs is over. I'm not saying there is an equal amount of minority entrepreneurs launching startups, but now there are global minority Meetups and exclusive accelerators, and my inbox is overflowing with young and old minority entrepreneurs looking to launch the next Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.  Now it's not an if but when we'll see the next Instagram or Pinterest founded by a "minority."  Regardless, some people are tired of the conversation and still wonder if there a problem at all.

For that let's take a look at some data:

Women and Minority Entrepreneurs and Investors

In 2011, women angels represented 12 percent of the angel market. Women-owned ventures accounted for 12 percent of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital, and 20.5 percent of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2011. While the number of women seeking angel capital is low, the percentage that receives angel investments is comparable to that of the overall market. These data indicate that when women do seek angel capital, they lead the market yield rate by 2 percent.

Minorities accounted for 4 percent of the angel population, and minority-owned firms represented 7 percent of the entrepreneurs who presented their business concepts to angels. The yield rate for these minority-owned firms was 14.7 percent, which for the fourth straight year is in line with market yield rates. However, the small percentage of minority-owned firms seeking angel capital is of concern. (Source: The Center for Venture Research)

Over the last year, we have seen more actors, athletes, and entertainers not only launch technology startups, but also invest into startups. Examples include Lady Gaga's Little Monsters social network; Jessica Alba's – a site to steer parents away from baby products made with toxic chemicals; Floyd Mayweather invested into the social game RockLive; and Serena Williams invested into video-sharing startup Mobli. Tony Gauda found CrunchFund company Bitcasa. Socialcam, which was founded by Mike Seibel, was sold to Autodesk for $60 million. Socialcam's diverse list of angel investors includes NBA players Shane Battier and Trajan Langdon.

The fact that celebrities and athletes are getting more active in the tech startup space could also continue the increase in minority entrepreneurship in various cultures, especially for African-Americans who often look to the sports and entertainment industries for careers. Now there are conferences such as Venture Draft, which educates and connects athletes to venture capitalists in the hopes of providing the necessary information that could spark investment opportunities to entrepreneurs in markets outside of Silicon Valley.

As for the Hispanic community, Mexican.VC has been leading the charge, and was acquired earlier this year by 500Startups. Another force in the Hispanic community and beyond is the Latino Startup Alliance founded by Jesse Martinez. The Latino Startup Alliance doesn't offer funding, but is a great resource in Silicon Valley for like-minded entrepreneurs.

Other programs, such as America 21, DreamIT Ventures (which has a minority-focused Accelerator), Black Founders, DiversiTech, Tristan Walker's CODE2040 (which matches black and Latino engineering students with Silicon Valley startups for summer internships), and the NewME Accelerator have played roles in increasing the number of minority entrepreneurs. Another group that provides venture capital to minorities is the Philadelphia-based Minority Angel Investor Network.

There is also the Venture Capital Access Program (VCap)  which launched earlier this year. The VCap program  is a partnership between the National Association of Investment Companies, Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, and the Marathon Foundation.

For women-specific programs, Women 2.0 provides tons of valuable information as well as hosts events, and Golden Seeds is an investment firm dedicated to delivering above-market returns through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs. The DigitalUndivided, a new women-led team, is hosting its first FOCUS100 symposium, which connects thought leaders, tech start ups founded or co-founded by black women, brand managers, and innovators in New York.

The newly launched Women Innovate Mobile (WIM) is an accelerator aimed at helping to promote companies started by female entrepreneurs in mobile technology. Both WIM and DreamIt provide financial investments for founders accepted into their programs. Often overlooked or not mentioned when it comes to supporting women entrepreneurs are programs such as Astia Entrepreneur and the Pipeline Fellowship. For programming and engineering there are women-specific programs such as Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, and national meetup groups such as Women Who Code and Girl Develop It.

But even though we have seen an increase in minority entrepreneurs, accelerators, and other community programs, it's going to take access to capital and a strong angel investor community to sustain the growth. As the saying goes "the color of money is green," but minority entrepreneurs will need support from minority angel investors and venture capital to compete in the competitive technology innovation business.

There are also a few well-known African-American Angel Investors, including early Zappos investor Erik Moore and Daymond John of the Shark Tank. With Daymond claiming the "throne" for now, there's an even smaller number of minority-owned venture capital firms across the country. They include Syncom Venture Partners led by Terry L. Jones; Echovc Partners, led by Eghosa Omoigui; H360 Capital led by Hezekiah Griggs III; Bronze Investments, led by Stephen DeBerry; Valencia Ventures, led by Stephan Adams; and Jalia Ventures, led by Kesha Cash. While these firms may be minority-owned, that certainly doesn't mean they only fund minorities; they, like everyone else, are looking for great companies — regardless of management's race, ethnicity, or gender — to invest.

There is no way these organizations alone can support the growing number of minority entrepreneurs — and they shouldn't. But they can help, and what each "underserved" community needs to do, as Dave McClure says, is to: "STOP TALKING and start TAKING ACTION to create solutions." Dave challenged individuals to make at least three investments of $5,000 or more in startup companies in the next 12 months. I challenge you to do the same.

If you're a minority entrepreneur, the challenge for you and all of us is to not only be good, but to be great — that is, if you would like to raise capital for your startup. The money is there but the question is are you ready?

[Image via Adria Richards, Flickr]

Five Big Changes In The iOS 6 App Store (And What Developers Should Do)

Some developers are complaining that since the introduction of the Chomp-inspired App Store redesign in iOS 6, sales have noticeably dropped. Others say the changes are good for indie developers. Is the new iOS App Store a step forward or step back for mobile app developers, users, and the app economy?

Whichever side you're on, there are a number of reasons why developers are feeling the effects. In the new iOS App Store, the user interface encourages a slower search method (flipping through cards, not scrolling through vertical lists). Less attention is given to new releases and category-based "Genius" recommendations are given a higher billing. What's more, App Store SEO (ASO) is basically a black box that no one seems to understand.

It's difficult to parse the legitimate gripes about user interface and its subsequent impact on the long tail app developer community, but from the complaints arising from second-rate developers we know that less popular apps have lost ground and visibility. But there are still some things which developers should be aware of, whether or not they agree the changes.

1) The Shift To Horizontal Scrolling And Cards

The most noticeable, and also most critical, change is the way users are meant to navigate through search results. Before, apps would be presented in a list view, with five items visible per page, and the ability to quickly scroll down through the first 25 results for that search before having to tap to load more.

Now, search results display one card (one app) at a time on iPhone. You'll see the title, developer, rating, and a screenshot. Having an interface shown in this way means users will tire of scrolling through results much more quickly than before. If an app is at the bottom of rankings, it may never be seen.

Developers not raking highly in charts and search results will have to spend more time working on keywords to make sure they're picking up users from very specific, targeted search queries. This is important because, with the new layout, users are likely to spend less time searching through search results and will soon learn to type in specific keywords to find what they need.

Under-the-radar developers will also need to focus on marketing and social promotion as tools to get the word out. In addition, the app's first screenshot needs to showcase the best view of their app, because the new visual-centric interface now encourages users to buy based on sight, not details. This is now an app's biggest selling point so choose it wisely.

2) Using Descriptions & What's New To Attract Users

For users who tap to view more info about an app, the first bit of text they'll see which describes what the app actually does is right below the screenshot. That means developers have but a few of lines to really hone their pitch and capture user's interest. Think Twitter pitch, not blog post.

While it's still important to have a good, well-written description that talks about all an app's features, many users are going to be buying based on the screenshot and the handful of words they read there in the truncated description. In fact, users just taking a quick glance are now more likely to read the "What's New" update information which appears just below the short description, than they are to tap the "Read More" link to read the rest of the description in detail. Developers can use this to their advantage, however, by filling out the "What's New" section with enticing details about upgraded features, rather than simply writing "bug fixes," for example.

3) Stuffing Keywords Into Titles Won't Help Users 

Another big change for developers is how apps' names are now being truncated thanks to the new layout. While having keywords in a title may help with app search engine visibility (to what extent, only Apple knows), the practice no longer helps individual users figure out what your app does. That's because with the new cards interface, longer app titles are cut off, leaving only the "…" where normally more of the title would display.

Now, to be clear, the iOS App Store has always cut off titles after some point in its various sections, but with the new card-style layout, even finding your favorite version of "Angry Birds" might be a challenge. "Angry Birds Free" fits entirely upon a search for "Angry Birds," but "Angry Birds Space" is cut off as "Angry Birds S.." Both "Angry Birds Seasons" (regular and free) are also truncated as "Angry Birds S.." This system forces users to look at screenshots and prices, not just titles to determine whether they want the free or paid game and which version.

Developers who have several similar apps should make sure that their screenshots and the short, truncated descriptions are differentiated so as to help searchers find the right version of the application. Even if it's just the difference between the free and pro versions of the app, using a screenshot that shows off a key pro feature as the lead image could help users make the right choice.

4) Exposure Via New Releases Section

Another change involves the list of New Releases, something many indie and new developers once relied on for exposure, especially if they didn't end up making the top rankings and other featured lists within the store. Previously, when browsing by category, you would see Paid, Free and New Releases lists side by side. Now, when you're in the "Charts" section, you'll see Paid, Free, and Top Grossing instead. Meanwhile, the "new" apps are listed over in the "Featured" section, under their respective category. Here, you'll find the Paid and Free Charts, as well as the "What's Hot" list and a section called "New."

But here's the kicker – that "New" section doesn't appear to be a comprehensive list of all the apps streaming into that section. No longer are the apps timestamped by their arrival date, either. Instead, the section seems to include a hand-picked (or maybe algorithmically picked?) curated selection of applications. In other words, developers can't count on the release of an app to give them a quick hit of exposure – working on keywords, descriptions, marketing, social promotion and other means will take on increased importance.

5) Use App Store SEO!

As all the above sections have indicated, App Store SEO (ASO) will be increasingly important to take advantage of in order to get apps found.

Developers who have only paid a bit of attention to the techniques involved with app store SEO would do themselves a favor by learning the documented tips and tricks that are out there, and experimenting to see which work best for them. Some resources for this include, SearchMan, MobileDevHQ, and this handy App Store SEO cheat sheet (PDF) from Apptamin.

According to findings from, there have been a number of SEO changes that have been implemented since the App Store's "Chomp" update. To summarize, these include better handling of plurals, keywords' increased importance (now as important as the app name), a change which sees the category name now functioning as keywords, no bonuses for keyword phrases, and more. In addition, in-app purchase names don't help much with positioning now. This is actually good news for developers whose keywords competed with spammy apps that were using in-app purchase titles to rank higher in results.

While the above slide deck is a good starting point, some of the examples are not 100% accurate. "Donut" and "Donuts" return different results (pg. 4), but the deck implies they are quite close. Also, be aware that spelling mistakes (pg. 15) for "game" (like gamo, gamr, gamw) give different results, too.

Although it can be a challenge to get the keywords right, doing so can actually mean a boost in discovery as users begin to craft more targeted search queries. For example (see below), an app that ranks low on the charts for "poker" might be in the number one position for "poker casino."

The iOS App Store change is about Apple teaching users how to search and discover new apps. With some 600,000+ apps in the store, it's unsustainable to have users browsing through category lists.


It's a powerful thing, this Internet of ours. The greatest tool for the distribution of knowledge, the administration of compassion, and development of conversation ever created. And the events of this week have shown how it can be a platform for tolerance and understanding, for love and peace.

Particularly touching was the story of a man who, with the assistance of friends and the Internet, was able to confront a tormentor with his misdeeds, bringing the young troll to heel and redeeming a child who surely knew not what he did. An example for the ages of gentleness and cooler minds prevailing over humanity's companion and adversary, hate.

Yes, isn't it pretty to think so?

The Internet is indeed as described above. It is also the greatest tool for the intensification of hatred, the enablement of isolation, and the annihilation of meaning ever created. To me, the events of this week prove nothing but how man is the worst of all creatures, an intelligent brute, home to a dwindling conscience and infinite entitlement.

The Internet is at the heart of a cultural cancer that will only worsen if we fail to acknowledge the extent to which it has already penetrated.

The 17-year-old son in the story is inflicted with this cancer. And his humanity appears to have entered terminal stage. I don't share the rosy prognosis of the commentators, who seem to think that years of impunity will be counteracted by one conviction. I feel no compunction in saying that he is a monster, in the proper, non-hysterical sense of the word. A monster made, not born: incubated for years in the fact (no longer a notion) that on the Internet, he is able to do whatever he wants and fear no retribution.

Shall I say thou art a man, that hast all the symptoms of a beast? How shall I know thee to be a man? By thy shape? That affrights me more, when I see a beast in likeness of a man. – Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy

The Anopticon

The fundamental advantage of the Internet is instant access to distant resources, bypassing restrictions that have for centuries bound people and nations. This empowerment of the individual works to two ends. First, it protects the individual (partially) against a lack of civilization's resources (i.e. peace, infrastructure, expertise, population). Second, it removes (again, partially) the obligation to participate in civilization (i.e. laws, rights, social structure). In this way, a person growing up in want and oppression can reach through the ragged curtain and seize the ideals of enlightenment. It is the promise of wisdom and modernity, extended universally. It is one of the best and most important things ever created.

Unfortunately, removing the obligation to participate in civilization removes the reasonable restrictions man has placed upon himself. "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" — sometimes for good reason.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde provides a tidy example. A facet of the story not explicitly indicated but perceived by many readers is that there is no Mr. Hyde. Jekyll does not transform into an evil monster; the potion simply grants him anonymity, allowing him to act without consequence, and the rest follows naturally. It's a retelling of the story of the Ring of Gyges, an affirmation of the age-old wisdom that people are only good when someone is watching.

Who was watching the 17-year-old who terrorized a distant stranger (and who knows how many others) with threats of a maturity and intensity that indicated not just a propensity for but a schooling in hate and cruelty? Harassing someone full-time isn't something you do on a whim. What about the years this human in name only has been developing a sense of invulnerability and vindictive hatred? Who was watching him then? No one. And in a way, no one could. It's like the reverse of a Panopticon. The prisoners can see out, but no one can see them.

It was completely by chance that he was caught and his monstrous trajectory gently checked. The most trifling of precautions would have shielded this growing monster from any consequences. That the story was told at all, and the attention it received, testifies to the frequency of outcomes that are the total opposite. Can you really doubt that there are a million more of this particular monster getting away with the same crimes?

Don't give me counter-examples. When you are told your leg is broken, you don't plead healthy lungs and a good diet. To recount the Internet's many great accomplishments, past and potential, is just a distraction. When you perceive evil, to avert your gaze is the same as closing your eyes. To avert your own is to condone; to avert that of others is to become an accessory. We must not take our eyes off of this problem. Whatever good the Internet does, it is also a school and a shelter for hate.

The Mercury Effect

It's not pessimistic or cynical to say so. It is inescapable. Any great edifice casts a shadow, and sometimes the shadow is even the greater part. I don't think that's the case with the Internet, but all the same, it does no good to pretend that what evil you find is an isolated incident. It's pervasive and it's systematic, because hate and the Internet fit together like lock and key.

How? The purpose of hate is to justify your actions by dehumanizing the other, and the origin of hate is isolation. On the Internet, you are as isolated as you make yourself, and the other is never human to begin with.

On a more mundane level, think of the way we all self-select our news, gradually building the lens through which we view the world — excluding the unpleasant and magnifying what gratifies us. The result is distortion, innocent perhaps, but distortion still. If the healthiest-minded and most curious among us self-delude like this, how do you think the mentally ill, the bigoted, the wrathful, the ignorant fare? Will a mind corrupted by hate do what we cannot, and seek out an antidote to its own disorder? Is there a precedent for this in all history? Or is history a parade of maniacs and petty tyrants pursuing the narrowest path that corresponds to their own prejudices?

It is true that the resources of the Internet are, for one person, more or less inexhaustible. What does that have to do with the actual habits with which people seek out and internalize knowledge? Is it for lack of books about the slave trade that people opposed the civil rights movement? Do terrorists crash planes into buildings because they didn't have access to a decent breakdown of Greek philosophy? Absurd. Give someone the world and they will take what they want and leave the rest.

It was ever thus, and it has not changed in the last two decades. It was fortunate that there was a wall between the sick and the means of exacerbating their sickness. There was also a wall between the wise and greater wisdom. They were the same wall.

Now the knowledge of the world is at our fingertips. In this way a child can explore the minds of white supremacists as easily as he can study those of the founding fathers. He can find pictures of tortured animals as easily as he can find coloring books of dinosaurs. He can watch videos of beheadings as easily as he can watch documentaries on birds. He is free to choose, and no one will know his choice.

This leveling of the access of knowledge is not good or bad; it's simply the case. So how can you expect that its effects will be only good or bad? For every child expanding their horizon, there is one contracting it, using new tools that enable more complete isolation, more foolproof concealment of the traces, more people ready to tell him that no, the Holocaust didn't happen, yes, the President is a Muslim, no, you don't need to learn math, yes, you can fake ADHD and sell your dexedrine, and no, you won't get caught. The Internet levels not only access but credibility, to the uninformed at least, and why shouldn't a curious and lightly bigoted young person choose to believe that Zionists have been perpetuating the myth of the Holocaust for decades? And why shouldn't they send death threats? They're in the right, after all; the guys at StormFront told him so.

No need to use your imagination — just read the news. Fresh atrocities delivered to your doorstep daily. Our 17-year-old troll among them. You think he is an exception, an outlier? You have not been paying very close attention. He is the vanguard.

What use is all this hand-wringing, you ask? I think that it is one of the most important things in the world right now to understand the capacity for destruction latent in the Internet. No technology reaches its full potential, by definition, until it achieves the limit for harm as well as good. Sometimes the harm comes first — for example, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sometimes the good comes first, which few will dispute has been the case with the internet. When and how will the other shoe drop?

I certainly don't know. But I think that we have been treating the idea lightly, and I think when it does happen, it's going to be worse than anyone thought. We've been basking in the sun for so long and we think the worst that can happen is a sunburn. After all, that's what we really thought about sunlight, right, just before everyone got diagnosed with skin cancer? And that's how we have considered the potential damage enabled by the most powerful and pervasive development in generations: a sunburn. Because this too is the kind of damage that takes years to show. Like in a child who thinks that driving a person insane with death threats is a game.


There is no prescription, unfortunately, because hate is a cancer of the mind — and like cancer of the body, there is not one cure because there is not one disease. We are not going to beat hate. Hate appears because of the distance between people and the weakness within people. The advances of the last 30 years have changed what it means to be a person: how we communicate and with whom; how we perceive ourselves and others; how and what we learn. Let's not be naive about what that means for us, the ways it may be changing us for the worse. But hate is born in ignorance and in isolation, which anyone can fight with vigilance and compassion. Wherever hate happens, we let it happen, in one another. Considering the power we have been given, a power so great that we are only beginning to comprehend it, there is no excuse for that.

10 Essential Resources for Bootstrapping Businesses

In the Bootstrapping Business Series, Mashable talked to a ton of entrepreneurs about how they got started, what tools they live by and what they wished they had known at the beginning. The result is a deep pool of tips and tricks for aspiring business owners who are looking to raise money, start a tech startup or build their brand.

From selecting the best employees to putting together an awesome workspace, the little decisions are the ones that add up and will make you successful in the long run. Take a look at a roundup of 10 of these solid primers below. Have tips of your own? Tell us in the comments.

1. What Founders Wish They Knew Before Starting Companies

The entrepreneurship journey isn't an easy one — developing a product, scaling a business and growing an audience are intimidating tasks that necessitate endless hustle, ambition and passion. And even if you have all of those qualities in spades, there's still a good chance your venture will fail.

But one in 12 startups succeed, and these businesses are healthy, growing and maybe even profitable. But that's not to say there weren't bumps in the road. We've asked some founders for things they wish they knew when they started their companies, in the hopes that it'll help you and your startup avoid a fatal flaw.

Read the full story here.

2. 10 Tips for a More Beautiful and Functional Home Office

If you work from home, you owe it to yourself to set up a proper office space. It's vital you have somewhere to concentrate that's separate from your home life — and is hopefully a nice space to spend time in. A good working space is even more important if you operate your small business out of your home.

To help you out on this rather specific front, we have pulled together some useful tips from experienced home-workers and chatted with home office expert Lisa Kanarek, founder of

Read the full story here.

3. 4 Ways to Grow Your Customer Base

Once your startup hits the market, there's reason to celebrate — but this is only the beginning. The next step is growth, either indirectly through user acquisition or by bringing in additional customers. You know your product is performing well and has a few happy users or customers, so how do you get the word out?

The challenges faced by early-stage startup are unique. There is no existing user base to piggyback on with network dynamics and little data to determine the most effective entry points that lead to a paying customer. Also, many startups are too small to bring on a PR staff, and most founders are not educated in the best tactics for reaching out to media. The good news is that social media can enable you to reach potential customers without depending on traditional outlets, and sometimes these tactics will work hand-in-hand.

Read the full story here.

4. 4 Hiring Tips for Your Lean Startup

There's a ton do when you're first starting a company. Each co-founder or employee executes several job descriptions jumbled together, and it seems a simple solution to just hire a new person and delegate away responsibilities, never to be worried about again. This becomes especially relevant post-funding, because it suddenly becomes plausible to hire with the intended result of getting more done faster.

But this isn't necessarily true, according to Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology. "As you add people to a team or project, there is an increase in communications overhead that makes everyone slightly less productive," he explains.

It may seem counterintuitive to do anything slow when following lean startup methods, but Ries' point stands: To continue executing effectively, you must not introduce a point of friction to your team. Finding the right person is paramount, and worth the wait.

Read the full story here.

5. 6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Freemium for Your Small Business

One of the most difficult things about bootstrapping a startup is utilizing the right resources to optimize efficiency and promote growth. And, it doesn't help that the best tools for the job often come at a pretty hefty price. It's easy to feel shortchanged, especially when the apps of your dreams feel like a mouse-click away.

But don't despair. Over the last few years, startups benefited from the so-called "freemium" model — a company offers the basic functions of an app suite for free, and then charges more for premium features and bigger storage space. A classic example is newsletter platform MailChimp, which is free for a few subscribers, but as your userbase — and business — grows, so does the cost, increasing incrementally according to your number of subscribers. Taking advantage of freemium options can help you put together the enterprise arsenal of your dreams while also maintaining that shoestring budget.

However, it's important to note that choosing freemium doesn't automatically guarantee satisfaction. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you hedge your bets within the freemium system — and benefit like a high-rolling VIP.

Read the full story here.

6. 10 Must-Have Tools for Entrepreneurs

For many entrepreneurs, the startup journey transforms them into more of a generalist than they likely were in a position at a larger company. This calls for specialized tools. The vocation-centric applications and programs no longer cut it.

Productivity is essential when you have a lot on your plate. Time is money, so when an app is able to help you do more faster, it becomes worth paying for. Other apps will streamline communication or collaborative processes and reduce the friction of working in tandem with team members.

Of course, no entrepreneur is all work, no play — taking a break will give your brain a rest, and it's important to have options on hand that let you re-center your chi.

Read the full story here.

7. 4 Ways to Budget Your Business Like a Pro

Nobody likes to talk about budgeting. Even more, budgeting is sort of a drag to do — but all can agree it's incredibly important.

A few companies have launched software to make budgeting faster and easier. Plus, options for interaction with fellow entrepreneurs on sites like Twitter and Quora enables relevant feedback so you don't pay excessive amounts for a service you don't need. Read on to discover a few ways you can manage your company's spectrum of debits and credits without too much stress.

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8. 8 Tips for Building Your Brand on the Cheap

When starting your business, we know there's a lot to handle and think about. There's your (growing) team, your intellectual property, product management and a pinched budget, all while you're trying to navigate the waters of entrepreneurship.

But even without millions your brand can make an impression. All the free social media tools are a great start — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are key, but there's more you can do to make an impression. We've rounded up eight ways to build your brand on the cheap — because there are more important things to spend money and time on, like your product and talent.

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9. 7 Tech Upgrades for Your Small Businesses

There's nothing better than a shiny new piece of technology, but not everyone can just splurge for a laptop, tablet or iPhone every time another one comes around.

With so many tech upgrades and accessories on the market to turn existing hardware into even more powerful mechanisms, it's not unusual for small businesses to save time, money and a whole lot of headaches by implementing a few simple add-ons.

For example, some small businesses are using systems that turn mobile devices into landlines to help make conference and video calls more user-friendly and less expensive. The AudiOffice by Invoxia features a dock equipped with speakers for devices such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad, and thanks to apps such as Skype and FaceTime that allow businesses to communicate with each other via chat, small businesses can cut down on communication costs.

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10. 4 Ways Startups Can Leverage Employee-Owned Tech

The concept of BYOD, or "Bring Your Own Device," has gained plenty of traction as the mode du jour for budding startups. And it's easy to see why more companies — both big and small — are willing to take the plunge: The savings involved in allowing employees to utilize their own devices for work can be staggering.

But don't get too caught up in the savings, or you'll expose yourself to a world of risk. What companies gain in convenience and extra cash can be lost in poor control and flimsy policy. The unknown elements that can happen with a BYOD policy have led critics to call it "Bring Your Own Disaster," and it's easy to see how even the best intentions can lead to a serious security breach or aggravating compatibility problems.

Thinking of switching to BYOD? Here are four things to keep in mind when crafting and enforcing your policy. It's important to note that the preferences and cultures of each company are different, so use your own needs as a guideline to developing a BYOD system that works for you.

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