VCs are feeling super confident after a dismal 2011, survey says

In the first quarter of 2012, investor confidence rose to the highest point it’s been in more than a year. The latest Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Confidence Index — which measures how much statup investing confidence VCs have — shows a significant jump in confidence over the fourth quarter of 2011.

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5 tech deals that need to happen

Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram was the topic on everyone’s lips at Mega Startup Weekend last Saturday and Sunday. The world’s most expensive “Like” has clearly gotten tech entrepreneurs buzzing about who will be next. While there’s no way to know which big deal will be next, here are five tech deals that make sense and need to happen:

Square

12 companies getting local right for small businesses

I’ve spent much of the last year talking about how the sites small businesses rely on to advertise and promote themselves — think Yelp and Groupon — are failing them. In fact, helping small businesses at the local level is extremely challenging for technology companies, for the following reasons:

Clone king Marc Samwer out as Groupon’s international head following record high ad violations

Groupon’s business stateside has been embroiled in an accounting scandal that cut the stock price in half. But its international operations are responsible for two-thirds of the company’s revenue. Yesterday the company announced that Marc Samwer, who along with his brothers notoriously creates clones of successful American startups, was stepping down as head of their international operations, to be replaced by the Austrian Veit Dengler.

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6 tips for buying a daily deal

With all of the doom and gloom surrounding Groupon, which reached yet another all-time low in trading today, I thought it would be useful to write up my best practices for buying Groupons and other daily deals.

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What does all the bad press mean for Groupon?

Groupon faced a deluge of bad press and unfavorable comparisons this week following its accounting restatement on March 30. This morning, I searched for Groupon and got this on Google News:

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Who is to blame for the Groupon fiasco? Everyone

We’ve heard quite a few opinions about who’s to blame for Groupon’s IPO fiasco ever since the company announced a restatement of its earnings last Friday and indicated that it had material weakness in its internal controls. Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times blames greedy tech companies. Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily blames greedy Wall Street bankers. They’re both right — and they’re both wrong. The blame for this fiasco can be spread far and wide.

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Groupon’s restatement doesn’t add up

Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar can’t make the numbers in Groupon’s restatement add up. In a research note it sent to clients, who are institutional investors, it wrote:

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Why Groupon is poised for collapse

Groupon was forced to restate fourth quarter earnings, sending its stock down 6% in after-hours trading. This surprised me as much as my $2 investment in the Mega Millions jackpot not paying off.

Groupon’s new Scheduler feature has potential, but two very big IFs

Groupon today launched a wide beta of its Groupon Scheduler product. The Scheduler is an online calendaring tool that allows service businesses such as spas, yoga studios, contractors and photographers to take reservations online. It’s open to all merchants, not just companies that run deals with Groupon. The daily deals company is billing it as a “free trial,” and it’s unclear whether Groupon will eventually charge for the service. Groupon did not respond to two requests for comment on this story.

How Amazon can be a friend to small businesses

I’ve been testing out the Kindle Fire tablet for the last several weeks. At $199, it’s a tremendous value. It’s no iPad — I just upgraded to the new iPad as well — but it provides a solid base-level tablet and reader. I can think of a lot of uses for it: an e-book reader, a video consumption device, and a dedicated Sonos controller. But the most exciting use I can see for it would be for Amazon to turn into a device that helps small, local retailers.

Whale

Groupon’s whale problem

I’ve long suspected that Groupon has a whale problem — that a lot of its revenue comes from a small number of customers. New research from ForeSee indicates that this may be the case.

Daily deals inspiring repeat business, study finds

Daily deal providers such as Groupon and LivingSocial are often criticized for driving low-quality business to merchants, but these young companies may, in fact, be purveyors of loyal customers.

A 1-star review of Yelp’s advertiser agreement

Yelp’s advertiser agreement combines some of the worst elements of Yellow Pages, Aol and cell phone agreements. As with many such agreements, it’s very lopsided in Yelp’s favor. (See my analysis of the similarly lopsided Groupon merchant agreement.)

andrew mason at dld

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is grumpy, takes on critics at DLD

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is grumpy. Donning jeans, a white collared shirt and black blazer, and shucking the goofy boy demeanor he’s known for, Mason took the stage at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich today and candidly shot down criticisms of his fast-growing, oft-attacked company.

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The 14 hottest Chinese tech-startup clones of 2011

Cloning or copycatting ideas, companies, and products is nothing new in China. Westerners, especially Americans, loathe cloning; it hurts their pride and is an insult to their creativity and hard work. The Chinese, however, love it. It comes as second nature and presents a grand opportunity to seize a massive market potential.

Why Groupon’s still not well in China despite group-buying uptick

Online group buying is finally proving popular in China, according to a report released on Monday by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). According to the report, Chinese market witnessed an increase of 244.8% in online group buying in the year 2011. Despite a massive blow to Groupon and others last year, Chinese online group buying is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.