Money Making

Posted by adgag adgadgvadgv on Wednesday, September 29, 2010

languagehat, this is a giant derail, so I it's going to be my last post in this thread. Your "trying to appear cool" remark was to me so off the wall that I actually had trouble even understanding what you were getting at - now that you've elaborated, at least I think I now understand what you were getting at (it's not the reading of history per se that's trying to "appear cool", but your belief that expressing a lack of surprise in this case is something of a pose because being unsurprised is somehow cool(?!) - I'm still not 100% sure I'm getting it right, it's so bizarre).





On the substance - being grief-stricken is not the same thing as being surprised, at least in my book (of course, my book may not be cool). If I heard my friend/spouse etc. was killed, I'd be grief-stricken. And I'd be *shocked*, but in the same way as any sudden dramatic news is shocking - it's akin to being startled. Yet, being startled is not the same thing as being surprised. I'm startled by a noise, I'm not surprised by it. I'm startle to hear my friend was killed in an auto-accident, I'm not surprised that he died. If he was abducted by aliens, I'd be surprised. If he was killed by a car, while meditating in a remote monastery (the car dropped from a cargo airplane hit the monastery). But killed in traffic? Shock, grief, but no surprise. Do you understand the difference? I say this in good faith, illustrating the differences. Of course, if all you are interested in is exploring how I must be motivated by trying to appear "cool", then I guess we'll part ways.





Same here. I'm not surprised in the least - anti-establishment movements are deeply penetrated by intelligence services. That's not surprising. A high ranking member is compromised - it's not surprising. These organizations are targeted relentlessly. The FBI had a multi-year operation to penetrate a knitting circle (I think that actually happened with the Los Angeles police intelligence unit investigating some anti-war person or another) - color me surprised.





Anyhow, at the risk of appearing cool - or is it uncool - I'm now signing off from this thread, with my surprised face.
posted by VikingSword at 1:05 PM on September 14


Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is defaulting; Half Moon Bay, California, is disincorporating; and the City of Miami, Florida, declared a “state of fiscal urgency,” then broke contracts with workers. Yet, Pennsylvania, California, and Florida municipal bond funds managed by Blackrock are trading at or near 52-week highs.


Short sales look timely. Still, there are advantages to a buy side study. First, when the time comes, the opportunities will be broader. Second, the decision to buy will be more a case of negation than attraction. Ruling out unsavory bonds when selecting what to buy will often replicate the process of choosing what to short.


Looking through the wreckage of the 1930s and of the 1970s, there was probably more money lost by premature investments than made by those who waited. This was on the short and long side. New York City is a case in point. Its bust in the 1970s was expected. The stock market had tumbled, a commercial real estate binge of unparalleled excess had desecrated the skyline (new commercial space constructed between 1968 and 1970 exceeded 100% of the city’s commercial building between the World Wars), and – this is as predictable as night following day – from 1968 to 1970, 18 of the largest U.S. corporations left the city and 14 more announced their departure. These included American Can, PepsiCo, General Foods, U.S Tobacco and Shell Oil. Over 1.1 million New Yorkers emigrated from the city in the early and mid-1970s.


In other words, it was so obvious that New York City could not pay its bills that it was too obvious. Anecdotally, there were more investors who shorted New York City too early than those who waited and made money.


By the mid-1970s all New York City bonds were trading for approximately $25 ($100 being par). This was 1933 again, when all City of Miami bonds (yields ranged from 4-3/4% to 5-1/2%, maturities from 1935 to 1955) were quoted at $26. In both cases, the market sulked; yet, in both cases, there were bargains for those who were willing to read legal documents. One such case will be discussed below.


All finance is a reenactment. In his seminal study, Municipal Bonds: A Century of Experience (1936), A. M. Hillhouse wrote: “The major portion of over-bonding by municipalities arises out of real estate booms.” As precedent, Hillhouse quoted H. C. Adams, who wrote in 1890 (Public Debts): “he bonding of a town, and the expenditure of the money procured in showy works, is the occasion of gain to those who speculate in real estate….” Hillhouse, having quoted Adams’ observations of a previous property-boom, municipal-bond bust, should have known better than to write: “There will be no justification for a city [in the future to use] the excuse… that its tax revenues have dried up in times of falling property values.” So, if you miss this one, your children will have the same opportunity.


As for the current wasteland, revenue bonds are a choicer flock to choose from than general obligation bonds. The following distinction between the two is extracted from my seminal study (The Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market ): “Revenue bonds are repaid using the revenue generated by the specific project the bonds are issued to fund (fees from a public parking garage, for example).” General obligation bonds are thought to be safer, at least they are advertised as such, because “they are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing municipality. This means that the municipality commits its full resources to paying bondholders, including general taxation and the ability to raise more funds through credit. The ability to back up bond payments with tax funds is what makes general obligation bonds distinct from revenue bonds.”


However, it is not possible to draw blood from a stone and we will soon see municipalities that can not meet their bond commitments unless they discover an oil field larger than BP’s folly. Half Moon Bay, California, may already meet this ignoble state. From recent reports, the budget and books are so unintelligible that the city is disincorporating and may become an appendage to San Mateo County. Half Moon Bay’s bonds and yawning deficit will presumably be the burden of San Mateo County.


As a side note, the depth of incompetence on display in this instance would not be tolerated in a grammar school Citizenship Day. Given the state of the country, there will be even more amazing feats of fiscal suicide. Another participant is Standard & Poor’s, which stamped a AA- rating on $18 million of Half Moon Bay debt issued in 2009. Bondholders note: do not expect logic to guide negotiated workouts.



As for the bondholder, there are several difficulties here. Disincorporation has few if any legal precedents in California. (“It’s an option that hasn’t been tried in the state since 1972, when the tiny city of Cabazon (about 2,000 people) disincorporated.” – San Mateo County Times, August 27, 2010) The Cabazon precedent is not one to take on faith. Half Moon Bay and San Mateo County may have competing interests. A judge may have different ideas yet about how Half Moon Bay should resolve an $18 million lawsuit that the city lost related to development rights on a 24-acre property.


Just where do present circumstances leave the debt holder? That is, the owners of Half Moon Bay’s $18 million issue of Judgment Obligation bonds. And what of the free-for-all that follows? Propzero.com, jumping into the Half Moon Bay debate, suggests that disincorporation “may be the answer for many California cities struggling with too many spending commitments and not enough money. Digging out of budget holes may be harder than simply shutting things down.”


As goes Half Moon Bay, so goes the country, or so it seems. If San Mateo County is stuck with the Judgment Obligation bonds, and a large annual deficit, it is a sure bet the county will appeal to the state; Governor Schwarznegger will appeal to President Obama; and the president will appeal – to Congress?


It was easier to bottom fish among CDOs that were trading at $15 (as a group) in 2008 than to wager on these contingencies. Revenue bonds are comparatively easy to understand. In a large-scale, municipal-bond swoon, revenue bonds will sell off. That will be true even if these are water bonds, supported by the revenue that customers pay for services; even if these revenues cannot be touched by the grasping Yoga Instructors’ Union. (Half Moon Bay residents are distraught at the loss of municipal yoga instruction – San Mateo County Times.)


We return to New York City to note the lack of perceptiveness in a time of chaos. In April 1975, the city defaulted on a short-term note. It missed an interest payment (maybe more than one, it isn’t clear). The coupon was eventually paid, but the “New York City default” was highly publicized.


The Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) was formed. In The Bond Book, Annette Thau explained that MAC bonds were not obligations of New York City: “The revenues to pay debt service were backed, not by the taxing power of the city, but by the state of New York, and by a special lien on the city’s sales tax and… on a stock transfer tax.” These were revenue bonds that initially yielded “10% as compared to 8% for securities with comparable rating and maturity.”


Thau went on to tell her readers that the winning team does its homework: “This episode demonstrates why it pays, literally, to be very precise about exactly which revenue streams back debt service. In this instance, MAC bonds were tarred by the woes of the city, even though they were not obligations of the city….”


Revenues used to pay MAC bondholders could not flow to the city until the coupons were already met. This is true of services in different municipalities today. Utilities often fall in this category. Advanced critical reading skills are a prerequisite to distinguish a $25 from a $75 bond.


What of critical services in municipalities without predictable sources of revenue? In July, Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to sell its water and sewer utilities. In August, San Jose, California, discussed privatizing its water utility. There are many other such discussions. The media reported both the Indianapolis and San Jose decisions as sales. From precedent, the transactions may be more complicated than that.


It would be unusual for a local government to relinquish all control. There are many different possible arrangements with investors. At one end, there have been attempts to issue corporate stock in the municipality. This was proposed in Coral Gables, Florida, during the 1930s. It did not work but investment bankers are more inventive today. (Or, maybe not. Assets to be pledged by Coral Gables included “the municipal golf course and club house, the Venetian pool, the Coliseum….” Maybe not the one in Rome, but investment bankers are inventive.)


Probably the most likely arrangements are Public-Private Partnerships. In such partnerships, the investor, a “concessionaire,” steps in after bonds stand no chance of repayment. These might be for a vital service such as a water system, airport, or toll road. Concessionaires pay off all or a portion of the debt in exchange for the right to operate the asset for a negotiated return. Internal rates of return generally fall between 13% – 20%. This is a very simplified description.


There are many other investment approaches that haven’t been mentioned. Those mentioned are merely outlined. If it is not obvious, it must be emphasized how preliminary this discussion has been before making an investment. The most important advice here, on the short or long side, is to be patient, to understand the documents of the security, the laws and covenants that bind related parties, and to know the history of municipal bond defaults. This will open the investor’s imagination to the most improbable scenarios.



From Poll, a Snapshot of Fox <b>News</b> Viewers - NYTimes.com

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Glenn Beck vs. Fox <b>News</b>: &#39;Tension&#39; Between Beck &amp; Network

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New York Times Backs <b>News</b>-Aggregation Software Company | Russell <b>...</b>

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From Poll, a Snapshot of Fox <b>News</b> Viewers - NYTimes.com

Voters who watch Fox News are more enthusiastic about the election and angrier with Washington, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Glenn Beck vs. Fox <b>News</b>: &#39;Tension&#39; Between Beck &amp; Network

Glenn Beck appears on the cover of this weekend's New York Times Magazine in a lengthy profile written by Mark Leibovich. In the profile, Leibovich touches on tensions between Beck and Fox News, the network that catapulted him to ...

New York Times Backs <b>News</b>-Aggregation Software Company | Russell <b>...</b>

The New York Times Co. is joining a group of news organizations in backing the maker of software that helps publishers aggregate news, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company, called Ongo, filed a trademark ...


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languagehat, this is a giant derail, so I it's going to be my last post in this thread. Your "trying to appear cool" remark was to me so off the wall that I actually had trouble even understanding what you were getting at - now that you've elaborated, at least I think I now understand what you were getting at (it's not the reading of history per se that's trying to "appear cool", but your belief that expressing a lack of surprise in this case is something of a pose because being unsurprised is somehow cool(?!) - I'm still not 100% sure I'm getting it right, it's so bizarre).





On the substance - being grief-stricken is not the same thing as being surprised, at least in my book (of course, my book may not be cool). If I heard my friend/spouse etc. was killed, I'd be grief-stricken. And I'd be *shocked*, but in the same way as any sudden dramatic news is shocking - it's akin to being startled. Yet, being startled is not the same thing as being surprised. I'm startled by a noise, I'm not surprised by it. I'm startle to hear my friend was killed in an auto-accident, I'm not surprised that he died. If he was abducted by aliens, I'd be surprised. If he was killed by a car, while meditating in a remote monastery (the car dropped from a cargo airplane hit the monastery). But killed in traffic? Shock, grief, but no surprise. Do you understand the difference? I say this in good faith, illustrating the differences. Of course, if all you are interested in is exploring how I must be motivated by trying to appear "cool", then I guess we'll part ways.





Same here. I'm not surprised in the least - anti-establishment movements are deeply penetrated by intelligence services. That's not surprising. A high ranking member is compromised - it's not surprising. These organizations are targeted relentlessly. The FBI had a multi-year operation to penetrate a knitting circle (I think that actually happened with the Los Angeles police intelligence unit investigating some anti-war person or another) - color me surprised.





Anyhow, at the risk of appearing cool - or is it uncool - I'm now signing off from this thread, with my surprised face.
posted by VikingSword at 1:05 PM on September 14


Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is defaulting; Half Moon Bay, California, is disincorporating; and the City of Miami, Florida, declared a “state of fiscal urgency,” then broke contracts with workers. Yet, Pennsylvania, California, and Florida municipal bond funds managed by Blackrock are trading at or near 52-week highs.


Short sales look timely. Still, there are advantages to a buy side study. First, when the time comes, the opportunities will be broader. Second, the decision to buy will be more a case of negation than attraction. Ruling out unsavory bonds when selecting what to buy will often replicate the process of choosing what to short.


Looking through the wreckage of the 1930s and of the 1970s, there was probably more money lost by premature investments than made by those who waited. This was on the short and long side. New York City is a case in point. Its bust in the 1970s was expected. The stock market had tumbled, a commercial real estate binge of unparalleled excess had desecrated the skyline (new commercial space constructed between 1968 and 1970 exceeded 100% of the city’s commercial building between the World Wars), and – this is as predictable as night following day – from 1968 to 1970, 18 of the largest U.S. corporations left the city and 14 more announced their departure. These included American Can, PepsiCo, General Foods, U.S Tobacco and Shell Oil. Over 1.1 million New Yorkers emigrated from the city in the early and mid-1970s.


In other words, it was so obvious that New York City could not pay its bills that it was too obvious. Anecdotally, there were more investors who shorted New York City too early than those who waited and made money.


By the mid-1970s all New York City bonds were trading for approximately $25 ($100 being par). This was 1933 again, when all City of Miami bonds (yields ranged from 4-3/4% to 5-1/2%, maturities from 1935 to 1955) were quoted at $26. In both cases, the market sulked; yet, in both cases, there were bargains for those who were willing to read legal documents. One such case will be discussed below.


All finance is a reenactment. In his seminal study, Municipal Bonds: A Century of Experience (1936), A. M. Hillhouse wrote: “The major portion of over-bonding by municipalities arises out of real estate booms.” As precedent, Hillhouse quoted H. C. Adams, who wrote in 1890 (Public Debts): “he bonding of a town, and the expenditure of the money procured in showy works, is the occasion of gain to those who speculate in real estate….” Hillhouse, having quoted Adams’ observations of a previous property-boom, municipal-bond bust, should have known better than to write: “There will be no justification for a city [in the future to use] the excuse… that its tax revenues have dried up in times of falling property values.” So, if you miss this one, your children will have the same opportunity.


As for the current wasteland, revenue bonds are a choicer flock to choose from than general obligation bonds. The following distinction between the two is extracted from my seminal study (The Coming Collapse of the Municipal Bond Market ): “Revenue bonds are repaid using the revenue generated by the specific project the bonds are issued to fund (fees from a public parking garage, for example).” General obligation bonds are thought to be safer, at least they are advertised as such, because “they are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing municipality. This means that the municipality commits its full resources to paying bondholders, including general taxation and the ability to raise more funds through credit. The ability to back up bond payments with tax funds is what makes general obligation bonds distinct from revenue bonds.”


However, it is not possible to draw blood from a stone and we will soon see municipalities that can not meet their bond commitments unless they discover an oil field larger than BP’s folly. Half Moon Bay, California, may already meet this ignoble state. From recent reports, the budget and books are so unintelligible that the city is disincorporating and may become an appendage to San Mateo County. Half Moon Bay’s bonds and yawning deficit will presumably be the burden of San Mateo County.


As a side note, the depth of incompetence on display in this instance would not be tolerated in a grammar school Citizenship Day. Given the state of the country, there will be even more amazing feats of fiscal suicide. Another participant is Standard & Poor’s, which stamped a AA- rating on $18 million of Half Moon Bay debt issued in 2009. Bondholders note: do not expect logic to guide negotiated workouts.



As for the bondholder, there are several difficulties here. Disincorporation has few if any legal precedents in California. (“It’s an option that hasn’t been tried in the state since 1972, when the tiny city of Cabazon (about 2,000 people) disincorporated.” – San Mateo County Times, August 27, 2010) The Cabazon precedent is not one to take on faith. Half Moon Bay and San Mateo County may have competing interests. A judge may have different ideas yet about how Half Moon Bay should resolve an $18 million lawsuit that the city lost related to development rights on a 24-acre property.


Just where do present circumstances leave the debt holder? That is, the owners of Half Moon Bay’s $18 million issue of Judgment Obligation bonds. And what of the free-for-all that follows? Propzero.com, jumping into the Half Moon Bay debate, suggests that disincorporation “may be the answer for many California cities struggling with too many spending commitments and not enough money. Digging out of budget holes may be harder than simply shutting things down.”


As goes Half Moon Bay, so goes the country, or so it seems. If San Mateo County is stuck with the Judgment Obligation bonds, and a large annual deficit, it is a sure bet the county will appeal to the state; Governor Schwarznegger will appeal to President Obama; and the president will appeal – to Congress?


It was easier to bottom fish among CDOs that were trading at $15 (as a group) in 2008 than to wager on these contingencies. Revenue bonds are comparatively easy to understand. In a large-scale, municipal-bond swoon, revenue bonds will sell off. That will be true even if these are water bonds, supported by the revenue that customers pay for services; even if these revenues cannot be touched by the grasping Yoga Instructors’ Union. (Half Moon Bay residents are distraught at the loss of municipal yoga instruction – San Mateo County Times.)


We return to New York City to note the lack of perceptiveness in a time of chaos. In April 1975, the city defaulted on a short-term note. It missed an interest payment (maybe more than one, it isn’t clear). The coupon was eventually paid, but the “New York City default” was highly publicized.


The Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) was formed. In The Bond Book, Annette Thau explained that MAC bonds were not obligations of New York City: “The revenues to pay debt service were backed, not by the taxing power of the city, but by the state of New York, and by a special lien on the city’s sales tax and… on a stock transfer tax.” These were revenue bonds that initially yielded “10% as compared to 8% for securities with comparable rating and maturity.”


Thau went on to tell her readers that the winning team does its homework: “This episode demonstrates why it pays, literally, to be very precise about exactly which revenue streams back debt service. In this instance, MAC bonds were tarred by the woes of the city, even though they were not obligations of the city….”


Revenues used to pay MAC bondholders could not flow to the city until the coupons were already met. This is true of services in different municipalities today. Utilities often fall in this category. Advanced critical reading skills are a prerequisite to distinguish a $25 from a $75 bond.


What of critical services in municipalities without predictable sources of revenue? In July, Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to sell its water and sewer utilities. In August, San Jose, California, discussed privatizing its water utility. There are many other such discussions. The media reported both the Indianapolis and San Jose decisions as sales. From precedent, the transactions may be more complicated than that.


It would be unusual for a local government to relinquish all control. There are many different possible arrangements with investors. At one end, there have been attempts to issue corporate stock in the municipality. This was proposed in Coral Gables, Florida, during the 1930s. It did not work but investment bankers are more inventive today. (Or, maybe not. Assets to be pledged by Coral Gables included “the municipal golf course and club house, the Venetian pool, the Coliseum….” Maybe not the one in Rome, but investment bankers are inventive.)


Probably the most likely arrangements are Public-Private Partnerships. In such partnerships, the investor, a “concessionaire,” steps in after bonds stand no chance of repayment. These might be for a vital service such as a water system, airport, or toll road. Concessionaires pay off all or a portion of the debt in exchange for the right to operate the asset for a negotiated return. Internal rates of return generally fall between 13% – 20%. This is a very simplified description.


There are many other investment approaches that haven’t been mentioned. Those mentioned are merely outlined. If it is not obvious, it must be emphasized how preliminary this discussion has been before making an investment. The most important advice here, on the short or long side, is to be patient, to understand the documents of the security, the laws and covenants that bind related parties, and to know the history of municipal bond defaults. This will open the investor’s imagination to the most improbable scenarios.



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From Poll, a Snapshot of Fox <b>News</b> Viewers - NYTimes.com

Voters who watch Fox News are more enthusiastic about the election and angrier with Washington, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Glenn Beck vs. Fox <b>News</b>: &#39;Tension&#39; Between Beck &amp; Network

Glenn Beck appears on the cover of this weekend's New York Times Magazine in a lengthy profile written by Mark Leibovich. In the profile, Leibovich touches on tensions between Beck and Fox News, the network that catapulted him to ...

New York Times Backs <b>News</b>-Aggregation Software Company | Russell <b>...</b>

The New York Times Co. is joining a group of news organizations in backing the maker of software that helps publishers aggregate news, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company, called Ongo, filed a trademark ...


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From Poll, a Snapshot of Fox <b>News</b> Viewers - NYTimes.com

Voters who watch Fox News are more enthusiastic about the election and angrier with Washington, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Glenn Beck vs. Fox <b>News</b>: &#39;Tension&#39; Between Beck &amp; Network

Glenn Beck appears on the cover of this weekend's New York Times Magazine in a lengthy profile written by Mark Leibovich. In the profile, Leibovich touches on tensions between Beck and Fox News, the network that catapulted him to ...

New York Times Backs <b>News</b>-Aggregation Software Company | Russell <b>...</b>

The New York Times Co. is joining a group of news organizations in backing the maker of software that helps publishers aggregate news, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company, called Ongo, filed a trademark ...


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From Poll, a Snapshot of Fox <b>News</b> Viewers - NYTimes.com

Voters who watch Fox News are more enthusiastic about the election and angrier with Washington, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Glenn Beck vs. Fox <b>News</b>: &#39;Tension&#39; Between Beck &amp; Network

Glenn Beck appears on the cover of this weekend's New York Times Magazine in a lengthy profile written by Mark Leibovich. In the profile, Leibovich touches on tensions between Beck and Fox News, the network that catapulted him to ...

New York Times Backs <b>News</b>-Aggregation Software Company | Russell <b>...</b>

The New York Times Co. is joining a group of news organizations in backing the maker of software that helps publishers aggregate news, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company, called Ongo, filed a trademark ...


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More aboutMoney Making

Making Money Online Forum

Posted by adgag adgadgvadgv on Monday, September 27, 2010

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Mobile payments are the logical extension of online shopping; a way for customers to buy what you have while they’re on the go. But the technology has some added perks that make it a powerful purchasing tool for small businesses.

There are a lot of resources and articles out there telling businesses to pay attention to location-based networking or to maximize their social media presences, but there is a lack of information on the monetary benefits of these investments. Mobile payments, however, are a great way for businesses to make money.

It should be noted, there are two related fields of mobile payment: First, using your phone as a credit card in-store, and second, paying while on the go. We’ll be focusing largely on the latter.

Below is just a selection of reasons that small businesses should care about mobile payments. Add your voice to the comments below: Is this just another fad? Are mobile payments still years away? Why has North America been so slow to adopt?

It’s Going to be Everywhere/>

We already use our phones for everything: Calling, texting, surfing the web, video chats (thank you, Phone), and updating our social networks. class='blippr-nobr'>Societyclass="blippr-nobr">society, by and large, has grown accustomed to using phones for daily activities. Why shouldn’t instant purchasing be added to that list?

Total worldwide mobile payments stood at USD $68.7 billion in 2009, according to a study from Telecoms Market Research. That number is predicted to rise by more than 800% in the next four years. Simple, DIY credit card processing solutions, like the Complete Credit Card Solution and Square, have already hit the iPhone market, and more services are expected in the future for all platforms.

Social Impulse/>

Phones are inherently social, and advanced functions like geo-location are making it easier for users to connect with others in their networks to share consumption habits and recommendations. Location-based services, for example, enable users to recommend their favorite restaurants, shops and others venues. And group buying sites like Groupon have expanded the possibilities for quick, social purchases.

By adding a mobile payment option, small businesses can capitalize on these peer recommendations with a purchase. Rather than direct your customers to an online shop site or have them note it down for later, they can instantly buy your product.

Mobile payments take advantage of impulse purchases; essentially when you buy something based on spur-of-the-moment decision making. class='blippr-nobr'>Impulseclass="blippr-nobr">Impulse buys are usually associated with emotional reactions to a product. They are partly why ringtone sales have been so successful. Like a tone? You can often download it instantly with just a couple clicks, no secondary sites necessary. Make sure your customers are able to buy your product the instant they want it.

Micro-Transactions/>

The real heart of small business mobile payments is the micro-transaction. Paying less is generally better than paying more. People are also more willing to pay frequent small payments rather than throw down a lump sum. Using ringtones as an example, more people would pay $1 for several ringtones than shell out $5 in one go for five ringtones.

Small business can follow this trend by selling less-expensive goods online, as smaller goods could be a real hit for the mobile payment crowd. Customers can more easily rationalize those smaller purchases and drive more sales to your business.

Another perk for biz owners is that mobile transaction fees are usually less than credit card fees. Sales through mobile could save you a small amount on every purchase.

Customer Data/>

Mobile payments enable merchants to collect data in much the same way as your everyday credit card purchases. Adding mobile payments to your business can help keep track of customer phone numbers, buying histories, and any other necessary information. Having this extra source of data about customers and their purchasing habits will enable you to offer more targeted and relevant deals, discounts and products to specific purchasers.

Collecting data can be a bit tricky, since it gets into privacy rights and issues (e.g., Facebook privacy concerns), so make sure your business is aware of how you can and cannot use customer information.

Regardless of your purposes, whether it be data, profit, or social loyalty, mobile payments are definitely an area for small businesses to watch.

More Business Resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Choose the Best Workspace for Your Business/> - 5 Winning Social Media Campaigns to Learn From/> - 10 Emerging Social Platforms and How Businesses Can Use Them/> - 10 Free WordPress Themes for Small Businesses/> - 8 Funding Contests to Kick Start Your Big Idea

Image courtesy of iStockphotoclass="blippr-nobr">iStockphoto, photo_smart

For more Business coverage:

    class="f-el">class="cov-twit">Follow Mashable Businessclass="s-el">class="cov-rss">Subscribe to the Business channelclass="f-el">class="cov-fb">Become a Fan on Facebookclass="s-el">class="cov-apple">Download our free apps for iPhone and iPad

Online forums and communities present a largely untapped opportunity for making money — at least according to Dan Gill, cofounder and chief executive of Huddler.


The San Francisco startup is officially launching today. It’s one of those weird launches where the company has actually been working with customers for more than a year, and is only now getting around to telling the media that it exists. Gill said he wanted to make sure the technology was solid before doing too much to publicize it and attract competition.


Community-building software is a broad category, but Huddler approaches the market with a specific audience and mission. It’s looking for popular, product-focused forums that are built on either vBulletin or phpBB technology. Huddler contacts the owner of the site, offering to modernize the forum and bring in more money too.


Gill gave me a long list of benefits that Huddler can offer over older platforms. It gives the sites a makeover, so they look a bit less old-fashioned, not to mention more advertising-friendly. It optimizes the pages for search engines, and also makes them easier to share through Facebook Connect. And all the software is hosted online, rather than installed on someone’s computer, which means there’s less hassle for whoever’s managing the site.


Financially, there’s not much risk to the forum owner, since the software is free. Huddler is only paid by through a percentage of the increased revenue that it brings to a site. That revenue boost comes in a number of ways, Gill said — since the sites are product-focused, Huddler creates a product page with a link where visitors can buy the item in question. It also allows companies selling related products to create their own pages on the forum and engage with the community. And of course the sites can run advertising.


The transition to Huddler can be a challenging one because of the technology issues, as well as the likelihood that change will upset some forum members. Gill didn’t offer any details, but he hinted that he has seen his share of angry comments from users who didn’t like a new forum. But Huddler has become more proficient at both moving content to a new site and preparing users for the change, he said.


There are now 24 sites using Huddler, adding up to a total of 9 million unique monthly visitors. The success stories include EpicSki, which saw a 70 percent increase in natural search traffic after switching to Huddler, and DenimBlog, which doubled pageviews in two months and is now bringing in three times the amount of revenue.


Huddler raised $5.5 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates last year. For now, the company is focusing on existing forums because they’ve already got the audience, but Gill said, “There’s no reason you won’t be able to start your own Huddles in the future.”


[image via Flickr/Daniel Borman]


Next Story: Salesforce: Yes, Chatter really does improve productivity Previous Story: Otoy scores important deals for its server gaming technology




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The company effectively seizes journalists' attention and makes events out of its product introductions.

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This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Mobile payments are the logical extension of online shopping; a way for customers to buy what you have while they’re on the go. But the technology has some added perks that make it a powerful purchasing tool for small businesses.

There are a lot of resources and articles out there telling businesses to pay attention to location-based networking or to maximize their social media presences, but there is a lack of information on the monetary benefits of these investments. Mobile payments, however, are a great way for businesses to make money.

It should be noted, there are two related fields of mobile payment: First, using your phone as a credit card in-store, and second, paying while on the go. We’ll be focusing largely on the latter.

Below is just a selection of reasons that small businesses should care about mobile payments. Add your voice to the comments below: Is this just another fad? Are mobile payments still years away? Why has North America been so slow to adopt?

It’s Going to be Everywhere/>

We already use our phones for everything: Calling, texting, surfing the web, video chats (thank you, Phone), and updating our social networks. class='blippr-nobr'>Societyclass="blippr-nobr">society, by and large, has grown accustomed to using phones for daily activities. Why shouldn’t instant purchasing be added to that list?

Total worldwide mobile payments stood at USD $68.7 billion in 2009, according to a study from Telecoms Market Research. That number is predicted to rise by more than 800% in the next four years. Simple, DIY credit card processing solutions, like the Complete Credit Card Solution and Square, have already hit the iPhone market, and more services are expected in the future for all platforms.

Social Impulse/>

Phones are inherently social, and advanced functions like geo-location are making it easier for users to connect with others in their networks to share consumption habits and recommendations. Location-based services, for example, enable users to recommend their favorite restaurants, shops and others venues. And group buying sites like Groupon have expanded the possibilities for quick, social purchases.

By adding a mobile payment option, small businesses can capitalize on these peer recommendations with a purchase. Rather than direct your customers to an online shop site or have them note it down for later, they can instantly buy your product.

Mobile payments take advantage of impulse purchases; essentially when you buy something based on spur-of-the-moment decision making. class='blippr-nobr'>Impulseclass="blippr-nobr">Impulse buys are usually associated with emotional reactions to a product. They are partly why ringtone sales have been so successful. Like a tone? You can often download it instantly with just a couple clicks, no secondary sites necessary. Make sure your customers are able to buy your product the instant they want it.

Micro-Transactions/>

The real heart of small business mobile payments is the micro-transaction. Paying less is generally better than paying more. People are also more willing to pay frequent small payments rather than throw down a lump sum. Using ringtones as an example, more people would pay $1 for several ringtones than shell out $5 in one go for five ringtones.

Small business can follow this trend by selling less-expensive goods online, as smaller goods could be a real hit for the mobile payment crowd. Customers can more easily rationalize those smaller purchases and drive more sales to your business.

Another perk for biz owners is that mobile transaction fees are usually less than credit card fees. Sales through mobile could save you a small amount on every purchase.

Customer Data/>

Mobile payments enable merchants to collect data in much the same way as your everyday credit card purchases. Adding mobile payments to your business can help keep track of customer phone numbers, buying histories, and any other necessary information. Having this extra source of data about customers and their purchasing habits will enable you to offer more targeted and relevant deals, discounts and products to specific purchasers.

Collecting data can be a bit tricky, since it gets into privacy rights and issues (e.g., Facebook privacy concerns), so make sure your business is aware of how you can and cannot use customer information.

Regardless of your purposes, whether it be data, profit, or social loyalty, mobile payments are definitely an area for small businesses to watch.

More Business Resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Choose the Best Workspace for Your Business/> - 5 Winning Social Media Campaigns to Learn From/> - 10 Emerging Social Platforms and How Businesses Can Use Them/> - 10 Free WordPress Themes for Small Businesses/> - 8 Funding Contests to Kick Start Your Big Idea

Image courtesy of iStockphotoclass="blippr-nobr">iStockphoto, photo_smart

For more Business coverage:

    class="f-el">class="cov-twit">Follow Mashable Businessclass="s-el">class="cov-rss">Subscribe to the Business channelclass="f-el">class="cov-fb">Become a Fan on Facebookclass="s-el">class="cov-apple">Download our free apps for iPhone and iPad

Online forums and communities present a largely untapped opportunity for making money — at least according to Dan Gill, cofounder and chief executive of Huddler.


The San Francisco startup is officially launching today. It’s one of those weird launches where the company has actually been working with customers for more than a year, and is only now getting around to telling the media that it exists. Gill said he wanted to make sure the technology was solid before doing too much to publicize it and attract competition.


Community-building software is a broad category, but Huddler approaches the market with a specific audience and mission. It’s looking for popular, product-focused forums that are built on either vBulletin or phpBB technology. Huddler contacts the owner of the site, offering to modernize the forum and bring in more money too.


Gill gave me a long list of benefits that Huddler can offer over older platforms. It gives the sites a makeover, so they look a bit less old-fashioned, not to mention more advertising-friendly. It optimizes the pages for search engines, and also makes them easier to share through Facebook Connect. And all the software is hosted online, rather than installed on someone’s computer, which means there’s less hassle for whoever’s managing the site.


Financially, there’s not much risk to the forum owner, since the software is free. Huddler is only paid by through a percentage of the increased revenue that it brings to a site. That revenue boost comes in a number of ways, Gill said — since the sites are product-focused, Huddler creates a product page with a link where visitors can buy the item in question. It also allows companies selling related products to create their own pages on the forum and engage with the community. And of course the sites can run advertising.


The transition to Huddler can be a challenging one because of the technology issues, as well as the likelihood that change will upset some forum members. Gill didn’t offer any details, but he hinted that he has seen his share of angry comments from users who didn’t like a new forum. But Huddler has become more proficient at both moving content to a new site and preparing users for the change, he said.


There are now 24 sites using Huddler, adding up to a total of 9 million unique monthly visitors. The success stories include EpicSki, which saw a 70 percent increase in natural search traffic after switching to Huddler, and DenimBlog, which doubled pageviews in two months and is now bringing in three times the amount of revenue.


Huddler raised $5.5 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates last year. For now, the company is focusing on existing forums because they’ve already got the audience, but Gill said, “There’s no reason you won’t be able to start your own Huddles in the future.”


[image via Flickr/Daniel Borman]


Next Story: Salesforce: Yes, Chatter really does improve productivity Previous Story: Otoy scores important deals for its server gaming technology





The Pixies at the Wang Center in Boston, 27 November 2009 by Chris Devers


Study Finds That Apple Dominates Tech <b>News</b> - NYTimes.com

The company effectively seizes journalists' attention and makes events out of its product introductions.

Portage Wisconsin Levee Breaks Flooding Town | The <b>News</b> of Today

Posted by Brian Krassenstein on Sep 27th, 2010 and filed under Featured News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry. Portage Wisconsin. Flooding in Portage WI ...

Fox <b>News</b> Will Take Sarah Palin Off The Payroll If She Declares A <b>...</b>

I fail to see how this is even news, unless you were nurturing some dark and rediculous notiions about FOX news. I guess maybe it's a reality check for Left Wing wackos. Time to break out of your crazy liberal conspiracy theories, ...



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Study Finds That Apple Dominates Tech <b>News</b> - NYTimes.com

The company effectively seizes journalists' attention and makes events out of its product introductions.

Portage Wisconsin Levee Breaks Flooding Town | The <b>News</b> of Today

Posted by Brian Krassenstein on Sep 27th, 2010 and filed under Featured News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry. Portage Wisconsin. Flooding in Portage WI ...

Fox <b>News</b> Will Take Sarah Palin Off The Payroll If She Declares A <b>...</b>

I fail to see how this is even news, unless you were nurturing some dark and rediculous notiions about FOX news. I guess maybe it's a reality check for Left Wing wackos. Time to break out of your crazy liberal conspiracy theories, ...



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