How to Write a Business Plan

[via Anand Sridharan] David Cowan has some suggestions. “Your presentation should not exceed 10 slides. The appendix can include as many slides as you want. The more the better. Nothing beats responding to some VC’s question with a slide from the appendix. Sales productivity? Here are the historical numbers. The competitor’s software? Here’s a screenshot. Most operating details will remain safely ensconced in the appendix, eliminating unnecessary friction in the presentation.”

Healthcare Transformations

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani points to What If:

The complete digitization of healthcare (both clinical and administrative) will lead to a number of profound changes.

* Hundreds of millions of medical records (shorn of personal identifiers) combine into a massive n-dimensional, queriable, retrospective database, allowing, for the first time, the emergence of true evidence-based medicine.
* Just In Time Knowledge systems bring the physician clinical and diagnostic information that she does not yet know that she needs based on the patterns of information that she is putting into the system
* These systems, and other fail-safe mechanisms built into software, occasion a large-scale drop in medical mistakes and malpractice litigation.
* CEOs and other chief officers can access financial information in real-time in a virtual close accounting system
* Procurement bots, as well as real-time online market-making in supplies, financing, and drugs replace most of the procurement mechanisms we use today.

Venture Capital Squeeze

SiliconBeat points to a Paul Graham essay:

In the next few years, venture capital funds will find themselves squeezed from four directions. They’re already stuck with a seller’s market, because of the huge amounts they raised at the end of the Bubble and still haven’t invested. This by itself is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s just a more extreme version of the norm in the VC business: too much money chasing too few deals.

Unfortunately, those few deals now want less and less money, because it’s getting so cheap to start a startup. The four causes: open source, which makes software free; Moore’s law, which makes hardware geometrically closer to free; the Web, which makes promotion free if you’re good; and better languages, which make development a lot cheaper.

the acquirers have begun to realize they can buy wholesale. Why should they wait for VCs to make the startups they want more expensive? Most of what the VCs add, acquirers don’t want anyway. The acquirers already have brand recognition and HR departments. What they really want is the software and the developers, and that’s what the startup is in the early phase: concentrated software and developers. Google, typically, seems to have been the first to figure this out. “Bring us your startups early,” said Google’s speaker at the Startup School.

Mainstream Media Meltdown

[via Jeff Jarvis] Cris Anderson writes:

Down:

* Box Office: down by 7% this year (tickets per capita have fallen every year since 2001).
* Newspapers: circulation, which peaked in 1987, is declining faster than ever and is down another 2.6% so far this year.
* Music: Sales are down another 5.7% this year; although digital downloads (still just 6% of the business) are climbing nicely.
* Radio: down 4% this year alone, continuing a multi-decade decline.
* Books: down by 7% in 2004

Mixed:

* DVDs: sales growth is slowing dramatically, from 29% last year to single digits this year.
* TV: Total viewership is still rising, but as channels proliferate and the audience fragments the rating of the average show continues to decline.
* Magazines: Ad revenues are up a bit although the number of ad pages is flat (they’re charging more per page). Circulation is also flat, while newsstand sales are at an all-time low.
* Videogames: it’s the final few months of the current generation of consoles, which tends to the trough of the buying cycle. Sales were down 20% in Sept, but will probably pick up by Christmas with the launch of the Xbox 360.

Up:

* Internet advertising:
–Banners: Up 10% this year
–Keywords: Google revenues up 96%

Portal 2.0

Michael Parekh writes:

there is a real problem as the big portal companies go into the Web 2.0 world, and it’s a possibly intractable one.

Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft MSN/Live, AOL, (along with Amazon, eBay and Apple for a sub-set of the portal services) need to come to terms with the reality that most of their users WILL ALWAYS NEED TO have accounts at their competitors because they’ll NEED TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE AT ALL of those services.

In a Web 2.0 world, where by definition these services are about connecting with people across these services, these services are still competing on the traditional model of winner takes all.

The underlying assumption by each player is that if one service can offer the latest and best X.0 version of each of the services in question that they’ll have that customer’s TOTAL online business for the indefinite feature.

The reality is that as a user, I’m forced to have accounts at ALL of the services because in an oligopolistic world of online services, most of the people I need to connect with could be using any of the services on any of the portals.

TECH TALK: Good Books: Collapse

Jared Diamonds Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed follows Guns, Germs and Steel. The latter discussed how society evolved through the centuries. The former discusses specifically on how certain societies fare.

Here is an excerpt from an article by the author in The New York Times:

What lessons can we draw from history? The most straightforward: take environmental problems seriously. They destroyed societies in the past, and they are even more likely to do so now. If 6,000 Polynesians with stone tools were able to destroy Mangareva Island, consider what six billion people with metal tools and bulldozers are doing today. Moreover, while the Maya collapse affected just a few neighboring societies in Central America, globalization now means that any society’s problems have the potential to affect anyone else. Just think how crises in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq have shaped the United States today.

Other lessons involve failures of group decision-making. There are many reasons why past societies made bad decisions, and thereby failed to solve or even to perceive the problems that would eventually destroy them. One reason involves conflicts of interest, whereby one group within a society (for instance, the pig farmers who caused the worst erosion in medieval Greenland and Iceland) can profit by engaging in practices that damage the rest of society. Another is the pursuit of short-term gains at the expense of long-term survival, as when fishermen overfish the stocks on which their livelihoods ultimately depend.

History also teaches us two deeper lessons about what separates successful societies from those heading toward failure. A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions. That’s why Maya kings, Norse Greenlanders and Easter Island chiefs made choices that eventually undermined their societies. They themselves did not begin to feel deprived until they had irreversibly destroyed their landscape.

The other deep lesson involves a willingness to re-examine long-held core values, when conditions change and those values no longer make sense. The medieval Greenland Norse lacked such a willingness: they continued to view themselves as transplanted Norwegian pastoralists, and to despise the Inuit as pagan hunters, even after Norway stopped sending trading ships and the climate had grown too cold for a pastoral existence. They died off as a result, leaving Greenland to the Inuit. On the other hand, the British in the 1950’s faced up to the need for a painful reappraisal of their former status as rulers of a world empire set apart from Europe. They are now finding a different avenue to wealth and power, as part of a united Europe.

History can be a great teacher. Jared Diamonds books are a great starting point to understanding of how we got where we are.

Tomorrow: The Only Sustainable Edge

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