News Cellar - Making $$ on the Web

Why I Sold Zappos

Tony Hsieh built his online shoe retailer into an e-commerce powerhouse. But with credit tightening and investors eyeing the exits, Hsieh was forced to ask: Was selling Zappos really the only way to save it?


The first time tried to buy Zappos, we said no without even thinking.

It was the summer of 2005, and Zappos, the start-up into which I'd poured the past five years of my life (and almost all of my money), finally seemed to be on the right track.

Zappos sells shoes and apparel online, but what distinguished us from our competitors was that we'd put our company culture above all else. We'd bet that by being good to our employees -- for instance, by paying for 100 percent of health care premiums, spending heavily on personal development, and giving customer service reps more freedom than at a typical call center -- we would be able to offer better service than our competitors. Better service would translate into lots of repeat customers, which would mean low marketing expenses, long-term profits, and fast growth. Amazingly, it all seemed to be working. By 2005, gross merchandise sales were $370 million, and we made the Inc. 500. We weren't profitable yet, but we were close to breaking even, and our revenue was growing quickly.

News Cellar - Startup / Entrepreneurship

One idea, 54 hours: Startup Weekenders build real company

54hrs.jpg Michael Synk was crying quietly as people left the Emerge Memphis building Sunday night.

(pic) Barry Foster, Greg Nail and Meka Egwuekwe discuss ideas for the development of a new social networking Web site for Ultimate Frisbee players during the Startup Weekend workshop at Emerge Memphis.

Two days earlier, he had stood in front of an audience and pitched a vague idea for company based on Ultimate Frisbee, a sport like touch football but played with a flying disk.

His peers chose his idea over alternatives, and made it the focus for Startup Weekend, an exercise in which entrepreneurs try to build a real company in 54 hours.

News Cellar - Startup / Entrepreneurship

Evaluating Tech Startups: The Risks And Rewards

Unwilling to take a chance on an emerging technology vendor? Your company could miss out on the next big breakthrough.

By John Foley,  InformationWeek
Nov. 10, 2007

Tech startups are enthusiastic about the prospect of selling to businesses, and rightly so. Opsware, VMware,'re just a few recent examples of startups that hit it huge, whether through buyout, IPO, or organic growth. Venture capital firms are pouring money into promising early-stage tech companies--$1.1 billion went toward 187 software deals in the third quarter, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association--and Web 2.0 has everyone thinking again about all the business possibilities on the Internet. The pieces are in place.

Except for one. IT organizations, the ones with the purse strings, treat startup vendors like they're radioactive. Blame it on tight IT budgets, a preference for doing business with fewer vendors, and a once-burned, forever-cautious attitude after Web 1.0. The tech industry's innovation engine is revving, but CIOs have a foot on the brake.

"After a while, you don't take risks anymore," the CIO of a Fortune 500 manufacturing company said in a meeting of peers a few months ago. "Your world is so complicated, you can't take those risks." InformationWeek Research bears out that thinking. In our survey of 150 senior business technology executives earlier this year, 74% described their companies' IT cultures as being moderate or conservative; only 26% called themselves aggressive.

News Cellar - Tech Business

TVs, PCs fight for living room space at tech fair

By Georgina Prodhan, European Technology CorrespondentTue Aug 28, 2007 5:53 AM ET

Internet TV, mobile TV and video on demand may be the talk of the technology sector but when it comes to buying decisions at this week's IFA electronics fair, television sets are set to be bigger business than ever.

Exhibitors from around the world will descend on Berlin hoping to tempt almost a quarter of a million visitors expected at the show to upgrade to slimmer, sleeker TV sets promising sharper pictures and helped by rapidly falling prices.

"Glass, in the form of TVs, is going to be huge again," says Gartner analyst Mike McGuire. "I don't see the TV losing the space in the living room just yet."

Globally, more than 200 million TV sets are expected to be sold this year, worth about $115 billion, or more than a third of total consumer electronics sales. Of those, most will still be traditional curved-screen cathode-ray tube TVs.

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Remote household monitoring to grow at 25% a year- 9.28.2007 [more]


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