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Article from Yobucko.

www.yobucko.com

 

Yo! How’s it going?  We hope 2012 is going well for you.  We just wanted to send you a quick reminder that taxes are due next Tuesday, April 17th.  If you haven’t finished them yet, don’t worry.  But you may want to do your taxes online and e-file so you can get them done quickly and get your tax refund fast.  If you are looking for the best tax software or some tax tips this weekend, check out YoBucko.

FREE FINANCIAL TOOLS
Also, if you are looking for some help organizing your finances, we’ve put together some free downloadable worksheets to help you with the money math.  Here are our latest additions:

  • Cash Flow Statement and Budget
  • Net Worth Statement
  • Home Buyer Worksheet
  • Student Loan Worksheet
  • POPULAR ARTICLES

Over the last few months, we’ve written more than 100 articles to help people in their twenties manage their money.  We’ve had some great feedback, but there are a few articles that were the most popular.  They were:

  • The Cost of Living the American Dream
  • 10 Financial Tips for Young Entrepreneurs
  • If I Had a Million Dollars
  • What to Do with Money: Wealth Building Tips
  • What Does the JOBS Act Mean to Average Investors
  • The Challenges of Social Entrepreneurship: Making Money and a Change

As always, we appreciate your continued support of YoBucko.  Over the coming months, we hope to bring you more and better information to help you make great financial choices.  Together, we hope to create a better financial future for the next generation of American leaders.

Share the Wealth,

Eric Bell

www.yobucko.com

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Steven R. Gerbsman, Principal of Gerbsman Partners, announced today that Gerbsman Partners successfully terminated and restructured the executory real estate contracts for a technology based company. The venture capital backed company, executed leases for space in New York City.

Due to market conditions, the company made a strategic decision to terminate its real estate lease obligation and restructure its existing corporate space allocation. Faced with potential contingent liabilities in excess of $ 12.0 million, the company retained Gerbsman Partners to assist them in the termination and restructuring of their prohibitive executory real estate contract.

About Gerbsman Partners

Gerbsman Partners focuses on maximizing enterprise value for stakeholders and shareholders in under-performing, under-capitalized and under-valued companies and their Intellectual Property. Since 2001, Gerbsman Partners has been involved in maximizing value for 70 Technology, Life Science and Medical Device companies and their Intellectual Property and has restructured/terminated over $805 million of real estate executory contracts and equipment lease/sub-debt obligations. Since inception, Gerbsman Partners has been involved in over $2.3 billion of financings, restructurings and M&A transactions.

Gerbsman Partners has offices and strategic alliances in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, San Francisco, Orange County, Europe and Israel. For additional information please visit www.gerbsmanpartners.com

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Article from Don Middleberg.

Ain’t that the truth. I read somewhere that there are thousands of new regulations introduced every year. That in itself is crazy, but the really troubling part is that these regs stay on the books seemingly forever. No one has the responsibility for removing them. So how do we get rid of old ideas while introducing new ones? In public relations, as in any industry, the answer lies with leadership. A CEO must consistently look at his firm with a fresh set of eyes and ears, and to always change the mix to be positioned for growth and development. That doesn’t mean always making revolutionary changes. In my opinion, evolutionary development is better. “Steady as she goes” is just not about ships anymore. Keeping to the mission, remaining client-focused, and most importantly of all, retaining valued employees can be worth more than any directive.

So here is what we did and didn’t do at Middleberg Communications during 2011:

What we did – Place ever greater emphasis on social media and digital communications. In particular, we developed a proprietary program called “Influence the Influencers”. We all know that 10% of people in any profession lead the remaining 90%. Their reach and influence are enormous. Well, we have spent a lot of time thinking about how we identify the top 25-50 influencers in any given area and then how to impact those leaders for the benefit of our clients.

What we didn’t do – Of our 16 employees we lost only two; one decided to become a journalist and another moved into the corporate world. One of the things clients everywhere abhor is rapid turnover of their agency’s account team. It is enormously wasteful, time-consuming and expensive to constantly retrain. I’m proud of our employee loyalty and I know our clients are, as well.

The good news for us is that we start 2012 in a better position than the same time last year, and certainly better than any time in the last three years. With a strong base of clients in technology, healthcare, marketing and media and corporate/financial/and professional services, we have our most solid base yet upon which to build our agency. Most importantly, we have the best team in our history, with just the right combination of experienced senior executives matched with younger, enthusiastic account managers-all of whom are committed to providing the finest client experience in our industry.

So here’s wishing a great 2012 for everyone.

For more information, click here.

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Article fom GigaOm.

In today’s crowded world of e-commerce, it’s not easy to make a name for yourself. New niche sites pop up constantly, while big players such as Amazon are work to undercut the growing competition by spreading into new territories and offering low prices and lots of perks. Meanwhile, the brick-and-mortar retail giants game such as Walmart are getting savvy to e-commerceand investing more and more in building strong online operations.

That’s why it’s particularly impressive that Wayfair, a relatively little known e-commerce company that deals in home furnishings and decor, is set to make more than $500 million in top-line sales for 2011. I talked recently with Wayfair’s CEO Niraj Shah to get details on how the company quietly built a half-billion-dollar-per-year business, and where it plans to go from here.

Start small and widespread, consolidate later

Wayfair as it stands today was founded by Shah and his business partner Steve Conine nine years ago as CSN Stores. At its inception in August 2002, CSN operated a single website, racksandstands.com, which sold storage and home entertainment furniture. Gradually CSN expanded its holdings to include number of individual sites that sold other kinds of home and lifestyle goods, with domain names such as strollers.com and cookware.com. By 2010, CSN had slowly but surely grown to more than 600 employees, and its family of more than 200 websites was bringing in $380 million in annual sales. All this time, CSN had not taken a dime of institutional capital.

It wasn’t until 2011 that Shah and Conine decided to consolidate CSN’s operations under one brand name of Wayfair and take the business to the next level by raising outside funding. In June 2011 Spark Capital, Battery Ventures, Great Hill Partners and HarbourVest Partners pitched into a $165 million funding round. Wayfair now operates under three brands: Wayfair.com, which sells a variety of mid-range home goods; AllModern, which sells higher-end brands such as Alessi and Herman Miller; and Joss & Main, a flash sales site for designer home goods.

Beating out brick and mortar

The consolidation and rebranding is serving Wayfair well. The company now has nearly 1000 staff and a catalog of more than 4.5 million items from 5000 brands. Now it’s closing out its best year ever, with 2011 holiday season sales 30 percent higher than they were in 2010. Cyber Monday 2011 was the best single day of sales in the history of CSN/Wayfair, with an average order size of $143 per customer.

So what’s next? According to Shah, the company is looking at some pretty big players as its competition. And the most pressing competitors are more traditional physical retailers, not other online companies. “We were really focused on online competitors when we started, but over time as we’ve grown we’ve found that our competitors really include Walmart, Target, and folks like that,” Shah said. “We tend to win if someone is looking at our site along with another site. But if people just go directly to a brand they already recognize, like Target, then we may not get the chance to win that business.” That’s exactly why Wayfair has decided to focus on building up its own brand recognition right now, Shah says:

“Right now the home market is a little over half a trillion dollars in the United States, but only about 5 to 6 percent of that is online, and it’s a highly fragmented market within that. That’s all starting to really come online, so we want Wayfair to emerge as a household name. We want to seize the opportunity to be the go-to brand for home decor online.”

The road to an IPO

Ultimately, Shah says that Wayfair plans to return its shareholders’ $165 million investment with an eventual initial public offering. But he also noted that Wayfair’s investors are quite patient, especially seeing that the company was operating with comfortable profits well before outside money was brought in.

“In general for tech companies it seems to be a good time in the market to go public. But part of why we never took investment capital early on is that we didn’t want any time pressure regarding an exit,” Shah said. “If your business is going well you still try to time an IPO well, but it’s not like you’re going to miss a ‘window.’ We could see being publicly traded in five years’ time, but it’s not a big priority now.” In the near-term, he says, Wayfair’s focus is on international expansion and boosting its brand worldwide.

To me, it seems likely that Wayfair could become an attractive acquisition target for Amazon as it proceeds toward an IPO — Amazon has been known to snap up niche competitors with big price tags before, such as its $540 million acquisition of Diapers.com owner Quidsi. Whatever happens, Wayfair will certainly be a company to watch in the months ahead.

Read original post here.

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Article from SFGate.

“Just a few weeks after “Mafia Wars 2” went live on Facebook, Din Shlomi got tired of playing the game.

A self-described hard-core gamer from northern Israel, he spent years playing the original “Mafia Wars,” building a virtual criminal empire and fighting online gang wars. But Shlomi says the sequel – launched to great fanfare – has too many bugs (some missions couldn’t be completed) and he ran out of challenges at a certain point.

“Like every Zynga game, it can be very addicting,” Shlomi says, “but once you hit level 50 there was nothing to do. It was literally like hitting a ceiling.”

Two years after Zynga’s “FarmVille” enticed millions of Facebook users to plant fields of digital crops, social gaming has mushroomed into a multibillion-dollar industry. The San Francisco startup is weeks away from an initial public offering in which it hopes to raise $1 billion.

While expectations for the social game market remain robust – it will generate $14.2 billion in revenue in 2015, up from $6.1 billion this year, estimates Lazard Capital Markets – the business is experiencing its first growing pains. Hundreds of developers now compete for the clicks of online gamers who are spending shorter periods of time immersed in each game.

To stand out, Zynga and others spend several million dollars developing titles and millions more marketing them, which increasingly puts a squeeze on profit margins. And hits are harder to come by.

“The economics just aren’t what they used to be,” says Josh Williams, president and chief science officer at Kontagent, a consultant on social games.

“The cost of customer acquisition is going up, and that means there is going to be pressure on margins,” says Atul Bagga, an analyst with Lazard.

Slipping profits

Although Zynga continues to enjoy high-speed growth – revenue was up 80 percent in the third quarter, to $306.8 million – profit fell 54 percent, to $12.5 million, from the same period a year earlier.

“Mafia Wars 2” had all the makings of a blockbuster. Its development team, which grew to 80 people, worked for nearly a year on the game, heralded in an October media launch at the company’s new Townsend Street headquarters. (The lobby contains a 1970s Winnebago and a tunnel lit with color-pulsing LED tubes.) The game peaked at more than 2.5 million daily active users in October. Since early November, the virtual organized crime adventure has shed more than 900,000 players, according to research firm AppData.

Sales of “Mafia Wars 2” have not met the company’s own expectations, according to people inside the company who were not authorized to speak on the record. Executives are second-guessing one another about what went wrong. Zynga declined to make Chief Executive Officer Mark Pincus or other senior executives available for comment, citing the company’s quiet period before the IPO.

“I think they are learning that the sequel doesn’t work,” says Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities.

The number of daily active users in a game is a critical metric of its profitability, according to Pachter, because daily users are more likely to spend on virtual items such as machine guns and shields. “The more frequently they come back, the more likely they are to pay.”

Less than 10 percent of “Mafia Wars 2” players are playing every day, far below Zynga’s 20 percent average for most games, Pachter says. The drop-off may stem from players becoming bored with the same old thing.

“All the old ‘Mafia Wars’ guys who finished everything you could do came over here and said, ‘This is the same game with different missions.’ They are already tired of it, so they are dropping off,” Pachter says. “I think it’s a good case study for what can go wrong.”

Keeping the numbers up means more marketing, and the expenditures don’t always pay immediate dividends. A prime example is Redwood City game developer Electronic Arts, which has pushed to become Zynga’s closest rival. EA found its first major social gaming success with “Sims Social,” a Facebook version of the company’s popular real-world simulator.

Pushing for daily users

Since the title’s release in August, it has attracted 33 million users, with 19 percent of players returning each day. “Sims Social” has become the second most popular game on Facebook after “CityVille.” Yet EA has spent so much money aggressively marketing the game to millions of Facebook users that it is not yet profitable, according to a person close to the company.

Typically, software makers get about 40 percent to 70 percent of their players through ads, and spend between 25 cents to $1.50 for each of those users, according to Kontagent’s Williams. For a game like “Sims Social,” which has reached more than 10 million daily users, EA may have spent at least $10 million on marketing, he says.

Saturating the market with ads is crucial to attracting a wide audience, says Kontagent’s Williams. The strategy, however, squeezes margins and makes it harder to profit from the game over the long term.

“I would estimate that only about 30 percent of social games whose developers are spending money on advertising are hitting a positive return on investment,” says Hussein Fazal, CEO of AdParlor, a consultant on Facebook advertising campaigns.”

Read more here.

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As we begin Veterans Day/Week 2011, we say “Thank You” to the men and woman of our armed services and suggest that it is time for all to “step up” and find ways to support our Veterans. To often we say “thank you for your service” and then do nothing more. Please think about supporting various Veterans groups with donations, food, clothing and moral support. The have “Earned” it and we “Owe” it to them.

In the late summer of 1967, I was on my way back to Basic Training at Fort Dix, N.J. I was in New York City and an older couple came up to me and said “Thank You” for serving and then gave me $ 20 to enjoy a dinner on them. The gentleman said he served in the Korean War and understands and appreciates what men and woman in uniform go through. I said thank you, enjoyed a great dinner and to this day, remember their kind gesture.

On this Veterans Day/Week, our family will support the Wounded Warriors program, an American Legion Post and will provide moral support and friendship to Afghanistan Veterans. On 11/11/11, I will also continue to remember that couple and honor them by buying dinner for soldiers in uniform. I will ask them to do the same thing, 5, 10, 20 and 40 years later.

May God Bless our troops and provide our leaders with the courage and strength to do what is Right and what is Just.

Please always remember – FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

What are YOU doing to HELP?

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Article from GigaOM.

“Reports of the death of Groupon’s IPOplans have apparently been greatly exaggerated. The online daily deals pioneer filed an updated version of its S-1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, as part of its preparation for a planned initial public offering of its stock.

Since the company first filed its S-1 in June, Groupon has been roundly criticized for its seemingly shady accounting practices and that its early founders and investors have already cashed out billions of dollars worth of the company’s stock. CEO Andrew Mason was so irked by the negative press that he sent a long email to Groupon’s employees filled with talking points they could use to defend the company. Ironically, when that email was inevitably leaked to the press, it only attracted more criticism; the missive was seen as a violation of the SEC’s quiet period rules.

These issues coupled with the larger environment of economic unrest have fueled rumors that Groupon had put its stock market plans on ice. But Friday’s S-1 update — the third revision since June — shows that the company is still keen to go public. Despite Groupon’s swaggering reputation and Mason’s grumbling about haters, the company’s management is showing that underneath it all, it’s actually willing to make changes and respond to criticism. Specifically, the latest filing has a few notable tweaks: Groupon said it plans to scale back its marketing budget, reported that its revenue bookings were slightly higher in the second quarter of the year, and reprinted the full text of Mason’s leaked email.

More than anything, though, updating the S-1 shows that Groupon is still serious about making its stock market debut at some point soon. But ultimately, that will only happen if investors show that they have an appetite for the company’s shares.”

Read original post here.

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