Growth5 Blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Greg Stepped Out This Morning For a 90-Hour Bike Ride

If you're looking for Greg over the next three or four days, he will be on his bike, almost the whole time. Greg is racing in the Endless Mountains 1240k -- raising money for the Our Daily Bread Employment Center. You can sponsor Greg here. It's a great cause.

You'd never hear this from him, but Greg has to be one of the best 60-year-old long-distance cyclists in the world. As hard as he works at cycling, he works even harder for the less fortunate in Maryland. He's been at it for over 30 years.

Here's what Greg had to say yesterday about the event:
"Tomorrow, scores of ultra-long-distance cyclists from as far away as Brazil will gather in Quakerstown, PA for a 775-mile race around the entire eastern half of the state. The Endless Mountains 1240K not only features some 62,000 feet of climbing (more than twice Everest) but, because it is late in the season, much of the race will be in the dark.

I figure it will take me between 80 and 90 hours (the time limit is 93) to finish the race. Also, I think it's a great way to exercise my 60-year-old knees and raise money to support Our Daily Bread Employment Center, Maryland's largest soup kitchen, which I helped found almost three decades ago. For most of the folks the center helps, there is nowhere to go but up.

Some wonder what possesses somebody to ride a bike so far for so long. Same thing, I guess, as climbing mountains: seeing if you can do it!"
Best of luck from all of your colleagues at the Five Group!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Clothing The Emperor: 10 Steps to Developing A Social Media Strategy

A couple weeks ago, Sean put together 10 questions to help you get started on your social media strategy. Over the weekend, he turned the 10 questions into a fantastic presentation called, "Clothing The Emperor: 10 Steps to Developing A Social Media Strategy" - you should check it out.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caution: Seed Investors Pushing Series A Term Sheets

I enjoyed this post from VentureBeat's blog - Entrepreneur Corner. Basic premise: capital is harder to come by these days, VCs are cautious but have to deploy some capital, software / Internet / IT companies can be started for a fraction of the cost it took ten years ago, thus VCs are doing more "seed" type deals but oftentimes are pushing their typical "Series A" terms.

The fact that VCs are getting involved earlier is great: it's better for our economy, it's nice to see money start moving again in the space, and many VCs have the experience to guide these start-ups and help them flourish where they otherwise may have not. However, the article does a good job of pointing out the potential problem areas that entrepreneurs should watch out for. They are:
1. Don't give away too much of the company too early.

2. Avoid giving investors more than a 1x liquidation preference.

3. Try to avoid giving investors Series A-type control rights.

4. Keep other "investor rights" to a minimum.

5. Try to keep "super pro rata" rights reasonable enough to not scare future investors.

6. There can be negative market perception when VCs don't participate in the next round. Be communicative with the VC about their long-term plans before you strike a deal.
The reason it IS a "seed" deal is because you are trying to take enough money to prove your business model and get your firm to the next set of milestones for the A Round. You and the VC might not be on exactly the same page when considering a "seed" deal, but you both need the same thing, follow-on investors, so try keep the deal as simple as possible.

Think hard about whether or not any of the terms will scare future A, B or C Round investors. If you're not sure, ask around. It's very difficult in today's climate to turn away money, but you need to consider that if the deal is "messy" you may be sealing your long-term fate by accepting a bad deal. Better to find a "cleaner" deal that has the possibility of follow-on investors than one that doesn't.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AttentionScan

We have some really smart people at idfive, you should check out their blog.

Idfive provides advertising, web development, brand consulting, and digital media for higher education, not-for-profit, financial services, business-to-business, and health care companies.

Some recent posts:

Ted: Augment the Interface
Jake: iPhone for All
Sean: Meme o' the week: How the Internet is going to kill academia

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twenty Best Global Brands Ranked By Economic Worth

Based on data collected between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, BusinessWeek & Interbrand released their 2009 report on the 100 Best Global brands. According to this report, that's a $68 billion dollar logo to the right. Frank M. Robinson, the bookkeeper of Coke's inventor (Dr. John Stith Pemberton) thought "the two C's would look well in advertising," when he wrote out 'Coca-Cola' in his unique script back in 1886. It's held up pretty well for Coke over the last 123 years.

Apple made it into the top 20 for the first time, increasing its brand value by 12 percent since last year. Microsoft experienced its first year-over-year decline in its public history. Were the Seinfeld ads that bad? Probably. Here's how Interbrand ranks global brands for their annual list:
1. A brand must derive at least a third of its earnings from outside its home country, be recognizable beyond its base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. Those criteria eliminate most telecoms, heavyweights such as Wal-Mart, which sometimes operates under different brand names internationally, and private companies.

2. BusinessWeek chose Interbrand's methodology because it evaluates brand value in the same way other corporate assets are valued—on the basis of how much it is likely to earn for the company in the future. Interbrand uses analysts' projections, company financial documents, and its own qualitative and quantitative analysis to arrive at a net present value of those earnings.

3. Step one is calculating how much of a company's total sales falls under a particular brand. Step two is calculating how much of those earnings derives from the power of the brand. Interbrand strips out operating costs, taxes, and charges for the capital employed to arrive at earnings attributable to intangible assets. Interbrand then estimates the brand's effect on earnings relative to other intangible assets, such as patents and management strength.

Finally, those future earnings are discounted to arrive at a net value. Interbrand discounts against interest rates and also against the brand's overall risk profile to factor in brand strength. Ingredients include market leadership, stability, and global reach—or the ability to cross geographic and cultural borders. The final result values the brand as a financial asset. BusinessWeek and Interbrand believe this figure comes closest to representing a brand's true economic worth.

Rank 2009Rank 2008Company2009
Brand value
($millions)
2008
Brand value
($millions)
Percent change
(%)
Country of Ownership
---------------------------------------------------
11Coca-Cola
68,734 66,667 0.03U.S.
22IBM
60,211
59,031
0.02U.S.
33Microsoft
56,647
59,007 -0.04U.S.
44GE47,777 53,086 -0.1U.S.
55Nokia
34,864
35,942
-0.03Finland
68McDonald's
32,275
31,049
0.04U.S.
710Google
31,980
25,590 0.25U.S.
86Toyota31,330 34,050 -0.08Japan
97Intel30,636 31,261 -0.02U.S.
109Disney28,447 29,251 -0.03U.S.
1112Hewlett-Packard24,096 23,509 0.02 U.S.
1211Mercedes-Benz23,867 25,577 -0.07Germany
1314Gillette22,841 22,069 0.04U.S.
1417Cisco22,030 21,306 0.03U.S.
1513BMW21,671 23,298 -0.07Germany
1616Louis Vuitton21,120 21,602 -0.02France
1718Marlboro19,010 21,300 -0.11U.S.
1820Honda17,803 19,079 -0.07Japan
1921Samsung17,518 17,689 -0.01S. Korea
2024Apple15,443 13,724 0.12U.S.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Five Group Speaker Series: Thursday, October 22nd from 4 pm - 7 pm

Please join us on Thursday, October 22nd from 4 pm - 7 pm for our first Speaker Series Event. Sean and Greg have some great presentations lined up. Details below.





Host:The Five Group
What:The Five Group Speaker Series
Where:The Five Group
225 E. Redwood Street, 3rd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
When:Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Speaker Topics:1. Beyond Control: The Six Trends Changing Everything
Dr. Sean Carton, Chief Creative Officer, idfive

By now it's pretty obvious that the world ain't what it used to be. But what really are the forces driving business and consumer behavior? How has social media changed how we perceive (and make) brands? What happens when consumers demand media on their schedules, not the networks? How will the world change when we're all online all the time?

Sean's presentation looks at the six major trends brought about by the titanic shifts in technology over the past decade and looks towards the future of marketing, communications, advertising and branding in a world where anyone can talk to everyone anytime....and does.

2. Blue (Ocean) Magic: How would you like to “own” your market – and not worry about competition?
Greg Conderacci, Chief Marketing Officer, Growth5

Perhaps a little "Blue Magic" would help. This presentation gives you some tips on applying to your business the lessons of the best-seller Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Although the book has sold more than 2 million copies in 41 different languages, harnessing its concepts can be tricky. That’s why we’ve asked Greg Conderacci to talk about the practical application of its principles.

Greg, Growth5's Chief Marketing Officer, has taught “The Blue Ocean” at Johns Hopkins and Loyola Business Schools and used it with several clients.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Facebook Hits 300 Million Users: Cash Flow Positive

Facebook announced that they have reached 300 million users and are cash flow positive. As part of their announcement, they released some interesting stats:
1. They have added 50 million users since July and 100 million users in the last six months alone.

2. 70% of their user base is now outside the U.S.

3. More than two thirds of Facebook users are out of college.

4. Fastest growing demographic is people 35 and older.

5. 65 million mobile users, growing faster than Facebook.com users and mobile users are more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

6. Estimated revenue of more than $500 million for 2009.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, spoke to Fortune magazine about the announcement here.

When asked about Facebook increasing ad placements this year amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression, Sandberg said, "what's happened to us, is that those advertising dollars I think are looking for more efficient ways to reach more people and really engage with more users. And so even though the overall ad markets are down and they have been down for a couple of years in a row, which is unprecedented, our ad spend is dramatically increasing as people are looking for really good value and ways to really engage with users."

On advertising strategy: "on a lot of other sites you see big banner ads and things that pop up and interrupt your experience. Our advertisements are very much part of the user experience... We launched ad products that really fit in with how our users use the site."

What about the competition, like Yahoo or Google? "What we are trying to do is not be the 'one place' - our business model is not drive everyone to Facebook.com. We're different, our goal is to help everyone connect with whoever they want to connect with and we want to do it wherever people are."

Privacy. "For Facebook we've set the highest bar for privacy on the Internet. We give users the most granular privacy settings on the Internet. We do not give out any information to advertisers about users, specific user information. We let advertisers say I want to target 35 year old women who live in San Diego, and they do that in an aggregated way, but they never know anything about any individual, and we're very serious about maintaining those privacy controls."

Additional Source:
Facebook Cites Rapid Growth in Users, Cash Flow (WSJ)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Do You Have a Social Media Strategy? Here Are Ten Questions To Get You Started

We've been talking about social media quite a bit around the office lately. Clients want to know how they should be approaching social media. For his ClickZ article this week, our Chief Creative Officer, Sean Carton, came up with ten important questions you need to answer before developing your social media strategy.

Why are these questions so important? As Sean points out in the article:
"...a recent Center for Media Research report has me worried. After surveying more than 1,000 people with media buying or planning responsibilities, the center found that "having a presence on social networks" is one of the top priorities for media plans in 2010. Why should that worry me? Because I've only rarely encountered people with actual strategies behind their social media push."
Here are the ten questions (please see the full paragraph surrounding each question in the article):
1. What are we trying to accomplish?

2. Why social media?

3. What kind of social media will help us best achieve our goals?

4. Are we prepared to let go of control of our brand, at least a little?

5. What will we do to encourage participation?

6. Who will maintain our social media presence?

7. Do we have the resources to keep this up, or will this be a short campaign?

8. How does engaging users via social media integrate into our overall marketing and communications strategy?

9. How do we measure success? What constitutes failure?

10. What will we do less of if we're spending resources on social media?
If you'd like to go over any of these questions as you're considering your answers, click on "Contact Us" to the right.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Getting Users to Pay

According to this article on paidcontent.org, while many companies are figuring out how to make money online despite declining ad sales, companies like teen-friendly social network myYearbook are profitable because of a "subscription and virtual goods-based business model that has increased revenues by 120 percent vs. a year ago."

myYearbook members can buy "virtual currency called Lunch Money, which can be used for virtual gifts... the social net also rolled out a premium membership called the VIP Club, with monthly fees that range from $7 - $20 per month."

Networks like hi5 (great name) have diversified their revenue stream with virtual goods and downloadable games.

Back in April we wrote about Chinese social networking site Tencent as the first social networking site in the world to reach $1 billion in annual revenue by introducing virtual games and other items that subscribers would pay for as ad revenue in China is limited.

To help online sites make money via freemium models, 'pay for what you use' content plans, the sale of virtual goods, downloadable games and apps it would be nice if there were one ubiquitous provider that would facilitate micropayments efficiently across all platforms. Hey Google, I'm looking in your direction.

Related:
Thanks to Google, the Micropayment Era Is Closer (BNET)

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Electricity Load Balancing

A study put together by researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon and networking company Akamai suggests that an Internet-routing algorithm tracking electricity price fluctuations could save companies with massive data centers (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) millions of dollars each year in energy costs.

The program assesses daily and hourly fluctuations in energy costs across the country. The resulting algorithm considers the physical distance needed to route information (it costs more to move data further) vs. the cost savings of having that data served in a location that has cheaper electricity.

Maybe the data would have normally been served in LA, but at any given moment it may be cheaper to have the data served from Seattle and have the LA server sit idle during peak electricity costs. Savings could be as high as 40 percent: $12 million savings annually for a company like Google. Pretty cool stuff.

I've been a fan of Akamai for a long time. I had the pleasure of working with them as a vendor when they were just starting out in the late 90's. If you're not familiar with Akamai, they handle hundreds of billions of web transactions every day. They have in essence built a faster highway for the web traffic they handle on top of the existing Internet. Ever wonder how the songs you download from iTunes come in faster than almost anything else you download? Those songs are traveling on the Akamai super highway.

As I read this article this morning, I was reminded that it was eight years ago today that Akamai lost their Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Danny Lewin. He was on American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the World Trade Center in NY.

Lewin was a brilliant entrepreneur. Akamai has done a tremendous job of honoring Lewin and growing their business despite the tragic loss. From the Akamai site:
"Even as the years pass by, Danny's spirit and energy remains strong in all of us at Akamai. His vision continues to guide us as we carry on his commitment to Akamai's success."

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Non-Traditional Media Spending to Pass Traditional Media in 2010

The Center for Media Research recently conducted a comprehensive study on media planning and buying activities for 2010. The study "provides intelligence of what is on the horizon for the next year... with input from more than 1,972 participants, including 1,164 having planning, buying and approving responsibility."

Partial findings:
-Planned spending for 2010 is larger for non-traditional media than traditional media.

-57% of those who plan, buy, approve media will buy non-traditional media, including online, display video, search, mobile, event sponsorships.

-Those who plan, buy, approve media would ideally buy presence on a social network.

-Almost two times more would ideally buy mobile video than will realistically buy it.

-Agencies and brands both would ideally buy more national TV than they will realistically buy.

-57% will buy email marketing and 56% will buy presence on a social network.
This all makes sense -- advertise where the audience is. People are on Facebook, they are using Twitter; if you're going to catch their attention and your product is right for them, social networks are decent place to focus your ad placement.

A year ago Facebook users were spending an average of one and a half hours on Facebook per month -- today they are spending five hours a month. Spread out over 250 million people, that's a lot of time. Over half of their 250 million users log into Facebook everyday.

How will you be getting in front of your audience in the coming months? Not sure? Drop us a line, we'll figure it out with you.

Thanks: Sean

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Common Startup Mistakes

On his Both Sides of the Table blog, Mark Suster put together an interesting post on common early startup mistakes. The highlights (in bold):
1. Moonlight Responsibly - If you are still employed please be very careful not to use your company’s resources to produce your product and please do not work on your next idea during business hours.
-We have worked with startups where founders were moonlighting and some where they weren't. It's a trade between cash drag and having enough time to run the business right. As with many things, it comes down to timing. Working with people that can look at your business objectively (your board, if you have one that early) is a great resource to help with the "when do we leave our day jobs?" question.
2. Register a company. If you don't, the problem is that you’re opening yourself up to a claim by one of these people that you somehow stole their ideas.
-Suster uses the Facebook story as a great example of this common mistake.
3. Pick the founding members correctly... this is one of the single most important areas for you to preserve your future wealth creation opportunity... your founding team should never have more than 2 people total (including you).
-The smaller the better in most cases. Try getting any four people you know to decide quickly on where to go to lunch, never mind corporate governance issues. Although, for me personally, the first company we started under what is now The Five Group umbrella -- Design by Five -- has five founders. We've worked together swimmingly for seven years. I couldn't have asked for four easier people to work with. Chemistry is incredibly important.
4. Research your market. Make sure that you’ve identified a problem that you believe exists. Calculate how much time or money this is causing the people involved. Sketch out your solution. Find out what solutions they’re using today. Use all of this for the basis of a plan that defines your company strategy. DO NOT start with product, start with the market.
-What a great point. So many entrepreneurs are convinced they have the product of all products and the world will come to it, buy it, use it, pay whatever for it and then we all retire. If you build it, they won't come so you better find the market first and bring the fantastic solution they are longing for directly to them.
5. Get customer input. This is another big mistake. People design their products in a box assuming that they’ll show customers later and get feedback. Get feedback before you start building anything.
-Find out what your audience is longing for and how they want it delivered to them.
6. Build prototypes and/or product. Start building out your product. If you need a cheap way to get a prototype built consider the following options: student interns, people willing to work for stock options rather than cash or some mix, doing the work through oDesk, eLance or Rentacoder.com.
-Sure, measure a couple times and then cut. But also let your audience help you measure again, and then re-shape, cut again, more measuring with your audience. Repeat.
7. Make sure you own your IP. This is a BIG mistake many early stage companies make. They have developers or friends help code their software without having legal agreements in place. Otherwise you run the risk that in the future somebody claims that the programming work that they did for you represents their IP and not yours.
-Pick your attorney wisely.
8. Assemble a team. As you know my preferred route is to the start the company, register it, get the basic plan in place, sketch out wireframes and/or start getting your product built AND THEN assemble your team. Teams create companies – not individuals. Teams raise money – not superstar CEO’s. Start building your team early.
-It's tough to do it all alone. Be patient though, it's better to pick the right team over time than pick any team quickly.
9. Founder vesting. You should implement restricted stock with vesting at the earliest stages in your company -even before the VC’s ask. Founder vesting is an insurance policy for all team members involved.
-Some entrepreneurs will resist Founder vesting, but I agree that if you can get it, it's better to have it than not. Four years with acceleration upon change of control.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Investing in Real-Time

This VentureBeat article describes where prolific internet investor (Google, Ask Jeeves, PayPal) -- Ron Conway -- is putting his money these days. Real-time data companies.

Conway believes "the market will experience astronomic growth and a value reaching at least a billion dollars within three years." In this article, Conway explained, "The technology for instantly being able to share information back and forth is now where Google was in 1998, the beginning of a huge rise." He went on to list ten monetization possibilities of the real-time space:
10. Lead generation
9. Coupons
8. Analytics
7. Enterprise customer relationship management software (CRM), like CoTweet
6. Payments: “If I was PayPal today I would be studying this sector,” Conway says.
5. Commerce
4. User authentication: verifying accounts, like corporate accounts
3. Syndication of new ads
2. Content-sensitive display advertising
1. Acquiring followers.
The place to make money in real-time data is search. As the VentureBeat article points out, services like Twitter are creating a huge amount of content that is there to be mined. The fact that Twitter shuts Google out from this search opportunity means there is room for other players.

Conway has invested in companies that have a real-time component:
-Twitter: share and discover what's happening right now, anywhere in the world.
-Rupture: keep up with your gamer friends. And enemies.
-HeadMix: social business software connects your employees to communities of information, experts, and expertise through your enterprise.
-Docverse: enhances Microsoft office so you can share and edit documents with others.
-Kyte.tv: an online and mobile video platform for live and on-demand content.
-Scoopler: real-time search. Constantly indexing live updates from Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Delicious and more.
-Topsy: a search engine powered by tweets.
-Bit.ly: a simple url shortener.
-CoTweet: how business does Twitter.
-Fliggo: create a video site in seconds.
-Factery: answers your questions by semantically extracting the highest utility results from activity streams, vertical search and link search.
-TweetDeck: a simple and fast way to experience Twitter.
-Twitvid: share videos on Twitter.
Some have described Conway's investment approach as "spray and pray" -- but the way I look at it, anyone that can come out of the dot.bomb era giving more money back to investors than he took in either sprays well or prays well or both.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Ticket Search Engine FanSnap Raises $5 Million

peHUB reports (log-in required) that FanSnap has raised another $5 million, for a total of $10 million so far. If you purchase tickets for concerts or sporting events on eBay, StubHub or other online ticket sites, you will find FanSnap useful. FanSnap is basically a search engine for tickets, once you've found the ticket you want, you click thru to the ticket vendor and purchase directly from them. From the FanSnap site:
"FanSnap provides free ticket search results for dozens of the leading ticket providers, including TicketNetwork, StubHub, RazorGator, Las Vegas Tickets, Gold Coast Tickets, eBay, Barry's Tickets, AllShows.com, and Ace Ticket. Our detailed ticket-level search results are made possible by the combination of strategic industry partnerships and systems integration, as well as our FanSnap TicketData systems and patent-pending dynamic FanSnap Maps.

Palo Alto, CA-based FanSnap was founded in 2007 and is funded by General Catalyst Partners and Highland Capital Partners."

FanSnap has some of the best interactive theater/stadium diagrams I have ever seen -- detailed to row by row selections. They display pricing using a "heat map" color labeling system and they indicate where the "best value for the price" seats are located throughout the theater/stadium for the event you are checking out.

This is another example of a smart aggregation play. With all of the information on the web, sometimes just organizing it for your audience to make browsing more efficient can be profitable.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gmail Moves Into #3 Email Spot: Still Trails Hotmail & Yahoo

According to ComScore, Gmail recently moved into the #3 email spot by passing AOL with 37 million unique visitors a month -- up from 25.3 million a year ago (48%). Gmail now trails Hotmail which averages 47 million unique visitors (down from their high two years ago) and Yahoo which is far out in the lead with 106 million, and 22% growth year-over-year.

Gmail is growing as more people use Google services. Also, Google does an excellent job of promoting itself. More importantly, Google provides frequent updates to its products which users appreciate. They recently provided an "import contacts" service so you can capture contacts from other web-based email programs, making it much easier to switch.

Another reason for Gmail's rapid growth, according to this article, is that Gmail provides a better experience, Gmail users are more engaged with the mail messages they receive than other email users.

In a recent study looking at over 184 million emails, the emails "sent to Gmail users had a 30.94% open rate, compared with 25.54% for mails sent to Yahoo.com domains, 20.09% sent to AOL.com domains and 23.79% sent to Hotmail.com domains. The study also found that Gmail users exhibited a 7.41% click rate, compared with click rates less than 5% for the other services."

These numbers support the notion that Gmail is winning the spam wars. Their users believe the content they are receiving is relevant and they click thru.

Yahoo has some time to reverse current trends. By my simple calculations, at current user and growth rates, Gmail doesn't pass Yahoo mail until July 2015.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Pharma Takes On Cancer

This NY Times article focuses on big pharma's re-emergence into the cancer space. Pfizer has committed 1,000 researchers "for an all out effort to develop drugs for cancer, a disease the company once largely ignored."

The theory behind the move to the cancer space covers two areas:
1. "Recent scientific discoveries have suggested new targets for cancer drug researchers to attack."
However, these new targets can be hit and miss. The "same studies have shown that cancer is devilishly complicated. There are so many aberrant molecules in a tumor that blocking just one or two is like trying to stop all traffic in Manhattan with a roadblock at a single intersection."
2. "As drug companies see profits beginning to wane from mainstays like Lipitor, the high prices that cancer drugs can command have become an irresistible lure."
In some cases the benefit is minimal. "The drug Tarceva, which costs about $3,500 a month, was approved as a treatment for pancreatic cancer because it improved survival by 12 days."

OncoVAX, the main product of our portfolio company, Vaccinogen, is based on the fact that cancers are a heterogeneous (diverse) class of diseases. OncoVAX is a patient-specific treatment, using the patient's own tumor to create a vaccine that unleashes the body's own immune system to fight a cancer that it otherwise would not recognize.

As a colon cancer vaccine, OncoVAX works prophylactically (prevents disease) and is used to treat patients with early stage disease to prevent recurrence rather than attempting to use a vaccine to cure patients with late stage diseases.

Approximately one out of every three Stage II colon cancer patients will have their cancer return after surgery, and they will die. OncoVAX changes those odds to only one out of ten -- a benefit not measured in days or months, but in years, the rest of the patient's life.

I truly hope that big pharma finds ways to help cancer patients all over the world. I personally believe their approach is a bit flawed -- curing cancer is an overwhelming task since for the most part everyone's cancer is different. As investors, we're not completely impartial, but I think big pharma could learn a lot from the immunotherapy approach taken by Dr. Hanna and his team at the small biotech firm, Vaccinogen, in Frederick, MD.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are You On Your Customer's Radar?

Do your customers know what you're up to? What you've been doing for some of your other clients, what you've learned recently, what's been working, what hasn't? Have you been to any interesting events, heard any interesting speakers lately? Spoken somewhere, worked on an interesting job that had interesting results? Do you have a new product or service? Have you conducted research that your clients could benefit from?

Think of a customer you haven't worked with in awhile, do they know the answer to any of the questions above? Probably not. You need to think about getting on their radar.

How about a customer you're working with currently, do they have answers to any of the questions above? Keeping both active and inactive customers informed and paying attention to you is important. You'll stand a much better chance of getting work out of the customers who are "stagnant" and more work out of those that are active.

Staying current with press releases, digital newsletters, your company blog, and other social media outlets will allow your customers to follow what you're up to in whatever way they choose. There are plenty of tools out there to keep the conversation going with your clients.

Important: As long as you provide content that will benefit your clients
, there's a good chance the conversation will turn into more work for you. One of our five principles of growth is "Knowing What You Don't Know." If our customers know everything we do, they don't need us. We try to keep our customers informed on topics they don't have the time to follow. The topics that we live and breathe every day and therefore should know better than most. This is the information our clients can benefit from.

Reminder: if you're going to email your clients updates on what you're up to, get their permission first. Nobody likes to be bombarded with information they didn't ask for, even if they know you. They will appreciate you asking first.

Also, if you need help pulling together a social media strategy to keep in contact with current and future clients, click the "Contact Us" link to the right and we'll keep this conversation going with you.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Is A Hydrino?


New Jersey-based BlackLight Power ("Power from Water") claims to have developed a new energy source.
“This is the third time in human history there’s been a discovery of a new primary energy source,” said Randell Mills, BlackLight chief executive.

Mills said fuel can be supplied by extracting hydrogen from water. The hydrogen reacts with a chemical catalyst to produce heat energy and a hydrino, a new form of stable hydrogen. The thermal energy can be converted into electricity.
According to BlackLight, the process used to form the hydrino contains 200 times the energy than when using electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water.

Skeptics exist.
"Standard quantum mechanics cannot encompass hydrino states, with the properties currently attributed to them. Hence there remains no theoretical support of the hydrino hypothesis. This strongly suggests that the experimental evidence put forward in favour of the existence of hydrinos should be reconsidered for interpretation in terms of conventional physics," wrote Andreas Rathke of the European Space Agency in 2005 in an often read paper.
BlackLight says that Rowan University (?) has offered some validation of their claim. Next up will be third-party validations, presumably from more recognizable sources. BlackLight has some time to answer their critics as they're well funded, recently raising $60 million. Stay tuned...

Related:
BlackLight Power Claims Nearly Free Energy (GreenBeat)
Has Blacklight Power Developed a Limitless Form of Energy? (Fast Company)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Losing the Hyphen: Will You Shop at Walmart, But Not Wal-Mart?

Has the hyphen been keeping you away? Someone at Wal-Mart thinks so. Apparently, the corporation Wal-Mart is still "Wal-Mart" but the STORES are now Walmart. This change was implemented about a year ago, but apparently the media isn't catching on, as Wal-Mart reminded everyone at the end of their recent earnings statement.

According to this article, Wal-Mart is trying to update the image of its re-modeled stores. They are using the bad economy to attract new customers (which we wrote about in March) and they don't want to lose them when the economy turns around.

I'm not sure if losing the hyphen will help, but adding the sun to the right side of the logo makes the logo look brighter - not sure if the stores are actually any brighter. Its hard to update your image when your stores have pallets filled with product in every aisle. Losing the pallets would've been a good idea.

Coca-Cola would argue that a hyphen works fine. They've been using it for 123 years. Coca-Cola sold over $31 billion worth of product last year in over 200 countries. Their original logo (seen at the right) has kept its basic look since the inventor of Coke, Dr. John Stith Pemberton, had his partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson write out the name in his unique script back in 1886.

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