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China Attempts to Launch Asian Pixar or Dreamworks

The Chinese authorities’ have launched a 4.5 billion Yuan (around $350 million) complex aimed at mimicking the success of American animation powerhouses Dreamworks and Pixar. It’s been prompted by the success of Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda, the first animated film to take more than 100million yuan in China at the box office. The Chinese government’s response was to build this massive state sponsored complex outside of Beijing to churn out rival animated films. But it’s not easy for the state to effectively sponsor innovation, even in a liberal and open society. In China where the government is authoritarian and dicatorial (to put it lightly) creating innovation by diktat is not likely to out-do the free thinking creatives at Dreamworks, Pixar et al. in California. Quite how the Chinese expect to make money of their intellectual property in a country where the rights of content creators are routinely ignored and international copyright law doesn’t exist is another question altogether!

Perhaps the Chinese government/people will only care about enforcing copyright if they manage to create some intellectual property of their own worth protecting…


Facebook News Feed Labelsneak Spam on the Rise?

Is anyone else seeing Facebook spam in their News Feed? I’m sure everyone has had the odd spammy friend request, facebook app or Facebook Ad. But I’ve yet to experience what appears to be hijacking of my Facebook Feed. I’ve never heard of and I certainly haven’t added him/her/it to Facebook, yet there it is in my News Feed.










Maybe an FB app hijacking? Or a 3rd party hijacking a poorly coded FB app?







I also certainly didn’t send a friend request, yet Facebook is telling me I have. Looks like FB need to keep an eye on this, if News Feeds start getting clogged up with spam – you know where users are going to go, somewhere else.


2010 – The Internet in Stats

The people over at Royal Pingdom have compiled a comprehensive list of stats for everything Internet related in 2010. I’d recommend checking out their blog too – it’s full of great stuff.

Head over to Royal Pingdom or check out the stats below:


  • 107 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2010.
  • 294 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
  • 1.88 billion – The number of email users worldwide.
  • 480 million – New email users since the year before.
  • 89.1% – The share of emails that were spam.
  • 262 billion – The number of spam emails per day (assuming 89% are spam).
  • 2.9 billion – The number of email accounts worldwide.
  • 25% – Share of email accounts that are corporate.


  • 255 million – The number of websites as of December 2010.
  • 21.4 million – Added websites in 2010.

Web servers

  • 39.1% – Growth in the number of Apache websites in 2010.
  • 15.3% – Growth in the number of IIS websites in 2010.
  • 4.1% – Growth in the number of nginx websites in 2010.
  • 5.8% – Growth in the number of Google GWS websites in 2010.
  • 55.7% – Growth in the number of Lighttpd websites in 2010.

Web server market share

Domain names

  • 88.8 million – .COM domain names at the end of 2010.
  • 13.2 million – .NET domain names at the end of 2010.
  • 8.6 million – .ORG domain names at the end of 2010.
  • 79.2 million – The number of country code top-level domains (e.g. .CN, .UK, .DE, etc.).
  • 202 million – The number of domain names across all top-level domains (October 2010).
  • 7% – The increase in domain names since the year before.

Internet users

  • 1.97 billion – Internet users worldwide (June 2010).
  • 14% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.
  • 825.1 million – Internet users in Asia.
  • 475.1 million – Internet users in Europe.
  • 266.2 million – Internet users in North America.
  • 204.7 million – Internet users in Latin America / Caribbean.
  • 110.9 million – Internet users in Africa.
  • 63.2 million – Internet users in the Middle East.
  • 21.3 million – Internet users in Oceania / Australia.

Social media

  • 152 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
  • 25 billion – Number of sent tweets on Twitter in 2010
  • 100 million – New accounts added on Twitter in 2010
  • 175 million – People on Twitter as of September 2010
  • 7.7 million – People following @ladygaga (Lady Gaga, Twitter’s most followed user).
  • 600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010.
  • 250 million – New people on Facebook in 2010.
  • 30 billion – Pieces of content (links, notes, photos, etc.) shared on Facebook per month.
  • 70% – Share of Facebook’s user base located outside the United States.
  • 20 million – The number of Facebook apps installed each day.

Web browsers

Web browser market share


  • 2 billion – The number of videos watched per day on YouTube.
  • 35 – Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • 186 – The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month (USA).
  • 84% – Share of Internet users that view videos online (USA).
  • 14% – Share of Internet users that have uploaded videos online (USA).
  • 2+ billion – The number of videos watched per month on Facebook.
  • 20 million – Videos uploaded to Facebook per month.


  • 5 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (September 2010).
  • 3000+ – Photos uploaded per minute to Flickr.
  • 130 million – At the above rate, the number of photos uploaded per month to Flickr.
  • 3+ billion – Photos uploaded per month to Facebook.
  • 36 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.


More than 50,000 stolen iTunes accounts being sold on Chinese Site

It seems like a decade now that people have been saying that China is going to be the next world superpower, leaving the United States and Europe in their dust. I’ve always been skeptical, the fact is that the Chinese may be ruthless, efficient in many ways and have cornered the world’s manufacturing. But the fact is whilst their overall GDP has rocketed, their per capita GDP is 78th in the world, below Bosnia.

The other main problem I see with the Chinese is their complete refusal to obey the conventions and rules of international commerce. The government or public at large don’t seem to care about intellectual property whatsoever. Pirated software is openly manufactured and sold, millions of counterfeit goods are made by the container loads to be sold in China and clandestinely shipped around the world. How can a grown up advanced economy function without the basic respect for intellectual property, in a place where brands can’t invest in their products because they will be mercilessly copied and ripped off by every Chinese person and his dog.

The BBC reported today that 50,000 stolen iTunes account are being sold on the Chinese eBay clone  Tabao. The BBC reported Tabao as saying:

“that it was not required to remove the listings because it had not received any direct complaints about the sales.”


Another shady aspect of doing business in China is the fact that foreign companies can’t expand without a local “partner”. So if Starbucks want to open coffee shops in China, they need to find a Chinese partner to join up with. On top of that, 8 out of the 10 most valuable companies listed on the Chinese stock exchange are state owned.

People will carry on saying that China is going to overtake everyone and be our new corporate overlords, but first they need to grow up and act like a developed country by respecting intellectual property and concentrating on innovating rather than copying.


So where is Groupon Spending that $950 Million of Funding?

Well for a start existing investors are going to be taking $345 million off the table and cashing out.

It looks like they’ll be spend the rest by throwing giant wads of cash at Google Adwords, Facebook and display advertising. They’re not limiting themselves to targeted ads either:

Buying expensive generic keywords like “toys” is expensive, but with $950 million to play with what else are they going to spend it on?


The Five Worst Arguments Against Net Neutrality

Allowing market forces to run their course, no red tape and minimal legislation – that’s what startup culture is all about, right? In the case of net neutrality, no, no it isn’t. Allowing very large corporations to operate with minimal legislation to protect the rights of the consumer and general public will always result in big profits for the corporations, raw deal for the rest of us. Look at the financial world, they were allowed to operate with minimum oversight and legislation. Same applies for the big telcos, they want to control the internet and charge us based on what we are doing online.

Do you want your internet to look like this?

No thanks!

Here are the five worst arguments against net neutrality :

1. We haven’t had regulation yet – lets just leave it alone – it’ll be fine!

Sure. We know that unbridled market forces deliver the fairest and best outcome for everyone, take a look at that monument to lax regulation and pure market forces – the financial and banking sector. Little to no regulation and an financial industry that convinced regulators to take a hands off approach led to the whole world hitting the economic buffers.

2. Market forces and competition will ensure that our internet will stay free

Some people argue that the fact that there is competition means that we can just vote with our wallets, if we want net neutrality we should just opt for a provider that doesn’t discriminate. There are several problems with this misguided argument.

The main problem is that many locations don’t have competition at all. Many towns in the US have only one broadband internet provider. Even in the case of the UK where the owner of the infrastructure (BT) is required by law to let competitors install their equipment in all the exchanges, there are still only a few large ISPs. Also – what about mobile? The recent Google/Verizon corporate hug shows us that they know too well that it doesn’t even matter if we achieve net neutrality on the wired internet, the future is in mobile.

3. Placing onerous regulation on ISPs will hobble them and and hamper innovation

This is the biggest fallacy propagated by lobbyists and apologists for the telecoms giants. Did the telecoms providers “innovate” and invent the internet? No. Will the fact that they don’t have the right to prioritise content mean they can’t innovate in the future? Of course not! If anyone can explain to me how an equal playing field might prevent innovation in any way, I will eat the internet in one mouthful.

What it will stop is real innovation, by small startups and disruptive individuals who want to create something new. Which is of course the thing that big corporates hate the most, they want to maximise revenue streams, ensure shareholder value and make sure that they can lock out any competition as effectively as possible. Could Youtube have prospered and spread to be the amazing service we are free to use to day if Comcast had decided that they would rather make sure that the arrogant video upstart will only be allowed to serve their videos at 50% the speed of their own videos?

4. We should be allowed to pay extra for “specialist” internet packages that cater to certain types of users. For example gaming, or video.

This is the “value add” argument that the big telco corporations will use to try and sell the idea that giving them the right to charge us for a public utility they didn’t create is actually going to benefit users. Paying for supercharged speeds for specific internet services appeals to them because they can create pricing tiers, allowing them to charge much more because of the “special” service you are getting.

The only thing that will be supercharged is the telcos profits and we will be less free to use our bandwidth we pay for to do what we want online.

5. The infrastrure can’t handle the amount of data the internet is creating. Telecoms companies need to prioritise data to prevent the whole thing from clogging up.

No. If that’s a problem, just make it like electricity, rather than offering disingenuous “unlimited” bandwidth packages that are actually subject to fair usage policies and are not unlimited at all, offer a bandwidth cap of X amount of gigabytes per month, anything over the user pays for. But they don’t want that, they want to control the actual content that you are watching.


The luckiest building in Silicon Valley – Google, Paypal and Logitech

This could be the “luckiest” office building that launched some of the biggest success stories in Silicon Valley. Google, PayPal and Logitech all started out here. The best part of the story is that the landlord only let PayPal lease the space if they let him invest. Of course in reality, we know that luck had nothing to do with the success of the companies that happened to occupy the space early on in their trajectory.

See the BBC link for the video

The luckiest building in Silicon Valley


7 Incredible (almost) FREE Tools For Startups

The cost of starting up a business, especially an online one, is at an all time low. Scrappy startup owners don’t need to pay for enterprise level tools, as almost everything you need to start growing and making real revenue is available for free.

The most obvious tools are almost not worth mentioning as they have become so integral to how startup business is done. Google Analytics provides powerful analytics functionality, WordPress is ever popular and Skype is widely used amongst tech entrepreneurs.

1. Evernote

Organise your entire filing cabinet for free and in the cloud. Access it anywhere using the Android or iPhone apps. Another very useful feature for startup founders is that Evernote lets you scan documents directly into the system using the Fujitsu Scansap S300. I can’t quite describe how useful this is as it sounds fairly mundane but it really does allow you to move closer to a near paperless office and allow you to search important documents by tags, rather than have to rifle through stacks of dead trees.

2. Google Apps

Many people don’t realise that you can use Google Apps to setup Gmail on your own domain. So our email address can be managed within a Gmail interface, rather than using Outlook or Thunderbird.

3. Freshbooks

For B2B startups who invoice customers Freshbooks is an incredibly useful invoicing tool that saves you having to create a nice looking template, print out the invoice, create a PDF of it then send it to your customer. Freshbooks neatly does it all for you and even sends a paper copy in the mail if you need. Paid search management startup Pixelo use Freshbooks to invoice their clients and claim their customers love it as well this it allows them to see when their customers have viewed an invoice and how much is outstanding.

4. Mailchimp

Aweber and Mailchimp are the two main contenders for the email marketing app de rigeur but Mailchimp pips it for me as the usability is excellent.

5. Survey Monkey

Getting feedback from your customers and even employees is always a useful exercise. Even if you decide to completely disregard what they say, it’s always good to know what your customers think they want. But that’s another story.

Survey Monkey lets startup owners easily get feedback en masse and feedback is what allows you to iterate your product, improve it and ultimately succeed in the startup business.

7. Shopify

Not quite free, but still worth mentioning. Creating an online store has never been this easy and flexible. I know of companies doing $200k+ a month in turnover using a barely modified version of the default shopify template. There have always been open source, free and cheap shopping cart solutions for those who want to start an ecommerce business, but frankly they were pretty terrible. OScommerce was bulky and looked about 10 years out of date, Zencart was very similar, Magento is very neat but had some speed issues at the start. However Shopify is a very flexible and powerful way of getting selling straight away, the whole process has been made very simple, yet powerful enough to host stores that actually sell a lot of goods.

Another notable mention is Vennder who recently got in touch to tell us about their Shopify style ecommerce platform.


Google Translated Search

A nifty use for Google Translate is to search in other languages, Google’s example is to try searching for “sushi recipes” in Japanese. Or “pasta recipes” in Italian.

Very smart…

This type of tool can very useful for marketing your startup to international markets from day one, without having to wait for expensive translations or hire linguistic talent.

Everyone knows the story of how Studiviz managed to create a clone of Facebook in Germany, soak up all the initial marketshare and then sell what was basically a Facebook script with a German skin for 100 million Euros.

Facebook have since learnt their lesson and have aggressively expanded to international markets.

But if your startup happens to strike gold in your country, the lesson seems to be that you need to use all the tools available to make sure that noone reskins your idea and starts eating up market share elsewhere.


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