The gangsters of Silicon Valley

President Obama has been touting patents as a way to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. “These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” he said of patent applications last September, “somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.”

Crowdfunding raised $1.5B last year — and is on track to double in 2012

Until Kickstarter started gaining attention for giving people a place to raise huge amounts of money very quickly, the term crowdfunding didn’t mean much. Now, crowdfunding has become a full-fledged industry, contributing $1.5 billion to new ventures in 2011. That total includes pledges from average people backing quirky projects like the Pebble smartwatch as well as seed funding for startups.