Friday Recap: Life and Death Edition
Hello, Friday Recappers! This was a busy week, full of the stuff of life. We had talks of big business deals, looming tax hikes for the deceased, new life forms made of poison, the death of a comedic legend and so much more. So, without further delay, your weekly recap is served!
The question on everyone’s mind is: will Google breathe even more life into Groupon? The jury is still out on whether out not this will be a match made in heaven. Plenty have been talking about why Groupon shouldn’t settle for the rumored $6 billion price tag. Groupon shouldn’t settle for six billion? To be fair, it was valuated at more than $1 billion 17 months after its official commercial launch.
But those naysayers do have a point, if Google is interested, that means the potential is there for massive Groupon success – but is it only there with Google’s help? And others wonder why Google wouldn’t just develop a Groupon killer of its own for much less money. On the economic side of the deal, according to a NYTimes.com post, there’s speculation that this transaction may give some validity to the tech scene in Chicago, and solidify its place as a savvy place for tech startups in the U.S.
Update, Late 12/3: Groupon passes on Google deal.
A new algorithm announced by Google this week can murder your online venture faster than you can say “review my business online.” Google assured online merchants this week that being bad to their customers is bad for business on Google. It started with an arrogant e-commerce business owner and a New York Times article. It ended with Google’s full-blown endeavor to squash businesses like the one in The Times article. While the motivation and details of Google’s new merchant-focused algorithm are fuzzy, Google does give clues by sharing the details of what it decided not to do to address the problem.
Does Facebook kill real-world friendships? That’s one of the topics covered in CNN Money’s Webby Debates series with TechCrunch Columnist Paul Carr and Wine Library TV’s Gary Vanynerchuk (of whom I’m a huge fan). They talk about the hilarious pull-out-all-the-stops move Facebook uses when you try to delete your account. Has anyone ever tried this? Apparently, the last page before you approve deletion shows a picture of like your grandma or some other family or friend in your network with Photoshopped tears saying something like, “We’ll miss you.” Carr’s rebuttal to that is that Facebook is sort of replacing the real relationships in life, because you can still communicate with grandma the old fashioned way.
In science news, NASA researchers have discovered a microbe that can build itself with arsenic instead of phosphorous as part of the six elements that make up life. The experiment started with sediment from California’s extraordinary Lake Mono environment – a body of water that is three times as salty as the ocean yet hosts various forms of life including shrimp. The research team fed the microbes from the sediment forms of arsenic in the lab, along with some basic nutrients, and found that the microbes began using the arsenic in place of phosphate as a building block. Felisa Wolf-Simon of NASA says the microbes have “solved the challenge of being alive in a different way.” [I cannot express how excited this news made me. I love expansion of human knowledge. --Susan]
Speaking of life, we celebrated Leslie Nielsen’s life and career as we said goodbye to the king of spoofs this week. Leslie Nielsen passed away at the age of 84 on November 28 after battling pneumonia. One online post recounts the top five Nielson dialogues of all time. I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I read this one from Wrongfully Accused (his character is Ryan Harrison):
Ryan Harrison: “Your dog sure has a surprised look on his face.”
Lauren: “That’s because you’re looking at his butt.”
Nielson’s passing made me wonder if his family will be subject to the rising estate tax, otherwise known as the “death tax,” set to jump to 55 percent as of January 1. The estate tax is imposed on the transfer of willed property upon death. Shirley, this January 1 initiative is causing some very generous gifts to be given this holiday season. [The estate tax impacts a marginal number of people. And don't call me Shirley. --Susan]
If you’re feeling a little generous this season as well, consider helping animals in need. Countless shelter pets are relying on our help to survive. What about entering into the Pet Postcard Project, where your homemade postcards help to feed homeless dogs? Or, look into volunteering at your local shelter or donate to The Humane Society of the United States. Check out this heartwarming video from the Humane Society of San Diego, thanking everyone who helped make a difference this year: