Ashton Kutcher


A lesson on taste from Steve Jobs

9:14AM | Monday, 2 September

Over the weekend, your humble correspondent watched the Steve Jobs biopic Jobs.   Switching off an Android smartphone before a movie about Steve Jobs is an awkward, almost covert operation. You almost imagine being chased out of the local Cineplex by a bunch of single mouse button aficionados in black turtle necks baying for heathen blood – while brandishing minimalist white tablets and smartphones instead of pitchforks.   So is Old Taskmaster’s task of the day to order you to the cinema to watch this film?   Certainly, if you’re a hardcore Apple fan, this is a flick you should probably see – but then again you probably already have seen it five times already and are in the middle of torrenting it onto your second MacBook.   Since a lot of the film focuses on the start-up phase of one of the world’s largest companies, there’s probably a lot here you will relate to even if you aren’t in the tech sector.   And there are some interesting background details hidden in the film – the Radio Shack TRS-80s and Commodore PETs in the background of a scene on the West Coast Computer Faire were a nice touch, for example.   But beyond that? It’s not an awful film, and certainly Ashton Kutcher plays Jobs better than you imagine he would. But it could have been far better.   The film itself follows the standard, generic Hollywood three-act structure. It attempts to cram in too many historical details in too few minutes of running time, at the expense of character development, depth or context.   For example, in one scene Jobs has a conversation with the legendary Atari engineer Al Alcorn. But we’re not told Al Alcorn is the guy who designed Pong and was the lead designer on the world’s first successful home games console, the Atari 2600.   In order to really appreciate the significance of the scene, you need to read a biography about Jobs. Which then raises the question – why not just read a good biography instead of seeing the film?   With that being said, here’s a YouTube clip with a key business lesson from the (real-life) Steve Jobs:       Especially if you’re marketing a premium product, questions of taste matter. That means taking the time to get key elements such as design, ease of use and layout right. Cultural elements, including choices as simple as the typeface and colour you use, can have a big impact on how potential customers will perceive your product.   And there’s no better place to start your cultural education than by reading a good biography about Steve Jobs – because TV and movies rot your brain, Sonny Jim Crockett!   Get it done – tastefully.

Airbnb prompts wave of like-minded start-ups

2:01AM | Thursday, 21 February

A number of new start-ups have likened themselves to US-based company Airbnb, the leader in travel rentals, which has booked more than 10 million nights of accommodation worldwide.

Melbourne Cup: The overseas raiders hoping to storm the start-up business field

3:08AM | Monday, 11 March

Veteran racehorse trainer Bart Cummings accused the Victoria Racing Club of “pandering to the internationals” for tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup, but what of the overseas start-ups jostling for position with budding Australian business thoroughbreds?

Airbnb sinks its teeth into local market after opening Sydney office

3:09AM | Tuesday, 12 March

US-based home rental service Airbnb has highlighted the growth of Australia’s tourism industry, after announcing plans to open an office in Sydney and recruit local talent to drive the brand.

Social networks are not just for big business

6:28AM | Wednesday, 6 June

While Facebook is still the king of social media from a user numbers perspective, I’m still surprised by the many mumpreneurs I speak to not actively using LinkedIn and Twitter to grow their businesses.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 a fizzer for start-ups

5:11AM | Thursday, 31 May

Last week was the TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 conference.

Apple acquires Aussie start-up Chomp for $US50 million

2:45AM | Monday, 27 February

Apple has acquired Australian start-up Chomp for around $US50 million but is remaining tight-lipped over what it plans to do with the Chomp app, which is used to search the App Store.

10 quick-fire start-ups

5:32AM | Wednesday, 2 May

Starting a business used to be a rather drawn out affair. With all the planning and fund raising involved, it would be unthinkable that you could launch a company within a week.

Leonardo DiCaprio joins celebrity tech start-up investors

10:33AM | Wednesday, 26 October

Celebrities look set to continue to invest in tech start-ups as the industry enters a second dotcom boom, after Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio invested in Israeli start-up Mobli.

Stardust-sprinkled start-ups

8:15AM | Thursday, 11 August

When pitching your idea to a potential investor, you will probably be addressing a soberly-suited man or woman who appears to be bred for the cut and thrust world of business.

Airbnb’s trashed PR strategy

7:23AM | Friday, 29 July

The problem with making a lot of noise about your start-up is that if the PR backfires, you’re in more serious trouble than if you’d slid under the radar.

Accommodation with a garden twist

6:32AM | Friday, 24 June

Vacationers in the United Kingdom who hate the idea of trying to secure a spot in a busy campsite are being encouraged to pitch a tent in a stranger’s garden.

Airbnb to launch Australian site as Ashton Kutcher buys in

6:49PM | Sunday, 5 June

Local tech entrepreneur Matthew Ho has become the first Australia-based hire of travel web service Airbnb as the US-based parent company reportedly prepares to close a $100 million funding round, and US actor Ashton Kutcher invests a "significant amount" in the business.

Futuristic ideas, email mistakes and Ashton Kutcher talks Twitter

6:13AM | Friday, 3 June

Is your foray into entrepreneurship bafflingly misunderstood by your friends and family? Do potential investors wince and scurry away when you mention your idea (which no doubt involves the words “integrated” and “in the cloud”) to them?