States of Invention

Research from the Kaufman Foundation looks for the areas of innovation across the US while publishing abroad New Economy Index. From the 2010 edition come a number of detailed statistics.  The top overall states will draw the most attention, yet more interesting are some of the smaller details. Here, then, are my top five categories (in no particular order) from…

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Entrepreneurs as tax dodgers

It's a little early for April Fools, and perhaps it is just my long exposure to entrepreneurs, but there is actually an argument circulating which labels entrepreneurs as tax cheats.  This is because entrepreneurs, when (and if) they realize gains on their equity, pay capital gains tax rates on the stock appreciation, instead of the higher rates used for ordinary…

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Reading List: The Patience of Jobs

Perhaps the most amusing and unscripted nugget to emerge from the Apple aura is the reissue of a 1985 interview with a 29-year-old Steve Jobs. In, um, Playboy magazine. It's refreshing to revisit the early incarnation of Apple (back when it still carried the word "computer" in its title), and see Jobs speculate on a yet undefined "nationwide communications network." …

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Lessons from Start-Up School

As the incubator model spreads and both virtual and real communities of start-ups proliferate, entrepreneurs learning from entrepreneurs is becoming more of an every-day event. Several groups are institutionalizing these lessons, and even opening them up to casual observers.  At the recent Y Combinator's Startup School event, it was as if one of the classmates in the front row took…

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Failure’s Lessons

I've always been a keen believe that the lesson of failure are often more instructive than those of success.  One tends to take personal credit for good outcomes regardless of their origin, and assign bad outcomes to some outside event.  So it's been fascinating -- and invaluable -- to see a number of entrepreneurs and companies come forward with their…

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Get A Data-Driven Life

One of the most fascinating and dynamic sectors is pure information. Technological advances now enable immense databases, which in turn provide new insights on both simple and complex correlations, and the ability to spot (or debunk) trends.  A number of successful startups (most notably foursquare) are providing, slicing and dicing information as well as providing considerable analytical context, often in…

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Tech IPO: Comeback Kid or Merger Catalyst?

After venture-backed IPOs went MIA in 2009, VentureBeat notes the oddly imprecise appearance of 15-17 IPOs in Q2 alone, close to 2007 levels.  But even VentureBeat sounds a cautious note, since post-IPO performance has been poor, with most securities trading below their opening price.  More interesting is that the median time from firm creation to IPO in this data set…

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Software Profits: where’s the App for that?

The phenomenon of the iPhone can't be disputed, with about 9 million sold and growing, with a reach and influence that has made Apple the most valuable technology company in the world.  The primary driver is the "i" not the "Phone" -- the versatile and expanding universe of individual applications available on the device. This, and the competitive expansion of…

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Summer Funding (happened so fast)…

It has long been a repeated truism that one can't raise venture capital over the summer.  Last year a VC actually looked at the data and finds both that an equal proportion of deals close in the summer months, and that his own firm's busiest closing month was August (followed, oddly, by December, which is usually seen as another holiday…

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Equity Financing Alternatives

Given the limited access to equity capital -- and lower valuations if you can find investors -- a variety of other possibilities are emerging as options for smaller and early-stage companies.  Among these are mezzanine loans, royalty financing, and a new breed of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Mezzanine financing becomes increasingly popular when valuations are low, and equity is…

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