Kentucky Derby Races Its Replay Onto YouTube

[show=kentuckyderby size=large]Some sporting events aren’t particularly well-suited for online video distribution. Football has too many stops and starts. A hockey puck is practically invisible on a YouTube screen. But horse racing, with its short run time and breathless action, makes for video that pops no matter the screen size.

So it seems almost natural that the Kentucky Derby would have a YouTube account, but nonetheless it’s gratifying to see that it exists, and has in fact existed since 2006. This meant that immediately after the race on Saturday, there was an official video available for those who had missed it — a video that’s officially viral today, having racked up half a million views since being posted.

And no wonder: The complete race is a tense three minutes of horse-powered excitement. Without the pre-race coverage introducing you to the horses and their jockeys, the context is a bit lacking, but the official commentary makes the action easy to parse. When the announcers declare that 50-to-1-rated Mine That Bird is the upset winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, beating out the higher-ranked favorites this Saturday to take home $1.4 million in cash, it’s almost as thrilling as seeing it live.

The Derby’s YouTube account also archives notable races from its 135-year history, as well as videos capturing the culture that’s sprung up around the event. Read More about Kentucky Derby Races Its Replay Onto YouTube

What’s It Like Looking for New Media Work Now?

Layoffs have become the dominant story as we near the end of 2008. After writing about the cold economic realities for companies that have had to cut staff, we wanted to find out what it was like for the people who are now unemployed. Just how bad is it out there for new media folks looking for work? We talked with three people at different stages of their job search to see what, exactly, they’re up against.

sarahlaneSarah Lane was with Revision3 for a year and a half before being laid off at the end of October. While she did a lot at the company, she was best known as the host of popSiren. I spoke with her just a couple weeks after she had been let go.

“It’s great to be unemployed sit in my pajamas for like five minutes,” Lane said. The problem she encountered is that even though there are companies interested in her, there’s just a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market right now. “Some people have said ‘If I could guarantee that you had a job in a year I’d hire you,'” said Lane. Problem is, those companies can’t guarantee anything right now.

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Why the Tech Crash May Have Been a Good Thing

As we continue to slide into a dire economic correction, a silver lining is starting to emerge around the dot-com crash. By pushing a lot of froth out of the system several years ago, it has spared us from a true “Perfect Storm” of an economic crisis in 2008.

Tech Facing The Tight Cash Crisis

The credit crisis is resulting in slowdown in technology sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. This credit crunch is a much bigger problem than most people in technology realize.

  • Technology financing is estimated to top $88 billion or about 14 percent of the total amount spent on computer hardware and software in 2008, according to IDC.
  • Baytree Leasing Co., a company that provides some of this financing, says it has seen the default rate jump from 0.5 percent to 1-1.5 percent.
  • Nearly 20 percent of CIOs are delaying buying or outright canceling purchases, according to a survey by CIO Executive Council.
  • Most companies who provide credit to tech-buyers are in deep trouble. CIT Group, KeyCorp and others are taking write downs.

What this means is that companies like IBM (s IBM), Oracle (s ORCL) and Cisco Systems (s CSCO) will have to open up their coffers to provide vendor financing if they want to keep their revenues growing. If these giants are smart, they could put the credit crunch to their advantage and grow their market share at the expense of some of the less liquid competitors.
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Evergreen Solar to Barclays: Give Me Back My Stock!

Remember those tens of millions of shares that Lehman Brothers held in solar companies as part of convertible bond deals it underwrote? It seems Barclays PLC ended up holding them after it bought Lehman’s broker dealer business following the U.S. investment bank’s bankruptcy.
A couple of weeks ago, Barclays filed notice with the SEC to disclose that it now owned sizeable stakes of Evergreen Solar (s ESLR), SunPower (s SPWRA) and JA Solar (s JASO), which meant it was in a position to sell all of them into the open market and dilute the stocks just when the solar industry is facing what the New York Times called “big new challenges.” Read More about Evergreen Solar to Barclays: Give Me Back My Stock!

12 Steps to Short-Circuit the Fundraising Marathon

Fundraising always demands patience and grit, but passing the hat in the current environment will test your founder’s mettle unlike any time in recent history. Even investors still flush with cash that, only weeks ago, they had planned to put to work, now have grown skittish over the frozen credit markets and are knotting their purse strings instead. If you’re looking for financing, be prepared to work very, very hard for it.

This is true even for the most seasoned entrepreneurs, like Scott Painter, whose pedigree boasts 29 companies, including the early web auto retailer, CarsDirect.com, software and services provider, Zag.com, and most recently, TrueCar, the Zillow for car buyers.

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4 Ways to Wring Opportunity from the Chaos

The economy is changing in dramatic and unexpected ways, and many of us are having a difficult time deciding how to react. Should we adopt a bunker mentality, or keep plugging ahead as if little has changed?

The fact is that entrepreneurs are well-suited to respond to the chaos, perhaps even to use it to our advantage, because we recognize that every challenge really presents a new opportunity. To anyone heading a startup, steeling yourself for the ups and downs of circumstances that are often largely out of your control is a daily ritual — even in good times. Sure, the credit markets are throwing us some new tricks now, but dealing with uncertainty is old hat for founders.

Call me an inveterate optimist. But with so much doom and gloom in the media, I’m offering four tips for maintaining a positive perspective through the current events. If prognosticators are right, we will live with these painful economic conditions for a while. Positivism is a discipline we all need to hone. Read More about 4 Ways to Wring Opportunity from the Chaos

The Financial Crisis: A Survival Guide for Startups

Entrepreneurs often focus so much on running their companies that they don’t have time to worry about events in the outside world. Normally, this is how it should be, but the credit crisis slamming Wall Street right now is an exception, and it has deep implications for any startup.

The current mayhem actually began back in 2001. In an attempt to mitigate the economic impact of the dotcom collapse and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Federal Reserve began a series of interest-rate cuts, slashing the cost to borrow money to 1.75 percent from 6.5 percent. This was great at first: Entrepreneurs could borrow cheaply to build new businesses; consumers could borrow cheaply to spend money on our products.

There was an unexpected result, too. People began using the cheap rates to buy houses. Lots of houses. Investment banks then repackaged the new mortgage debt into all kinds of new securities that supposedly separated risky loans from safe loans. The result was cataclysmic: As housing prices plummeted, suddenly financial institutions had trillions of dollars of asset-backed securities that couldn’t be valued at all. Unable to borrow money, some of these banks are now failing, making credit hard to come by for everyone, including entrepreneurs.

If you are lucky enough to have customers, your customers are going to be less inclined to spend now. If, like most startups, you have no customers, you’re in worse shape: The angels and VCs competing to give you money last year will be far less willing to invest now.

So, what’s a founder to do? Read More about The Financial Crisis: A Survival Guide for Startups