Thursday, September 29, 2011

Facebook’s “De-friending” Faux Pas

Facebook changes inadvertently allow users to see who defriended them

Digital Trends

By Mike Flacy | Digital Trends – Tue, 27 Sep, 2011

Assuming that a user has already enabled the new Timeline profile page on Facebook, there’s a feature built into the Timeline that allows to users to view how many friends were added each year. Go to the Timeline page and choose a year on the right side of the page. Scroll through the posts and locate the “Friends” box. Within the Timeline, Facebook groups actions that occurred over the course of the year including new friendships, photos uploaded, events attended and new likes. On the “Friends” box, click the “Made X New Friends” link and this should load a pop-up window that lists all friendships created during that year.

Scroll through the list and anyone that terminated the friendship will appear with an “Add Friend” button rather than a “Friends” button. However, the “Add Friend” could also mean that the user terminated the friendship. Users that deleted their profiles at some point over the years won’t appear on this list and users that have been blocked won’t appear here as well. For instance, an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend won’t appear within this list if the blocking feature was enabled to completely cut out that person from a user’s social network.

The Timeline change to the profile page represents a massive alteration to the original Facebook design. The new design allows users to select both a banner picture to go across the front of the profile as well as the identical profile picture. Users can scroll through the profile timeline by month or by year. Information that was listed on the info link of the profile page is now within the Timeline design as well. For instance, users can scroll through the years and view previous jobs. Users can also assign photos to previous jobs, both on the start and the end dates. Timeline should be available to all Facebook users within the next two weeks.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Venture Capitalists Bring Home the Bacon

Why venture capitalists invest in pigs, not chickens

pigs01 – Jeff Bussgang is a former entrepreneur and partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog Seeing Both Sides. The views expressed are his own. –

There is an old parable about the concept of commitment when it comes to breakfast. The story goes that when looking at a plate of the traditional fare of ham and eggs, it’s obvious that the chicken is an interested party, but the pig is truly committed.

When I tell this story to entrepreneurs, my point is usually to contrast the approach venture capitalists have to startups as compared to entrepreneurs. The VC is an interested party, but at the end of the day, if their startups live or die, they typically still have their job, their office and their portfolio of other investments. The entrepreneur, on the other hand, is the pig – truly committed to the outcome, with no fallback.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the parable of the pig and the chicken in the context of the characteristics that make a great entrepreneur – and the kind of entrepreneur that we VCs in general, and my firm Flybridge Capital in particular, like to back. In short, we like to back pigs – entrepreneurs who are truly and completely committed to the outcome of their venture, have a lot of stake, and no fallback.

How do we discern the difference between the two entrepreneurial archetypes? It’s usually relatively easy, but sometimes subtle. Here are a few of the top characteristics we see in entrepreneurs who appear to be exhibiting behavior that suggests they’re more like “chickens” when it comes to their startup:

1) Prefer to wait to start their venture only after they receive funding (“We are ready to go, as soon as you give us your money.” …um, does that mean you won’t start the company if I don’t give you my money?).

2) Don’t quit their day jobs before receiving funding. (“This has been a side project for a year, and I can’t wait to focus on it full-time” … um, if you can’t wait – why are you waiting?)

3) Don’t physically move themselves or their teammates to be in the same geography when starting their venture (think Eduardo Saverin in the Social Network spending his summer in NYC).

4) Prefer to play a hands-off chairman role or look to quickly hire a COO/president in the early days rather than operate as the hands-on CEO/president. (I’ll leave out the numerous examples to protect the innocent, but as a rule of thumb, companies with fewer than 40 employees don’t typically need a COO).

5) Are unwilling to fully leverage their own personal and professional networks to drive recruiting, fundraising and business development.

On the other hand, the top five characteristics we see in “pig” entrepreneurs include:

1) Commit to the new company everything they have – even if that means moving their families, quitting their jobs, or even dropping our of their schools (as much as I don’t want to condone or encourage this).

2) Put themselves “out there” publicly and visibly with the industry, their relationships, family and friends. If the company is a failure, it will not be a quiet one.

3) Have not yet achieved a mega-success already and/or yet achieved wealth beyond the point of needing to work again. (I remember my mentor and boss at Open Market, CEO Gary Eichhorn, congratulating me when I became a first-time homeowner in the mid-1990s and observed: “I hope you got a large mortgage so that you are locked in and highly motivated to create wealth.”).

4) Participate in a minimal set of outside interests and hobbies that aren’t directly related to their business. Starting a company is a consuming, obsessive, 24-7 endeavor. Raising a family and remaining healthy is enough of a battle. When we see entrepreneurs with long lists of hobbies and outside interests, it’s a red flag. One of my partners went so far as to look up the number of times an entrepreneur played golf one summer (which apparently is public information somehow, although I’m not a golfer so still don’t know how he figured this out) as a barometer for how hard they were applying themselves to their new venture.

5) There exists a rare breed of entrepreneurs that have already had mega-success are so special and driven that they remain obviously hungry and scrappy. For these entrepreneurs, the key is to watch and see if they’re still as hands on as they ever were (e.g., obsessed with the product, knee-deep in the financial model, out in front of the organization in selling). Again, these entrepreneurs are very special.

So what are you – the chicken or the pig? Investors clearly prefer one model over the other, not just in the founder, but in the entire team. As a result, as you are assembling your start-up team, be careful not to hire chickens. In the eyes of prospective investors, you may find it’s even less kosher than hiring pigs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

University Degree Not Required…

WorkopolisThe highest paying jobs - that don't require a university degree

Elizabeth Bromstein| Sep 6, 2011 11:15 AM

jobs01 It’s become ingrained in North American society that smart kids go to university and that’s what you need to do if you want to get a good job. But that’s not always the case anymore, reports 24/7 Wall St. There are a lot of folks out there with degrees - and heavy debt - who can’t find jobs. (Not that this wasn’t always the case in certain areas of academia. How’s that English Lit degree working for you?)

Take heart kids. According to the 24/7 Wall St. report, there are “hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree,” and while I sense a possible whiff of hyperbole in that claim, they’ve compiled a list of the ten highest-paying jobs that they say only require a high school education -- which is, again, misleading. A lot of these jobs require certification and a post-secondary education is often helpful, just not mandatory. Still, worth a look, right?

Here they are:

10. Captains, Mates, Pilot of Water Vessel

Median annual income: $64,180

High-end annual income: $117,310

Long hours, isolation and danger are among the reasons commercial ship jobs pay well. To become a sailor on a merchant vessel, one can either enroll in a marine academy, or sign on as a deckhand, which has no prerequisites and a median annual wage of $35,000 -- and sounds kind of like an old time-y musical or pirate movie. Then you just work your way up through the ranks. Swab that deck.

9. Gaming Manager

Median annual income: $66,960

High-end annual income: $116,070

This one isn’t exactly a breeze, apparently because there aren’t that many casinos, and so there are only 6,900 jobs in the US, and, of course, fewer in Canada. Also, 24/7 Wall St. says you usually have to work your way up from being a dealer “one of the worst-paying jobs in the country.” I searched around and found an annual average salary of just over $14,000. Yikes. 24/7 lists the gaming manager’s potential salary at over $110,000 a year. More snooping came up with an average of about $60,000 in Canada.

8. Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Median annual income: $68,820

High-end annual income: $119,320

24/7 says, “A high school diploma is usually all one needs to become a detective for a city, state or the federal government. Detectives, as well as police officers, are subjected to ‘rigorous personal and physical qualifications.’ Very rarely do these qualifications extend to a bachelor’s degree.”

How does this translate in Canadian? The RCMP doesn’t use the rank “detective” but a post-secondary education, though helpful, is not required to join. Constable salaries range from $48,000 - $78,000 and, I’m told by the RCMP’s press office, go up from there.

7. Elevator Installers

Median annual income: $70,910

High-end annual income: $101,390

Really? Huh. This job also apparently extends to “escalators, chairlifts, dumbwaiters, moving walkways, and similar equipment.” So you spend a lot of time climbing things or hanging in service shafts, which is not fun, and the higher risk of injury accounts for some of the good pay. An apprenticeship program, which involves both on-the-job training and classroom instruction, is required.

6. Web Developers

Median annual income: $75,650

High-end annual income: $119,940

24/7 says “While most web developers are now required to have a bachelor’s or associate degree, certification can be enough to get a job at a major company.” Also, this really is the sort of skill that will put you in high demand if you become a whiz.

Jobs can involve managing networks, designing and building company websites, and maintaining web security.

5. Nuclear Power Plant Operator

Median annual income: $75,650

High-end annual income: $119,940

Apparently a post-secondary education is useful but not necessary. 24/7 says most training is provided on the job and in plant classrooms. Operators are subject to

random drug and alcohol screenings, a medical examination, and must maintain a license, and take regular refresher courses.

4. Police Chief

Median annual income: $78,260

High-end annual income: $123,630

You don’t need post-secondary to join the force and from there, the idea is that you work your way up. For the Toronto Police force, post-secondary is “advantageous” but not required. You do need to get the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Certificate and you can’t have a criminal record (sorry).

3. Construction Managers

Median annual income: $83,860

High-end annual income: $150,250

Some companies require bachelor’s degrees, but not all or even most. 24/7 says “Any construction worker with significant experience and skill has the potential to make manager after gaining some additional classroom experience.”

2. Software Developers

Median annual income: $87,970

High-end annual income: $133,110

Software developers research, design, develop and test software. A certificate will often do to land a post (not always, though) and it helps if you can amass a lot of experience. Certification courses are available all over the place, and a lot of people teach themselves sitting alone in their rooms and geeking out.

Back in 2007, Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a “leading provider of IT professionals,” told Forbes, "It would be extremely unlikely for a high school graduate to obtain a position as a developer making six figures. But after some years of experience, and in the right marketplace like the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle or Washington, D.C., where technical skills are in high demand, a talented person could make $100,000 lacking a college education."

1. Commercial Airline Pilot

Median annual income: $103,210

High-end annual income: $139,330

24/7 says, “Former Air Force and Navy pilots have traditionally had the fast track to a commercial license because of the flight time and experience they’d gained. That holds true today, and most major airlines also require some college education from their pilots. However, there are plenty of smaller companies that will take any individual with enough logged flight time and aircraft knowledge.”

So, there you go. Drop out of school and let the fun begin! Kidding, of course.