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Monthly Archives: February 2012

A true entrepreneur and business leader can create something out of nothing, or help an existing business meet and surpass its goals. When Charlie Ditkoff joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) in 1999, he brought with him experience as a corporate securities attorney and as Vice President of Credit Suisse First Boston. He had also worked in the Corporate Finance Group at Morgan Stanley, focusing mainly on healthcare. Combining his banking and legal skills with his healthcare industry knowledge, he became Head of the Global Healthcare Group and Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking at BAML in 2003. In this capacity, Charlie Ditkoff has become a leader among Wall Street bankers covering healthcare.

Tenacity, another trait of entrepreneurs and business leaders, means not giving up in the face of challenges. As a healthcare banker, it means providing sound strategies during the recent recession while the healthcare industry dealt with changing regulations as well. It means thinking creatively and listening to, but ultimately moving beyond, the naysayers. Under Charlie Ditkoff’s direction, BAML produced a free webcast with several of its senior healthcare bankers and experts from the Healthcare Financial Management Association as panelists. They shared their expertise on a variety of industry topics, assuaging fears. In the growing healthcare banking sector, BAML had committed $50 billion by September 2010.

In addition to vision and tenacity, the best entrepreneurs and business leaders possess communication and interpersonal skills. Charlie Ditkoff’s training and experience as an attorney serve him well here. Well-organized business leaders pay attention to details and know how to delegate. They also are self-starters and smart networkers, and they avoid short-sighted thinking. Perhaps most important of all, good entrepreneurs and true leaders recognize the crucial role reputation plays in the success of a business. That understanding and commitment leads to long-term growth for the business and its owner.

Blogging is not that difficult. There are hosts of sites that allow you to blog and you can start pounding your keyboard and blog to your heart’s content. It’s not difficult, what’s difficult is how to stand out from the rest of the world’s multitude of bloggers.

Just like there are millions of runners out there, only a few become the elite. This is the case of Pete Cashmore, he blogs, he tweets and his famous. At only 19 years of age, in 2005 he founded Mashable.com  and the website now has over 20 million viewers monthly and is a must read for all techies out there.  Aside from blogging he also has legions of followers in Twitter, and writes a column for a major news outlet.

A British who now spends part of his time in America, he has been given many international recognitions including “Top 25 Web Celebs” by Forbes in 2009. For him to reach this status there must be substance to what he writes, given his age it’s a wonder how he has become such an authority in the technology field, but then again a number of today’s multi-millionaires and billionaires are below the age of 30 and made it big in the field of technology.

For the legions of bloggers out there it shows what can be achieved by the now more common activity of blogging.

If you go that far back when you mention the name Mark, the person that comes to mind is the famous writer Mark Twain.  For those more into sports when you mention the name Mark, the person that comes to mind is Mark Spitz. These days when you mention the name Mark, it’s not surprising if the name Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind. How could you blame anyone for remembering that name immediately when there are over 800 million Facebook users? China and India are the only two countries left with a higher population than the number of Facebook users.

When you mention the name Dustin, the person that comes to mind may be Dustin Hoffman. Any other Dustin you may know? For the common man Dustin Moskovitz doesn’t ring a bell. It’s a bit unfair really since he is a co-founder of Facebook, but a significant portion of the 800 million users don’t know him.

He was one of the three dorm mates of Zuckerberg who founded Facebook in 2004 at Harvard. He was the pioneering chief technology officer, and then became vice president of engineering. He is credited with overseeing the major architecture of the site.  Along with Zuckerberg he dropped out of Harvard and moved to California.

In late 2008 he left Facebook to start a new company named Asana described as a collaboration and messaging software company. He and his partner were able to get a good amount of funding for the company.  They released to the public their new product early last year.

Moskovitz himself has invested in startup companies and even setup his own foundation named Good Ventures.  Why can he afford this? Well as of September of last year Forbes Magazine estimated his net worth at $3.5 billion dollars. He sold 1% of his shares at Facebook in 2010 but still owns 5% of this multi-billion dollar company.

Very few people who live in this planet will ever be worth that much and at only 27 years of age. So who cares if you’re not as famous as Mark!

Necessity is the mother of invention as they say but just wanting to have something better or an alternative to something already in existence can also lead to a successful new product. Take the case of Blake Ross.

Born on July of 1985, in Miami Florida, he was already tech savvy at a very young age.  At only 10 years old he built his first website.  At only 15 years of age and still in high school he was already an intern at Netscape which was struggling back then since its web browser was way behind in popularity to Internet Explorer (owned by Microsoft).

It was while working at Netscape that the desire to have a simpler web browser that focused on speed and stability came into being. Along with Dave Hyatt he worked on what was to become the Mozilla Web Browser better known as Mozilla Firefox.  This was released in 2004, when Ross was only 19 years old and it was wildly successful. Reports say the web browser was downloaded 100 million times in just a few months. When Firefox 2.0 was released on October 2006, there were 2 million downloads in 24 hours. There were 7 million web surfers switching to Firefox every month at that time.

Through Mozilla Firefox Ross became a multimillionaire. He went on to do another project called Parakey which was bought by Facebook in 2007. Ross joined Facebook thereafter.

There are those who want something different and are willing to take the risk to get it done. As shown by the young Blake Ross, it can be the path to great success.

Matt Mullenweg was born in Houston, Texas on January 11, 1984 which makes him 28 years of age as of this writing. In 2005 or when he was just 21 he and his colleagues launched WordPress to the world. This was the start of a new platform for blogging and content management that the blogging community has come to love.

WordPress is a free and open source software program used in the web. This means everyone can come in and improve on the system.   To this effect this software is managed by The WordPress Foundation.  This has to be hosted on WordPress.com and is owned by Automatic which also owns Akismet.  This is the business side of the software and Automatic charges fees if you want your blog site managed or have more enhanced features.  Yet the nice thing about WorPress.com is you can set up your own website for absolutely free and even without upgrades the website functions very well.

Mullenweg actually showed much talent and interest in the field of music attending the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas.  Yet he was just as talented in the field of software programs. After two years of college in Houston, he moved to San Francisco accepting a job at CNET the technology news site. After working on the side with WordPress he left the company a year later in October 2005 to focus full time on WordPress.

So just how popular is WordPress? Obviously since it’s free there are many users not just the fact that it’s easy to use. One way to gauge if the software is in demand is if large companies who have the money will use the program.  It is no longer the free feature that is the guiding factor in using the program, but how well it can be utilized by the company.

There can be no doubt as to the popularity of the platform with such big names as CNN, NBC Sports, UPS, and CBSRadio being some of the users of WorPress.com.  The company claims 353 million people view 2.5 billion pages per month using WordPress.

What Mullenweg created just less than 10 years ago is now so commonly used in the internet. Before we forget what you’re reading is also published using his creation.

Teaching is the noblest profession.  You can impart knowledge to so many people which help them lead productive lives.  It is not an easy job (some say it’s a calling) you must find a way to let students understand what the lesson is all about.

There is one man with such outstanding academic credentials.  Three degrees from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology: B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science and topped this off with an MBA from Harvard University.  Like other individuals of his caliber Salman Khan earned big bucks working at a hedge fund firm.

In 2004, while living in Boston, he remotely tutored math to a cousin in New Orleans.  She learned her lessons and other relatives and friends began to get tortured this way too.  To maximize the number of students taught he used YouTube to give his 10-15 minute tutorials. This was the beginning of the Khan Academy which gives online lessons that even Bill Gates and his children use.

Khan is no longer connected with the hedge fund world and is totally focused in his academy. What’s so outstanding is while other online teaching course enterprises charge a fee, you can download lessons from his website for free, no gimmicks whatsoever. So far over 100 million lessons have been delivered. His enterprise venture is non-profit and survives on donations.

Salman Khan is a gift to the world.

Like every great product it’s usually born out of a need.  While some only think about the need others go to work to meet the need. This is what happened to Drew Houston when he wanted to work at a bus station while waiting for the bus to arrive. Unfortunately (or should it be fortunately) he forgot his USB flash drive so he couldn’t work.  This was the start of DropBox.

Being an engineer by training he went to work creating a service that would allow him to work virtually anywhere. This was in early 2007. He then found a partner in Arash Ferdowsi and they worked virtually round the clock for three months to get their business going.

In this day and age of many new successful companies cropping up in the tech industry, they were able to get some venture capital and moved their company to San Francisco. What they provide is actually a great service.  You can download their program where you can store your files in your computer while in the mean time it also creates an online storage file which syncs with your file. So there is no need to upload or download your work.  You can download their programs in your other computers and from there you can continue your work.  It updates itself by syncing.

How good is the duo’s product? In 2009 they refused Steve Jobs himself who reportedly gave a nine figure offer (in other words in the hundred million dollars range).  Sounds like a great offer but it looks like they made the right decision.  Revenues for 2011 are estimated to hit $240 million. DropBox has around 160 million users.  While you can have free service up to 2GB of storage space, the company makes money by offering more space and charging a tiered rate.

A recent round of fund raising reportedly gave the upstart company a value of around $4 billion dollars. An IPO would give the true price. There doesn’t seem to be any rush at the moment and more customers are signing up. By applying the fundamental concept of syncing their company’s value is now rising.

I’ve left my USB flash drive at home in more than one occasion way before 2007. The problem was I always went back home to get it. Darn!