20 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

1. Spare time. This one can take some time.  Initially you’ll work longer hours for less pay.  But if you do it right, you could start to master your schedule and the freedom that being an entrepreneur provides is awesome. 

2. A story to tell. Whenever I tell someone I run my own business, they always want to know what I do, how I do it and how it’s going. I always am able to provide a tale or two, and the best part is that I get to determine the story’s chapters. (When working for a corporation, people most likely have less input.)

3. Tax benefits. For entrepreneurs (freelancers included), they have the opportunity to take advantage of some nice tax perks. Many can write off expenses like travel, food, phone bills, portions of car payments, and the list goes on. Also, certain startups qualify for government incentives. Make sure to ask your accountant about what tax benefits you may be eligible for.

4. Pride. When you build something successful, it’s a great feeling. You had a vision, were able to execute it and not can reap the benefits of saying “I did this.” On the other hand, it’s tough to be proud of the zillionth request for proposal request you fill out for your employer.

5. Your posterity. If you’re a doctor, plumber or bus driver it’s hard to imagine you passing your career on to your loved ones. But if you ownyour own business, that’s something you can pass on to the next generation. And be proud of it, because you created it.

6. Job security. Have you ever been laid off, downsized, or fired?  If you have, you get this. With entrepreneurship the security lies in the fact you are your own boss. You run the show and don’t have to worry about getting let go.

7. Networking. Entrepreneurs are communal creatures.  We love to meet each other, swap stories, and learn from each other’s experiences. Your circle of friends and acquaintances always grows when you become an entrepreneur, as many founders need others to lean on to survive and talk about the challenges only known to them.

8. Doing good. While this isn’t exclusive to entrepreneurs, it’s definitely a perk. You control where your company profits go and if you choose, you can give allocate your financial gains to others. You can sponsor a charity, a non-profit or just personally give back to the community.  This is quite honestly one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur.

9. Novelty. We, as humans, love new experiences but rarely can you experience a host of new things from inside your cubicle. This all changes when you are running the show. Starting your own business will ensure you’ll always be facing new challenge and experiencing something new.

10. Mentorship. Having had mentors and getting to be a mentor have been some of the best experiences of my life.  Learning from the masters and getting to help those less experienced than you gives you such a sense of satisfaction. From my experience (and other’s stories) the entrepreneurial community is very willing to give back and lend a helping hand.

11. Becoming an expert. This point goes along with mentorship.  Regardless of what you do as an entrepreneur, if you stick with it, you’ll probably become very good at it. And this gives you a sort of soapbox, so use it. You’ll have the chance to be interviewed for your expertise, write about it and get to spread your message.

12. Skills. People ask me how I learned about SEO, social media, pay-per-click, PR and all the other marketing techniques I utilize. I tell them that I was forced to learn them, otherwise I wouldn’t survive.  The same way I was forced to learn how to build a spreadsheet, how to balance a budget, how to negotiate leases and countless other skills I picked up because I was the only resource I had. While developing new skills can be tough and takes times, it can pay off in spades.  These skills will be invaluable throughout your life.

13. Determination. Everything I’ve done as an entrepreneur has affected me in my personal life.  I used to be poor at committing to changes. But having been an entrepreneur for over a decade has forced me to become dedicated and determined to causes. (Now I can stick to an exercise plan much easier.)  I’m also better at being a father and husband because of that determination I learned.

14. Recognition. There are literally thousands of local, regional and national awards that recognize entrepreneurs in every field and industry. This shouldn’t be your only reason to start your business, but it certainly is a great feeling when you receive this recognition.

15. Financial independence. Let’s be honest, this is probably the biggest reason people get into business for themselves.  And that’s a good thing!  You should want financial independence.  However you define financial independence – retirement stockpile, unlimited cash potential or having the money to buy what you want —  entrepreneurship can allow you to achieve it. Trust me, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does make finding happiness much easier.

16. Reinvention. I’ve started and sold several companies over my career.  And every time I sell a company, I’m presented with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again. On the flip side, if I had received my law degree, I’d be a lawyer (not a lot of room to recreate myself). But as an entrepreneur, I get to be whatever I want to be.

17. Change the world. Everyone jokes that every entrepreneur says they’re going to change the world. It’s difficult to imagine how a cell phone accessory kiosk in the mall is going to change the world.  But there are those that do succeed.  Take a look at Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, and the countless other entrepreneurs who really have changed the world in some small (or major) way.

18. Create jobs. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you’re responsible for the success of your employees.  Your ideas provided them the opportunity to earn a living, provide for their family and fulfill their own dreams.

19. Your brand. Being known for something is awfully enjoyable.  People may start referring to you as the marketing guy, or the retail maven or the software guru.  Whatever it is you’re recognized as, it’s fun to build that brand and earn that recognition.

20. Your reason. I’ve given you a list of why I think you should get into business.  But all that really matters is your reason to start your own business.  So, what is it?  Tweet out this story and add your reason.  Comment below and share with us why you did it.  I know it will be a good one. 

Android Lollipop 5.0? – What to Expect from the Next Version of the OS?

 

There is no stopping Google from “accidentally” leaking its upcoming devices and software. The tech giant leaked the supposed Android version 5.0 through an image posted in the company’s Twitter account.

Android-LollyPop

According to the International Business Times, the screenshots show three phones with the match scores and schedules for the 2014 World Cup.

However, the system clock time was set to 5:00. In some previous Android OS releases, Google teased 2.3 with a phone that had a clock time of 2:30, and all devices listed on Google Play Store have 4:40 on the clocks; they ship with Android 4.4. KitKat.

Whether it’s Android 5.0 or 4.5, there is no real indication of the dessert-based name that will follow it. Having surprised everyone with its decision to go for Android 4.4 KitKat, speculation suggests Google will revert back to its generic naming convention by calling the next installment Android Lollipop.

Expected Features

Google will have its annual Google I/O developer conference later this month. The company may reveal Android Lollipop then.

Its expected features may be a major update from KitKat. Smart phones right now run on Google’s Android KitKat 4.4, the latest update in the line of candy-themed mobile operating systems. Every year in June the Google developers’ conference releases updates to its products and this year is no different. It is expected that updated features to Google Glass, the smart watch line and the range of Nexus smart phones will include Android Lollipop.

After collaborating with Nestle to release Android 4.4 KitKat, in September, last year, minor updates were released to correct bugs and fix issues with the operating system and apps. Rumored to be revising the approach it takes to web apps, images have been leaked showing what Lollipop looks like.

Project Hera, Google’s effort to unify the Chrome browser with Android and Search is also set to debut in June. The project is designed to revamp the experience for Android users who run Google’s Search and Chrome apps on their smartphones, and a major user-interface revamp is also expected.

Google is also expected to integrate HTML 5 in the software that will enable users to multi-task or open and run apps and widgets at the same time.

The next version of Android OS also plans on making OK Google, its voice search assistant, as competent as Siri, calling it Ok Google Everywhere, but integrating it deeply into the OS itself.

Reports added that the next version of Android OS will definitely support new processor and graphics chipset. Support for 64 bit-processors makes running Android smooth on devices with 2 to 4GB RAM. Android 4.4 KitKat currently runs on 512 MB RAM and Google plans to add a few additional features to make the next version better. With cross compatibility in case of mobile networks, improvements in camera features, and better audio and video experience, Google’s Lollipop is aiming to be better than KitKat. The gaming community will experience smoother multi-tasking, while an improved battery life increases performance, allowing users to support and write data on micro SD cards.

As Apple gears to launch the iWatch, Google has plans to integrate Lollipop with its wearable range of smart wear. Google Glass and the smart watch range are expected to run on Android Lollipop, but reports suggest that there may be a new wearable application that monitors devices that are connected to the smart phone. With Lollipop, these features will work better without draining the battery and data.

Security also seems to be an area of focus for Android. It is currently being targeted by mobile malware, making security its biggest concern. Apps from the PlayStore usually are loaded with bloatware, making users vary of the store itself. Preferring to use the .apk (install-able) files instead of downloading the apps, Google is losing customers who download apps from the PlayStore. Android Lollipop aims to fix this issue by setting up a rigid app selection system. Handling data with fingerprint sensors and face unlock will make Lollipop better than KitKat. More features are expected to be included in Android Lollipop, but users will have to wait for a few more days to hear more of it.

We may also see the announcement of Android Silver which will replace the popular Nexus range of products. That’s a little less likely than the Android Wear announcement but it’s all on the cards. Google I/O 2014 takes place from June 25 and 26 in San Francisco.

Facebook Launches “Nearby Friends” With Opt-In Real-Time Location Sharing To Help You Meet Up

Today Facebook begins rolling out a new opt-in feature called Nearby Friends. It lets friends see approximately how far away you are from them, and you can share your exact, on-going location with them for a limited time. While it’s sure to stir privacy concerns, Nearby Friends could get people spending more time with friends in the real-world instead of online as it hits iOS and Android in the US in the coming weeks.

Below is a deep analysis of how Nearby Friends works, how it was built, its privacy implications, how it impacts the competitive landscape, and its long-term opportunities for Facebook. But here’s the tl;dr version:

Nearby Friends was built by the Glancee location sharing app team led by Andrea Vaccari that Facebook acquired in 2012. It adds a list of nearby friends to Facebook’s iOS and Android apps. It will also send notifications if you come within a short distance of a friend, and if someone shares their precise location with you you’ll see it on a map.

Vaccari tells me “the idea is to make it really easy to discover when someone is around you, and meet up and spend time together.” It wants to facilitate those serendipitous meetups where you run into a friend and end up having a meal or hanging out together. It’s a meatspace manifestation of Facebook’s mission to connect people, and a rebuttal to criticism that Facebook isolates us.

nearby-friends-press-1

The feature could spell trouble for other location sharing apps like Foursquare and Google Latitude that haven’t reached ubiquity, as Facebook has built it into its core iOS and Android apps that have enormous userbases. It could also challenge the friend-gathering features of Highlight, Banjo, Sonar, Connect, and more startups. [Disclosure: I advise an unlaunched location sharing startup] Leaving Nearby Friends on will cause some battery drain, but not as bad as some other location apps, according to Facebook.

As for privacy, Nearby Friends is opt-in so you can ignore it and never have to use it if you don’t want to. It’s only available to people over 18. It uses a reciprocal privacy model so you can only see your proximity to friends if you both have it turned on, and you can only see someone’s exact location if they purposefully share it with you. While you can select the specific list or group of friends you want to share your proximity with, many people may simply keep this visible to all their friends — a very wide net. This and how easy it is to forget to turn off Nearby Friends could lead to inadvertent “oversharing”. [Update: And Facebook confirms it will use your Nearby Friends Location History to target you with ads.]

If people manage their privacy with the provided tools, Nearby Friends could help them gather with more friends for Tuesday dinners, Friday night parties, or Saturdays in the park.

How Nearby Friends Works

Once you get the rollout of Nearby Friends, you’ll see it in their app list in the Facebook navigation menu under “More” on iOS or Android. From there you can opt in to turning Nearby Friends on, and select if you want to share your proximity with all your friends, or a specific friend list or group.

You’ll then be able to see a Nearby Friends list that shows the distance away in increments of a mile (<0.5 miles, 0.7 miles, 1.8 miles) from anyone you’re sharing your proximity with who has also opted in and turned on Nearby Friends. The list also shows timestamps of when someone’s location was last queried,and if you’re in a big city it will also show their neighborhood.

Next to these friends’ names is a location icon you can tap to send that person your real-time location. You’ll get a chance to choose how long to share your location (an hour, a few hours, until tomorrow, until I manually stop) and include a 40-character message about what you’re doing or want to do, and perhaps a request that they send you their exact location. Otherwise you could send someone a Facebook message asking for them to send you their location. Anyone who shares their exact coordinates with you will show up on a map view.

What makes Facebook Nearby Friends different than competitors and could give it an advantage is that it’s centered around broadcasting proximity, not location. We’re much more willing to share how close to someone we are than where we are on a map, and it’s basically just as functional. If someone’s close, you’ll know, and can ping them about their precise location and meeting up. Broadcasting location is creepy so we’re less likely to share it, and can cause awkward drop-ins where someone tries to come see you when you didn’t want them to. The product only works if lots of people are using it, and the focus on proximity makes it private enough that they might.

To get your location, Facebook will frequently pull your GPS coordinates. To minimize battery drain, it will read your accelerometer and not pull location as often if you’re staying still. Facebook’s testing says Nearby Friends 0.3% to 0.4% per hour. This is less than the 0.7% per hour Foursquare previously said it drains, and Facebook think it’s more efficient than Google Latitude, though the big G hasn’t released any specific battery stats. Vaccari tells me “Battery saving was one of the core principles as we were developing the product.”

If you don’t have Nearby Friends turned on, Facebook may try to coax you into opting in by showing teaser News Feed stories that read something like “3 of your friends are nearby right now, turn on Nearby Friends to see who and how close they are”. If you do have it turned on, you’ll see Feed stories that are basically excerpts of your Nearby Friends list.

nearby_friends[1]

If you have Nearby Friends turned on, Facebook will also occasionally send you notifications that a friend who has opted in is close. It intelligently looks at where that person goes frequently so as not to ping you everytime they get to work if you live a block away, and it reads their location and accelerometer to make sure they are just driving by but are actually stopped and potentially available to hang out.

Some frequent use cases for Nearby Friends include: “Which friends are in the park too?” “Is anyone else at this concert?” “Who’s nearby I could get coffee with?” “I’m in a new city, which of my friends are in this neighborhood?” But there’s also more niche possibilities. You could turn on persistent exact location sharing with your family for security when you travel. When you fly into an airport, you could see if friends are there too that you could split a ride with.

Facebook has recently been highlighting its new focus on standalone apps with its newCreative Labs initiative and the launch of Paper. But Nearby Friends is built into Facebook’s core apps because Vaccari says it only works “if you have a lot of people in the system. A standalone app would have given us the opportunity to make bigger decisions…but doing it in the main app, we guarantee you find most of your friends there.” However, Vaccari said it still could become its own app in the future. For now, Nearby Friends’ success may depend on just how much Facebook is willing to promote the product in the feed. It’s currently buried in the navigation menu next to Nearby Places, the Yelp-competitor Facebook launched last year that everyone forgot about.

Vacarri admitted he was a bit nervous in our interview as he’d been working on Nearby Friends for two years. Glancee had tried to make a social discovery app for making new friends, but realized “before meeting new people it was important to connect with people you already know, including people who aren’t your closest friends.” When Facebook came knocking, he saw the opportunity to use the existing social graph to build a product that let people actually connect in person. He hopes people will use Nearby Friends to spend time with their best buddies, but also people they like but aren’t close enough to text message.

Business Potential?

Facebook says that right now, Nearby Friends won’t be used for ad targeting. But there’s no denying how valuable location data could be to the social network. Imagine if the ads you saw in your News Feed were for restaurants or shops a block away. Those would surely be more relevant to users and more effective for businesses.

[Update: Facebook tells me “at this time it’s not being used for advertising or marketing, but in the future it will be.” Here's our follow-up on how Facebook will make money from your location data.]

Is It Privacy Safe?

For being a feature that constantly shares your proximity to friends or your exact location, Facebook tried to make it respect our privacy. It’s opt-in, so no one will find it themselves sharing their coordinates without purposefully turning it on. You can turn it off any time with a few taps. You can set who sees your proximity, they have to be sharing their proximity with you to see yours, you have to explicitly share exact location, and unless you set it to share indefinitely, your exact location will disappear within a day.

When I asked Vaccari bluntly if the feature has strong enough privacy, he said “Yes, we think so. The way the product is built is safe by default. Location is not precise by default. We want you you to know there’s an opportunity to meet, not where [your friends] are.”

nearby-friends-press-2

But just because Facebook built it with safety options doesn’t mean people will use them.

People should create a list of their close friends they’re comfortable sharing their proximity with and select that as the privacy setting. Most people won’t, though, and will just share with all their friends. That will includes bosses, co-workers, family memebers, and random people they met once but accepted a friend request from.

People will forget to turn it off. They’ll share their exact location indefinitely with plans to turn it off after a vacation together, but won’t remember to.

Luckily, since the app is based around proximity, the worst case scenario might be that your boss sees you’re somewhere close to a bar district at 2am or not near your apartment. Or a spouse sees you’re not getting closer to home after work — maybe because you’re getting a beer with buddies, but maybe because you’re…Which brings up the issue of partners essentially stalking each other by forcing one anothe to constantly share their exact location. Vaccari says there are plenty of niche apps that can do this. But it’s certainly a lot easier when someone already has Facebook installed.

Nearby Friends will be a test of our own ability to protect ourselves. Facebook has equipped us with all the necessary privacy options and set respectful defaults. Wielded skillfully, Nearby Friends could unlock real-world interactions in the way Foursquare and all the other check-in products were supposed to. More than money, power, or success, I truly believe spending time with people you love is the best route to happiness. We have plenty of tools for sharing and consuming memories. Finally Facebook has built a feature that will help us create them.

A Tour Inside Twitter’s Stylish New San Francisco Headquarters

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Twitter’s corporate headquarters are in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district.

It’s one of the city’s most depressed areas. The hope is that the influx of tech workers there will spur a mini-renaissance of a long-neglected neighborhood.

We visited Twitter in March and were given a tour.

 

San Francisco’s Tenderloin district remained one of the city’s most economically depressed areas for generations.
San Francisco's Tenderloin district remained one of the city's most economically depressed areas for generations.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Related: Old Money And Tech Money Go Head-To-Head On San Francisco’s Billionaire’s Row

This building stood vacant for 50 years before Twitter moved its headquarters here.
This building stood vacant for 50 years before Twitter moved its headquarters here.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
With a market capitalization of $27 billion, Twitter is altering the Tenderloin from inside this 1937 Art Deco building. Here’s the soaring lobby.
With a market capitalization of $27 billion, Twitter is altering the Tenderloin from inside this 1937 Art Deco building. Here's the soaring lobby.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Source: Motley Fool

In a building this old, home to one of the largest tech companies in the world, classic design and modern technology go side by side.
In a building this old, home to one of the largest tech companies in the world, classic design and modern technology go side by side.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Stepping off the elevator, you get a nature theme. You feel like you’re stepping into a huge bird house.
Stepping off the elevator, you get a nature theme. You feel like you're stepping into a huge bird house.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
The feeling continues into Twitter’s reception area …
The feeling continues into Twitter's reception area ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… from the coffee table …
... from the coffee table ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… to the guest login …
... to the guest login ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… to the conference room walls …
... to the conference room walls ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Related: San Francisco’s Twitter Employees Must Step Past All These Homeless People To Get To Work

The nature theme is part of Twitter’s core identity. These deer have moved with the office from its first location.
The nature theme is part of Twitter's core identity. These deer have moved with the office from its first location.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Visitors are offered a wide selection of refreshments.
Visitors are offered a wide selection of refreshments.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
The employee selection is far more vast. In the main cafeteria and lounge, it’s about letting the outside in with a wall of windows overlooking a meticulously maintained outdoor space.
The employee selection is far more vast. In the main cafeteria and lounge, it's about letting the outside in with a wall of windows overlooking a meticulously maintained outdoor space.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Through glass doors from the cafeteria, this outdoor area is a big selling point of Twitter employment.
Through glass doors from the cafeteria, this outdoor area is a big selling point of Twitter employment.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
There are BBQs and parties.
There are BBQs and parties.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
While workers often bring blankets and laptops to the massive lawn space to work outside.
While workers often bring blankets and laptops to the massive lawn space to work outside.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Here is where you get lunch.
Here is where you get lunch.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Employees have many options here. Each area has a different theme for the food.
Employees have many options here. Each area has a different theme for the food.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
And a second dining area with a daily menu.
And a second dining area with a daily menu.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Employees get a wide array of options for their three-portion bowls.
Employees get a wide array of options for their three-portion bowls.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Many people here brag about the company’s selection of Kombucha tea.
Many people here brag about the company's selection of Kombucha tea.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Related: All The Amazing Free Food At Facebook’s HQ Gives Some Employees The ‘Facebook 15′ [PHOTOS]

Though there is plenty to brag about when it comes to eating, too.
Though there is plenty to brag about when it comes to eating, too.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
The options swing toward healthy food.
The options swing toward healthy food.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
And lots and lots …
And lots and lots ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… of coffee.
... of coffee.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Twitter does a nice job combining its urban setting with a relaxing natural feeling within its walls.
Twitter does a nice job combining its urban setting with a relaxing natural feeling within its walls.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Even simple bar tables are beautiful.
Even simple bar tables are beautiful.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
The only thing better than working from home is working from someplace nicer than home.
The only thing better than working from home is working from someplace nicer than home.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
There is only one logo here. From the drink machines …
There is only one logo here. From the drink machines ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… to the company time capsule …
... to the company time capsule ...

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
… to the laptop skins.
... to the laptop skins.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
There is little chance anyone here forgets the reach of their work.
There is little chance anyone here forgets the reach of their work.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
These screens are found throughout the office and show bursts of Twitter activity across the globe.
These screens are found throughout the office and show bursts of Twitter activity across the globe.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
As comfortable as the space is, the focus here is definitely on work. There is not much socializing going on.
As comfortable as the space is, the focus here is definitely on work. There is not much socializing going on.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Different types of work spaces are available for every imaginable style.
Different types of work spaces are available for every imaginable style.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
Twitter had 241 million active users at the end of 2013.
Twitter had 241 million active users at the end of 2013.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
The company’s reach is immense.
The company's reach is immense.

image credit: Robert Johnson for Business Insider
And now that it’s settled into its new location, Twitter’s reach is changing the world right outside its door.
And now that it's settled into its new location, Twitter's reach is changing the world right outside its door.

Social News Startup Nuzzel Opens To Everyone, Announces Former Friendster Exec Kent Lindstrom As COO

Nuzzel, the social news service created by Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, is leaving beta testing and opening to all users.

Previously, you had to request an invite before you could use Nuzzel. In the year-plus since I first covered the company, Abrams said Nuzzel has brought on about 3,000 testers, but now it’s time to see whether the product appeals to a broader audience.

He argued that the underlying vision hasn’t changed, and it’s one that’s “still pretty unique.” Instead of using machine learning to understand user interests, or summarizing the news with human editors, Nuzzel does something simpler — once you’ve signed in with your Twitter or Facebook account, it will show you a list of the stories shared by your friends (along with their commentary), arranged either chronologically or based on whatever’s been shared by the most people.

Nuzzel’s approach is supposed to give you a feed of the most talked-about news, tailored to your interests, without requiring any real setup on your part.

“That vision is a solid vision and it’s creating something people are coming to use over and over again,” Abrams said.

He added that the underlying tech infrastructure has changed dramatically to support user growth, additional features, and mobile apps. Speaking of apps, although Nuzzel is currently available as a website for desktop and mobile devices, Abrams said an iPhone app is “95 percent done” and should launch within the next month or two.

In addition to opening the service, Nuzzel is also making user news feeds public. In other words, anyone can now see the feeds created for other users, including Abrams and me. What’s cool about these feeds is that they don’t require any manual curation or sharing, but they still reflect a user’s interests, and they’re a fun way to cast a wider net when exploring the news. (News feeds are only public if they were created using a public Twitter account, and anyone with a public feed can choose to make it private.)

Nuzzel is also announcing that it has hired Kent Lindstrom as its chief operating officer. It’s a Friendster reunion, of sorts, as Lindstrom previously served as both CEO and vice president of finance at Friendster. (Judging from Lindstrom’s LinkedIn profile, the hire happened last fall but wasn’t announced until now.)

These Shure Earphones Are Actually Worth Your $1,000

Shure

These pricy earphones are actually worth it.

Mashable Choice highlights the products and services we’ve tested and would recommend to others. Consider it Liked, Favorited, +1’ed and Pinned.

Shelling out $1,000 for earphones might sound like a lot — even crazy — but trust us, Shure’s in-ear headphones are worth your paycheck.The Shure SE846 earphones are in a class of their own in terms of both audio quality and fit. In fact, the product delivers true sound isolation, similar to custom-made in-ear monitors.

SEE ALSO: 6 Creative Hacks for Your Smartphone

In general, earphones tend to be bass-heavy; rarely does the mix of bass, midrange and high frequencies represent the full spectrum of sound. This is due to the inability to fit multiple drivers and adequate filters into such a tiny space.

The SE846, however, separately filters the low frequencies from the two drivers’ midrange and high frequencies. Filtering is generally absent from earphone technology.

Shure SE846 Earphones


A look at what comes with the Shure SE846 earphones.

 

The Sound

To build the earphones, which officially launched last year, Shure used laser-cutting technology to create holes just 40 microns wide into the earphone’s stack of steel plates.

This is why the price is so high — the miniaturization of tech at this level wasn’t even available in 2012.

This is why the price is so high — the miniaturization of tech at this level wasn’t even available in 2012.The tiny components allow each earbud to contain a low-pass filter that’s said to create a “true subwooofer” experience by ensuring the low frequencies don’t down out the mid- and high-range sound. The tech guts of the earbuds are visible through the transparent shell.

The result? Besides looking pretty cool, it creates powerful — and yes, wonderful — low-reaching bass that doesn’t interfere with the clarity and precision of the rest of the sound. The Shure SE846 produces sound that’s easily the most realistic and detailed I’ve heard from any pair of earphones out there.

The Fit

The tiny nozzle, which is needed for the miniaturization, fits comfortably into the ear, and it delivers sound isolation similar to custom-made models. But these are not earphones to strap on when going for a run or workout — each requires special attention to fit properly in your ear. It also takes a bit of care to wire over and around the ear. Meanwhile, it’s possible to hear ambient rustling noise if the earphones move around at all.

In addition, the absence of a microphone that can be used with smartphones precludes it from everyday use and talking on the phone and the limitations of compressed music (streaming or non-optimized downloads) are far too obvious with equipment like the SE846, anyway. It’s better to plug it into a speaker system or PC with uncompressed files to hear it in its full glory.

For the truly aurally sensitive, the SE846 comes with replaceable nozzles with filters to adjust the midrange and high frequencies. The “balanced” baseline option is what most listeners will prefer.

It comes with a ton of accessories too, including two kevlar-wrapped cables, nine pairs of eartips (including a Comply memory foam, silicone and rubber), an in-line volume adapter and two carrying cases.

Shure SE846 Earphones

The Good

Sound quality • Comfortable fit • Wide assortment of accessories

The Bad

Not for running • Expensive • No microphone

The Bottom Line

The Shure SE846 earphones are steep in price, but they’re the best in-ear headphone set we’ve heard.’

3 Surprisingly Hot Global VC Markets That Are Getting Even Hotter

3 Surprisingly Hot Global VC Markets That Are Getting Even Hotter

Other than them participating in the World Cup this summer, Russia, Mexico and Brazil don’t seem to have much in common. But surprisingly enough, these three countries are all fostering young venture capital markets that are experiencing blockbuster growth.

The global venture-capital leaders in 2013 were the U.S., Europe, China, Israel and India, according to the latest annual market analysis released by financial services giant EY. The U.S. alone accounted for 68 percent of global VC activity, while Europe and China represented 15 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

While Russia, Mexico and Brazil aren’t going to compete with the likes of the U.S. and Europe any time soon, their venture capital markets are hotbeds of innovation and important for industry watchers to keep a pulse on, according to EY. Here’s a brief look at each country’s exploding VC market.

Russia. In 2007, the Russian venture capital industry invested the equivalent of $100 million into Russian businesses. By 2012, investments had increased to $1.2 billion, according to EY. Because the VC industry is still maturing in Russia, a relatively small number of firms dominate the industry. The industry was jumpstarted by the Russian government, but now the market is funded by Russian wealthy individuals and foreign investors.

The industry is hampered by a lack of easily accessible information. It’s hard to find information about investors and what they are interested in investing in. That’s starting to change, thanks to a handful of independent blogs and websites covering the Russian VC market, but it’s still relatively murky, the report says.

Mexico. Our neighbor to the south had four VC funds in 2009 and 15 funds in 2013. Investments in oil and gas infrastructure are the most popular in Mexico, but about a third of investments backed by venture capitalists in Mexico go to software and e-commerce. The EY report says that Mexico has the right demographic to support a surging investment community. “With a strong economic outlook, a relatively youthful population and a rapidly growing middle class, the outlook is bright for Mexico and its VC industry,” the report reads.

Brazil. The venture industry is still relatively disorganized in Brazil, but the South American country has the ingredients for a robust community: a thriving community of entrepreneurs and a lot of wealthy individuals looking to invest their money. Angel investment shot up 25 percent in 2013 to $262 million, according to the report, citing data from the Angel Association in Brazil.

The hot sectors in Brazil are web-based IT businesses and sustainability technologies. Established venture capitalists and super angels in Brazil are being sought out by international investors looking for some guidance in navigating the Brazilian financial markets. And while the IPO market in Brazil is not especially efficiently right now, new regulations are expected to make the process of going public less burdensome.