Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Join a Live Chat With Stars of 'Shark Tank' on Nov. 1

Angel investors from the popular reality show -- including Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, and Kevin O'Leary -- will answer your questions in a special Google Hangout on Thursday.

from Entrepreneur

5 Ways to Cope With Working From Home

How to relieve anxiety and remain productive when you can’t make it into the office.

from Entrepreneur

How to Take Advantage of Online Training Tools

More small businesses are turning to online training. Here’s how your team can take advantage of the growing amount of resources.

from Entrepreneur

Why Mid-Year Tax Reviews Are a Must for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Waiting until the end of the year to get your books in order can be a losing gamble. Consider knocking out those year-end anxieties now.

from Entrepreneur

Blue Box Raises $2.7 Million For Cloud And Hosting Service With An OpenStack Flavor


Blue Box has raised $2.7 million for its OpenStack-infused cloud and hosting service designed for companies that have major traffic volumes and big apps and rely on a high level of uptime.

This is a first round for Blue Box, which started in Seattle nine years ago. Voyager Capital led the investment. The company has 600 clients that include MTV, VH1 and Pivotal Tracker.

Blue Box will use OpenStack as a foundation to unify its automation and orchestration technology. It is a white glove service for companies that wish to outsource operations requiring specific expertise in managing the complexities of a programmed infrastructure. Blue Box also leverages Cloud Foundry, the platform as a service (PaaS), and Opscode, which enables companies to automate their infrastructures.

Companies are beginning to get a bit more comfortable with moving operations to services like Blue Box. What they need: a service that doesn’t require a wholesale investment in one provider. In other words, a world that Oracle controls with its cloud-in-a-box options.

But what about the developers? Forward-looking companies will begin investing more in building developer communities and want some form of self-service infrastructure to host apps that fit their own ways of doing business. That’s what differentiates Amazon Web Services (AWS) from a provider like IBM, which has some self-service capabilities but nothing like what a public cloud service offers.

OpenStack will provide the capability for self-service. For Blue Box, that’s as much of a strategic move as anything else. OpenStack is the open infrastructure for building cloud environments. It holds promise as a way for companies to develop a cloud in the manner that fits their needs. For Blue Box that means offering a high level of service, automated infrastructure and open APIs for developers to deploy their own apps.

Blue Box has a lot of competition and that has to be its biggest challenge in the market, as it goes up against Dell, Rackspace, HP, AWS and a host of others.

But I like the combination that the company has put together. A customer gets to focus on what it does best with help from Blue Box to further differentiate.

from TechCrunch

Get Ready For Some Fireworks: Activist Investor Carl Icahn Sets His Sights On Netflix, Taking A 10% Stake


Carl Icahn could be on the warpath again, this time with Netflix as his target. Through a number of investment vehicles, Icahn has taken what amounts to a 9.98 percent stake in the subscription video company.

Icahn, of course, is best known as an activist shareholder who advocates for change in companies that he believes are not well run, and as a result, undervalued. He spent several years agitating the top brass at Yahoo, after founder and then-CEO Jerry Yang turned down a $45 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft. (Just some perspective: Yahoo’s current market cap is under $20 billion today.) After that, Icahn entered a proxy battle and was able to get himself and some compatriots installed on the Yahoo board.

Of course, we all know how that played out: After about a year-and-a-half Icahn stepped down from the board and eventually sold his stake in the company after having not accomplished much. But boy, was it a fun show to watch!

According to an SEC filing, Icahn has bought a big chunk of Netflix stock — nearly 10 percent altogether. It’s not clear exactly what his intentions are, but according to the filing, the investment was made because Icahn believes the stock is undervalued. And he might have a point: Netflix was once sitting pretty at about $300 a share, but has fallen fast over the past 12 months or so. Shares in the company were hovering around $60 after another disappointing earnings report last week.

From the filing:

The Reporting Persons acquired the Shares with the belief that the Shares were undervalued due to the Issuer’s dominant market position and international growth prospects. The Reporting Persons believe Netflix may hold significant strategic value for a variety of significantly larger companies that are engaging in more direct competition with one another due to the evolution of the internet, mobile, and traditional industry. The Reporting Persons are considering ways for the Issuer to maximize shareholder value but have reached no conclusion. The Reporting Persons may in the future seek to have discussions with the Issuer.

It’s those last two sentences that you should pay attention to. Icahn believes he can maximize shareholder value and may seek to have discussions with Netflix to unlock that potential.

Are you ready for another Icahn proxy battle? I’m grabbing my popcorn just thinking about it.

UPDATE: Netflix, btw, declined to comment for this story.

from TechCrunch