Great articles roundup: freemium, firing the founder, the Dropbox effect, corporate accelerators, and higher ed entrepreneurship

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By Alexandra Reid

As a regular feature, we provide our readers with a roundup of some of the best articles we have read in the past week. On the podium this week are TechCrunch, The New York Times, VentureBeat, Bloomberg Businessweek and Boston Magazine.

Should your startup go freemium?

Over the last several months, there has been an intense debate about the viability of freemium business models. For some, freemium is a costly trap, a business model that sacrifices revenues and forces a startup to support freeloaders who will never become paying customers. For others, freemium is the future of business, the logical conclusion for a world in which the cost of bandwidth, storage, and information processing approaches zero. Both sides agree that the model is extremely powerful. As Rob Walling of HitTail notes in a recent Wall Street Journal article, freemium is like a Samurai sword: “unless you’re a master at using it, you can cut your arm off.”

Why everyone wants to fire the founder

You’ve seen this movie before: the founder steps down and is followed by a carousel of unsuccessful chief executives for years to come. But given how poorly the strategy often turns out, it’s tempting to ask why people are so quick to fire the founder. Author Cliff Oxford offers two reasons.

Startups learn a painful lesson: The ‘Dropbox effect’ is a myth

A pervasive myth exists among tech founders: if they build a product that consumers will love, it will magically trickle into a Fortune 500 company.

The logic works something like this: Devote the bulk of your funding to designing the product. CIOs will fork over a piece of their sizable budget if enough employees get hooked and use it at work. Just like cloud storage company Dropbox or enterprise social network Yammer, their product will be a hit with large organizations if it’s well-designed and easy to deploy.

Do a search for “Dropbox problem” or “Dropbox effect” and you’ll find thousands of articles. Dropbox has inspired more enterprise founders to experiment with freemium models or to build intuitive products, but it is not proof that a consumer-focused company can simply change focus to the enterprise without having to reengineer its technology from the ground up.

Accelerators are no longer just for tech companies

Corporate accelerators and their close cousins, incubators, which nurture companies for years, offer no guarantee of success. While there are no statistics about how many corporations have established accelerators, the number is certainly growing. Author Verne Kopytoff offers some examples and explains why this may be the case.

How MIT became the most important university in the world

Tech entrepreneurship is the new sexy. It’s what legions of promising teens and twentysomethings are crazy for today, and Harvard wants in on the action. Sure, the university can claim two of the great tech entrepreneurs of the age, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, as its own. But they had to drop out of Harvard in order to transform their world-changing ideas into reality. True to form, Harvard has been touting the creation of the I-Lab as a revolutionary development, as a stop-the-presses, here-we-come moment of change not just for the university but also the world of higher education. But the thing is, it’s not. Harvard is actually nearly a quarter-century late to the world of tech entrepreneurship, and as it scrambles to get into the game, it’s finding itself in an uncomfortable position, not leading the charge, as it would like to, but desperately playing catch-up to its crosstown rival, MIT.

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