Category Archives: Business

Google Officially Launches Google Drive

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We’ve heard the rumors for weeks, and seen leaked versions during an Android developer’s Google+ Hangout and in one employee presentation. But now Google Drive, Google’s 5GB cloud-storage service, is official.

Announced on the company blog Tuesday, the service will integrate with Google Docs and will allow you to access files from anywhere and collaborate on documents with colleagues.

Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, which means you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you’ve shared content with someone else, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and you’ll receive notifications when other people comment the items you’ve shared.

One interesting feature of the service is smart tagging, which allows you to tag items stored on your drive. So if you’ve uploaded a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge to your drive, the next time you perform a search for the bridge, your photo will show up along with other results.

Google Drive also uses image recognition — so if you drag and drop photos from your recent vacation into Drive, you can later search for locations you’ve visited and those photos will show up.

Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents. That means if you’ve scanned in a page from an old book, for instance, you can search for words in that document.

When it comes time to access your files, the service can open a variety of different files types – 30 of them to be exact – within your browser, regardless of whether or not you have the required software installed. Supported file types include PDFs, HD video, and images from Illustrator and Photoshop.

You can install Drive on your Mac or PC , and use the service via an app on your Android phone or tablet. Google also has plans for an iOS app in the future. Blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.

Google is offering all users 5GB of storage on the service for free. If you need more than the 5GB, then it is offering several tiers of storage options.

You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage also expands to 25GB.

Source: Mashable


5 Key Talents of Successful Startup Founders

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Image via CrunchBase

Nick Hughes is the CEO and co-founder of Seconds, a mobile commerce platform that provides text messaging and mobile payments for local commerce. In his spare time, he inspires entrepreneurs to build meaningful and enduring companies through his writing.

Startup founders are fascinating creatures. They have to be multifaceted and dynamic, yet laser sharp and narrowly focused. During the early days, they must wear many hats and perform a variety of foreign duties, such as HR, PR, sales, marketing and product design. Above all, they have to be just a little bit crazy to even think about stepping into the roller coaster lifestyle called entrepreneurship.

As crazy as they may seem, the entrepreneur’s many duties create a uniquely talented individual. Yet subtle differences in personality and perspective can determine success or failure.

The talents listed below are detailed in the book Now Discover Your Strengths, a great read for anyone looking to improve on his or her unique talents. In the book you’re introduced to the StrengthsFinder metric, which measures the presence of 34 different categories of talent. According to the StrengthsFinder, “Talents are people’s naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied. The more dominant a theme is in a person, the greater the theme’s impact on that person’s behavior and performance. ”

Some talents are essential to a startup founder. Without the presence of these five specific talents, it would be very difficult to start and grow a new venture.

1. Activator

According the the StrengthsFinder, “People strong in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.”

If there is one talent all founders must possess, it’s the Activator. Activators find ways to simply get things started and make things happen, which is synonymous with the definition of a leader. Activators build out the core founding team, establish the general “idea” and strategic direction, line up legal representation, find office space, organize meetings, etc.

An Activator jumps up and say to his friends “Hey, let’s start a new company!” Some people have a hard time breaking from their ruts in life, but not Activators. They never fall into ruts because they are always starting something different or recruiting others to join them and their new pursuits.

Take for example Jason Jacobs, co-founder of the fitness app RunKeeper. While training for a marathon in 2007, he was using Nike+ and realized the world needed a simple, independent, open health metrics platform. As an Activator, he formed a company and convinced others to join. Another truism of entrepreneurship in action? You usually have no idea what you are doing, but you just learn as you go.

Do you have what it takes to make the jump, knowing you’ll be learning as you go?

2. Adaptability

According the the StrengthsFinder, “People strong in the Adaptability theme prefer to ‘go with the flow.’ They tend to be ‘now’ people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.”

Nothing in a startup ever goes as planned, and thus, startup founders must be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Successful founders go with the flow of startup culture, where markets change quickly, funding seems both eminent and impossible, co-founders come and go, and products evolve.

Pivoting (i.e., adaptability) is essential to today’s startups. Smart founders should initiate the process not with the “dream company concept” in mind, but rather, with the commitment and pursuit of solving a consumer problem.

You’ve probably heard of Instagram, the breakout photo sharing app that has attracted more than 27 million downloads. But you might not have heard of Burbn, which was what the founders built before changing to “Instagram.” Co-founder Kevin Systrom explains how they launched the service primarily as a checkin, social geo-location app, on which users could quickly upload photos and share them with friends. Burbn had attracted a core following of users, but was not exactly taking off. Upon further evaluation the founders noticed that photo uploading was the strongest and most used feature. Going with the flow, they cut all other features and moved forward with the newly minted Instagram. Twenty-seven million users later, I think they made the right choice.

Do you have the guts to cut 95% of your existing product and redirect its focus if necessary?

3. Strategic

According the the StrengthsFinder, “People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.”

Acute pattern recognition, finding alternative ways to succeed, spotting signal and relevance from all the noise — this is strategic thinking. It’s what separates the idea-and-fail group from the execute-and-succeed group.

Strategic thinking names the company, defines what makes you unique, finds where in the market to position your product, determines how to best orient the value proposition, discovers how users will find your service, and figures out who will ultimately become a strategic partner. This requires a founder to see the entire competitive landscape, to understand where the holes are, and to align the company in the appropriate position for success.

Steve Jobs was probably the best strategic thinker we have encountered in recent history. It’s no coincidence Apple has risen to become the most valuable company in the world; Steve Jobs realized computing was not just about productivity, but that people wanted to be liberated, creative and entertained. Jobs determined to create a computing and entertainment ecosystem around the entire consumer.

How did he recognize this potential? Jobs turned the corner when he decided to make a better portable music player and integrate iTunes into the computing experience. He noticed that consumers wanted a hub, one place to access all their music and entertainment. After taking the music industry by storm, he made computing mobile with the iPhone and the iPad, again reinventing computing for the post-PC era. Finally, the advent of the App Store opened an entirely new market for millions of entrepreneurs, and has already generated billions of dollars in less than five years.

Although we lost him late last year, Jobs may not be done transforming our world. Apple TV has the potential to change how we interact with digital content. Jobs did all this by seeing around corners, observing the how and why of the consumer, and using strategic thinking every time he made a decision.

Do you see and understand all angles of your market, and have the ability to spot patterns or counterintuitive trends?

4. Discipline

According the the StrengthsFinder, “People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.”

Entrepreneurship has an entropic feel to it — each day is totally different. Roles and responsibilities can pull a founder in so many directions that he can feel lost in the chaos. Therefore, establishing routine and structure is essential to moving a business forward.

Discipline is what forces a founder to fill his calendar with customer discovery interviews each week to help uncover the problem they are trying to solve. Discipline is also what keeps foundering teams together, often when founders are working two jobs and struggling to make time for the business. Discipline keeps the startup lean, efficient and moving forward.

The “lean startup movement” can be loosely defined as a focus on discipline. Eric Reis and other lean startup proponents teach principles such as “fail fast,” “iterate quickly,” and “release, test, evaluate, toss out what doesn’t work and stick with what does.” Validated learning — or the constant search to establish your market, value proposition and ultimately your initial customer segments — is all about discipline for the early founder.

Based on the teachings of people like Reis, we have finally determined startups aren’t all built on lucky breaks, but rather on a methodical and disciplined approach to finding a sustainable business.

Do you have the daily discipline to methodically test your value proposition, product and customers to find a sustainable and repeatable business model?

5. Focus

According the the StrengthsFinder, “People strong in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.”

You have 100 things to do today, but you only have time to accomplish three. Which ones do you get done?

You may have all the talents described above, but if you cannot focus on the right things, you will not succeed. Focus takes your discipline, narrows it down on the essential few things that are important, and makes sure you get them done. How many people do you know who have said they are starting some new venture only to tell you six months later they just couldn’t get going and are already doing something different? These people might be an Activator and even excel in strategic thinking, but if they cannot focus in on what’s important each day, they will never get to the next level.

Launching a successful company can be one of the most challenging experiences in your life. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Focusing on the critically important and dismissing all other distractions will make all the difference.

Noah Kagan, chief Sumo of AppSumo, explains how focusing on the important tasks will not only improve daily efficiency, but will significantly benefit business as well. He describes it as “maximizing the best use of your time.”

Ask yourself, which are the most important tasks on which your business depends? Now, focus on those and only those tasks. Evaluate all the other stuff on your plate and delegate accordingly. Trying to do everything will result in getting nothing done.

Startup founders are indeed uniquely talented individuals. Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful founder?

source: Mashable

5 Questions For Rep. Darrell Issa, SOPA Opponent and ‘Internet Defender’

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, describes himself as an “Internet defender.”

When the technology community rallied together in opposition of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Rep. Issa was at the front lines of Congress fighting to kill the bill. And as a former electronics company CEO, he’s one of the few Congressman who seem to “get it” when it comes to technology (Fun fact: Rep. Issa lent his voice to the alarm system for the ultra-sleek Dodge Viper).

Mashable spoke with Rep. Issa about his crusade against SOPA, his alternative plan for protecting intellectual property (the OPEN Act, hosted by the Madison Project) and what he sees on the horizon for technology and politics.

Good morning Chairman Issa, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. First question: What do you credit most with the defeat of SOPA?

“Time. More than anything else, the time it took for Wikipedia to gets its board to agree to the blackout and the momentum built that led to 7,000 websites responding (to SOPA). The reason I gave you that answer is because we don’t always have time. Time was the enemy of the people who tried to rush SOPA through the House.

“We started with four people who were adamantly against (SOPA). We lost every early vote, but we won time for the Internet (community) to react. In our business, sometimes we have to brag about our defeat. We lost every single vote in the markup, but we took days of their time — and that became one of our tactics to help let people know just how radical this bill was.”

Do you think the tech community can rally once again if it feels threatened by a new piece of legislation?

“It can, but you don’t always get the time to figure out the impact of a bill. There are steps being taken by a number of technology companies to hire lobbyists and have more eyes and ears in D.C. to find out what’s being earmarked into bills at the last minute when there really may only be a few hours’ warning (before a technology bill is passed).”

Tell us about the OPEN Act, your alternative intellectual property bill.

“I think every country has a right to protect its internal intellectual property. If you go to Russia and you try to stop piracy of American movies, that’s beyond the ability of U.S. law. If I hold a copyright in the U.S., I should have protections against internal piracy and external piracy. Our courts can already protect us against internal piracy.

“The only thing that needed to be addressed by SOPA is this: What if [people in another] country were pirating from the U.S.? The OPEN Act applies only to [people in other countries] that have been found to be violating U.S. copyright after a trial. Under [the OPEN Act], after that trial it would enable other means to be used but not the draconian means, like DNS blocking, that SOPA called for.

“Our view is that if you follow the money and prevent companies like Mastercard, Visa and PayPal from allowing the sales of pirated content, it doesn’t close off the Internet but it does stop these foreign traffickers.”

The debate around SOPA and other technology bills doesn’t divide neatly along party lines. Do you think technology issues are, in a way, bipartisan?

Intellectual property and how we deal with that is always bipartisan … Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) was particularly helpful in this entire debate, he brought his own version [of an intellectual property bill] to the Senate floor. [Rep. Jared] Polis [D-Colo.] was great to have as somebody else who knew the Internet and what it could do.”

You put the draft version of the OPEN Act online for the public to read and comment upon. Do you think that kind of transparency is the future of politics and technology?

“I do believe it is the future. Congress has to be willing to fund it. The Madison project had to be done at an external site because that kind of interactive exchange isn’t allowed under the House’s firewall rule, so we went to an outside storage facility.

“We don’t like to call the people who make the rules in the House and the Senate “Luddites,” but they’re pretty close. They’re very ultra-conservative on what (new technologies) they’re willing to adopt. Congress only went to Outlook Web a year ago — and it was still only a belt-and-suspenders type of access … our whole infrastructure is built around not getting hacked rather than getting access.

“The technology systems in the House are quite archaic, and if you’re dealing with members that have been around for a long time, it’s harder to adopt new platforms than if you’re in the private sector and more comfortable with new platforms. A big part of the House’s bandwidth is actually used for an off-site redundancy, which duplicates every one of our sites for Outlook and all of our servers. We use so much bandwidth for that, I’m still fighting to get (Voice over IP) telephones installed in the House.”

Chairman Issa, thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to speak with Mashable today.

“Thank you. My message to the 7,000 websites that blacked out last January and other members of the tech community: How would you react if you only had 24 hours to react to a bill? There’s no system that would guarantee they would know and react in that short a period.”

source: Mashable

Manage Email like a Boss

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Email is a necessary evil that isn’t going away, my advice is to manage email like a boss. Well, like a good boss that’s savvy and effective.

Here are some tips to manage email:

  • Use Gmail (yes, especially for business) with the web interface as the primary means and the Microsoft Exchange emulation for IMAP support on the iPhone
  • Install the ‘Send and Archive’ button from Gmail Labs so that when you reply to an email it is also removed from the inbox
  • Install the ‘Auto-advance’ Gmail Labs option so that whenever you act on an email it automatically takes you to the next email
  • Install the ‘Hide Unread Counts’ Gmail Labs option so that you aren’t constantly distracted when new email arrives
  • Follow Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen and never read the same email twice in your inbox. Either reply right away if it’ll take less than two minutes or file it into the appropriate folder.
  • Don’t reply to every email — that’s right, if you get an email and don’t want to reply, archive it right away instead of letting it sit there and fester.

I’ve been doing Inbox Zero nightly for over three years with this approach and it’s worked great. Inbox Zero doesn’t mean you’ve replied to every email, rather, it means that every email is moved out of your inbox on a daily basis. Manage email like a boss and you’ll be glad you did.

What else? What are some other best practices for managing email?


The Pitfalls of Freelancing

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Twitter Now Available in Right-to-Left Languages

Thanks to the efforts of 13,000 volunteers worldwide, Twitter is now available in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, according to a company blog post. Twitter had been working on translating and localizing these right-to-left languages since January 25.

These languages posed unique challenges for Twitter. To overcome technical barriers, Twitter’s engineering team had to build a new set of special tools to ensure that these tweets, hashtags and numbers would behave as their counterparts in left-to-right languages.

Not only that, but some of these languages are spoken — and therefore will be tweeted — in locations where Twitter is officially blocked.

Twitter was a recognizable force in the Arab Spring — but given that there wasn’t yet an Arabic interface, most of the users who tweeted from those regions did so in non-native languages.

And Twitter’s numerous volunteer translators for these right-to-left languages —from Lebanese teenagers to Egyptian college students to IT professionals in Iran and Pakistan, among others — live in these areas as well. “Their efforts speak volumes about the lengths that people will go to make Twitter accessible and understandable for their communities,” the company said in its blog post.

Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu join Thai as the only right-to-left languages in Twitter’s translation center. Their incorporation means the service is now available in 28 languages.

What do you think of the addition of these languages? Do you think more people from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia will start tweeting? Let us know in the comments.

source: Mashable

Apple iPad 3 expected on 7 March following press event

Apple has announced an event on 7 March at which the company is expected to launch its latest iPad tablet.

Invitations sent to journalists read: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

While not officially confirming the product’s launch, the message was accompanied by an image showing what looked to be an iPad touchscreen.

The iPad range, which first launched in 2010, has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.

It is not yet known when the new device will be available for sale.

Last year, sales of the iPad 2 began in the US nine days after the launch announcement – which also took place in March.

Apple’s first two versions of the iPad transformed the market for tablet computers and made it one of the fastest-growing sectors of the computer industry.

Patent woes

However, recently Apple’s dominant position in the tablet market has been challenged by a string of tablets powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Later this year, industry experts expect a new category of tablet devices powered by Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft will announce details for the consumer versions of Windows 8 at an event in Barcelona on Wednesday evening.

The tablet market – just like the smartphone market – has been subject to intense patent wars, chiefly between Apple and its key challenger Samsung.

What’s the World’s top economies in 2050 will be…?!!

The global research department of HSBC has released a report predicting the rise and fall of the world’s economies in the next 40 years.

The world’s top economy in 2050 will be China, followed by the United States. No surprises there – since China’s reforms in the 1980s, economists have said it’s not a question of if, but when, China’s collective economic might will top the U.S.

But among the smaller, developing nations, there are several surprises by HSBC prognosticators:

* By 2050, the Philippines will leapfrog 27 places to become the world’s 16th largest economy.

* Peru’s economy, growing by 5.5% each year, jumping 20 places to 26th place – ahead of Iran, Columbia and Switzerland. Other strong performers will be Egypt (up 15 places to 20th), Nigeria (up nine places to 37th), Turkey (up six spots to 12th), Malaysia (up 17 to 21st) and the Ukraine (up 19 to 45th).

* Japan’s working population will contract by a world-top 37% in 2050 – yet HSBC economists predict it will still be toward the top performing economies, dropping only one spot to the 4th largest economy. India will jump ahead of Japan to 3rd on the list.

* The big loser in the next 40 years will be advanced economies in Europe, HSBC predicts, who will see their place in the economic pecking order erode as working population dwindles and developing economies climb. Only five European nations will be in the top 20, compared to eight today.  Biggest drop will be felt northern Europe: Denmark to 56th ( -29), Norway to 48th ( -22), Sweden to 38th (-20) and  Finland to 57th (-19).

HSBC 2050 list of top economies (change in rank from 2010)

1) China   (+2)

2) U.S.     (-1)

3) India     (+5)

4) Japan   (-2)

5) Germany (-1)

6)  UK      (-1)

7) Brazil    (+2)

8) Mexico (+5)

9) France (-3)

10)  Canada (same)

11)  Italy      (-4)

12)  Turkey (+6)

13)  S. Korea (-2)

14)  Spain    (-2)

15)  Russia (+2)

16)  Philippines (+27)

17)  Indonesia (+4)

18)   Australia (-2)

19)  Argentina (2)

20)  Egypt (+15)

21)  Malaysia (+17)

22)  Saudi Arabia (+1)

23)  Thailand (+6)

24)  Netherlands (-9)

25)  Poland (-1)

26)  Peru     (+20)

27)  Iran      (+7)

28)  Colombia (+12

29)  Switzerland (-9)

30)  Pakistan (+14)

“If we step away from the cyclicality, there are two ways economies can grow; either add more people to the production line via growth in the working population, or make each individual more productive,” the report says.

In other words, demographics – the size of your working population – along with the opportunities to flex that muscle help determine long-term economic trends. Big factors on the back half of that equation: Education opportunities, democratic governments or strong rule of law (a caveat that explains China and Saudi Arabia’s high placement).

“We openly admit that behind these projections we assume governments build on their recent progress and remain solely focused on increasing the living standards for their populations,” the report says. “Of course, this maybe an overly glossy way of viewing the world.”

Chief factors that may derail economies moving forward, the report says: War, energy consumption constraints, climate change, and growing barriers to population movement across borders.