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AntHillz : LinkedIn To Your Trusted Colleagues

AntHillz.com is a Philadelphia startup looking to fulfill the desire of many business professional by providing a  network of trusted contacts.  The Key to achieving this goal lies in necessity of all professionals to “write recommendations of each other’s work before they can connect.”  AntHillz.com hopes to reinstill the necessity of reliable connections, by accentuating the futility of random ones.  Furthermore, the peers recommendation aspect of the site should further their aggressive entry into the business networking market.

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FeedBurning

Feedburner is a web 2.0 news feed management system. Founded in 2004, Feedburner provides tools to bloggers, podcasters, and other web masters to provide unique RSS feeds. Google purchased Feedburner in 2007 for 100 million, and subsequently eliminated the fees on many of Feedburners pay programs. An interview with Dick Costolo, prompted him for advice for bloggers and entrepreneurs. For bloggers he advised writing frequently and for entrepreneurs to not take the advice of others. Costolo noted that, “There are fifty reasons not to start a company, and when you start it, there are fifty reasons not to continue to pursue it when you run into the first spot of trouble…You have to focus solely on what you want to accomplish and ignore everything else.” I think that’s the type of entrepreneurial spirit that succeeds in the web. That’s the news for feedburner, plain and simple.

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When Secondary Life turns Primary

Just when you though your first life was too much to handle…they offered you a second one.  Second Life embodies the fantasies of its users; your second life is everything you want it to be.  Yet, amoung numerous opportunites to seek adventure and run a business, second life offers people the opportunity to hide behind a mask and socialize.  The average avatar, the virtual represenation of the person, looks nothing like its user.  Inherently wrong?, I think not, but to what extent can someone pretend to living an “imaginary” life before being a virtual puppeter moves from hobby to a livelihood?  As an online multiplayer environment with unlimited potential does Second Life pose the same problems that exist in other MMO’s like World of Warcraft.  Yahoo Game’s recently told the story of WOW causing such marital discord that a couple divorced.  Now I’m not saying that Second Life will increase the divorce rate in America, but I’m sure that it will impact the way relationships are conducted.  Does a digital date count as cheating, is intellectual property extended to the digital realm, these are questions that address real life issues and are taking on new meaning in Second Life.  A European software company Vollee thinks that second life shouldn’t end on the computer, but is developing a second life application for cell phones, so users can bring their second life into their first.  Second Life offers unlimited potential for creativity, entrepreneurship, and fantasy, but every action falls on a spectrum and that line begins to fade more and more as the distinction between reality and fiction becomes blurred.

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Microloan Mayhem: Kiva Vs. MicroPlace

In the world of Microloans two notable players have arrived Kiva and Microplace.  At first glance no reasonable distinction can be made between them, but after a little digging some differences in both “how” and “why” they function emerge.   In terms of a business model, the Flannerys founded Kiva as a non-profit internet microfinance investing site whereas MicroPlace was founded as a seller of microfinance securities.  This distinction is largely due to the Flannerys creating a startup out of their home versus the colossal backing  MicroPlace has recieved by being purchased by Ebay.  Subsequently, this leads to MicroPlace as a securites exchanger allowing investors to receive interest on their investments, unlike Kiva which offers no monetary interest (but lots of personal satisfaction).   On the same note, Kiva’s direct investment technique, whereby investors select the individual to whom they wish to partner, provides a dynamic personal aspect to microfinance investments that could essentially lead to a larger global market.  So in a very true sense even with business models with familial resemblance and the same global microfinance market, Kiva and MicroPlace fulfill two unique roles in the investment industry.  Will media present them as equals and drown out MicroPlace as overly capitalistic over Kiva’s “charitable” investment, or see Kiva as limiting the investment potential of investors to see returns in third-world nations…only time will tell.  Even still this certainty remains, both Kiva and MicroPlace have opened microfinance to the internet and to the masses, offering a healthy combination of competetion that should lead to the development, growth, and success of small businesses around the world. (Kiva vs. MicroPlace)

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Ebay Evolution

  With the advent of Ebay’s shift in corporate leadership last week, changes seemed inevitable for the ailing internet giant.  In a press conference, new CEO John Donahue noted that Ebay would be shifting its focus away from traditional auctions to fixed prices sales composing 40% of the money generated in the marketplace.  In addition, Donahue stated a restructering of the fees associated with a sale, lowering up front cost, but raising the fees associated with final sales.  While Ebay touts this as support for making money from successful sellers, ebay members responded by threatening a week long strike in February.  Numerous sellers report that a gradual transition to internet pillar amazon as increasing there revenues by decreasing overhead associated with Ebay’s fees pre- and post- sale.  While ebay has seen its stock slide throughout 2007, is such a dramatic shift too little too late? I’d say so.  Ebay’s business modeled focused on its ability to provide an online auction environment with a plethora of items from all over the globe.  Shifting their focus over to fixed-price sales uproots the idea behinds ebay and places them in a position to be crushed by Amazon.  While internet users love variety, maybe ebay would do better to improve its auction structure and not try to copy Amazon.  A recent study showed that the average Ebay user paid $14 dollars for an item and was willing to pay up to $18.  Ebay needs to promote this “$4 savings idea” to create a large buyer base and the sellers will come.

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