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Article from SFGate.

California’s rebate program for businesses and homeowners who install solar panels has now funded enough systems to generate 1 gigawatt of electricity – a level few countries and no other states have ever reached.

California officials reported Thursday that state residents have installed 1,066 megawatts of solar systems using rebates from the $2.4 billion California Solar Initiative, launched in 2007 as a way to jump-start the industry.

For perspective, 1 gigawatt is roughly the output of two conventional power plants or one nuclear reactor. A gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts. Both are snapshot figures, representing the amount of electricity generated at a given instant.

The rebates decline over time and are now 92 percent lower than they were when the program began. But the number of applications received each year continues to rise as solar power’s popularity spreads.

As a result, state officials say the program should reach its goal of funding enough installations to generate 1,940 megawatts by the end of 2016.

“It’s one of the few examples of a program where, if anything, we’re hitting the goals sooner than anticipated,” said Edward Randolph, director of the energy division at the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the program.

“The costs are going down as we hoped, and the market is heading closer to self-sufficiency.”

The program is part of California’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative, a $3.3 billion package of financial incentives offered by the state to build a thriving solar industry here.

The overall initiative, created by the Legislature in 2006, seeks to install enough solar systems across the state to generate 3 gigawatts, reaching that milestone by the end of 2016. Solar power’s spread across the state has been aided by plunging prices, driven lower by a worldwide glut of solar panels. When the California Solar Initiative started offering rebates in early 2007, residential solar installations in the state cost $9.76 per watt on average, according to the program’s data. Now they cost $6.19, a drop of 37 percent.

The rising popularity of solar lease programs – which allow homeowners to install solar systems without owning the equipment – has also helped fuel the solar industry’s growth. The California Solar Initiative is reviewing applications for projects capable of generating another 332 megawatts.

The initiative accounts for roughly half of the solar power capacity installed in California to date.

When other facilities are included – such as photovoltaic power plants that sell their electricity to utilities – the state can now generate more than 2 gigawatts from the sun, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

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Fort Lauderdale, FL and Six Nations of the Grand River, Canada – October 6, 2011. T.R.A.F.F.I.C., the domain industry’s signature domain conference is pleased to announce that Power.com has been added to the roster of domains slated for auction on Tuesday October 18, 2011 at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

“We’re ecstatic to have the exclusive assignment to auction such a prominent domain. It demonstrates the level of trust and commitment that serious domain asset managers have for the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. franchise,” said Rick Schwartz, CEO of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
This exceptional property is one of those unique domains that can define a broad range of products and services. Key industry sectors include power and energy generation and transmission – nuclear, wind, solar, thermal, hydroelectric, batteries, generators, oil and gas among others, but “Power.com is much more versatile,” noted Schwartz.

“Power.com could position a new product or service or re-define an existing product or service such as energy drinks, health foods, vitamins and supplements, sports and fitness, clothing, financial services, venture capital, insurance, online gambling, entertainment – the list is extensive.”
Descriptive, generic domains have historically increased in value. In tough economic times they have even increased in value.  Scott Smith, CEO of RokMe Inc., broker of Power.com commented that “Power.com is among the world’s elite domains, comparable to others that have sold for multi-millions of dollars including Sex.com – $13 million, Fund.com – $9.9 million, Business.com – $7.5 million and Beer.com – $7 million. These prices illustrate the significant value companies and individuals attribute to the web’s most desirable properties. In terms of ego, prestige and branding potential, Power.com is incomparable. ”

Bidders at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. auction will either have to attend in person or bid by telephone. In order to bid by telephone bidders need to be pre-qualified before the start of the auction. Telephone bidders will be given call-in instructions 72 hours before the auction begins.
The T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference runs from October 14-19, 2011 at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

For More Information:
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. – Rick Schwartz, mr800king@aol.com
RokMe Inc. – Scott Smith, scott@rokme.com, +1 416 543 2843

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Article from TechCrunch.

It’s no secret that eBay has been heavily investing in a local commerce strategy.

The central core of this is trying to capitalize on the $917 million online-to-offline buying market, which Forrester estimates will eventually reach $1.3 trillion (although this number seems low) and account for nearly 50% of total retail sales by 2013. Virtually every acquisition in the past year (besides the company’s $2.4 billionpurchase of GSI Commerce) has been of a company that is dabbling in local payments or linking to merchants (Milo, RedLaser, Where, FigCard). If you look closely, a clear strategy is emerging that positions eBay at the center of mobile shopping, local commerce, and payments (through PayPal). Let’s connect the dots.

Online-To-Offline and Comparison Shopping

eBay’s first foray into the local commerce arena was though the acquisition of barcode scanning mobile app RedLaser last June. RedLaser’s barcode scanning technology allows users to comparison shop on the go. Anyone can scan a barcode on an item at a store and then automatically access any eBay listings of the product on the marketplace. Sellers can also use the scanning technology to scan an item and list the product in very little time. RedLaser’s technology was quickly integrated into eBay’s dedicated iPhone and Android apps.

The company then bought Milo for $75 million, which aggregates and lists real-time in-store product inventory for over 50,000 stores across the country; featuring over 3 million products from Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, Crate & Barrel and more.

Most recently eBay integrated Milo into a few of its core products, including RedLaser. So with a single scan of a product in a store, users can see which nearby retailers have a product in store, and at what price. eBay also integrated Milo’s results into its own marketplace, allowing users to include local shopping tab in search results to check a product’s local, or in-store, availability directly from the eBay search results page.

But surfacing local product results and integrating barcode scanning only scratches the surface of local and mobile commerce and its potential. There’s no doubt that eBay is reaping the benefits of mobile commerce (the company expects to do $4 billion in mobile gross merchandise volume in 2011).

Local Payments

And eBay realizes that in order to really capitalize on local and mobile in the ecommerce experience, the company also has to be a part of the point of sale for local merchants. And eBay has a player in this race—payments giant PayPal. PayPal has been making its own small forays into local commerce and late last year launched a new version of its popular iPhone app that allows users to find businesses near their immediate location that accept PayPal as a form of payment. The feature rolled out in San Francisco initially, but we haven’t heard much about the initiative since last November.

Why? Well, scaling this feature broadly to other cities is a challenge for even a large company like PayPal. Not only do they have to find the local businesses, but PayPal has to teach them how to use their mobile apps as a payment mechanism. Wouldn’t it be much easier to acquire a company that could help PayPal and eBay do this?

Enter Where, a geo-location service and mobile advertising company that already has millions of active users across many mobile platforms. The apps show local listings for restaurants, bars, merchants, and events, and also suggests places and deals for you based on your location and past behavior. Where also offers a location-based ad network, which allows advertisers to show their mobile ads only to people near their store, or perhaps near a competitor’s store (after the user opts in to see these types of ads). Currently, more than 120,000 retailers, brands and small merchants use Where’s network daily to reach new audiences and deliver real-time foot traffic to their doorstep.

eBay of course acquired Where a few weeks ago, and housed the company within PayPal. Not only does this give PayPal much more of a reach with its payments service, but it gives eBay a platform to to enter into the the local deals market. As Where’s CEO Walt Doyle told us after the acquisition, “eBay is about connecting buyers and sellers and Where is about connecting people with places.” Ebay can now tap into connecting consumers with local businesses and can be a part of the transaction with PayPal.

PayPal also just bought mobile payments startup FigCard, a Boston-based startup that allows merchants to accept mobile payments in stores by using a simple USB device that plugs into the cash register or point-of-sale terminal. All the consumer needs is the Fig app on his or her smart phone. The connection with PayPal is that when consumers setup their payment information, they could add PayPal as a payments option and pay for goods via their mobile phone.

Eliminating the need for an actual wallet has always been a goal for PayPal, and if the company can scale FigCard’s technology (perhaps to many of those merchants using Where?); PayPal could have a stake in the mobile wallet race.

The ‘Pivot’

In the past year, it’s fair to say that eBay and PayPal have spent over $200 million on the acquisitions I mentioned above. That’s a fair chunk of change even for a company that is making billions each year.

There’s no doubt that eBay is invested heavily in this strategy and believes that the future of the company is based on both online to offline purchases, local and mobile commerce. eBay VP of engineering Dane Glasgow recently told us that one of the challenges for eBay in this strategy is being on the pulse of technology, which is constantly evolving.

But as retail evolves, eBay is shifting its business as well, and it will undoubtedly be interesting to see if the company can connect the dots with all these acquisitions and technologies to create a powerhouse in mobile and local commerce. The challenge is that some of these initiatives aren’t really that complimentary to eBay’s core marketplace and auction business.

While eBay won’t be quitting the auction business anytimesoon, the marketplace business itself isn’t growing as fast as PayPal. PayPal now represents 39 percent of eBay’s total revenue, and nearly made $1 billion in revenue for the company in the first quarter of 2011, up 23 percent from the same quarter in the previous year. Marketplaces brought in $1.5 billion, up 12 percent from the same quarter in 2010.

Pivot is a word that tends to be over-used in the tech world, but in eBay’s case that is exactly what we are witnessing—a major pivot in the company’s business model to local commerce. It’s certainly not easy for any company to “pivot,” especially one as massive as eBay. If it manages to pull this off so late in the game, it could herald a whole new era of growth for the company.

As Glasgow tells us, “it’s a new retail environment, where the convergence of online and offline are coming to life through mobile and local experiences.” Can eBay position itself fast enough to flourish in that environment?”

Read original post here.

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Here is an article from SF Gate.

“Ning Inc., the social-networking site co-founded by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, did what many young Web companies only dream of: It got customers weaned on free services to start paying.

Since telling users in April that it would stop offering the means to build and operate social networks for free, Ning’s paid user base tripled to 45,000, with memberships starting at $2.95 a month. The privately held Palo Alto company is adding paying subscribers at the rate of 5,000 a month, three times what it was before.

“A very large percentage of economic activity is shifting online, and it makes sense that there are more services that are going to charge,” said Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp., who serves as Ning’s chairman. “It also means there are going to be more people willing to pay.”

Few are charging

Ning is one of the few social-media sites charging users, following a path cut by media and entertainment providers, which have experimented with fee-based services. Founded in 2004, the same year as Facebook Inc., Ning failed to turn a profit with its original strategy: offering most services for free and charging a monthly fee for extra features. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Gina Bianchini resigned in March, and 42 percent of the staff was laid off in April.

Social-networking tools on the Web are widely available for free. Facebook, which has more than 500 million users, is expected to generate at least $1.4 billion this year, mostly from the sale of ads, two people familiar with the matter said last month. Twitter, with more than 100 million users, began running ads on its site this year.

With a large population of Web users relying on Facebook for basic social services, like keeping track of close friends, there’s an opportunity for other sites to charge for more unique services, said Lou Kerner, a social-media analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in New York.

“Facebook has won the free social media race,” said Kerner. “What you’re seeing in the marketplace is folks who are trying to find out business models that are more niche-oriented.”

For Jive Software Inc., that niche is business. The startup, also based in Palo Alto, sells social-networking and online collaboration tools to corporations, including Nike Inc., Intel Corp. and Charles Schwab Corp. Jive’s services start at $100 per user per year, and many customers pay for at least 10,000 users to start.

“The use of social software in the consumer world has no doubt fueled the interest level” among business users, said Tony Zingale, Jive’s CEO. The company, which received a $30 million investment last month led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, expects bookings of as much as $25 million in the last three months of the year, he said.

Paying subscribers are an attractive asset to venture capitalists, who are often asked for money from Internet startups planning to cash in on advertising.

“Ad-driven is a lazy model,” said Dave McClure, a startup adviser and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. “If there is value, then there probably is a paid relationship that works there at some point,” he said.

Business networking site LinkedIn Corp. generates some revenue by selling professional services, like tools for finding and recruiting job candidates. Meetup Inc., a service for coordinating social events, charges organizers a fee.

The “freemium” model of charging a portion of users is nothing new. One of the earliest examples is PayPal Inc., founded in 1998, which made its payment service free to buyers of products and services so that many people would use it.

“You need free users to enhance the overall value for the product,” said David Sacks, one of the founders of PayPal, who now runs enterprise social-media startup Yammer.”

Read more here.

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Footprints

As important as our environmental carbon footprint is our digital footprint, which represents a significant business opportunity, once it is fully understood.

Tony Fish, a member of Gerbsman Partners Board of Intellectual Capital and serially successful entrepreneur, who advises Gerbsman Partners high growth business on their digital strategy and has written a book on the subject, My Digital Footprint.

“Everything we do on the internet is recorded and analyised from those seeking financial gain from understanding our behaviour, think Google. Our digital footprint includes the data from our interaction with different devices including PC, Mobile and TV, Examples of digital footprint data are websites we look at, our online purchases, location, attention, watching preferences, who we call and for how long, the content we create for twitter, blogs or pictures and the online conversations we have via e-mail or on social networking sites.

We have become used to the free model, TV paid for by advertising, search for free. To get these services there is a trade, your data for free services. Whilst we may have concerns about privacy and civil liberties, it must be acknowledged that we largely give these up as soon as we log in, switch on or click.

Such privacy concerns are of little concern to some people, who have either grown up with a ubiquitous and nearly free internet or have a trust in the trade and brands. These consumers will happily or unwittingly generate a significant amount of personal data as a by-product of their daily interactions. This process has been accelerated and enhanced by smart phones that add location-based, real-time data to extend significantly the user´s digital footprint”.

However, Fish argues that raw data from mobile, web and TV users is of little value unless it is put into context. It is not so much what you might be doing, or saying, but who you are doing it with which creates and accelerator of value creation. For example, the fact that you have just bought a new watch is of minimal interest on its own, purchase made. While you might be interested in watches, you have just bought one and are, therefore, not likely to be in the market for one soon. But if you are going online and telling everyone how wonderful the watch is, and how great the service you received was, this is of value – especially to the dealer and other relevant suppliers, who can identify your long-term value from measuring your digital footprint. Further I can now determine who influenced you to purchase the watch and who you influence – this created new value.

In the future, those of us with the largest digital footprints will be the most valued consumers. Fish predicts that soon we will all have two online identities: a personal one tailored for consumer benefits and a business one for a different level of transaction.

He concludes that the ability to understand the value of online conversations is an opportunity, as nobody owns the space. Entrepreneurs and digital businesses should, therefore, gather and analyse data, and concentrate on developing online relationships that can help them tailor products and services to customers´ needs.

About Tony Fish

Tony Fish: entrepreneur and strategic thinker with over twenty years of experience with leading brands, high growth companies and in venture capital. Tony is an experienced and qualified board level executive with professional experience crossing Web, mobile and TV and divides his time between his non-exec roles and board advisory work.

Tony is an acknowledged public speaker and a leader in “2.0” thinking, through the recipient of independent awards such as placement in the top 10 in The Observer and Guardian newspapers “The future 500 rising stars”, and from global recognition from his peer group.

Tony is known for delivery, probing questioning, clear decision making, simple no-nonsense attitude, robust financial views and governance controls. Tony enjoys an unblemished professional reputation, has a wide and diverse professional network and will bring a truly innovative flair.

Tony Fish B-Eng MBA C-ENG FIET FCIM is the author of “My Digital Footprint: a two sided business model where your privacy will be someone else´s business” Nov 2009 and has previously co-authored two books on mobile and innovation: “Mobile Web 2.0: the innovators guide to developing and marketing next generation wireless/mobile applications”, August 2006; and “OpenGardens, the innovators guide to mobile data industry”, December 2004.

Tony can be reached at: tony(dot)fish(at)amfventures(dot)com

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 60 Technology, Life Science and Medical Device companies and their Intellectual Property,, through its proprietary “Date Certain M&A Process” and has restructured/terminated over $790 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, Europe and Israel.

For additional information please visit www.gerbsmanpartners.com

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