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Selecting Great Microfinance Partners (Part 2)

Posted on Sunday, Jul 29th 2007

By Guest Author, Robert Lowry, Unitus

As I discussed yesterday, Unitus focuses on two kinds of microfinance institutions (MFIs) for partnership: emerging microfinance institutions, which serve more than 2,500 clients and are in the early stages of growth; and commercial startups, which may not have a track record of growth but are well-capitalized and have a clear plan for expansion.

Within these parameters there are other important factors Unitus looks at when assessing an MFI as a candidate for partnership. These include: >>>

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Hat’s Off, J.K. Rowling!

Posted on Saturday, Jul 28th 2007

In its first 24 hours, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final installment in the wildly popular series by J. K. Rowling that officially went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 21, 2007, sold 8.3 million copies in the United States, according to Scholastic, the publisher. The book’s official cover price is $34.99, but it has been selling mostly around an average price of $20.

A total of 2,652,656 copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” sold in the UK on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the world, other record-breaking numbers were reported, including a 100,000 first day volume in India.

I had pre-ordered the book from Amazon at $17.99, and it arrived at my doorstep on Saturday afternoon. I came back from San Francisco around 7 PM. I devoured it over the next 27 hours (minus meals and sleep), all 752 pages of it, and put it down at 10pm on Sunday night. Yes, I am a fast reader, but even I have not paid this kind of tribute to many authors or books before. >>>

Selecting Great Microfinance Partners (Part 1)

Posted on Saturday, Jul 28th 2007

By Guest Author Robert Lowry, Unitus

The challenge of finding great microfinance institution partners is one every microfinance fund faces. At Unitus, selecting the right partners is critical to reaching our growth goals. We’re often asked, How do you select your partners? This article will answer that question by providing a brief overview of the Unitus selection process.

Unitus is helping develop the next generation of large, innovative and commercially-minded microfinance institutions (MFIs). Building up tomorrow’s leaders means identifying and scaling up smaller, high-potential institutions today, and toward this objective we created the Unitus Selection Team. Based in Redmond, Washington and
Bangalore, India, the Team seeks out MFIs that, working with Unitus, will be able to grow 10x their current size and reach 100,000 clients within five years. The Team focuses on two kinds of microfinance institutions: Emerging MFIs and commercial startup MFIs.

Let’s take a closer look at the different categories of MFIs: >>>

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Google’s AdSense Revenues Vulnerable

Posted on Friday, Jul 27th 2007

How much is AdSense’s share in Google’s business? To find an answer we scanned Google’s balance sheet and cash-flow statement for the past year including those of the last quarter (Q2-06/2007). Predictably, there is no indication of AdSense’s figures.

Analysts however maintain that the figure hovers between 37%-44%. A somewhat clearer picture emerges in the April 21st-27th issue of The Economist where it is revealed that AdSense adds about 10-20% to Google’s profit margin, while the share of AdWords is a phenomenal 60%. (Note the Economist figures are of profit margins, not revenues.)

However, going by analysts’ estimates of revenue share, the perplexing question is, how can Google possibly earn from AdSense as much as about 40% of its revenues since after all it has to share the AdSense spoils with millions of web publishers?

No one knows how the revenue is split between Google and Publishers, and Google has so far kept absolutely quiet on the topic, much to the annoyance of numerous customers. Yesterday, Google lost a major customer, Digg, with over 17 Million unique visitors a month. I believe, they will lose many, many more in the next 18 months, as competitors like Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask, Time Warner, NBC, etc. get their acts together around their Ad Network strategies. Clearly, AdSense is Google’s weakest link, and if indeed it is ~40% of revenues, this should hurt at least a bit, even though AdWords will continue its triumphant run. >>>

Women & Web 3.0 (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Jul 27th 2007

M&A and VC activity

NBC Universal acquired iVillage, the most popular women’s site along with its other Internet properties for $600 million in 2006.

Glam Media, the number one women’s property on the Net as per the latest comScore ranking raised $18.5 million in Series C funding from Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures (DAG), Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, WaldenVC, and Information Capital (Chairman & CEO Samir Arora’s fund). Glam Media had also raised $10 million in Series B led by Accel Partners with Draper Fisher Jurvetson and WaldenVC in 2004. Glam has raised a total of $30 million till date.

Blog network Sugar Publishing, owner of PopSugar raised $5 million in VC funding from Sequoia Capital (Michael Moritz) in late 2006. >>>

Facebook’s Monetization Strategy (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Jul 27th 2007

I’ll give you one more vertical, and then stop. You can figure out the rest yourselves.

Travel is a great vertical for Facebook, and in fact, creating contextual services like Group Travel could be very cool.

According to the latest data published by eMarketer, online travel sales zoomed to over $78.8 billion in 2006 in the US and it is expected to continue to grow at a CAGR of 16.6% to $145.8 billion in 2010. The top 3 in the segment (with corresponding Web 3.0 analysis) are Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. >>>

Jim Satloff & Neal Goldman’s AI Engine, Inform (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Jul 27th 2007

SM: Let’s discuss your financial history, in the final segment of the conversation. Who financed the company at the very beginning? I assume it was some of Neal’s Capital IQ proceeds that went into Inform.

JS: It was friends and family, yes.

SM: Did you raise Venture money? How much? From whom? >>>

iPhone’s Component Ecosystem: Balda

Posted on Thursday, Jul 26th 2007

One of the most important features of the iPhone is its touch screen that is highly flexible and allows rotating, zooming, panning, scrolling and flipping using multi-finger gestures on the screen. The German company Balda is the supplier of this glass-surfaced touch screen that has sharper resolution, better resistance to scratches or smudges, and better sensitivity than the plastic displays. Estimated to cost around $27, the touch screen accounts for 10.8 % of the 8 GB iPhone model’s cost.

Balda AG (DE: BDGA) was earlier known to develop and manufacture plastic components for mobile telephones, mobile fixed line telephones, and base stations. In 2006, it acquired 50% of the shares in the TPK holding (TPK) in Xiamen in China for €59.5 million. TPK is a manufacturer of innovative touch screen solutions. In our components series, we look at Balda next. >>>