At E3, Steve Wiebe Is a Donkey Kong Underdog Once Again

[show=stevewiebe size=large]How many times will Steve Wiebe try to prove that he’s the world’s greatest Donkey Kong player? If his efforts at the E3 conference in Los Angeles this morning are any indication, the answer is “as many times as it takes.” But given how much entertainment the world has already gotten from watching him play the classic arcade game, that’s not such a bad thing.

The 2007 documentary The King of Kong chronicled Wiebe, a high school teacher from the Pacific Northwest, as he honed his savant-like talent for the game of Donkey Kong in an effort to break the world record set by the gaming Goliath Billy Mitchell. It was a classic underdog tale that made both Wiebe and Mitchell pop culture icons — but due to the complications of determining an official score, one that ended without a crystal-clear resolution. The documentary’s conclusion was that the only scores that really counted were those performed live, at an official gaming event, on a regulated machine.

Mitchell and Wiebe have subsequently made regular appearances at gaming conventions to attempt new world records, and with 1,050,200 points, Mitchell is currently the record-holder. Thus, the gauntlet is Wiebe’s to pick up.

And today, cable network G4 and live-streamer Justin.TV are there to give him a platform. At 11 AM EST/8 AM PST, with Twin Galaxies referee Walter Day in attendance, Wiebe began attempting to achieve a new Donkey Kong record. While G4’s E3 coverage only has occasional updates on his progress, the whole thing can be watched live (embed after the jump). Read More about At E3, Steve Wiebe Is a Donkey Kong Underdog Once Again

Biodiesel Maker Imperium Slashing Staff

imperiumgraysharborsmallThe news that biodiesel maker Imperium Renewables will be cutting 24 employees (or more than half of the staff) from its Grays Harbor plant, announced Thursday night, won’t be a big shocker to anyone who has followed the company’s yearlong downward spiral. The Seattle-based biofuel firm, which has raised more than $200 million over its lifetime, withdrew an IPO that could have raised an additional $345 million, back in January 2008, and soon after reduced staff from a high of 107 employees. In the past year, Imperium has also lost a contract to supply Royal Caribbean with 18 million gallons of biodiesel annually and closed its Hawaii office.

So the signs were all there — and the economy only made things worse. The biodiesel market has been hit especially hard by the downturn. Demand for both diesel and biodiesel has dropped with the economic slump and dropping fuel prices have really hurt the margins of biodiesel makers. David Woodburn, an analyst with investment bank ThinkEquity Partners, told us last week that “The pressure is really to a point that biodiesel processing using canola oil or soy oil is unprofitable these days.”
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Refinancing, Tax Credit Ease Imperium Woes

The remarkable rise and fall of Imperium Renewables — from a rising star in the alternative fuel universe to a green basket case — may finally be coming to an end.

On Monday, Imperium became one of the many beneficiaries of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 when it was signed into law by President Bush. The bill received Congress’ disdainful approval Friday after wrapping the original version in layers of pork rinds. Some of that pork meant extending tax credits for green energies, namely a $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel production.

That followed news that investors had come up with a scheme to recapitalize Imperium. The plan will allow the company to keep running its 100-million-gallon-per-year facility in Grays Harbor County, Wash., while offering proceeds to lien holders and creditors.

That’s not much good news. But at least it’s good. A year ago, Imperium stood in line for an initial public offering, among a number of companies that, while bleeding cash and amassing net losses, was seeing revenue surge and investing heavily towards a good chunk of what seemed like a hot market.
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Imperium Renewables ‘Royally’ Screwed?

One year after the vaunted opening of its 100-million-gallon-a-year, $78 million biodiesel plant at the Port of Grays Harbor, Imperium Renewables has lost its contract to supply Royal Caribbean with 18 million gallons of biodiesel annually, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. The news –which also revealed that the cruise ship company sold off its $10 million stake in the plant — broke just days after the Seattle-based biodiesel firm said it had closed its two-person Hawaii office.

The Royal Caribbean contract was named as a critical business opportunity in Imperium’s $345 million IPO filing, which was withdrawn in January. The company’s SEC filing noted the substantial negative impact the loss of the contract would have on its business.

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Legend of Neil, Synchronized Office Swimming on NTV Station Today

Most people, especially today, dream just a little bit of being an Olympic superstar. But what if you’re a Russian office worker stuck at a desk? Well, with the help of a video camera and four friends, you could just create your own event — synchronized office swimming.

And speaking of a different kind of game, today we look at The Legend of Neil, a thoroughly adolescent and hilarious spoof on the original NES Legend of Zelda. What elevates this web series above the pack? Aside, of course, from a hilarious supporting performance by Dr. Horrible/The Guild‘s Felicia Day? Find out at NewTeeVee Station!

Google’s Achilles Heel

No one company can be all things to all people — not even Google. Even the search giant has an Achilles heel, one that is quite near and dear to its core business: the rise of vertical search engines.

Events On Demand

If we can have video on demand, pizza on demand, why not events on demand. Business 2 Blog reports that EVDB-powered Eventful is launching a new service where consumers can create a groundswell for certain concerts and events from performers.

The idea is to use the Web to aggregate demand for different kinds of events—anything from rock concerts to book readings. So someone in Omaha who really wants U2 to play there could start a campaign on Eventful, and if enough people join and demand that U2 plays there, the tour manager would probably be wise to add an Omaha date to the tour.

This is a good idea particularly for smaller bands. I wonder what is the “monetization strategy.” I had recently met with a company which was working on developing a technology that would allow people watch live concerts using the IM networks for a small fee. Again a nifty idea with a business model. How big these things could be? Who knows… clearly, broadband is working its magic in unusual ways don’t you think?