Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sanitary District Looking to Get More Locking Trash Cans

COSTA MESA — Trash containers with built-in locks were so popular that residents snapped up the first 120 available in two days, city officials said.

The Costa Mesa Sanitary District distributed the bins to residents earlier this month. Now, because of the demand, the district's board of directors will weigh a request for $10,000 to supply residents with more of the scavenger-proof bins.

After the initial 120 locking bins were made available to residents July 18, the district received 128 applicants requesting a locking container in two days, according to a news release from the district.

The $10,000 would pay for an additional 120 containers, which the city is limiting to one per household, according to the sanitary district.

"To have these available is a great idea," said Jeff R. Mathews, chairman of the Homeless Task Force and a parks commissioner.

"To have these near Lions Park, I think the residents near that area would appreciate the option," he added, referring to the park at 570 W. 18th Street, which is known for attracting the homeless. "If I lived across the street from the park, yeah, I'd want one."

Residents can lock the bins with keys issued to them by the district. The weight of the trash pops the lid open when an automated arm lifts the bin over the garbage truck.

Nearby Newport Beach has criminalized scavenging; five people have been arrested for it since the law was enacted against the practice in January.

Both cities' residents have cited concerns about identity theft as a factor in urging that action be taken.

"Scavenging in this general area has been an issue," said Jim Fitzpatrick, the vice secretary of the sanitary district, adding that Costa Mesa hasn't seen any area saturated with requests for locking trash cans.

Costa Mesa's Eastside, southwest and Westside and South Coast Plaza areas have seen the most applicants for locking bins, although other areas that have requested locking trash cans include Mesa Verde and the area around the Orange County Fairgrounds, according to A.J. Cully, a management analyst in the sanitary district in charge of receiving the requests.

The district's board is set to consider the request for $10,000 in extra funds at its next meeting July 28.

[Via Daily Pilot]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Earn $4 Billion on Coupons

The man who could make more than $4 billion from the initial public offering of Groupon Inc. is an 41-year-old, unassuming Midwesterner who got his start selling carpets on the street.

Eric Lefkofsky, who seeded Groupon with its first $1 million in 2008, shot to business fame this week when the e-commerce company filed for one of the most hotly-anticipated IPOs of the year. Mr. Lefkofsky was listed as Groupon's largest shareholder, with 21% of the shares—three times as much as Andrew Mason, the CEO and public face of the company.

If Groupon, which offers daily deals on goods and services to consumers in partnership with local merchants, is valued at the expected $20 billion or more, Mr. Lefkofsky's $1 million investment will be worth about $4 billion.

Yet for Mr. Lefkofsky, Groupon wasn't a one-off in the lottery of high-tech wealth. It was an extension of a lifetime of starting and selling companies — sometimes with mixed results. The process has led him to a set of guiding business principles: Enter big, fast-growing markets, change course when things aren't working and use data as your guide.

"In our current environment, business and customers are changing so much faster than in the old days," he said in an interview. "You need access to information to figure out what to do next."

Mr. Lefkofsky, executive chairman of Groupon's board, is a rare mix of Midwestern modesty and Silicon Valley obsessiveness. He lives just outside Chicago with his wife and kids, staying close to his roots in suburban Michigan. He hates flying and travels for business only four to six times a year. He doesn't own a vacation home. His sartorial signature is a sweater vest, which he wears every day for precisely seven months a year to shield him from the harsh Chicago winters. Between April 1 and November 1, he switches to button-downs.

Unlike Apple Inc.'s Steve Jobs with his famous black mock turtlenecks, Mr. Lefkofsky varies the colors of his vests.

He and his wife collect contemporary art, including works by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. He arrives at work every day at 6 a.m. and is home at around 6 p.m., rarely if ever, working on weekends or evenings. His office, in a former Montgomery Ward warehouse with exposed concrete walls, is one flight up from Groupon's.

Friends say Mr. Lefkofsky analyzes and de-constructs everything —s ometimes to a comical degree.

"When you sit down with Eric, you know that within 10 minutes, he'll stand up, grab a magic marker and start writing on the white board," said Ted Leonsis, the former AOL executive, who is a Groupon board member and friend of Mr. Lefkofsky's. "It doesn't matter what the subject is. He could be talking about what we're going to have for dessert, he'd say 'Well, we could have cake, or we could have pie, and here are the issues,' and he'd write it on the board."

Mr. Lefkofsky grew up in what he calls a "Brady Bunch" world, in a harmonious, middle-class family in Southfield, Mich. His father was an engineer, his mother was a school teacher. He was a unremarkable student in high-school and showed little interest in technology or business, he said.

"I was your typical confused high-school student, lost and insecure," he said.

In his freshman year at the University of Michigan, where he majored in history, he was dumped by his girlfriend. Searching for a distraction, he started selling carpet discarded by a company owned by a friend's father. The buyers were mostly students looking for cheap furnishing for their dorm rooms. He discovered his "fascination with money" and business, he said. He expanded to other universities, making $100,000 a year while still in college.

"I realized I had this propensity and knack for business," he said.

After college, he and a friend, Brad Keywell, took advantage of the booming leveraged buyout business to borrow millions and buy Brandon Apparel Group, which made licensed children's clothing. The company eventually shut down under heavy debt and poor sales. Their second venture, an Internet firm called StarBelly, a promotional products company, was sold to a company that later went bankrupt.

Mr. Lefkofsky and Mr. Keywell went on to three companies after 2001: InnerWorkings, a print outsourcing company, Echo Global Logistics, which manages transportation systems for companies, and MediaBank, which helps buyers manage ad spending.

Mr. Lefkofsky can't talk about Groupon, given regulatory restrictions during the IPO process. His role in the company started when Mr. Mason, the founder, was a young tech whiz working at InnerWorkings. Mr. Lefkofsky became Mr. Mason's mentor and friend.

When Mr. Mason had an idea for a company that could organize group actions around social or political causes, Mr. Lefkofsky and Mr. Keywell invested $1 million to launch the company, which morphed into Groupon.

Mr. Lefkofsky made millions when Innerworkings and Echo went public, and he has already cashed out more than $300 million of Groupon stock as the company sold shares to outside investors. Because of his existing wealth, he said, the Groupon IPO windfall won't bring big changes to his life.

"Once you've reached a level where you're able to do the things you want to do, you stop focusing on the number," he said. "At some point, you just stop counting."

He says his focus is on Groupon and the more than 20 companies he and Mr. Keywell have funded through their $100 million fund, called Lightbank. While he's hopeful about their prospects, he said the chances of scoring another Groupon are slim.

"For that to happen, I would have to find another Andrew Mason," he said. "I've needed the magic of Andrew to create this kind of value."

[Via Wall Street Journal]

Sunday, July 24, 2011

10 Most and 10 Least Stressful Jobs

The Most Stressful:
1. Commercial Pilot
2. Public Relations Officer
3. Corporate Executive
4. Photojournalist
5. Newscaster
6. Advertising Account Executive
7. Architect
8. Stockbroker
9. Emergency Medical Technician
10. Real Estate Agent

The least stressful:
1. Audiologist
2. Dietitian
3. Software Engineer
4. Computer Programmer
5. Dental Hygienist
6. Speech Pathologist
7. Philosopher
8. Mathematician
9. Occupational Therapist
10. Chiropracto

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Computer and Internet Celebrities Who Were High School or College Dropouts

Paul Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. Dropped out of the University of Washington to work for Honeywell. A year later he convinced Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard and move to Albuquerque, New Mexico to start up Microsoft.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, software programmer. Studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne but dropped out because other students were doing research for the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Steve Ballmer, billionaire chief of Microsoft. Graduated from college, but dropped out of the Stanford MBA program to join Microsoft.
Sergey Brin, billionaire co-founder of Google. Dropped out of Stanford Ph.D. program in computer science to start Google in 1998 working out of a friend's garage.
John Carmack, founder of Armadillo Aerospace, cofounder of Id Software (sold 10 million copies of Dome and Quake games). Quit college early to become a game programmer.
Pete Cashmore, founder of Founded the blog website when he was 19. Retired from active blogging three years later.
Gurbaksh Chahal, multimillionaire founder of online ad networks Click Again and BlueLithium. Dropped out of school at the age of 16 to found Click Again.
James H. Clark, billionaire founder of Silicon Graphics and co-founder of Netscape. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and entered the Navy. Later took night classes and attended the University of New Orleans, where he earned a Master's degree in physics. He eventually earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah.
Bram Cohen, software programmer, developer of BitTorrent. He attended the State University of New York at Buffalo for one year and then left.
Patrick Collison, software wizard. Dropped out of MIT during his freshman year to help two friends develop and eventually sell Auctomatic for millions of dollars.
Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, billionaire. Founded his company out of his college dorm room. Dropped out of the University of Texas to run the company.
Barry Diller, billionaire, Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp (owner of, Ticketmaster, CitySearch, Evite,, etc.). He attended Beverly Hills High School but dropped out of UCLA to work in the mail room of William Morris.
Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois.
Philip Emeagwali, supercomputer scientist. High school dropout: left school in native Nigeria due to war but later earned an equivalency degree. Won a scholarship to Oregon College of Education but transferred after one year to Oregon State University.
Shawn Fanning, developer of Napster. Dropped out of Northeastern University when 19 to move to Silicon Valley to further develop Napster.
Arash Ferdowsi, cofounder, Dropped out of MIT to start up
David Filo, billionaire co-founder of Yahoo. Dropped out of Stanford University PhD program to create Yahoo.
Justin Frankel, multimillionaire software programmer, developer of WinAmp and Gnutella, founder of Cockos Inc. Attended the University of Utah for two quarters, but then dropped out. A few months later, he released the first version of WinAmp.
Markus Frind, software programmer, multimillionaire founder of Plenty of Fish dating website. Graduated from technical school with a two-year degree in computer programming. Did not attend any further higher education.
Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. Dropped out of Harvard after his second year to work with Paul Allen on the venture that became Microsoft.
Aviv Hadar, CEO of Think Brilliant web-development studio and the tech brains behind SoulPanckage. Dropped out of college.
Josh James, multimillionaire co-founder of Omniture. Dropped out of Brigham Young University during his final semester to co-found, which became Omniture.
Steve Jobs, billionaire co-founder of Apple Computers and Pixar Animation. Dropped out of Reed College after six months and went to India before returning to Silicon Valley.
Jon Lech Johansen, software programmer, developer of DoubleTwist. At the age of 15, he wrote a program to decrypt commercial DVDs. He dropped out of high school to continue working on additional anti-DRM software programs.
Rob Kalin, founder of Esty. Flunked out of high school, briefly enrolled in an art school, and then faked an MIT student ID so he could take classes on the sly. His professors were so impressed that they helped him get into NYU where he learned out to build a website. Founded Esty with two classmates.
Jeffrey Kalmikoff, cofounder and chief creative officer of Never graduated from college.
David Karp, founder of Tumblr. Dropped out of Bronx Science at the age of 15 to be homeschooled and work for his Davidville company. Did not attend college. At the age of 17, he moved to Japan and worked remotely for an American Internet company.
Ben Kaufman, serial entrepreneur, founder of Kluster. Dropped out of college in his freshman year.
Jared Kim, founder of WeGame. Dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley halfway through the spring semester of his freshman year to devote himself full-time to starting the online gaming site WeGame.
Chris Morrison, co-founder of PLP Digital Systems. Dropped out of high school.

Dustin Moskovitz, billionaire co-founder of Facebook social network. Dropped out of Harvard.

Jake Nickell, cofounder and CEO of Never graduated from college.

Larry Page, billionaire co-founder of Google. Dropped out of Stanford Ph.D. program in computer science to start Google in 1998 working out of a friend's garage.
Sean Parker, billionaire co-creator of Napster, founding president of He barely finished high school.
Ashley Qualls, founder of, left high school at the age of 15 to devote full time to her website business where she made more than a million dollars by the age of 17.
Kevin Rose, founder of Dropped out of the University of Las Vegas during his sophomore year to code software.
Theodore Waitt, billionaire founder of Gateway Computers. Dropped out of the University of Iowa one semester short of a degree to start Gateway with his older brother in 1985.
Steve Wozniak, billionaire co-founder of Apple. Dropped out of college.
Jerry Yang, billionaire co-founder of Yahoo. Dropped out of Stanford University PhD program to create Yahoo.
Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire founder of Facebook. Dropped out of Harvard.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

10 Journalists Who Changed Careers and Become Very Successful

1. Li Yu: a broadcaster for CCTV in Beijing; Chinese filmmaker.
2. David Simon: a journalist for the Baltimore Sun; the creator of the HBO television series The Wire.
3. Rem Koolhaas: a journalist for Haagse Post; a world-renowned architect.
4. Strobe Talbott: the senior editor for the Time Magazine; Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton administration.
5. Steve Rattner: a journalist at the New York Times; Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury (2008-2009).
6. Michael Moritz: a reporter for the Time; uber-successful venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital.
7. Joao Saldanha: a sport journalist; coach of the Brazil national football team (1969-1970).
8. Nick Denton: a journalist for the Financial Times; the owner of Gawker Media.
9. Leticia Ortiz: the chief newscaster for TVE, the Spanish national TV station; Princess of Asturias and future Queen of Spain.
10. Winston Churchil: famous war correspondent for the Morning Post at the Second Boer War (1899-1900); Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1940-1945, 1951-1955).