Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's, 2008: Links and Resolutions

Welcome to 2008. New Year's Resolution: Post more than our recent rolling average of about four times monthly.

To get us started, some links from the web of Good Business:

BusinessWeek prognosticates 2008, with the lead prediction being a green backlash. Although I wouldn't forecast a "crisis," I do think this is the year that the green movement moves beyond the early adopters into the mainstream, savvy consumers (and unsavvy ones) begin to look under the hood a little more beyond just trusting a loud GREEN label, and posers/imposters are exposed, ignored, or called out on it. Which will be a good thing, because when we collectively move beyond the "Any green press is good" to a higher quality of green consciousness, that's progress.

(PS: Always one step ahead of BW, we forecasted a green backlash in October!)

Quick story from Digital Media Wire on and "philanthropic casual games." My thought: There's only room for a few such gimmicks in the public appetite, so let's hope the few that can muster an audience are good ones (this one is cute.)

Must-read Inc. article on Entrepreneur of the Year Elon Musk, who not only helped build (and cashed in on) PayPal, but now has THREE irons in the fire: Tesla Motors (high-end electric cars), SolarCity (looking to bring solar installation and service to the masses) and Space X, where he appears to spend most of his time, and whose mission is nothing short of spreading life to Mars. My favorite part of the Elon Musk story is his recognition of the idea of blowing conventional "alternative vehicle" pricing out of the water and creating a must have, $100k electric sports car that any sports car enthusiast may want...not just the tree-hugging variety.

PartnerUp lists 2007 Web/Technology Mergers and Acquisitions. Aside from the directly Good Business acquisitions- TreeHugger's $10M pickup by Discovery is testament to the passion of some real Green enthusiasts and the marketed they created for their distinctive content- the list is inspirational in that what's good for business must also be good for Good Business. In other words, hot M&A activity, plus increased investment in Clean Tech, is a good omen.

Cal Poly- Orfala College of Business Professor Chris Carr, upon returning from an annual b-school trip to China, on the "intellectual laziness" of students returning from the bursting-at-the-seams nation only to marvel at how big, messy and environmentally-unfriendly it is- without offering a business solution. Great take, especially his example of un-MBA Jill Buck and her Go Green Initiative. Carr may be ranting a bit when he drops the "All We Do Is Bitch" mentality, but in his arena of inspiring students to come up with entrepreneurial solutions, he's right onw.

Santa Clarita, CA Council Candidate Maria Gutzeit gives her Green SCV (Santa Clarita Valley) Wishlist for 2008. Interesting perspective from a local political candidate telling her local government to put their money where their mouths are. I especially like her stumping for including solar power as an option in new homes, an incremental cost that, if included in a 30 year mortgage, can be as low as the electricity savings are high.

Morganton, NC News Herald's Julie Chang on town entrepreneurs Bryan and Stephanie Cates, who launched (as of yesterday) Simply Green, a subscription curbside recycling pickup. I clearly don't understand the economics of enticing residents to pay $4 monthly to pick up recyclables, so let's hope they've done some solid analysis of charging for the service (and likely getting fewer "customers") vs. picking up for free and just cashing in on the materials (if there is such a thing in NC.) Nonetheless, if $4 monthly is the cost of good conscience for Morganton residents, that's a promising sign.

I always love the annual report on how many new magazines launched in the last year. 636, Folio reports, for 2007. Good Magazine is my favorite, if not for it's compelling content than for it's stimulating business model (the $20 subscription goes to the sponsored charity of your choice.) If circulation and subscription numbers are a loosely governed metric in the publishing world anyway, then why not make the fee really meaningful? My money went to Room to Read.

And finally, some thoughts on the mortgage bail-out, which was underdiscussed over the holidays.

BusinessWeek's Jane Sasseen asks whether the plan will go far enough, citing analysts who think that "broad criteria" aren't applicable and that mortgages (and ability to pay them) truly need to be looked at case-by-case. But I think one of her other points- the idea that only two narrowly defined groups- those with enough equity or income to refinance and those who meet certain standards before the freeze goes into effect- are to benefit is the saving grace. The plan essentially pre-qualifies qualified borrowers for an extension on their introductory rate. It's not bailing those who are already in trouble or weren't making their payments even when they were low. No one seems to know exactly how many home"owners" will benefit- most estimates are in the low six figures for both refinancing and rate freezing.

As a footnote I disagree with CNN/Money Joe Light's statement that subprime borrowers who will benefit from the rate freeze "are still being "punished" for reckless behavior in the past..." by being asked to continue paying their intro rates, which were typically higher than "prime" borrowers' in the first place. My thought: that's not new "punishment" in light of the freeze. That was already their "punishment" for having bad or no credit...per his logic (not mine!)

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