November 24th, 2009
Lots of people love to play poker online, and Zynga’s Texas Hold’Em Poker has shown they’re willing to do it on Facebook without actual cash involved. Just a few weeks ago, that game still held the #7 spot in this month’s Top 25 Facebook Games with nearly 19 million monthly active users, many months after it first launched.
Here’s what the app’s Page says:
Playfish have gone all in with Poker Rivals to take Texas Hold ‘Em Poker to a whole new level. Whether you’re a newcomer to Hold ‘Em or you’re an old hand, you’ll feel instantly at home in the ultimate poker experience. Hit the tables with your friends or try your hand in a tournament, then show everyone you’ve got the right stuff by buying new clothes, accessories, even a whole new apartment with your winnings. You can even buy your own private yacht, but that’s for the real high rollers only.
Veterans can hit the tables right away while beginners can choose to clue up in the Poker Rivals tutorial — don’t worry if you’ve never played a hand of poker, it’ll teach you everything you need to know. Have you got what it takes for Poker Rivals?
The game looks great, despite the fact that it is still in beta, and not actually intended for mass distribution yet. Players don a virtual version of themselves and play poker, leveling up as they win. While more features will likely be added before Playfish starts promoting the game, Poker Rivals already has some solid new ones that we haven’t seen in other social poker games. One is a way for players to purchase items using their winnings and decorate their avatars. Another is the ability to animate their characters in the game — so you can wave your avatar’s arms if you’re not happy about the cards you were dealt, for example.
Bigger picture, it’s also notable that Zynga has been going after some of Playfish’s game portfolio, launching Café World to compete against Restaurant City, and possibly planning PetVille (more here) to go against Pet Society. So, it’s easy to interpret Poker Rivals as a shot back at Zynga — but now with the resources of EA to back Playfish up.To dig deeper into the virtual goods market, check out our new report: Inside Virtual Goods: The US Virtual Goods Market 2009 – 2010.
this looks awesome...
this is the part i like the most... Hit the tables with your friends or try your hand in a tournament, then show everyone you’ve got the right stuff by buying new clothes, accessories, even a whole new apartment with your winnings. You can even buy your own private yacht, but that’s for the real high rollers only.
Tesla Motors is close to finalizing a deal to build the Model S sedan in an old NASA assembly plant in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey, the mayor said.
Tesla Motors has for months been searching for a factory in which to build the car. Downey Mayor Mario Guerra told the Long Beach Press-Telegram the city council will meet Tuesday or Wednesday with International Realty Group, the owners of the site, to broker a memorandum of understanding to facilitate a lease with Tesla. The deal includes 80 acres of land, some of which is owned by the city, and the city is putting together an incentives package to help lure the Silicon Valley automaker.
“We are looking at what we’ll be able to give to make the deal happen,” Guerra said.
Tesla spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said the company had no comment on the report.
Guerra’s announcement suggests Tesla is no longer considering a former Boeing factory in nearby Long Beach, but unnamed officials “close to the negotiations” told the Press-Telegram they have not heard Long Beach is out of the running. The weekly newspaper the District also is reporting that Tesla will choose Downey.
“We’re very close to being able to make an official announcement,” Guerra told the District. “I’m about to call a special meeting of the city council, and we’ll likely have an official announcement next week. Cars ought to be rolling off the line in 2011.”
Tesla has long promised that the four-door, seven-passenger Model S sedan will be on the road by the end of 2011 with a price of $49,900 after the $7,500 federal tax credit on EVs. The Department of Energy is loaning Tesla $464 million to build the car.
Photo: Jim Merithew / Wired.com
The Model S is going to be awesome!
The Oyster in the waters off Scotland is the only hydro-electric device producing power, according to its maker.(Credit: Aquamarine Power)
Wave energy got a boost with the connection of the Oyster hyro-electric device to the electricity grid in Scotland last Friday.
The device is a hydraulic pump operated by a "hinged flap," where a large metal flap moves back and forth from the motion of the waves. The movement moves a hydraulic piston which pumps water underground to a hydro-electric turbine which drives a generator to make electricity.
The peak power output of the Oyster 1 is about two megawatts depending on the location. The company, which received research funding from the U.K. government, is now working on a second-generation device.
There are a number of technologies being pursued to convert wave or tidal energy into electrical energy, including underwater generators. The advantage of the pump design is that it's relatively simple and many components, such as gear boxes and generators, are not exposed to the water.
Twenty Oysters, which are attached to the seabed at about ten meters of water, could produce enough electricity to power 9,000 homes in the U.K., according to Aquamarine Power.
In the U.S., the Seadog Pump uses a similar approach of pumping water offshore to a hydro-electric turbine to make electricity.
The Oyster was tested at the European Marine Energy Centre. In the U.S., there is an effort to establish an ocean power research center in southern Massachusetts.
Nearly 1 in 7 parents with grown children say they had a "boomerang kid" move back home in the past year, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. In a turnabout in the rite of passage in which a college graduate finds a job and an apartment, many are returning to their parents' empty nests because of tight finances or as they pursue an advanced degree.
"The journey home for Thanksgiving won't be quite so far this year for many adults," said researchers Wendy Wang and Rich Morin, who wrote the report. "Instead of traveling across country or across town, many grown sons or daughters will be coming to dinner from their old bedroom down the hall."
Pew's survey and analysis of government data found that the share of adults 18 to 29 who lived alone declined from 7.9 percent in 2007 to 7.3 percent this year. Drops of that magnitude were also seen during or immediately after the recessions of 1982 and 2001.
Roughly one-third, or 35 percent, of boomerang kids said they had lived independently at some point in their lives but had to move back in with their parents. About half of the grown children worked full- or part-time, while 25 percent were unemployed and 20 percent were full-time students.
The findings are the latest to highlight the sweeping social impact of a recession that began in December 2007. The effects have included declining immigration and U.S. migration between states, as well as increased carpools, use of public transit and "doubling up" of families in single-residence homes.
Data released earlier this year showed that older Americans will make up virtually all of the growth in the U.S. work force in the coming years as a nearly unprecedented number hold onto jobs and younger people decide to stay in school.
Among 16- to 24-year-olds, less than half, or 46.1 percent, are currently employed, the smallest share since the government began collecting such data in 1948. At the same time, a record high of about 11.5 million Americans ages 18 to 24, or nearly 40 percent, attended college in October 2008.
"Boomerang kids are a major trend, and they represent a shift in cultural norms," said David Morrison, president and founder of Twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm. "Young adults are the first to feel the brunt of a bad economy and the last to feel the benefits of a recovering economy. So the first way you hedge your bets is to minimize your expenses."
Saying there is now less of a stigma in moving back home, Morrison predicted that the trend of boomerang kids may lessen somewhat but still continue after the economy recovers. That could create longer-term ripple effects in social relationships, from multigenerational family tensions to delayed marriage, he said.
According to the latest Pew survey and census data:
_About 20 million people ages 18 to 34 live at home with their parents — roughly 30 percent of that age group. That's up from about 18 million, or 27 percent, in 2005.
_About 12 percent of young adults ages 18 to 34 said they were forced to move in with a roommate because of the poor economy.
_Fifteen percent of adults 18 to 34 said they had postponed getting married due to the recession. That share increases to 21 percent for adults ages 25 to 34, when many people tend to get married.
_Fourteen percent of adults 18 to 34 say they delayed having a baby.
Pew based its findings on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. It also interviewed 1,028 people ages 18 and older by cell phone or landline from Oct. 21-25. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Over the past decade, an investor would have done better in the small-cap Russell 2000 index than in VC. Indeed, since 1997, returns for the average VC investor have been negative, after fees.
a never-ending game of cat and mouse for developers/facebook
Want to own a piece of Tesla Motors? Facebook? LinkedIn? Unless you're a founder, employee, or a funding source for these companies, you're out of luck. That's what separates "public" companies from private: anyone can buy a piece of a public company on an open exchange. There are no wide-open exchanges for private company shares.
But there is now, at least to a degree. Sharespost is a marketplace where people who own pre-public shares can connect with investors who want that stock. Since these private companies also don't have open, audited books where potential investors can study up on the companies, Sharespost collects analysts' research on the companies in its market to help buyers and sellers agree on a value for shares being transacted.
The added values of the Sharespost marketplace, according to CEO Greg Brogger, are several. First, it connects buyers and sellers. Second, it helps with "price discovery," as noted above. Third, it facilitates the transactions by handling the paperwork and helping buyers and sellers work through contingencies attached to employee stock awards. And fourth, through an arrangement with US Bank, it processes and clears all the money.
Sharespost is not for the casual investor who wants to nab a few shares of Facebook for fun. Each transaction incurs a $2,500 fee (for both buyer and seller) from US Bank. And you must be an "accredited and sophisticated buyer" under SEC Regulation D, which limits the universe of buyers to people with substantial invested assets and experience. There is no such limitation for sellers. So if you're sitting on a few thousand shares of beached stock at a biggish private company, and baby needs a few thousand new pairs of shoes, Sharespost might be able to help you out.
Sharespost has only 100 companies in its market so far, and most have no activity.(Credit: Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET)
Bizzarely, Sharespost does not collect a piece of these transactions. Brogger doesn't want to make his company a brokerage. He doesn't want it to be seen as profiting from individual transactions on his site. Instead, he charges buyers and sellers a $34 a month fee for using Sharespost. "There are a lots of transactions happening now in coffee shops," Brogger says, and with his model, he doesn't care if that continues or if the sales are closed through the US Bank clearing system. Although with the amount of money per transaction involved here, I don't see why he doesn't go for a small bit of the action.
Private for a reason
I went into my meeting for Brogger with arguments lined up against the very idea of this service. Private companies don't have reliable information about them, I said. Naive employees will get taken. Brogger's counter was two-fold. First, he said, the analyst reports help people agree on a fair value. Second, nobody has to trade if they don't want to. It's a fair market.
I said that employees in private companies are awarded shares they can't sell independently for a reason: to incentivize them to move the company toward a liquidation event, so their shares become worth something. To this, Brogger says that this incentive is now largely moot, since the IPO and M&A markets are effectively shut down. People still need to buy houses and cars, and send kids to college. This market makes people's shares somewhat liquid.
Brogger also told me that this market could help venture funds wind up their businesses. 250 funds were started in 1999, he told me, and most are 10-year funds. They need to do something with their shares, and this market makes it possible to more easily close out at least some of their positions.
It's worth noting that only vested shares in pre-public companies can be traded. You can't go to work for Digg today and immediately sell your unvested shares for cash. Also, Sharespost will only transact shares that have been held for a year, and only at companies with a valuation more than $100 million. Brogger doesn't want people buying to flip, or manipulating smaller companies.
The value so far
To date, Sharespost, which launched last week, has executed one transaction: a $25,000 sale of Tesla shares. See more at the San Jose Mercury News.
There's more value here for you an me, though, even if we don't have private company shares or don't want to buy some. The research on the site is open even to nonpaying users. As TechCrunch points out, this is valuable and interesting data, and gives a pretty good insight into the realistic value of many private tech companies.
While I still fear that people could get taken in this market due the relative lack of oversight and control compared with public markets, it's also true that there are many private company employees forced to hold on to shares in their companies that may be valuable to somebody today but worthless tomorrow--these companies could fold, after all, leaving their employee shareholders with nothing.
Company execs may not want their employees to offload their shares, but they might also want to give them some rewards for their hard work before the company makes its shares more clearly valuable might in fact embrace the Sharespost concept. They could do this by contracting with Sharespost to administer a program that allows Sharespost to transact specified percentages of employees' shares. Or at the very least, the existence of Sharespost might encourage private companies to write some passages into employee contracts specifying what employees may and may not do with all or part of their pre-liquid stocks. The very concept of a market for pre-public shares could, in other words, make them even more valuable as employee incentives for cash-strapped start-ups.
Buyers and sellers agree to prices through open bulletin boards.(Credit: Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET)