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The Almighty Buck

Video Why Kickstarter Became a Public Benefit Corporation (Video) 40

Meet Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler. Timothy Lord asked Yancey about Kickstarter's recent move to become a Public Benefit Corporation, which is, according to Wikipedia, "a specific type of corporation that allows for public benefit to be a charter purpose in addition to the traditional corporate goal of maximizing profit for shareholders."

This corporate restructuring has no tax advantages, and creates a slight increase in paperwork, Yancey says. So why did they do it? Please view the video (or read the transcript, which has more info than the video) to find out.
The Almighty Buck

Video Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 53

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.

Video Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2) 55

Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link
The Almighty Buck

Five predictions for (Bit)coin 179

Contributor Tom Geller writes: "I recently wrote an article about Bitcoin and the law for Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. In researching it I ran into plenty of wishful thinkers, ridiculous greedheads, and out-and-out nutbags promising a rosy future. I also found the expected blowback from vehement naysayers who think the best way to combat crazy is with more crazy. But despite that, I walked away believing that Bitcoin — or a decentralized cryptocurrency like it (let's call it "Coin") — is here to stay. As an interested outsider to the Coin economy, and a long-time technology commentator, here's what I think its future holds." Read on for Tom's predictions.

Video Venture Capital in Detroit, Among Other Places (Video) Screenshot-sm 36

If you have a startup idea kicking around in your head, you don't necessarily need to head for California, New York or Massachusetts to find venture capital. In today's video, Timothy Lord visits a venture capital firm called Detroit Venture Partners. (Yes, it's in Detroit.) This not an intimidating company, even though it has some big bucks and big names (including Magic Johnson) behind it. But this doesn't mean you need to rush to Detroit to fund your million-dollar idea. There are lots of local venture capital companies in the U.S. -- and chances are, wherever you are, there's one near you that's panting to invest in your can't-miss business opportunity.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Do You Really Need a Smart Phone? (

Roblimo writes: "My phone is as stupid as a phone can be, but you can drop it or get it wet and it will still work. My cellular cost per month is about $4, on average. I've had a cellular phone longer than most people, and I assure you that a smart phone would not improve my life one bit. You, too, might find that you are just as happy with a stupid phone as with a smart one. If nothing else, you'll save money by dumbing down your phone."

Twitter Tax Controversy Explained In Cartoon Form 303

theodp writes "If you prefer to digest your news in a cartoon format, you'll be happy to know that the Twitter tax controversy has gotten the Next Media Animation TV treatment. In the NMAtv clip, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone cuts a tax break with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and ascends a ladder to 'Tax-Free Haven' where he's high-fived by execs from GE and Google. If you insist on reading the news, IBD has an account of the payroll tax break, which critics are calling corporate welfare." A hilarious, but true, story. Please remember, when you see 'haven' instead of 'heaven,' that English isn't everyone's first language.

No U.S. Government Shutdown This Week 385

A Reader writes "If you were hoping for a government shutdown today, you are going to be disappointed. In a last-hour cliffhanger, Democrats and Republicans managed to agree with each other enough to keep the government funded for the rest of the current fiscal year. Since the budget bill that finally passed was a compromise, no one is happy with it. So it goes. That's how things work in a representative government."

No problem is so formidable that you can't just walk away from it. -- C. Schulz