Jeff Bezos turned up on the Daily Show couch to promote Amazon.com's newest Kindle e-book reader. And as this clip shows, he laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Why wouldn't he?
Radio personalities Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh don't have much in common, but they do share a birthday: Howard is 55 today, while Rush is turning 58. Others celebrating: CNN's Christiane Amanpour is 51. Kirstie Alley is 58. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is 45. Badgley Mischka's Mark Badgley is turning 48. Chef Rebecca Charles is turning 55. Actor Oliver Platt is 49. New York City Councilman James Oddo is 43. Rob Zombie is 44. And Heather Mills turns 41 today.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like to talk about their hopes of "changing the world." Yes, of course: Changing the world from one in which they are poor to one in which they are fabulously wealthy. The question in the air is whether the founders of companies do a better job at creating wealth, for themselves and their investors, than professional managers. With Yahoo announcing Jerry Yang's plans to step down as CEO, it would seem like a losing time for founders. But Yang is an exceptional case; he took his hands off the steering wheel when Yahoo had a mere five employees, and never really ran anything until he stepped in as CEO last June. Most founders of successful startups eagerly seize power, and have to be forcibly dislodged from the driver's seat. The best never let go. Just take a long-term look at the stock market, and you'll see why.
Loic Le Meur! Gabe Rivera! Joi Ito! Don't feel bad if you've never heard of them. BusinessWeek.com's latest 25 Most Influential People on the Web is a mashup of billionaire powerbrokers with a randomized handful of those folks you run into at that same little tech conference that happens under a different name every month. I'm guessing they left out TechCrunch's Michael Arrington to create buzz. If you don't want to click through 27 pageviews on BusinessWeek's site, here's the entire list in alphabetical order:
Buy low, sell high, as they say on Wall Street. And right now, there's a flow tide of technical talent from shuttered financial firms flooding the New York Area available at rock-bottom prices. Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures says why not take a pay cut and work longer hours at a Web startup? The "quant jocks" Wilson describes could also bank their savings and some unemployment checks and spend six months pitching a business plan — I bet they could convince Wilson to throw some money your way. The entrepreneurial route worked for former finance techie Jeff Bezos, an early adopter who worked at a hedge fund before hedge funds were cool. First Round Capital has a list of jobs in and around New York for those who would rather continue collecting a paycheck. Though the fund did sneak in email startup Xobni, which is on the left coast. "[H]ey, why not consider a move. The weather is better and winter is coming!!!" That said, so is Julia Allison. (Photo by AP/Mary Altaffer)
The founder of Amazon.com is usually pretty tightlipped about his personal investments, which he makes through a vehicle called Bezos Expeditions. Stephen Campbell, Bezos's chief investment officer, has blabbed about two new Jeff Bezos-backed startups via his LinkedIn profile. One, Finsphere, raised eyebrows in June when regulatory filings revealed it had raised $10 million from an unnamed source. Could Bezos be the bountiful backer?Finsphere hasn't announced its product plans, but a job listing for an engineeering position suggests it's engaged in some kind of wireless play. The other company, Aviary, makes Internet-based image-, video-, and music-creation tools. Like Finsphere, it hasn't publicly announced any investors. But check out the team caricatures on their "About" page. Doesn't the fellow in the lower right-hand corner look a bit like Bezos?
Powerset never quite managed to launch with their natural language parsing search product. But they did give everyone a glimpse with a preview of search for Wikipedia. Not quite game-changing enough for Yahoo to buy or Amazon's Jeff Bezos to invest in, but just enough to get Microsoft to pay $100 million. Which is considerably less what Team Redmond would have paid for Yahoo's search business. Not bad for a company running on borrowed hopes and dreams. (By Intern Alaska, photo from Powerset)
The favorite downtime-riddled platform for sharing the lumps life gives you in 140 characters or less, Twitter, has received a hot investment infusion of an undisclosed amount from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital. Spokesperson Biz Stone promises everyone that "Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model," though they must have been a bit more specific when pitching to Bezos and Sabet. Sabet, for his part, earned himself a seat on Twitter's board with the deal. [Twitter Blog]
Keeping Oracle CEO and cofounder Larry Ellison safe cost the company $1.7 million over the fiscal year ending May 31, 2007. Most of that money went to guards at his homes as well as installing and repairing home security systems, according to Oracle's SEC filings. Part of Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos's 2007 compensation included $1.2 milion for personal security. Google CEO Eric Schmidt spent $475,000 on security in 2007. A lot of the money probably goes to security precautions that might seem a lot more like luxuries than necessities.
The Google Street View car was Spotted in Microsoft Country last week after launching in many smaller markets around the country first. Apparently the drivers, rather than use some fancy, newfangled Internet doohickey, simply burn the data captured by the rooftop camera array onto a CD and mail it back to Mountain View. The fact that Portland, Oregon and Juneau, Alaska were added to the list of Street View cities before Seattle inspired an April Fools article in local publication Naked Loon quoting a fictional Google spokesmonkey as saying the addition of Seattle was "extremely unlikely, save for some kind of highly localized disaster centered somewhere in Redmond."
Attention, Amazon.com shareholders! Your money is not, repeat not in the hands of a sexless technomonk. Jeff Bezos took a moment to share some evidence of this at his annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. He reprised an anecdote about The Joy of Sex and its pivotal role in the early days of Amazon, lifted from his turn as Carnegie Mellon's commencement speaker last month: "I have a whole mess of children," then demurred, "I have to be a little delicate here because my parents are in the audience."
LOS ANGELES, CA — Consumers aren't the only ones not buying the Amazon Kindle pitch. At a presentation by Amazon.com representatives at Book Expo America on Saturday, publishers proved an equally tough sell. The reps held a special session to introduce publishers to Amazon's tools for uploading, publishing, and managing inventory for the Kindle. While the Digital Tools for Publishers system is slick and easy to use, the company wasn't particularly transparent about questions regarding the size and makeup of the market for Kindle e-books.
LOS ANGELES, CA — Jeff Bezos pitched the Kindle to attendees at Book Expo America today in downtown LA, and then sat down with Wired editor and author of The Long Tail Chris Anderson for a little chit-chat. The takeaway? Much like Apple, Bezos uses the euphemism "customer experience" for "vertical integration," especially when it comes to the new Kindle and the requirement that print-on-demand publishers work with Amazon subsidiary BookSurge. After the jump, some choice quotes from before Anderson's questions (presumably from his notes, on regular old paper, pictured here) started to veer into extreme audience irrelevance when he brought up EC2 and Bezos' space ambitions.
Texas isn't the only state going after Amazon.com for abusing the Supreme Court decision that requires mail-order retailers to collect sales taxes only on purchases in states where the company has a significant physical presence. In Pennsylvania, which is about to become host to a new Amazon distribution center, a local editorial is questioning the legality of the company avoiding state sales taxes by putting the warehouse titles under the names of subsidiaries.